Even today, many of the most popular music-making packages have their roots in the late 80s, some first appearing on the Atari ST. Fortunately, Ableton stepped in and developed Live, which works with audio, loops and MIDI in a way that’s far more relevant to the 21st Century electronic musician, mixer and DJ.
Now up to version 7, Live is an immensely powerful tool, but with that power comes a price tag that would scare off all but the most serious users. However, the new, slightly cut-down Live 6 LE offers a more affordable entry point.
What makes Live different from everything else is its effortless integration of old-school MIDI instruments, software synths and effects, audio recording and playback and, best of all, very intelligent tempo, pitch and looping tools.
This allows it to be used in a number of different ways: as a sequencer with or without external MIDI gear, as a remix tool, or as a digital DJ workstation. Because Live has rewritten the rulebook, it does take some time to get the hang of it, but once you’ve got it sussed, it’s an absolute joy to use.
Not much missing
Limitations over the full version are few, but include a reduced number of audio ins and outs, fewer allowable VST effects and instruments and no video track. Even so, there’s just so much you do get, most of that will go unnoticed.
Live 6 LE can be used on so many levels, from idle tinkering to full-blown professional productions. Check out the demo on the Ableton website and prepare to be converted.