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Ableton Live 10

Music Production Software
Published February 2018
By Nick Rothwell

Ableton Live 10 DAW.

With Live 10, Ableton’s aim is to make the music‑making process as smooth as possible. Have they succeeded?

Ableton Live 10 arrives amid much anticipation, coming some four and a half years after Live 9 first shipped. (To be fair, though, Live 9 came about four years after Live 8, so Ableton are being pretty consistent with their releases.) Ableton have always taken a rather conservative, evolutionary approach to new versions, and this is no exception, at least on the outside. The interface has been somewhat restyled and does look different, but the changes are subtle. However, there are deeper differences beneath the visual makeover. Amongst all the enhancements, there are also one or two casualties: support for Serato Scratch (The Bridge), which arrived with Live 8.2, has been discontinued, and if you’re on an older computer or using older plug‑ins, you might want to note that 32‑bit support is also gone.

Neat Neat Neat

Controls, track headers and clips in Live 9 (top) and 10, showing the new lighter look, with thinner lines and text.Controls, track headers and clips in Live 9 (top) and 10, showing the new lighter look, with thinner lines and text.Ableton Live 10The first impression one gets when opening up Live 10 is one of tidiness. There are no obvious massive changes: there is less of a visual gulf between Live 9 and Live 10 as there was between 8 and 9, for instance. In fact, on an initial glance there are no obvious changes at all, other than a ‘lightness’ to its appearance that is partly down to a clean‑up of graphical elements. Lines have been thinned or in some cases removed, and controls are now drawn with vector graphics for scalability. A new lightweight text font called Ableton Sans is now used everywhere, adding a lightness and clarity to names and labels and making them more readable. However, you’ll need a high‑resolution or Retina screen to really see the difference: on a standard or HD screen the change isn’t that apparent, unless you ramp up the zoom level in Live’s display preferences.

If you open an existing Live Set and switch to Arrangement View, the view’s contents will look rather sparse. This is because track automation is only shown in one of two editing modes; in the other mode you see the clips with their MIDI notes or audio waveforms and not much else. We’ll look at automation shortly.

A Browsing Chorus

Items in the browser can be tagged with colour‑coded labels.Items in the browser can be tagged with colour‑coded labels.The most immediately obvious enhancement to Live’s browser is a Collections feature, which is really just a way of attaching coloured labels to devices, presets, files and folders. There are seven available labels, and each can be given a customised name. Initially, only the red label is shown, with the name ‘Favorites’, but right‑ or Ctrl‑click on any item in the right‑hand area of the browser and you can attach any label to it, or even multiple labels at once. Labels become visible in the Collections area as they are used, but can be shown or hidden at any time using an edit button floating to the right of the Collections header. Labels persist between sessions and are global, so you can label items in one Live Set and access them by label in another. (Entire Live Sets can be labelled, but not tracks or clips within them.) Navigation by labels is fast and convenient, with keyboard shortcuts for...

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Published February 2018