DP version 10 delivers new features like the Clips window and Stretch Audio, plus hundreds of virtual instruments and workflow enhancements requested by DP users.… Read More DP 10 Adds Clips, Stretch Audio & More
There’s something about point releases – not the ones with any radical changes, but just the ones that give you a bunch of little stuff you want. That’s Live 10.1; here’s a tour.
Live 10.1 was announced today, but I sat down with the team at Ableton last month and have been working with pre-release software to try some stuff out. Words like “workflow” are always a bit funny to me. We’re talking, of course, mostly music making. The deal with Live 10.1 is, it gives you some new toys on the sound side, and makes mangling sounds more fun on the arrangement side.
Oh, and VST3 plug-ins work now, too. (MOTU’s DP10 also has that in an upcoming build, among others, so look forward to the Spring of VST3 Support.)
Let’s look at those two groups.
Sound tools and toys
User wavetables. Wavetable just got more fun – you can drag and drop samples onto Wavetable’s oscillator now, via the new User bank. You can get some very edgy, glitchy results this way, or if you’re careful with sample selection and sound design, more organic sounds.
Here’s how it works: Live splits up your audio snippet into 1024 sample chunks. It then smooths out the results – fading the edges of each table to avoid zero-crossing clicks and pops, and normalizing and minimizing phase differences. You can also tick a box called “Raw” that just slices up the wavetable, for samples that are exactly 1024 samples or a regular periodic multiple of that.
Give me some time and we can whip up some examples of this, but basically you can glitch out, mangle sounds you’ve recorded, carefully construct sounds, or just grab ready-to-use wavetables from other sources.
But it is a whole lot of fun and it suggests Wavetable is an instrument that will grow over time.
Here’s that feature in action:
Delay. Simple Delay and Ping Pong Delay have merged into a single lifeform called … Delay. That finally updates an effect that hasn’t seen love since the last decade. (The original ones will still work for backwards project compatibility, though you won’t see them in a device list when you create a new project – don’t panic.)
At first glance, you might think that’s all that’s here, but in typical Ableton fashion, there are some major updates hidden behind those vanilla, minimalist controls. So now you have Repitch, Fade, and Jump modes. And there’s a Modulation section with rate, filter, and time controls (as found on Echo). Oh, and look at that little infinity sign next to the Feedback control.
Yeah, all of those things are actually huge from a sound design perspective. So since Echo has turned out to be a bit too much for some tasks, I expect we’ll be using Delay a lot. (It’s a bit like that moment when you figure out you really want Simpler and Drum Racks way more than you do Sampler.)
Channel EQ. This is a new EQ with visual feedback and filter curves that adapt across the frequency range – that is, “Low,” “Mid,” and “High” each adjust their curves as you change their controls. Since it has just three controls, that means Channel EQ sits somewhere between the dumbed down EQ Three and the complexity of EQ Eight. But it also means this could be useful as a live performance EQ when you don’t necessarily want a big DJ-style sweep / cut.
Here it is in action:
The stuff above is fun, but you obviously don’t need it. Where Live 10.1 might help you actually finish music is in a slew of new arrangement features.
Live 10 felt like a work in progress as far as the Arrange view. I think it immediately made sense to some of us that Ableton were adjusting arrangement tools, and ironing out the difference between, say, moving chunks of audio around and editing automation (drawing all those lovely lines to fade things in and out, for instance).
But it felt like the story there wasn’t totally complete. In fact, the change may have been too subtle – different enough to disturb some existing users, but without a big enough payoff.
So here’s the payoff: Ableton have refined all those subtle Arrange tweaks with user feedback, and added some very cool shape drawing features that let you get creative in this view in a way that isn’t possible with other users.
Fixing “$#(*& augh undo I didn’t want to do that!” Okay, this problem isn’t unique to Live. In every traditional DAW, your mouse cursor does conflicting things in a small amount of space. Maybe you’re trying to move a chunk of audio. Maybe you want to resize it. Maybe you want to fade in and out the edges of the clip. Maybe it’s not the clip you’re trying to edit, but the automation curves around it.
In studio terms, this sounds like one of the following:
[silent, happy clicking, music production getting … erm … produced]
$#(*&*%#*% …. Noo errrrrrrrgggggg … GAACK! SDKJJufffff ahhh….
Live 10 added a toggle between automation editing and audio editing modes. For me, I was already doing less of the latter. But 10.1 is dramatically better, thanks to some nearly imperceptible adjustments to the way those clip handles work, because you can more quickly change modes, and because you can zoom more easily. (The zoom part may not immediately seem connected to this, but it’s actually the most important part – because navigating from your larger project length to the bit you’re actually trying to edit is usually where things break down.)
In technical terms, that means the following:
Quick zoom shortcuts. I’ll do a separate story on these, because they’re so vital, but you can now jump to the whole song, details, zoom various heights, and toggle between zoom states via keyboard shortcuts. There are even a couple of MIDI-mappable ones.
Clips in Arrangement have been adjusted. From the release notes: “The visualisation of Arrangement clips has been improved with adjusted clip borders and refinements to the way items are colored.” Honestly, you won’t notice, but ask the person next to you how much you’re grunting / swearing like someone is sticking something pointy into your ribs.
Pitch gestures! You can pitch-zoom Arrangement and MIDI editor with Option or Alt keys – that works well on Apple trackpads and newer PC trackpads. And yeah, this means you don’t have to use Apple Logic Pro just to pinch zoom. Ahem.
The Clip Detail View is clearer, too, with a toggle between automation and modulation clearly visible, and color-coded modulation for everything.
The Arrangement Overview was also adjusted with better color coding and new resizing.
In addition, Ableton have worked a lot with how automation editing functions. New in 10.1:
Enter numerical values. Finally.
Free-hand curves more easily. With grid off, your free-hand, wonky mouse curves now get smoothed into something more logical and with fewer breakpoints – as if you can draw better with the mouse/trackpad than you actually can.
Simplify automation. There’s also a command that simplifies existing recorded automation. Again – finally.
So that fixes a bunch of stuff, and while this is pretty close to what other DAWs do, I actually find Ableton’s implementation to be (at last) quicker and friendlier than most other DAWs. But Ableton kept going and added some more creative ideas.
Insert shapes. Now you have some predefined shapes that you can draw over automation lanes. It’s a bit like having an LFO / modulation, but you can work with it visually – so it’s nice for those who prefer that editing phase as a way do to their composition. Sadly, you can only access these via the mouse menu – I’d love some keyboard shortcuts, please – but it’s still reasonably quick to work with.
Modify curves. Hold down Option/Ctrl and you can change the shape of curves.
Stretch and skew. Reshape envelopes to stretch, skew, stretch time / ripple edit.
Check out those curve drawing and skewing/scaling features in action:
You can freeze tracks with sidechains, instead of a stupid dialog box popping up to tell you you can’t, because it would break the space-time continuum or crash the warp core injectors or … no, there’s no earthly reason why you shouldn’t be able to freeze sidechains on a computer.
You can export return and master effects on the actual tracks. I know, I know. You really loved bouncing out stems from Ableton or getting stems to remix and having little bits of effects from all the tracks on separate stems that were just echos, like some weird ghost of whatever it was you were trying to do. And I’m a lazy kid, who for some reason thinks that’s completely illogical since, again, this is a computer and all this material is digital. But yes, for people are soft like me, this will be a welcome feature.
So there you have it. Plus you now get VST3s, which is great, because VST3 … is so much … actually, you know, even I don’t care all that much about that, so let’s just say now you don’t have to check if all your plug-ins will run or not.
Go get it
One final note – Max for Live. 10.0.6 synchronized with Max 8.0.2. See those release notes from Cycling ’74:
Live 10.1 is keeping pace, with the beta you download now including Max 8.0.3.
Ableton haven’t really “integrated” Max for Live; they’re still separate products. And so that means you probably don’t want perfect lockstep between Max and Live, because that could mean instability on the Live side. It’d be more accurate to say that what Ableton have done is to improve the relationship between Max and Live, so that you don’t have to wait as long for Max improvements to appear in Max for Live.
Live 10.1 is in beta now with a final release coming soon.
And if you own a Live 10.1 license, you can join the beta group:
Thanks to Ableton for those short videos. More on these features soon.
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Ableton has announced the forthcoming Live 10.1 update, adding user wavetables, new devices, workflow upgrades and more to the music production software for Windows and Mac. Live 10.1 expands the possibilities for making and shaping sound, as well as improving key features for editing and finalizing music. The new features in Live 10.1 include: User […]
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Magix has announced the release of ACID Music Studio 11, a completely overhauled version with a powerful 64-bit engine, slick new interface and a wealth of added features and plugins – eight new instruments, six effects and more than 2,500 new ACIDized loops. Besides its new 64-bit architecture, ACID Music Studio 11 comes with the […]
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MOTU has introduced version 10 of Digital Performer, a major upgrade to its flagship audio workstation software. New features include the Clips window for live triggering and looping of audio and MIDI clips, Stretch Audio powered by industry-leading ZTX PRO technology, VCA faders, a new convenient Content Browser, VST3 plugin support, scalable UI and a […]
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Bitwig Studio may have started in the shadow of Ableton, but one of its initial promises was building a DAW that was modular from the ground up. Bitwig Studio 3 is poised to finally deliver on that promise, with “The Grid.”
Having a truly modular system inside a DAW offers some tantalizing possibilities. It means, in theory at least, you can construct whatever you want from basic building blocks. And in the very opposite of today’s age of presets, that could make your music tool feel more your own.
Oh yeah, and if there is such an engine inside your DAW, you can also count on other people building a bunch of stuff you can reuse.
Why modulaity? It doesn’t have to just be about tinkering (though that can be fun for a lot of people).
A modular setup is the very opposite of a preset mentality for music production. Experienced users of these environments (software especially, since it’s open-ended) do often find that patching exactly what they need can be more creative and inspirational. It can even save time versus the effort spent trying to whittle away at a big, monolithic tool just go get to the bit you actually want. But the traditional environments for modular development are fairly unfriendly to new users – that’s why very often people’s first encounters with Max/MSP, SuperCollider, Pd, Reaktor, and the like is in a college course. (And not everyone has access to those.) Here, you get a toolset that could prove more manageable. And then once you have a patch you like, you can still interconnect premade devices – and you can work with clips and linear arrangement to actually finish songs. With the other tools, that often means coding out the structure of your song or trying to link up to a different piece of software.
We’ve seen other DAWs go modular in different ways. There’s Apple Logic’s now mostly rarely-used Environment. There’s Reason with its rich, patchable rack and devices. There’s Sensomusic Usine, which is a fully modular DAW / audio environment, and DMX lighting and video tool – perhaps the most modular of these (even relative to Bitwig Studio and The Grid). And of course there’s Ableton Live with Max for Live, though that’s really a different animal – it’s a full patching development environment that runs inside Live via a runtime, and API and interface hooks that allow you to access its devices. The upside: Max for Live can do just about everything. The downside: it’s mostly foreign to Ableton Live (as it’s a different piece of software with its own history), and it could be too deep for someone just wanting to build an effect or instrument.
So, enter The Grid. This is really the first time a relatively conventional DAW has gotten its own, native modular environment that can build instruments and effects. And it looks like it could be accomplished in a way that feels comfortable to existing users. You get a toolset for patching your own stuff inside the DAW, and you can even mix and match signal to outboard hardware modular if that’s your thing.
And it really focuses on sound applications, too, with three devices. One is dedicated to monophonic synths, one to polyphonic synths, and one to effects.
From there, you get a fully modular setup with a modern-looking UI and 120+ modules to choose from.
They’ve done a whole lot to ease the learning curve normally associated with these environments – smoothing out some of the wrinkles that usually baffle beginners:
You can patch anything to anything, in to out. All signals are interchangeable – connect any out to any in. Most other software environments don’t work that way, which can mean a steeper learning curve. (We’ll have to see how this works in practice inside The Grid).
Everything’s stereo. Here’s another way of reducing complexity. Normally, you have to duplicate signals to get stereo, which can be confusing for beginners. Here, every audio cable and every control cable routes stereo.
There are default patchings. Funny enough, this idea has actually been seen on hardware – there are default routings so modules automatically wire themselves if you want, via what Bitwig calls “pre-cords.” That means if you’re new to the environment, you can always plug stuff in.
They’ve also promised to make phase easier to understand, which should open up creative use of time and modulation to those who may have been intimidated by these concepts before.
There’s also a big advantage to this being native to the environment – again, something you could only really say about Sensomusic Usine before now (at least as far as things that could double as DAWs).
- Nesting and layering devices alongside other Bitwig devices
- Full support from the Open Controller API. (Wow, this is a pain the moment you put something like Reaktor into another host, too.)
- Route modulation out of your stuff from The Grid into other Bitwig devices.
- Complete hardware modular integration – yeah, you can mix your software with hardware as if they’re one environment. Bitwig says they’ve included “dedicated grid modules for sending any control, trigger, or pitch signal as CV Out and receiving any CV In.”
I’ve been waiting for this basically since the beginning. This is an unprecedented level of integration, where every device you see in Bitwig Studio is already based on this modular environment. Bitwig had even touted that early on, but I think they were far overzealous with letting people know about their plans. It unsurprisingly took a while to make that interface user friendly, which is why it’ll be a pleasure to try this now and see how they’ve done. But Bitwig tells us this is in fact the same engine – and that the interface “melds our twin focus on modularity and swift workflows.”
There’s also a significant dedication to signal fidelity. There’s 4X oversampling throughout. That should generally sound better, but it also has implications for control and modularity. And it’ll make modulation more powerful in synthesis, Bitwig tells CDM:
With phase, sync, and pitch inputs on most every oscillator, there are many opportunities here for complex setups. Providing this additional bandwidth keeps most any patch or experiment from audible aliasing. As an open system, this type of optimization works for the most cases without overtaxing processors.
It’s stereo only, which puts it behind some of the multichannel capabilities of Reaktor, Max, SuperCollider, and others – Max/MSP especially given its recent developments. But that could see some growth in a later release, Bitwig hints. For now, I think stereo will keep us plenty busy.
They’ve also been busy optimizing, Bitwig tells us:
This is something we worked a lot on in early development, particularly optimizing performance on the oversampled, stereo paths to align with the vector units of desktop processors. In addition, the modules are compiled at runtime for the best performance on the particular CPU in use.
That’s a big deal. I’m also excited about using this on Linux – where, by the way, you can really easily use JACK to integrate other environments like SuperCollider or live coding tools.
If you’re at NAMM, Bitwig will show The Grid as part of Bitwig Studio 3. They have a release coming in the second quarter, but we’ll sit down with them here in Berlin for a detailed closer look (minus NAMM noise in the background or jetlag)!
Oh yeah, and if you’ve got the Upgrade Plan, it’s free.
This is really about making a fully modular DAW – as opposed to the fixed multitrack tape/mixer models of the past. Bitwig have even written up an article about how they see modularity and how it’s evolved over various release versions:
More on Bitwig Studio 3:
Oh yeah, also Tron: Legacy seems like a better movie with French subtitles…
That last line fits: “And the world was more beautiful than I ever dreamed – and also more dangerous … hop in bed now, come on.”
Yeah, personal life / sleep … in trouble.
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Bitwig has announced the upcoming Bitwig Studio 3, a new major upgrade to cross-platform music production software. Version 3 will open a new window for working with sound with “The Grid”. As was hinted at from the start, Bitwig Studio was always intended to provide a fully-modular sound design option, and this has become reality […]
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Producertech has released a new tutorial course on Studio One, the digital audio workstation software by PreSonus. PreSonus Studio One is among the more recent Digital Audio Workstations yet one of the most popular, due to its streamlined workflow, powerful set of factory devices and user friendly music creation tools. On this beginners complete guide, […]
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Steinberg has announced the release of Cubasis 2.7, the iOS music production app exclusively available for the iPad. The update adds a large number of user-requested features and improvements. A streamlined, multitouch sequencer for the iPad, Cubasis is for discerning music producers and musicians looking for mobile recording, editing and mixing capabilities, combined with unmatched […]
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The just-before-the-holiday-break software updates just keep coming. Next: the evergreen, lifetime-free-updates latest release of the DAW the developer calls FL Studio, and everyone else calls “Fruity Loops.”
FL Studio has given people reason to take it more seriously of late, too. There’s a real native Mac version, so FL is no longer a PC-vs-Mac thing. There’s integrated controller hardware from Akai (the new Fire), and that in turn exploits all those quick-access record and step sequence features that made people love FL in the first place.
AKAI Fire and the Mac version might make lapsed or new users interested anew – but hardcore users, this software release is really for you.
The snapshot view:
Stepsequencer looping is back (previously seen in FL 11), but now has more per-channel controls so you can make polyrhythms – or not, lining everything up instead if you’d rather.
Plus if you’re using FIRE hardware, you get options to set channel loop length and the ability to burn to Patterns.
Audio recording is improved, making it easier to arm and record and get audio and pre/post effects where you want.
And there are 55 new minimal kick drum samples.
And now you can display the GUI FPS.
And you have a great way of making music videos by exporting from the included video game engine visualizer.
Actually, you know, I’m just going to stop -t here’s just a whole bunch of new stuff, and you get it for free. And they’ve made a YouTube video. And as you watch the tutorial, it’s evident that FL really has matured into a serious DAW to stand toe-to-toe with everything else, without losing its personality.
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