Ableton have just announced Live 10 and are giving us a good peek into its changes and new features. The UI still looks very much the same apart from a new pixel font and small tweaks, but there are a lot of new things and improvements. A lot of them on the feature wish list for many of us for a long time.

 The big changes explained in the video are:

  • New devices:
    • Wavetable: synth
    • Echo: delay
    • Drum Buss: drum effect with drive, crunch, compression, transient shaping etc.
    • Pedal: stomp box effect with overdrive, distortion & fuzz
  • Capture: Live captures whatever you play in an armed MIDI track, even if you forgot to press record.
  • Multi-clip editing: on multiple tracks in single view
  • Editing & workflow improvements for Arrangement View
  • New Push features: melodic step sequencing layout, better device visualisation & MIDI note view
  • New Library & Browser improvements
  • Max for Live built in & new devices
  • Groups within Groups

Since everyone's going to write about these new features and Ableton have provided lots of information as well as the video, I'm going to concentrate on the features Ableton deem less noteworthy, but surely aren't.

Overall, the focus this time appears to be the workflow. There are a lot of small improvements, that together make working with Live 10 that much smoother and more easy going. For me, it's not the individual features that make this upgrade intriguing, but the sum of all of them making Live 10 much more enjoyable to produce with.

Max for Live

With Max for Live, we're seeing what acquiring Cycling '74 made possible. I'm very excited about Max for Live now being fully integrated into Live. Not only does this mean, you don't have to install Max separately anymore, but Max for Live devices load faster and require less CPU. We're going to see a lot more fantastic Max for Live releases and mad hybrid devices because of this move. In addition, Max for Live devices can now send and receive SysEx data, providing new capabilities in conjunction with external hardware; full access to synthesiser parameters, preset dumping through MIDI dumps, custom external synths and effects controls, and much more.

New Shortcuts

As regular readers of Sonic Bloom already know, I'm a huge fan of shortcuts as they can improve the workflow so much. Five new single key shortcuts are introduced in Live 10 alone.

  • A: toggles the visibility of all automation lanes in the Arrangement View on or off.
  • M: toggle the Computer MIDI Keyboard on and off (off by default)
  • R: Reverse can now be performed on a time selection with this shortcut.
  • S: minimises all tracks
  • Z: zoom to time selection in Arrangement and in Detail View (Shift + Z zooms back out).

There are other new context related shortcuts that will be immensely helpful for the workflow in Live 10. A lot of them are added for an improved editing and automation workflow. Most noteworthy is that Cmd/Ctrl + L now toggles the Arrangement Loop, instead of forgetting about the off setting for the feature as before.

Zooming

This is another thing, a lot of us have wanted for forever. It is finally possible to zoom vertically and horizontally in the Arrangement View, using two-finger trackpad gestures or a mousewheel. Pressing Alt (Mac/Win) while scrolling vertically zooms the amplitude/pitch axis of the selected track(s). Z or Shift + Z zooms in or out. When a selection of a clip in the Arrangement View has been made, Detail View's display now zooms in on the selected time automatically.

Utility Effect

One thing that was really annoying was that the Gain knob only went down to - 35 dB, which made it useless for proper fade ins and outs. Now the Gain can be adjusted from -infinite dB to +35 dB. There's also Mono switch, a Bass Mono switch, a Bass Mono Frequency slider, a Bass Mono Audition button, and a Balance knob control.

File Handling

Exporting Live Sets can now finally be done as MP3, FLAC and WAVPACK, a feature high on many wish lists. Especially for beginners, the file handling in Live has been confusing so far, leading to missing samples. When saving a Set using "Save Live Set", "Save Live Set As" or "Save a Copy", the previous version now gets moved into a backup folder of the current Project. I'm wondering if  the limit of only up to 10 old versions of the Set being stored in this folder, might cause new issues though as I often end up with 30 or more versions until I've finished the song. Another great new feature is that the undo history is no longer cleared, when saving a Live Set. This has always been a problem. Saving often enough in case of a crash, but not too often as the undo history would be gone. Now, the original file and history position are remembered when creating, loading and saving a Live set and the information is used to restore the Live set after a crash. Also finding the correct audio files should be easier with Live 10, as a timestamp will now be added to the filename of recorded audio.

Metronome

In Live 10, instead of swapping out the metronome sounds in the backend, you can choose them from its context menu. There you can also select a different tick interval as well as choose the new "Enable only while recording" feature. The latter, I'd wanted for a long time.

Other Interesting Improvements

Reset Continuous Controls: Double-clicking knobs or sliders resets them to their default value now.

Fold: is set globally instead of per track and can be key and MIDI mapped. In Drum Racks, when Fold is deactivated, the MIDI Note Editor only shows rows with pitches corresponding to a pad with devices on it, and when Fold is activated, only rows containing notes are displayed.

Split Stereo Pan Mode: can be switched on via the Pan control's context menu.

Routing of Drum Rack Pads to Return Chains: can be used as mix buses.

4 new Themes replace Skins: This probably means that the custom skins won't work in Live 10 anymore, and that I might not be able to create any new looks for you either. We'll see.

Ableton Certified Trainer Lenny Kiser's tour of Live 10's new features:

 

I've already gotten messages from Live users about the news. Some excited, some disappointed. What's your opinion on the features of Live 10? What's your favourite new feature?