Today, leading software maker Ableton has announced the next evolution of its Live software, Live 11. This comes as a bit of a surprise because of the gap between previous versions and the rather short one between 10 and 11. That being said, Live 11 introduces some long-awaited features including comping, MPE support, new audio effects, and a very heavy emphasis on parameter randomization, which when used with MPE can create some next-level sound design possibilities.
We watched a demo not too long ago and the takeaway was that Ableton 11 is more or less the version most people have been waiting for, and the new shortcuts remove even more steps, allowing you to stay focused on creating. Another addition is the new sound library that includes samples from industry-leader Spitfire Audio. On top of that, the samples are MPE enabled, which will breathe real life into your sounds. There are also a select group of instruments that are MPE ready.
For those with a Push 2, Live 11 brings a firmware update for Push that enables polyphonic pressure. This means pressure (also known as aftertouch) can be applied independently on each note (rather than for an entire chord). It is assignable using Live 11's Expression Control device, and also editable per note in Live along with other control parameters such as slide, pitch, and velocity. Check out the intro video below, as well as a list of the new features.
Comping – Live organizes multiple passes of an audio or MIDI performance into individual takes. The best parts of these takes can then be stitched together for the desired final result. Comping can also be used as a fun way to explore sound and the sound design process.
Linked-track editing – Link two or more tracks to edit their content simultaneously.
MIDI Polyphonic Expression
MPE support – Allows musicians to add bends, slides, and pressure for each individual note in a chord, add subtle expression variations, morph between chords, and create evolving sonic textures more easily.
Expression View – Musicians can edit the pitch, slide, and pressure envelopes of each note to refine the expression of takes or do sound design in new ways by sequencing polyphonic sound variations.
MPE-capable native devices – Wavetable, Sampler, and Arpeggiator are updated to support MPE. Musicians can now control parameters per note for these devices, as well as third-party plug-ins.
Hybrid Reverb – Combines convolution and algorithmic reverbs, making it possible to create any space, from accurate real-life environments to those that defy physical reality.
Spectral Resonator – Breaks the spectrum of an incoming audio signal into partials, then stretches, shifts, and blurs the result by a frequency or a note in subtle or radical ways. The MIDI sidechain input also allows musicians to process material in key and even play the device as if it were a polyphonic instrument.
Spectral Time – Transforms sound into partials and feeds them into a frequency-based delay, resulting in metallic echoes, frequency-shifted, and reverb-like effects. The Freeze function captures and holds a slice of audio – either free-running or in time with the beat – for stuttered, glitched, and washed-out effects.
Inspired by Nature – Six playful instruments and effects that use nature and physics as their inspiration. Made in collaboration with Dillon Bastan.
PitchLoop89 – Creates jittery glitch effects, delayed digital shimmers, and outlandish vibrato. Made in collaboration with Robert Henke.
Features for the stage
Live Tempo Following – Live listens to and adjusts its tempo based on incoming audio in real-time, making it a dynamic part of the band instead of the tempo source that everyone has to follow.
Macro Snapshots – Musicians can store the state of Macros for later recall – a fast way to create instant variations to sounds, or builds and drops during the performance.
Rack improvements – Racks can be configured to have between 1 and 16 Macros, Macro states can be randomized with the push of a button.
Tools to add chance
Note chance – Set the probability that a note or drum hit will occur and let Live generate surprising variations to your patterns that change over time.
Velocity chance – Define ranges for velocity probability for subtle, humanized variations in the dynamics of your patterns.
Improved Follow Actions – Follow Actions can now be linked to the clip length, be set to jump to specific clips and be enabled and disabled globally. Scene Follow Actions make evolving arrangements possible.
Voice Box – A comprehensive collection of contemporary vocal samples from multiple voices, a set of playable vocal instruments, and Effect Racks designed for vocal processing.
Mood Reel – Evocative layered instruments combine organic and synthetic sounds with textural elements to add mood, space, and movement to productions.
Drone Lab – Tonal and textural samples, generative noise, multi-sampled instruments, plus devices, and Effect Racks designed for experimentation.
Upright Piano – Upright Piano is close-recorded for an intimate feel – a classic sound that is at home in many styles of music. Created in collaboration with Spitfire Audio.
Brass Quartet – This instrument highlights the natural breathiness, range of expression, and broad tonality of the brass quartet. Created in collaboration with Spitfire Audio.
String Quartet – This combination of two violins, viola, and cello has a sound that is immediately intimate, and is also a great starting point for sonic exploration. Created in collaboration with Spitfire Audio.
More additions and updates
Additionally, Ableton Live 11 features an assorted set of changes and updates that help musicians explore, capture, and refine more of their creative output.
Refined clip editing – Musicians can edit loops of multiple clips simultaneously, focus on a single clip in context and easily transpose entire arrangements from one piano roll.
Improved CPU metering – Live now shows current and average CPU usage. Per-track CPU meters show which tracks in a set use the most processing power.
Keys and scales – Allow musicians to use scales directly in Live's MIDI editor as a guide or reference by seeing which notes are in key or folding the piano roll to show only those notes.
Improved Clip Detail View – New tabs and fold-out panels in the Clip Detail View provide a clearer overview of and access to relevant parameters and properties of audio and MIDI clips.
Updated devices – Devices already in Live – including Redux, Phaser-Flanger, and Chorus-Ensemble – now have expanded ranges and new modes, adding more sound and making each device more musical and usable in every session they’re used in.
Updated Core Library – Live’s Core Library is expanded with new drum kits, Instrument Racks, Audio Effect Racks, Grooves, presets, and loops, all with a focus on contemporary music production.
Updated Packs – Selected Packs from Live’s current library now include new MIDI drum grooves, MIDI chords, licks, and basslines played by professional keyboard players, mix-ready presets, and more.
Pricing and availability
Ableton Live 11 will be available in early 2021.
A discount offer is running now until the release of Live 11. During the promotion, all Live 10 editions are 20% off. The purchase of any Live 10 edition automatically entitles customers to a free upgrade to its corresponding Live 11 edition upon release.
Ableton Live 11 will be available for purchase from Ableton.com and at local retailers.
- Download versions of Ableton Live 11 cost 79 EUR / 99 USD for Live Intro, 349 EUR / 449 USD for Live Standard, and 599 EUR / 749 USD for Live Suite.
- Existing Ableton Live owners should log into their accounts to check upgrade pricing.
Full review coming soon. For more information, click here.