Ableton Live 9 – finally live

Last week, Berlin was the location for an invitation only preview event (click to watch the extremely Apple-esque video) of what Ableton had in mind for the future. Given that they have but one full product in their repertoire, it wasn’t too hard to work out what it was going to be about. Sadly, I couldn’t make it, and just about nothing has leaked from that soiree, apart from a possibly accidental posting and subsequent taking down of a video all about Live 9. So it comes as no surprise to see that Live 9 is now official rather that much talked about vapourware.

First the official words from Berlin:

Live 9

The upgrade to version 9 greatly expands the creative possibilities of Ableton’s popular Live software.

The most important new features at a glance:

Session automation: In Session View, automation can now be recorded in real time directly within clips. Automation can move together with clips between Arrangement and Session View.

Find sounds fast: Live’s new browser puts all instruments, effects, samples, and plug-ins in one easy-to-navigate view. Drag and drop folders from anywhere on your computer, search as you type and navigate from the keyboard to find everything quickly.

Discover new sounds: Live comes with a large selection (3,500 in the Suite edition) of production-ready sounds, which were carefully crafted with the help of over 40 artists, sound designers and engineers. All sounds feature Macro controls for fast access to their most meaningful, musical parameters.

Get your sound right: Live’s studio effects have all been reworked for even better sound and usability. The Glue Compressor is a new effect – an authentic model of a legendary 1980s console bus compressor. EQ Eight has an audition mode for isolating frequencies and an expandable spectrum display. The Gate and Compressor effects feature a Gain Reduction view which shows changes in signal level over time.

Extract music from samples: Live’s new Harmony, Melody and Drums to MIDI tools extract natural-feeling MIDI directly from the favorite parts of your music collection. You can also sing, tap a rhythm, play any solo instrument, then use Melody or Drums to MIDI to turn your recordings into MIDI clips that you can edit and reuse with any sound.

Edit the details: Transpose, reverse and stretch MIDI notes or warp clip automation and add curves to automation envelopes. New tools and an improved workflow allow fast and flexible editing of musical ideas.

Max for Live – now in Suite: The Suite edition of Live 9 comes with Max for Live and its many unique instruments, effects and tools. Max for Live itself includes 24 new devices such as a convolution reverb, new drum synthesizer instruments, MIDI echo as well as reworked versions of classics such as Step Sequencer and Buffer Shuffler 2.

Pricing and Availability

Prices start at USD 99 / EUR 79 (Live 9 Intro download version), USD 449 / EUR 349 (Live 9 Standard download version) and USD 749 / EUR 599 (Live 9 Suite download version).

Upgrades to Live 9 Standard / Live 9 Suite vary in price depending on the Ableton products you already own. More details at:

Ableton Live 9 will be available in the first quarter of 2013.

Beta testing will begin shortly.

Starting immediately, Ableton Live 8 is available for 25% off the regular price and includes a free upgrade to Live 9 as soon as it is released.

More information

More information about Live 9 including video tutorials:

Ableton Live 9 screenshots (6)

Now I’d dearly love to be able to make intelligent comment about Live and how this update is amazing for reasons X, Y, and Z. But I still know almost nothing about Live. It’s not been quite DJ enough for me, but for people like Chris Cartledge, it’s right up their street. You can check what he thinks over at ohdratdigital. But the preview presentation really does explain a lot, and is well worth a watch:

Halfway through, it jumps to Ableton’s new Push hardware. More on that coming next.

The Bridge Too Far?

Clearly, Live is not DJ software, and Ableton have made no bones about not catering for DJs. And with a new version of Live appearing, I’m left wondering if this will either enhance Serato‘s partnership Bridge project, or maybe kill it dead completely. Given the starting complexity of Live, perhaps a better approach might be to enhance Serato’s core DJ features in a more production direction, rather than cram an entire application inside another.

But I’m really interested to know how you guys use it. Do you perform with it with DJ gear? Without DJ gear? Or are you more of a music maker and don’t perform with it at all? Or like me, does the interface scare the hell out of you because it doesn’t work like DJ software?

We’re going to have to wait a little while to get our hands on it. The beta starts soon, with a roll out Q1 2013. It looks like it could be worth the wait though.

  • AdmiralJonesy

    I want to use The Bridge. I really, REALLY do. But I own a NS7 & a Novation Twitch and have been waiting for 2 years for Serato/Ableton to make good on their promise to support the ITCH platform. Now that we are entering Serato DJ territory, I fear it is all but dead, which is a giant shame. In my imagination this would be the perfect combo for a producer/DJ to have everything for a original live set in one bag (Twitch / APC 40 and then some effects or a 4×4).

    • Yes, DJ software really needs to get with the warping thing. Whoever does it first will make a killing. I think many DJs who use Live only do so because of the warping, and put up with all the quirks. Put warping in Traktor (I thought the Remix Decks upgrade would have it) or one of the other other major DJ s/w players and I’m convinced those DJs using Live will jump ship.

  • I’m still awaiting a response from Ableton on the improved browser – whether it uses a database now, and can search ID3 tags. The browser in 8 was impossibly slow.
    From a DJing POV I only use Live to warp old “wobbly tempo” tracks, which I then export and play on standard DJ kit. I’d love for warping to come to some “proper” DJ software, but there’s still no sign of it – even with the beat grid improvements to VDJ 8 and The One, it’s still not warping.
    I couldn’t stand to DJ using Live – far too much pre-prep required. it’s not “on the fly” enabled.

    • Torq has been able to warp tempo adjustments for a while now.

      • From the M Audio website: “TORQ software is currently not available for sale” – kinda puts a damper on things.

  • AdmiralJonesy

    Also, a big thanks to you Mark. I didn’t think any DJ reporter was going to say something about The Bridge ever again. Every mention means a lot to me until they release SOMETHING about The Bridge/ITCH/DJ status.

  • Rhakka

    In response to the end of the article, I think I use Live in a way that most DJs do not. I almost never use it “live”. I mostly use it for making sets with highly edited transitions and even editing tracks to the point of “I should probably just call that a remix”. I can make a lot of transitions and edits that would be impossible, no matter how much practice you had just doing that one bit of the set. Pitch shifting individual notes and moving them around to make entirely new melodies, but with the same style as the original track. (sometimes to match 2 tracks that I really want to put together and sometimes just for fun, to throw people off or get that “what the… oh, awesome!” response)

    I really agree with one of the comments about non-Live software. When you can finally do warping and tempo changes for individual tracks in one of the major DJ software packages, that product is going to be the new standard for a lot of people, whether you see them going on about being anti-sync, etc. If they’re using software, they’ll probably love that feature, while the people using sync for everything will see it as mandatory.

    I don’t care if you have an issue with people that use sync or quantize. That’s just using the tools to do the grunt work for you. There’s very little skill in beat matching. (it just takes a bit of experience to be able to hear the differences, so you can push and drag without much audible notice) All of the real work is in coming up with the ideas and making your transitions/edits sound good and in the case of live performance, playing to the crowd. No software does that for you. So yeah, I want some #*$ !@*& track warping and variable tempo beat mapping in my software. 😉

  • Hi Mark and community,

    I think Bridge for ITCH/Serato Dj will be possible in the next future but (if it comes…) don’t expect it before than Q3 of the next year.

    On the positive side, Live 9 session automation is a great feature which could be an intermediary solution through maxforlive (or remote scripting) for DVS/Controllers and full scratchable warped clip content. Again the problem with Serato is its close nature and with Ableton the audio engine (will be Live 9 scratchable?).

    I know all the steps involved in developing this thing but my code programming skills and resources are limited and this will be work for a team (almost 5 coordinated people). Of course, I still need a job. Thanks. 😉

    With the NI Remix decks/maschine you can do the same more or less (no full DAW, ok) and z2 is cheaper and more compact than any serato/ableton combo…

    So the question is… How much profitable will be put money/energy into the BrITCH?


  • I think it is quite possible to use Live for DJing and it’s really fun too. it’s really dead simple to chop up songs into segments (akin to cue points) and to create live mash-ups and add drum loops and even additional instruments. what’s also great is that, depending on the amount and types of midi controllers you have, you can make a monster modular rig and that can enable you to DJ, add tons of effects and play virtual instruments, or even real instruments and process them in the software effects…

  • Pingback: OUT NOW: Ableton Live 9 ready for download | Sunnylicious()