Ableton has announced Live 4. Live 4 extends Live’s real-time music-making approach to the complete range of today’s music-production techniques.
In Live 4, users will find a complete approach to MIDI sequencing, pattern recording, drag-and-drop sampling, virtual instruments and MIDI hardware support. Ableton has made substantial extensions and enhancements to existing functionality, including such features as swing/groove for audio and MIDI clips, a powerful new channel-routing scheme, simplified recording, sample reverse, and several exciting new creative options for the Session View.
“In creating Live 4, we faced the challenge of adding our most requested features, while keeping Live simple, solid and inspiring to use,” says Ableton CEO Gerhard Behles. “The new functionality simultaneously widens Live’s scope and strengthens the qualities that make the program stand out. We would like to express our gratitude to the Live users who urged us to make this happen, and to make it happen in the right way.”
New Live 4 Features include:
- MIDI Tracks, Effects and Instruments. MIDI sequencing in Live has been designed to get the user started within seconds. Software instruments appear in Live’s built-in Browser. Dragging an instrument from the Browser into the mixer creates a MIDI track containing that instrument, ready to play and record. MIDI effects and audio effects can instantly be inserted into the same track by dragging, with no need for menus or abstract routing concepts. The signal flow within the track is intuitively set up by drag and drop. The Track View provides instant access to all instrument and effects controls.
- Live 4 also includes the ‘Simpler’ sampling instrument, which allows for instant sampling, polyphonic playback and creative exploration of any sound dragged into its display. ‘Impulse’ is a polyphonic percussion sampler with drag-and-drop sample import and powerful and innovative sound-shaping controls. In addition, Live hosts any VST or Audio Units (Mac OS X only) plug-in instruments. MIDI tracks with no software instrument can deliver MIDI to external hardware synthesizers, ReWire client programs or other MIDI tracks in Live. Live 4 also includes 5 MIDI effects. The ‘Scale’ effect, for instance, forces incoming notes onto a chosen musical scale and fits well with ‘Random,’ which creates random deviations in note pitch.
- MIDI Clips. MIDI clips are created by recording or by dragging in Standard MIDI files from Live’s Browser. Notes can be viewed, created and edited in the Clip View’s Note Editor. When Draw Mode is engaged, the Note Editor behaves like a drum-pattern interface, where a pattern step is set or cleared by a single click, and flams are created by dragging across multiple steps. Unlike a static drum grid or step sequencer, Live’s flexible grid allows the user to change the step resolution at any time. MIDI clips, like audio clips, have their own loop settings. MIDI-controller movements are represented as clip envelopes, which can be unlocked from the notes to create independent movements. The same real-time options apply to MIDI clips as they do to audio clips: MIDI clips can be launched at any time, with real-time quantization preventing rhythmical error. MIDI clips can be assigned to computer keys or MIDI-note ranges for jamming with musical phrases. MIDI clips can also be exported from Live as Standard MIDI files.
- MIDI Recording and Patterns. Patterns can be built up on the fly by overdubbing MIDI onto clips while they play in a loop. In conjunction with the new ‘Impulse’ percussion-sampling instrument, Live offers the options for spontaneous creation that are normally associated with hardware groove boxes. One can, in fact, use the computer keyboard to play Impulse’s drum samples and create grooves from the laptop alone. Standard linear MIDI recording and overdubbing are available in the Arrangement View.
- Flexible Routing. New monitoring, track routing and view navigation allow non-disruptive track setup and recording. Any track can feed and tap other tracks for submixes or layering, and be routed to eight auxiliary sends per Live Set.
Other new Features
- Swing and Groove – Audio and MIDI clips support variable real-time swing and individual groove parameters.
- Automatic Jamming – Audio and MIDI clips can be set to produce customized or even random sequences of loops or samples in Live’s Session View. This is great for generating new ideas, making beats or preparing a DJ performance.
- Sample Reverse – A single button can reverse any audio clip in real time.
- Session View scenes can change the project tempo.
- Session View scenes can be set to advance automatically.
- Audio performance has been optimized for Macintosh computers.
Live 4 Pricing and Availability
Live 4 for Mac OS 9, OS X and Windows will be available at music stores worldwide and from the Ableton site by the end of July, 2004. Live 4’s suggested retail price is 499 EUR/US$. Upgrades from any full version of Live (Live 1, 2 or 3) to Live 4 will cost 119 EUR/US$ (download only) or 149 EUR/US$ (boxed version). Customers who purchased Live 3, or an upgrade to Live 3, after May 15th, 2004 will be eligible for a discounted upgrade to Live 4 for only 49 EUR/US$ (download only) or 79 EUR/US$ (boxed version).