Ableton Live 9 Review & Ableton Push In Depth – “Ableton Still Owns The Future”

Ableton Live 9

Music educator Will Kuhn has been working with Ableton Live 9 and has decided that ‘Ableton still owns the future”. He writes:

Live 9 strikes me as an iteration of an already great product, but I think the message from Ableton AG is clear: Live is here to stay, and is the ultimate standard in electronic music making.  “Everything you need to make great music can come from us.”  In a way, Live 9 completes the story, and sets the standard for the next generation of music software.

See Kuhn’s site for his full take on Live 9.

In addition to Live 9, though, Ableton also has opened up orders for its new Push controller. 

ableton-live-pushCDM’s Peter Kirn has been giving Push a workout and has this to say about the new controller:

The thing I think might put people over the top on Push is playing the pads. Whether on drum parts or instruments, the pads feel fantastic, the whole device is expressive to play, and you’ll find yourself discovering new rhythms, melodies, and harmonies – even if you keep a more traditional keyboard or drum triggers around.

Getting something this lovely, this well-made, with a fantastic set of pads you can use to play instruments, or beats, or control clips, or devices, or put together songs or performances, all with color backlit-feedback and a display and encoders – that’s tough to pass up.

The relationship between gesture and sound, hardware and software is still imperfect, and sometimes complex. But Push is a sign the people making these tools are beginning to have a deeper appreciation for computers as instruments. And that can only be a good thing.

Kirn’s in-depth review of the new Ableton Push is an epic 6,135 mini-tome. If he got paid by the word, he could probably retire on this review alone.

If you’ve been on the fence about Ableton Push in an ‘it looks pretty cool but I’ve already got an APC40’ kind of way, though, Kirn’s deep dive will probably answer all your questions. And everybody else’s questions, too.

If you’ve got your own thoughts on Live 9 and Push, share them in the comments!

37 thoughts on “Ableton Live 9 Review & Ableton Push In Depth – “Ableton Still Owns The Future”

  1. spent whole day digging around new v9, simple yet effective changes. had to open the info window a few times to find out what some of the new little buttons do. new browser is pretty sweet, was taken back by the separation of stock and user library- but i got the hang of it and quickly loved it – makes skipping around defaults a thing of the past. custom side folders <3. the further separation of session and arrange is done very well, and the automation is beautiful. global record, new take/scene buttons are very handy. seperate overdub toggles for session and arrange. greatness. i did have issues with alot of 'older' max devices tho – specifically all launchpad sequencers (which sucks as the remote script that sequences is not recognized anymore either). may be a setup issue on my end, and im not too worried as my order for push is in. glue comp is amazing, saving default audio/midi tracks amazing, new skin 'mode' with hues and brightness, as well as color presence (instantly made mine greyscale-ish, my eyes are greatful) again lots of little sprinkles on an already amazing piece of cake. goin back in…

    1. No I think he just means a bunch of noobs who don’t know shit about shit use it so it has a bad stigma with those that do. Plus its interface – still clunky as hell and its sound quality….. meh.

  2. In the end I could not resist, soI just got the update ( it’s not that expensive anyway, plus I got a 50€ discount) and I’m actually very happy about it, as Foeny518 said there’s a lot of little things that make live easier to use and more powerful. to me the new browser is so far the best of the new features, since I really hated the old one, now you can finally search stuff!
    I will have to play with it a bit more though…

    1. Agreed – pre-ordered the update and was ready to be underwhelmed, however…love the new browser, lots of new content, pitch-to-MIDI (now I don’t have to always grab for Melodyne), and set-up was fairly trouble free (only had to tweak the 64 bit plug-in location). I thought upgrade price was reasonable (I went up to the Suite from Live 8+M4L) and the 64 bit implementation (with M4L 64 bit as well) is alone worth the price of admission considering the amount of RAM and sample libraries that I have been underusing since I made the switch to Live (for those haters out there, it looks like 8 is available for Win 64 bit as well @ no charge). Nothing to complain about here (stability to be confirmed, but the Beta Testers seem to have positive experiences)…

  3. Very happy for Ableton, this new version looks pretty well done.
    Unfortunately as every other big company out there they alway screw on lower end consumers or the customers that buys stripped down version of the flagship software.
    I own Live Intro 8 and it seems the only way to upgrade to Live Intro 9 is to buy the software again or i can buy un upgrade to Live 8 and Live 8 Suite and get free upgrade to Live 9 and Live 9 Suite.
    I got Live Intro 8 beacause was affordable and beacause i want to have an original software, but i think the best thing is what other people most of the time does, they get cracked version from all over the net, there is plenty of places where you can get LIVE 8 for FREE.

    1. Welcome to the Age of the Freetard. when retailers and developers are actually expected to thank you for the compliment when you steal from them.

      “Lower-end” consumers are not necessarily screwed. You can get a lot of mileage out of Live Intro, plus if you’re a student, you get discounts for the full version.

      If you are not a student, here’s a hint: get a job and save money and buy the damn thing.

      Or don’t, in which case expect to be screwed when your cracked copy goes bonkers or crashes unexpectedly or messes up your operative system.

      Yes, 500-600$ for a professional grade software is very expensive. So is a decent-sounding professional keyboard or guitar.
      Cry me a river.

      1. Yeah, I hate it when my ‘Operative System goes Bonkers.’ I should get a job *baaa* or go to school *baaaa* because I’m a retard.

  4. Ableton totally failed to interest me at all in this product…all the press releases are so busy selling that crappy midi controller that they forgot to tell me why I should bother buying Live 9?

  5. I like it that Live 9 continues to not look like a xmas tree. A clear interface that thrives on its austere simplicity and doesn’t get in the way of the business at hand.

  6. Retina support would, in a company that “owns the future,” be a logical inclusion. But instead this “new version” does not support it. Brilliant. Good job. Nice to buy a “new version” that looks like shit on my screen (that has been around for almost a year). Keep owning it Ableton.

    1. Retina support would be nice and it’s probably more important (to me at least) than any other feature Ableton added in version 9. But it’s hard to be pissed at them for it considering Apple’s own DAWs, Logic Pro and GarageBand, aren’t retina optimised.

    2. Sorry if I sound harsh, but honestly, if I were a developer for Ableton I wouldn’t care one bit about Apple’s Retina. I would worry more about functionality and an intuitive interface (check), new plugins (check), bugs /crashes (not checked for the time being – I except issues to be resolved in about a year, same as version 8).

      I bought this software to make music, after all. I (and most electronic musicians, I guess) can live with a bit of pixelization on my Live interface.

      1. That makes no sense….. Mbps seem to be the choice of their biggest demographic…..it doesn’t matter if the screen you stare at all day looks like shit??

        1. 12 years ago, Cubase VST looked like shit. 1990’s Amiga, Macintosh and Atari ST sequencers looked like shit. Which didn’t affect their functionality nor stopped me and many other people from producing music. Music and sound are the important things to worry about, interface and ease of use as well – cosmetics, however, are secondary. That was my point.

    3. Not everyone owns a mac. Some of us own very powerful custom computers, and Abelton looks good on my dual 1080p displays. Retina was kind of too much in my opinion. Why didn’t Apple just go for 1080p displays? It’s either lower than 1080p or some stupid high resolution.

  7. Anybody else annoyed that Ableton still doesn’t have a transient shaper? … Also, as excited and grateful as I am for a convolution reverb, I wonder why it had to be a Max for Live patch – it seems Ableton is focusing more and more on Max for Live versus native Live plugins. The convolution reverb, though, is great, and so is the IR library.

    1. yeah, was really disappointed that stuff like assignable lfos and envelopes were done as M4L devices rather than features. These all seem like great improvements, but not changes to functionality that would make it more “futuristic.” I would love to see the macro concept expanded to the point where a rack functions like a synth, or see the audio to midi effects work in realtime, for example. It’s still kind of locked into the midi synths + standard mixer paradigm, rather than taking the Max stuff and making it easier to stick different kinds of functions into the mix.

  8. Whenever I find myself questioning if I whine or complain too much…I just make a quick swing by the synthtopia comments section and instantly my mind is set at ease…and I am once again at peace with the universe.

  9. beta tested and upgraded to Live 9, but to say Ableton owns the Future? That statement seems to be way off the mark to me. I see a future of electronic musicians wanting to stand out and be unique, and PUSH seems more of a way to “hide” the computer to “seem” unique, which is quite different than showing appreciation for the computer as an instrument.

    If anyone wants to trade my laptop+Live 9 suite and a bunch of plugs, for a Cirklon Sequencer pm me, I’m ready.

  10. Does anyone know if Live 9 features scroll wheel support? This is a feature that is still something I really need.

    1. Whats this thing about scroll-wheel? I use mine all the time: horizontal, vertical etc. You just need a mouse that can be programmed (like razer-naga). You should definitely get a programmable mouse anyway..

      1. I don’t think that’s what the OP means. If Ableton were to offer scroll wheel support, it would mean that every element of the GUI you use your cursor to control (faders, knobs, amounts, etc.) could also be controlled by hoving your mouse over them and scrolling your mouse. A programmable mouse offers some of that functionality, but not all.

        Check out any synth made by U-he for a good example of how useful this feature is. Without it, you basically have to click and drag every single time you want to make a change on Live’s GUI. (I’m still using Live 7, and will continue to stick with it until scroll wheel support becomes supported.

      2. Not quite the same. Scroll wheel support would automatically access every function in Ableton’s GUI, including knobs, faders and amounts.

  11. At first I thought that a new browser wouldn’t be a big deal but damn, it raises the level. Finding the kick sound you want is no longer a load-test-load-next exercise in infinite patience. I can just walk through the samples and hear them instantly, on the fly. I can even hear sample tones from soft-synth pre-sets which is useful as a starting point for a tone that I am envisioning for a part. It’s all really pretty awesome. Not at all flashy, but a subtle improvement that removes what was one of my least favorite parts of Ableton — finding the sound I’m after. Kudos to them. This is no small thing.

    1. Totally agree – the only thing is that I’m getting the colorful spinning wheel a bit too much. Hopefully it’s just because of indexing of the library.

  12. I’m a giant hater of most tech companies. I’ve seen garbage spew from Apple, Nikon, Canon, Google, Msoft of course, AMazon etc etc etc.

    First off, just contact ABleton and talk to them. They might make you a deal. They have for me on occasion.

    Secondlly, the thing about Ableton is it fulfills two rolls for me – its a serious electronic music noodler (So are Reason, Fruity Loops and others), but it’s also a hell of a DAW. I’m recording totally organic insdtrumental bands in it, and while it probably lacks the functionality of Pro Tools, Avid will charge you 5-6k to get up to the full level with them, and ABleton lets you in for a tenth of that, so wake up and smell the coffee – this software might not be perfect (its view zoom drives me nuts), but it is a fair deal for the money you spend, and they are truly innovating with their upgrades, unlike a company like Adobe which just sits around knowing you need them.

  13. I agree. Despite Live’s interface shortcomings, it is an amazing piece of software – you can use it as a a live electronic performance instrument / tool (which is after its main appeal) or you can use it as a full-fledged DAW.

    On top of that, in my experience, Ableton seems to be run by actual human beings who seem to know a bit about music, will swiftly reply to your troubleshooting questions and have no problems in cutting some slack to users who are not – i.e., Live 9 will run on any Intel OSX iteration and on Windows XP (a 12-year old operative system).

  14. *addendum / missing text

    [Ableton has] no problems in cutting some slack to users *who are not rich and able to buy new laptops every 2 years or so* – i.e., Live 9 will run on any Intel OSX iteration and on Windows XP (a 12-year old operative system).

  15. Seems to be an excessive degree of loyalty here for a very buggy piece of software. Upgraded today; browser works appallingly. Tried to important a single folder of less than a few gig and it totally haemoraghed my computer. What’s worse, because it’s indexed my files in such a clunky horrible way, it’s now made browsing the folders impossible and I’m finding it nigh on impossible to clear up all the ASDs and get things working in an acceptable manner. Really screwed things up on this one Ableton and turned what was once a simple user-friendly experience into the most dreadful turgid rubbish. Stop trying to reinvent the wheel and go back to the simple useable software that set you apart from your competitors.

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