New in Ableton Live 8

January 22, 2009

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Version 8 enhances the Ableton vision of creative, real-time digital music with a wealth of new techniques, effects and most-wanted workflow improvements.

New groove engine

Groove patterns dynamically influence the timing and velocity/volume of audio and MIDI material. This can add life and swing to straight patterns, give a track more drive, or lend a piece an easy, laid-back feeling.


Live 8 enhances Live’s existing groove power with some important new features:

  • Apply groove patterns to any audio or MIDI clips in real time. Change the feel of the whole piece or just selected clips.
  • Choose from an extensive library of groove patterns, captured from songs played by some of music’s most original, expressive and soulful drummers.
  • Extract groove patterns from any audio or MIDI source to build your own groove library from your favorite tracks.
  • Quantize audio and MIDI in real time: non-destructive velocity and timing adjustments for rhythmic correction.
  • Randomize audio and MIDI timing for a more human feel.

New warping engine

Live 8 is the next logical step in warping evolution with a new, more intuitive warping paradigm and some important Warp Mode enhancements.

  • New, intuitive warping allows you to adjust events on the timeline instead of stretching and squeezing the timeline around the events.
  • Transient handles: Live analyzes and assigns handles to the transients in audio files automatically.
  • Slice by transient: slice audio to MIDI based on Live 8’s new transient analysis.
  • Enhanced Beats Warp Mode for improved warping of percussive material and new control options.
  • Improved Complex Warp Mode using élastique Pro for warping complex, polyphonic material with fewer artifacts.


Looper brings the creative power of classic sound-on-sound looping to Live, without the limitations of a hardware device. Inspired by some of our favorite sample/delay devices plus a good deal of Ableton wizardry, Looper provides plenty of scope in a super-simple interface.

  • One-touch operation: Looper is set up for remote operation, so you can record, overdub, undo and more using a single footswitch (not included) and without touching the computer.
  • Endless overdubs, tape-loop style for infinite improv jams.
  • First loop sync: Live reads the tempo from the length of the first loop you record and automatically syncs up. This eliminates timing issues and lets you record without the click.
  • Simple loop management: drag and drop a loop from Looper into a clip slot to make a clip; drag a clip back again to reload it into Looper.
  • Multiple Looper sync lets you run as many Loopers as you want without any synchronization headaches.

New effects

Live 8 includes five powerful new effects, each with a strong personality and serious “classic” potential. These effects add a special Ableton shine to the well-known aspects of these devices, giving you effects that are not only practical and easy to use but also inspiring.

Vocoder: the famous “singing robot” effect. Vocoder is classic vocoding plus advanced, intricate control for flexibility and rich sound design.


Multiband Dynamics: effective processing plus a refreshing approach to visualizing the dynamics involved lets you really see and hear what’s going on.


Overdrive: models the circuits found in legendary stompboxes and forms a perfect complement to Saturator and Dynamic Tube.


Limiter: an effective brick-wall limiter that will keep your peaks in check.


Frequency Shifter: frequency shifting and ring modulation for flange effects, atonal harmonics and the sound of Fifties science fiction.


Workflow enhancements

Version 8 makes Live easier with a number of most-wanted enhancements and some deceptively simple detail work.

Crossfades in Arrangement View: This much requested feature gives you real-time, non-destructive crossfades, neatly integrated into Live’s familiar workflow.


The enhanced MIDI editor now features step recording, an insert marker and editing improvements.


Group tracks let you group selected tracks (e.g. a group for drum tracks or a group for all backing vocals). Each group works like a separate mix buss with its own effects and routing settings. You can also collapse grouped tracks to preserve screen real estate.


Multi-parameter manipulation: want to lower the volume of six different tracks? No need any more to adjust six different faders; just select all six tracks and adjust one volume control.


Magnify the user interface for optimal visibility on dark stages or hi-res screens. Zoom out for the big picture.


Browser waveform display: Audio and MIDI browser preview now with waveform display and scrubbing for more informed browsing and file selection.


Plug-in parameters: Improved configuration and control for plug-ins with numerous parameters.


And many more workflow improvements: Yes, that feature request you sent may well be in there somewhere…

Ableton Suite 8 is a package which gives you a rich world of sound, perfectly complementing the tools and features in Live 8. Suite 8 provides all the instruments a musician could hope for, including a wide range of synths, a powerful sampler, electric and acoustic drums, mallets, numerous sampled instruments: 10 instruments in all. Here’s what’s new in Suite 8.

World-class library

Ableton Suite 8’s library is something big and something new, completely surpassing everything that Ableton has ever offered before. With the creative professional in mind, Ableton has put together a well-balanced and comprehensive tool set, including synthesis, real-world “Sound Objects,” presets, grooves, templates and, above all, a wide-ranging set of beautiful sounds. No need to be quiet in this library.


These sound examples are made from construction kits that will be available with Suite 8.

  • 1,600 new, expressive sounds: Ableton has worked with some of the world’s top sound designers to create a comprehensive set of truly useful, high-end sounds, each one an instrument in its own right. The sounds are provided as instrument Racks with a finely calibrated combination of instruments and effects.
  • Library Info Texts: many resources now have descriptive Info Texts explaining the characteristics and structure of the sound or Rack, so you know what the sound is before you load it.
  • Versatile configuration options: all instrument racks feature thoughtfully mapped Macro controls for both subtle and dramatic adjustments without the confusion of too much detail. For detail, just open up the rack and get in close.
  • New Effect Racks for professional-grade mastering, mixing and creative sound processing.
  • Construction kits: flexible song kits containing loops and phrases in a number of styles. A useful resource for getting started or for firing up your imagination.
  • Sound Objects Lite: to complement and extend the synthesized sounds, Ableton andSonArte have worked together to produce a tool kit of real-world object recordings for advanced sound design.
  • 440 MB of abstract, experimental loops from renowned music software pioneersCycling ’74.
  • Over 400 loops and samples from Zero-G in a wide range of styles, including smooth ’70s grooves, gritty hip hop and edgy, abstract weirdness.
  • Thousands of single-device presets: simple components for making new sounds and exploring synthesis.
  • Clearly organized library: all resources organized pragmatically and sensibly.
  • Song templates: practical templates for different recording scenarios (e.g. 8-track recording), with pre-configured tracks and routing.

Strap yourself in for the Collision…

Collision is a unique instrument for authentic mallet sounds and creative percussion. Co-developed with AAS, it uses physical modeling technology to reproduce real-world instruments such as xylophones, marimbas and glockenspiels, but also provides enough depth to create truly dramatic new instruments and sounds. Unlike sampled instruments, this creates dynamic, living and breathing sounds that add an organic feel to your compositions. Corpus, a separate effect that reproduces Collision’s resonator section, widens the scope even further, giving you a far-reaching sonic continuum from authentic, real-world sounds to exotic, experimental effects.

Collision control

The exciting thing is that every aspect of this Collision + Corpus equation is adjustable—you have complete control over the excitation source, the force of the impact and the type of resonator. Choose what you want to hit: beam, plate, membrane, bars or tubes. Select the type of resonator and modify its geometry. Experiment with different materials: from glass or metal to wood, nylon and rubber. Try out different listening positions and compare parallel and serial configurations. Apply harmonic or disharmonic overtones. Tweak the preset sounds to perfection, create instruments that would be physically impossible in the real world or go full-on experimental for completely new sounds.


Choose your resonator

Collision features seven resonator types. Here, “resonator” refers to both the playing surface and the (optional) resonating body behind it. The choice is yours:


Beam simulates beams of different materials and sizes.

Marimba is a specialized beam. It reproduces the characteristic tuning of marimba bar overtones that are produced as a result of the deep arch cut of the bars.

String simulates strings of different materials and sizes as found in instruments such as pianos, guitars and dulcimers.

Membrane is a rectangular drumhead, with options for adjusting material and size.

Plate simulates a rectangular plate of different materials and sizes.

Pipe simulates a cylinder with one end open and a variable opening at the other end (adjusted with the “Opening” parameter).

Tube simulates a cylinder that is fully open at both ends.

Go configure

Collision has two configuration modes: parallel and serial. These mirror the real-world construction of these instruments—a xylophone, for example, consists of a beater, a playing surface (which is also a resonator…) with a resonating tube underneath. So a xylophone is a serial configuration. The parallel setup is not common in the real world but this is where physical modeling synthesis really scores: creating virtual instruments beyond physical constraints. Think of it as hitting two interdependent resonators or playing surfaces simultaneously.


Corpus separatus

Corpus is a virtual resonator or soundbox with a life of its own. Independent of Collision, you can use Corpus to add physical modeling characteristics to audio material or place it behind any virtual instrument to create complex resonances. You can avoid some tricky mic setups and studio workarounds simply by using Corpus instead. To round things off, Corpus’ secret weapon is a MIDI sidechain input. Use this to control the pitch of the resonances produced and give pitched resonances to unpitched percussion.


Key features


  • Co-developed with AAS, Collision is a completely new instrument, uniquely in tune with Ableton Live’s workflow and intuitive user interface.
  • The comprehensive preset collection includes xylophone, glockenspiel, marimba, balaphone, vibraphone and toms.
  • Physical modeling synthesis allows you to tweak Collision’s parameters in real time.
  • Exciter section: This has two oscillators. The first models the “beater,” or whatever is used to hit the playing surface. By modifying the stiffness and the noise settings, you effectively control the beater material or type. For example, you can increase the stiffness to simulate a metallic beater or add noise to simulate a beater with a felt surface. The second oscillator in the Exciter section is a noise oscillator with envelope and multimode filter controls. This is great for getting creative and adding a unique edge to your sounds.
  • Resonator section: This features two polyphonic resonators arranged in series or parallel. These resonators model the playing surface and any additional resonating body. Choose from the following resonator models:
    • beam (a basic wooden or metal beam)
    • marimba (a beam that has been carved to produce a certain pitch)
    • string
    • membrane (the skin of a drum)
    • plate (a flat resonating surface)
    • pipe (open or closed)
    • tube (variation of pipe—always closed with additional tonal capabilities)
  • You can also control hitting and listening positions, decay, brightness and inharmonics. Each resonator type has its own parameters for controlling the virtual shape and size of the resonator:
    • ratio (controls the geometry of the membrane and plate resonators)
    • opening (controls the geometry of the pipe)
    • radius (lets you modify the size of both the tube and pipe resonator types)
  • Resonators have pitch envelopes featuring two LFOs with multiple modulation types.
  • Many parameters can be modulated via key tracking, velocity and MIDI controllers for expressive, dynamic playing.


  • True stereo processing of the incoming signal and full control over the stereo width of the wet signal
  • Use independently of Collision to apply physical modeling characteristics to audio material
  • Full access to all of Collision’s resonator models
  • Features a MIDI sidechain input for controlling the tuning of the resonators
  • Spread parameter to detune left and right channel resonances
  • Dual LFO: create interesting stereo effects by applying various phase settings
  • Post-effect filter section for coloring the wet signal

System requirements

Collision requires Ableton Live 8 or higher.

Pricing and availability

Collision will be available when Live 8 is released (expected in the second quarter of 2009).

Collision will be included with Ableton Suite 8 or available separately for EUR 129/USD 159 from the Ableton webshop.

Latin Percussion is a collection of acoustic percussion instruments such as congas, bongos, timbales, claves, shakers, tambourines and bells from the worlds of Brazilian, Afro-Cuban and African music.

Latin Percussion was produced in association with E-Instruments.

Authentic sounds

Each instrument has been carefully multisampled to reproduce the sound, feel and playability of the real-world version. These instruments are useful for producing authentic salsa, merengue, son or mambo, but they’re also essential for reggaeton, R’n’B, Latin jazz or fusion… anything with a groove, basically.

Be articulate

Each instrument includes variations for the different ways of playing in the real world, reproducing the difference between a hit and a muted hit, for example. Whether you’re shaking, slapping or beating, the articulations for each instrument provide a level of detail that lets you go beyond simply adding “spice” to a track: with Latin Percussion you can really explore the character of the instruments. Individual instruments are arranged as drum racks to integrate neatly into your Live Sets with the articulations already in place. Additionally, Latin Percussion includes mapping for most popular drum pad controllers. In particular, the eight multi-articulation kits are specially designed to let you hook up your hardware quickly and start playing.

Drums and drummer

The greatest instruments in the world are no good unless you know how to play them. Latin Percussion has this covered: the package also includes clips and grooves, so you don’t only get the drums, you also get the drummer. These clips are authentic patterns and phrases that you can stretch, edit and investigate. Not only can you get started quickly, you can also peek inside the grooves and see what makes them flow.


Key features

  • 1 GB of carefully sampled percussion covering 107 instruments in 24bit/48kHz stereo.
  • 8 multi-articulation kits and 32 instrument groups provide variety and plenty of potential for customization.
  • Kits and instruments are configured as Drum Racks, so it’s easy to hook up your hardware and start playing.
  • 50 clips of patterns and phrases demonstrating and providing authentic use of the sounds.
  • A set of grooves to add some Latin feel to your drum patterns.
  • Up to 8 articulations per instrument including Slap, Mute, Flam, Heel, Stick and Shake.
  • Up to 20 velocity layers and up to 4 alternating hits per instrument for dynamic and authentic playing.

You can find a full list of instruments and articulations here.

System requirements

Latin Percussion requires 1 GB of hard drive space and Ableton Live 8 or higher.

Pricing and availability

Latin Percussion will be available when Live 8 is released (expected in the second quarter of 2009).

Latin Percussion will be included with Ableton Suite 8 or available separately for EUR 79/USD 99 from the Ableton webshop.

More Operator, more power

Operator, Ableton’s renowned do-it-all synthesizer, has been given a major overhaul. We opened up the hood, took a long hard look inside and did some serious hot-rod stuff:

User Waveforms: Draw your own waveforms by adjusting the amplitudes of each oscillator’s harmonics. You can also edit the built-in waveforms. Feedback is now available for all oscillators that are not being modulated by another oscillator.


New filter types: New ladder modes and SVF filters bring the total number of Operator’s filter types to fourteen. There is also a frequency response curve view in the filter display and an integrated waveshaper in the filter, featuring an adjustable drive amount and four curve shapes.


The filter, LFO and pitch envelopes now feature adjustable slopes, like those found in Sampler.


There’s a new MIDI modulation section in the global display, with multiple destination and amount settings for five MIDI control sources. We’ve also added new modulation options for the LFO and pitch envelope.



Ableton Live 8 and Suite 8 are expected to ship in the second quarter of 2009.

Collision and Latin Percussion will be available with the Live 8 release.

To find out about beta testing for Ableton Live 8, click here.


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