Ableton Live 3
Ableton Live 3

Live 3, Loop Sequencer from Ableton in the Live series.

rasknto 05/06/2016

Ableton Live 3 : rasknto's user review

« my own french test google translated »

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Value For Money : Excellent Audience: Advanced Users
Live! is an audio sequencer innovative principle since it is played in real time, like an Akai MPC sampler. It is dedicated to audio and manipulation of clips (short-term audio loops) to which it is possible to impose many real-time processing, hence its name.

Live! is an audio sequencer innovative principle since it is played in real time, like an Akai MPC sampler. It is dedicated to audio and manipulation of clips (short-term audio loops) to which it is possible to impose many real-time processing, hence its name.
Ableton is a young company based in Berlin, founded by a former member of Native Instruments. We will present them Live! in its third version.

Mixer relatively elaborate and 4 effect sends and scenes of the launch keys and crossfader destined software to DJing and Live interpretation. The principle is: is triggered loops in the session window while the app records the improvisation it is then possible to change in the Arrange window.

The main advantage of Live is certainly pleasant interface and fully controllable with one or more Midi controllers. At any time, even during the game, you can assign a controller to an element of the interface or the various parameters such as tempo, disabling magnetism or scenes triggers.

The instrument is based on a high-performance audio engine, able to adjust the playback speed of clips and the desired tempo to the desired quantification. You can record your own instruments. Live will incorporate immediately the loop in the song. In fact, reading does not stop while you play, and, uniquely as the Live Mixer is dedicated to real-time mixing, it has a cross fader as it can be found on a DJ mixer.

It is also possible to use Live as a recorder multitrack, although his main interest is not there. This software is a hybrid between a sampler, a groove and a recorder [def] dtd [/ def]. Besides, Ableton defines his creation as a "Sequencing Instrument".

machine Requirements

Given the use of samples, Live requires a relatively powerful machine to run but also a good amount of RAM. A computer with 1GB of RAM is not a luxury if we are to take full advantage of the software's capabilities.

We can play with the mouse, but there is a real pleasure to use a keyboard and a MIDI controller, the interface then becomes more pleasant to handle but also more complex. An audio interface with ASIO drivers is highly recommended if you want to check dtd with monitoring and real-time effects. We can always play samples without too much latency with the MME and DirectX drivers.

Play Live

Session SetPour deal with Live, you must first dial the set, that is to say, gather a consistent set of loops to start using the resources provided by the software. then organizes his set by assigning some clips to the computer keyboard or to its master keyboard if one has. The clips can be launched in different ways called "launch mode" in the app:

Trigger: triggers and stops the sample.

Gate: the loop is played as the play button is pressed.

Toggle: switches and stops the sample each time you press the trigger button. This mode is useful in session because it can synchronize scenes.

Repeat: every time you press the release button, playing the clip from zero. This mode is useful for creating effects from scratch or stuttering on voice samples.
Compared to the old version Live 2 Live 3 has new features it's interesting detail:

It is now possible, like a sampler, to assign a sample to a section of the master keyboard, allowing for example to play a melody.

Live 3 recognizes the velocity (in game sensitivity) and Pitch Bend messages, making it almost a true sampler.

Again, a new feature improves the game since you can apply to a legato sample, that is to say, instead of replaying the sample from start to every trigger, the sample will "pitched" in real time.
The game is done in the session screen, the arrangements are going in the other, and a window is tilted to the other by the <tab> key. Basically, it has 8 tracks and 2 FX sends. You can add as many tracks as desired and up to four send effects. In addition, Live has a pattern system: the horizontal lines are scenes and we can run all the clips of a scene by clicking on the switch in the right column. To complete the description of the session block can rename tracks and scenes at will. Once one sample, the sample takes the name of the track. One can easily create a scene and its variations on the following lines.

Below the display session is viewing clips of different properties and effect racks. Remember that it is possible to insert as many effects as you want on a track, on a shipment and even the master track, depending on the power of the machine used.

Control Panel

MidiLe Preferences control panel consists of four pages of settings.

In the Miscellaneous tab, you declare plugins directories, the Sample Editor ainsiq that temporary directories. Also there Live rule of behavior by the recording resolution (16/24 bit) and if it is told is to create analysis files. The ".asd" are important files in which Live registered interpretation of data samples. They allow Live to launch and play faster. Finally, the clips refresh rate specifies the rate at which Live updates a file being played, that is to say its reactivity.

The next panel to Live specifies the basic settings. This is where we can save his basic set (called "template"). The audio engine ( "Elastic Audio") Live proves efficient and can be set to mouse movement without stopping playback.

Live manages Asio drivers, MME and DirectX, but it is better to operate Asio for latency reasons. This is where you activate or not directly listen to and adjust the latency of the audio interface. This is also where it indicates the sample rate and audio channels used for playback and preview.

The last page is intended noon settings and to sync. two MIDI controllers can be assigned there and send their control updates to digital mixing consoles with motorized faders. It is also through this panel which is adjusted SMTP format and different Midi control parameters.

The interface

audio setup
Live audio configuration
Live Options
To the left is a retractable panel to 5 tabs providing access to plug-ins and samples explorer (three exploration windows from which you can rename or delete Samples, or call a set) and two locations for native and VST plug-ins.
At the top of the screen is a representation of the entire arrangement; clicking on a portion brings reading on this point.

The basic console consists of 8 tracks on fifteen scenes with two departures effects pre / post fader. Each track has two shipments (send) in addition to the inserts and we can apply mastering effects on the master slice. Besides the faders, there are buttons mute, solo, and monitoring arm, a pan control, slots to assign tracks to the crossfader (while the master has a volume for preview samples) crossfader itself, and a balance control.

The effects rack, located in the lower part of the screen displays the properties of clips, plug-ins as well as the input / output levels for each effect. A variety of keyboard shortcuts allows:

To call the physical input / output menus (and [def] rewire [/ def])

To call the effect sends if it is not already assigned to a controller,

Create tracks, other tracks and Sends scenes.
keyboard keys can assign more to mix settings or launch slots.

The master column is a bit special because there are scenes of the triggers that are used to launch all the clips of a line at a time. This is an interesting part of the game concept with Ableton Live.

At any time you can tilt the rack of effects on configuring I / O switches with mono / stereo and manage the gains of inputs / outputs nominal. In the options panels, it is possible to enable or disable inputs / outputs not to save the load [def] CPU [/ def]. A help panel that describes the interface is accessed by a button at the bottom left of the display.

The samples come alive

Warp MakersLa specificity Ableton Live is that "time-Stretched" and he does it well. Adapting to the tempo and the height allows easy manipulation of clips and original rhythmic creations would be more difficult to achieve with Tracktor DJ Studio 2, Audition (Cool Edit Pro) or Acid.

It has 4 algorithms relatively effective time stretch according to their settings and the situation:

Beat will be applied to dominant rhythmic loops or samples with obvious slicing (slicing is cutting samples in several temporal regions). Interestingly desynchronize clips with the quantification of the song. For accurate sync, we solve the rhythmic loops and sync the set.

Tone applies to its very height variations and allows you to adjust the brightness. This is done with the grain of the setting. This is the algorithm that changes the more sound and more difficult to apply correctly.

Texture applies to further sounds like synth pads and atmospheric sounds. Schedule may be adjusted stream that is the velocity of the stretch and the grain that is intensity.

Re-pitch applies to sounds whose length does not need to be stretched.
panoramiqueVoilà envelope for [def] time-stretching [/ def]. Now about time-warping is surely the most difficult function to understand and master in Live. The time-warping is the time compression / expansion clips. This is what allows you to groove to the music and this feature is hallucinating on hip-hop lyrics on or scratches, slappées bass or guitar leads. The principle is as follows: defining points of stretch / compress, you can synchronize the bass lines on batteries rhythmic. Over two points are close together, the more time is compressed; the more points away, the more one extends the playback speed. This helps to clarify the phrasing and rhythmic sync between the loops.

To finish with the basic settings of the clips, you can split or divide the tempo of a sample. All these things can be done directly over the interpretation of a set and have a real influence on the sound quality. If we do not take the time to make these adjustments while the sound may not be clear, dynamic or efficiency.

Live 3: innovation

The third version of Live introduced a new concept: the clip envelopes.
Envelopes automation curves that are already in Live 2 applied to the tracks and the master track (tempo, volume, pan, effects parameters mastering) now apply to samples.

While editing envelopes was tedious with Live 2 Live 3 introduces the Pen tool (control B): visually draws the track envelopes applied to the effects, volume, pan etc. All operations performed in Live can be automated by the automation curves.

These envelopes clips, confusing at first, are the true innovation of Live 3.
the height can be adjusted to sound over a range of 48 chromatic semitones or 4 octaves. This enables the creation of very surprising sounds and re-creation of original samples from samples from innocuous.

pitchLe volume envelope is also automated, which allows crazy rhythmic creations. We can create a multitude of rhythmic variations on a sample of regular 2 measures.

Panoramas are also automated for clips. You can do a travel sound in stereo space. Finally, effects sends can also be automated.

The manipulation of sounds becomes fascinating with such tools because you can automate the management of effects send and synchronize eg the variation of threshold of a compressor on the pan or even synchronize the volume on the oscillation of the cut -off of a filter. Live allows the creation of relatively complex arrangements.


Recreate his improv and save sequences in the arrangement screen

Simple Automation

It is possible to use Live as a classic dtd recorder. This is done in the Arrange window. We first choose its inputs (Control I to make them appear) and then track its weapon.

One can register by [def] punch in [/ def] / [def] punch out [/ def] and apply effects in real time via monitoring. The track is written in real time and the wave appears throughout the record if the track is expanded. Precision: Live written before the wave effect: if one applies the effects during recording, Live will record the settings for these effects to reapply during the reading of the sequence rather than save them in wav file.

We can then apply various effects to the recording, but it is not the main purpose of the app. The interest of the Arrange window is the modification or mastering improvisations executed during the session. We can expand or compress the display at will, move, reset the attacks of clips on the groove, copy / paste portions of arrangement with the curves of automations (or not). In practice, it's a breeze. Just lock or unlock the envelopes. Ditto for clips that can lengthen, shorten, split, pick up ... The tools provided to arrange its compounds provide efficient work that is not found necessarily in other more known sequencers.

The lock on the gate (Control G) magnetizes clips and is sticking to the cells of the grid for stalling the perfect tempo. The playback monitoring (Control F) keeps an eye on the Arrangement part playing and anticipate specific changes envelopes to do with the pen tool.

In a few clicks, it can sound an improv that seemed dull for interpretation. The live game is not easy and requires some understanding of the whole software. Ableton Live is full of technicalities that only practice can discover.

There is one more function to describe: the consolidation (Control J). If you made an interesting solo or a fairly unique sound that you want to reuse in another set, Live 3 is offered to consolidate, that is to say, to make a new sample from the changes you have made to the original sample. This function can also be used to convert a track in an audio clip to import it into another sequencer for more efficient mastering with the rewire.

before consolidation
Tracks before consolidation
after consolidation
Profit after consolidation

misuse of Ableton Live

I happen to use Live as a simple effects rack for guitar, bass, violin (!), Or for groove- box ... and even software (Traktor or Storm 2). Simply connect an instrument to trigger the monitoring and inserting different plug-ins on the track. Some examples :

Rack guitar / bass: I use it to recreate the atmospheric effects, filter, and 1 time the saturated compressor (to recreate distortion). One can easily take to Pink Floyd ...

In drum machine: assigning a loop 4 times on each track scene with an instrument on each time, for example in the order-kick snare hat-perceived-scratch. By playing of clip envelopes, the variations are endless and we just create a full pace.

As a sampler: just prepare a short sample and map the keyboard.

As qu'expandeur: By assigning rhythmic loops and basslines on the bottom of the keyboard, pads at the center and sound samples on the top of the keyboard, we can recreate "orchestras" whole by placing a sample on each octave .

A sampler / sequencer open

Live integrates [def] rewire [/ def] standard (virtual cable between software that allows them to share the use of an interface) since version 2. The most famous association is Live / Reason in rewire slave from, but one can imagine others like Master Live + Rebirth + Storm, Live + FruityLoops 4 ... note that we can not rewire the cascading software together; so it is impossible to have Cubase SX + Live + Reason, and plug-ins are unavailable in rewire slave mode. However, one can use a sequencer pro like Sonar or Cubase to use Live as a sampler and Rebirth 2 as a synth.

Using Live rewire fashion slave (slave) is also interesting because it turns Live into a powerful VST sampler.

Sonar 2 XL, we can rework the Live tracks to the unit as those of a conventional VST instrument. After arranging, the bounce to track function will perform a rendition Live tracks embedded audio in Sonar, useful before mastering.

The effects

The effects in Live 3
Live reverb 3
Live 3 comes with 17 high-quality native effects, but with a strong personality (it really recognizes their use in a song). This ranges from dynamic processing effects filters of all kinds, through the worst rampages that sound imaginable:

A gate that makes good use as a chopper but that can also be used in the initial purpose of cutting out background noise, pops and other high-sounding.

Two formidable compressors, one with dynamic filtering of a frequency (Comp 2) which allows for devilishly out the bass drums or punch to the synth parts.

Resonator 5 is a set of resonators which act together on a cutoff frequency by adding a note and by varying its length. It allows a snare to sound unclear or make a crystalline electric guitar sound. These resonators operate in four modes: notch, bell, highpass and lowpass.

Two equalizers, a 4-band parametric, the other three bands differential (ie the bass and treble cutoff frequency determines the treble) with a switch 24/48 dB.

A Chorus / Flanger quite end with two rates reinjections synchronized or not and polarity reversal.

A filter also fearful that allows many radical manipulation of sound.

Erosion, Vinyl-distortion and Redux were devastating for dirty sounds and distort with the worst imaginable methods: downsampling, addition of crunches etc.

Four types of echoes: a granular delay that changes the pitch echoes, a ping-pong delay synchronized to the tempo, delay / filter three bands that brings out the individual sounds within 2 classic bands.

excellent reverberation with one of three different algorithms consuming more or less processor power. The frequency range to be processed can be specified with a type of input filter high pass / low pass. then selects the broadcast area, the intensity of reflections or the balance between the signal processing and the original signal. To use this reverb is really effective and complete.

Utility is a classic phase inverter, with which we can grind the stereo in every sense.
That's the effect of Live and part instrument / software sampler. Live obviously allows the use of plug-ins (rewire fashion master only). It goes without saying that it is strongly recommended to have a Midi controller and a master keyboard as the handling is nice and creative, while the game to the mouse is daunting and somewhat human.

Conclusion & personal opinion

Ableton Live 3 is a versatile and impressive software by its creative content. Some small interface defects remain as the inability to display all envelopes arrangement at once or if instability is rotated loaded sets.

Live has qualities that are also its shortcomings as a truly identifiable and its native effects with a strong personality. One likes or dislikes!

It is an innovative instrument than a sequencer, which can bring out the creativity of a musician doing without a complex interface and emphasizing the dynamics of the game. It is also a programming feat when we imagine the mass of calculations done by the software for time-stretching, time-warping and mIDI control in real time without causing any interruption in reading. A software tool with a strong personality.