Am I happy with Live 9? This was a question that people were asking on the Ableton forum, and I thought I’d post my thoughts to the blog.
It’s a question I’ve gone back and forth on a lot since it was announced. When I first heard what the new features were going to be, I have to admit I was pretty disappointed. For how long it’s been since Live 8 came out, it just seemed like not much had really been done. I think a lot of users had been rather “meh” about the last few releases, and with the long delay since 8 was released, there was just this expectation that it was going to be something big hopefully.
But it wasn’t. At least, that’s how I felt at first.
Fast forward to the beta phase and actually getting my hands on it, and my views started to change. I don’t know what it is, but while everything is more or less the same as Live 8, it FEELS different. I don’t know how to put it in words, but using the app some things feel slightly quicker than they used to be, and some feel slower. So while I might have felt there weren’t a lot of new features, it still sort of felt like a new app to me. Or perhaps saying it felt a little more refined than I imagined it would be is more accurate.
The new features were interesting as well, though to be honest I personally don’t have much use for them for the way I use Live day to day. Audio to MIDI was more accurate than I expected it would be, though I know this seems to be a personal thing. Ironically the one time I had a need for it for my work (to extract a melody from a mixdown the client couldn’t go back to), it didn’t even get close to what the actual melody was. Works great every other time though, go figure.
M4L being included with Suite is great I guess, but I never really used it before, even when I had it with 8. I keep meaning to dive in and check out some of the new devices, but I haven’t really had a need yet. The Glue is nice sounding, but again not something I really find myself needing for my music (yet).
In contrast the new EQ8 and Compressor are amazing as far as I’m concerned, easily my favorites out of any DAW. Been doing a lot of mixdowns in Live 9 for clients and been finding that I rarely feel the need to reach for 3rd party options on this front. That saves me a ton of time and makes it easier to send the projects back to the clients if they want it, so hurray for that improvement.
I also like the way that using Session View to record audio seems to have a lot of subtle improvements. Things like Clip Looping being set automatically when you stop recording and snapping to the nearest measure. Just seems faster to sketch out quick ideas.
I hated the browser in Live 8, and I hate the browser in Live 9. They took a clunky way to interact with your files and data and made it clunkier. I rarely need it thank god, but when I do I can’t help but wonder WTF? Sorry, this is one of those things that makes no sense to me in terms of design in Live. For every change that made it better, there’s 2 that made it worse.
So at the end of the day and after a lot of hours of use, I’m mostly ambivalent about the upgrade from Live 8 to Live 9, leaning slightly to the positive side. I was really hoping for a more radical upgrade in terms of how Live looks and functions, but I think they’ve drawn the line in the sand with this release and are clearly aiming to refine rather than reinvent. That’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with fine-tuning an app to make it more functional, and I definitely think that for the vast majority of users they have probably done this.
For me, the changes that I don’t like are slightly outweighed by the ones I do, so I think overall it was worth the upgrade. Over the years I’ve learned that I can’t always work with just one DAW, so I look at Live as a tool that helps me achieve certain tasks. Anything related to quickly organizing looped audio or detailed time-stretching work that I need to do. And then about 50% of the time I end up just doing the whole track in Live once I’m done anyway.
Live 9 didn’t really change the way I look at the program and how I use it, so in a way I’m glad it didn’t change too much too I guess.
A lot of people have been asking me if I’m getting a Push. I want a Push, bad right now. Even though I know that most likely I will probably end up selling it after a few months anyway. I applaud Ableton for creating something new that is targeted as an instrument, but I also know that I just don’t like creating music that way. I still want to get my hands on one for some extended time to see if I can be swayed, but I have a feeling I’m too set in my ways on this front.
Still, I think it’s going to be very common to see people rocking these everywhere. They may have just created a whole new market with a demand other companies haven’t been able to quite achieve yet. The fact there’s such a long wait almost from the get go just shows how many people are interested in it. Will be interesting to see if a lot of these end up trading hands once more people get more time with one.