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Live

CNET Editors' review

Ableton Live is one of several digital audio products that have genuinely transformed the music scene in the past few years. The software is about as close as it's possible to get to a computer-based sequencer that can be played live, like a real instrument. Recording and arranging audio is effortless with its elegantly designed interface, and its Arrange window makes composition just as enjoyable. MIDI composition and editing can be integrated seamlessly into compositions that also use prerecorded audio. Adding effects and manipulating sounds in radical ways, all on the fly, is a snap, and the software supports third-party plug-in technologies including VST. Rewire functionality helps connect it to other sequencing software or applications such as Reason. The package comes with a snazzy software synth called Operator, which takes both visual and sonic inspiration from vintage analog synths. Our only real objection is that, like most pro audio apps, Live's learning curve has become increasingly steep with every release. Even the step-by-step instructions left us scratching our heads at times. But with virtually limitless capabilities, Ableton Live is one of the most captivating music-production packages on the market today.

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All User Reviews
  • All versions:

    3.5 stars

    out of 14 votes

    • 5 star: 5
    • 4 star: 5
    • 3 star: 0
    • 2 star: 0
    • 1 star: 4
  • Current version:

    3.3 stars

    out of 12 votes

    • 5 star: 4
    • 4 star: 4
    • 3 star: 0
    • 2 star: 0
    • 1 star: 4
  • My rating:

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1-10 of 11

  • 5.0 stars

    "The Ultimate for Electronic Dance Music"

    August 28, 2012  |   By 3507ERIC

    Version: Live 7.0.1

    Pros

    unique session view naturally and intuitively unlocks worlds of possibility, live, for the dj/controllerist.

    Cons

    a big mama to get ones arms around, but easy is for dates, not music

    Summary

    no competition for dj/controllerist/e dance composer

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  • 5.0 stars

    "The most innovative DAW on the market. Mainly for"

    July 26, 2011  |   By Hans_Sanitizer

    Version: Live 7.0.1

    Pros

    So many I couldn't hope to list them all here.
    To sum it up it's a DAW that you can use like an instrument.

    Cons

    Not 64-bit.
    Not for people who don't want to try something new.

    Summary

    If you're looking for a program that requires little work to get a generic sound out of it go for FL-Studio. If you're looking for a real program that requires you to grow some balls to use it, that you can take with you from the composition stage to the stage you perform on, that's reliable cross platform from a company that's main focus is making music software for musicians (rather than FL asking you to rat out any site that has illegal copies of it, and your friends that have copies of it, includes spyware that tracks you and spends a lot of money on a legal team that "gets results" - from FL's webpage) use Ableton Live. Also Ableton has many midi controllers specifically designed for it. This is the future of music production, don't take my word for it ask Justice or Daft Punk among many others.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "NOT RECOMMENDED FOR IDIOTS OR THE LAZY"

    August 2, 2009  |   By jwarv

    Version: Live 7.0.1

    Pros

    It's pretty.

    Cons

    See summary.

    Summary

    I consider myself both (see review title) whenever I start to fiddle with this madness that is Ableton Live. I have yet to actually see a project to fruition. I ALWAYS end up going back to hardware recording after using this program. I must be stupid, but I HATE, HATE, HATE that I cannot conquer this program. Any gurus out there who might want to camp out at my house when I'm ready to use it? Anyone? Anyone?

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  • 4.0 stars

    "Exceptionally complete. But DJ's be warned!"

    January 4, 2009  |   By **w**

    Version: Live 7.0.1

    Pros

    There are so many options. This piece of software is the most complete package I've ever got my hands on. Remixing and creating music on the go has never been so easy.

    Cons

    A whole lot of options requires a whole lot of learning :) It doesn't work with 2 sound cards!!!! If you're a DJ and you want to mix with Ableton, prepare yourself for a whole lot of head scratching and frustration. Why, you ask?

    Summary

    Because just setting op the cue is a nightmare. Like I said, Ableton doesn't support working with 2 soundcards simultaneously. If you want to listen to your cue with a headphone, your soundcard needs at least 2 stereo out. Even though most soundcard have thjis feature nowadays, setting it up in your preferences is guaranteed to give you a headache. But......

    If you succeed in doing this, Ableton is magic! Unlimited numbers of effects can be be applied on your tracks. Creating your own loops is easy. Warping, time-stretching, pitching and using the equalizer feel so fluid and intuitive. Mixing 6 tracks at the same time while playing a tune with your midi keyboard linked with some vst's just works. Simple as that. As far as producing music goes, I recon some people might prefer other software for the creation of the samples itself, but when it comes arranging them nothing beats ableton.

    I would advise everyone to give it a go. It may be bit too much for some people, but if you have a good basic understanding about loop based music, you'll get the hang of this in no time.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Easiest, most intuitive DAW ever"

    October 15, 2008  |   By scrichar

    Version: Live 7.0.1

    Pros

    The clips, the warping, the easy object-oriented interface... How can I say enough about this software?

    Cons

    I don't like that I can't change time signatures within my song file (!!!) Also plugins are a little crappy but what do you expect from free preloaded effects?

    Summary

    I've used a few different tools over the years. Digital Performer, Cakewalk, Logic, Protools. By far, this one is the friendliest, if not the most powerful. If you are a tekkie or gear head, go with one of the more feature-heavy DAW's. If you're a songwriter, though, and you want something that is easy to use and sounds great, Live is for you. As other reviewers have posted, it does eat up RAM, so make sure you've dedicated enough resources.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Not for Low-Ram computers."

    November 10, 2007  |   By MarioMan94

    Version: Live 7.0.1

    Pros

    Seems to have a lot of options for music creation

    Cons

    Freezes after about a minute. No sound and I could not fix with new/different sound drivers. Eats up CPU. FLstudio/Reason both work fine on my computer.

    -note: I'm using an AMD athlon XP 1600+ (1.4 gh) with 512mb of Ram, so if you have anything less powerful than that, you'll probably have problems.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Terrible, whats the point if you can't save?"

    May 21, 2007  |   By matty1man

    Version: Live 7.0.1

    Pros

    You can record your own music and it has a great looking layout.

    Cons

    You can't save anything and the gadgets arn't great, i have seen alot of better programs!

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  • 4.0 stars

    "Very intuitive and powerful tool to publish and to execute live performances"

    December 12, 2006  |   By Pelida

    Version: Live 7.0.1

    Pros

    More than a tool to record sound, Live is an application for live performances, which provides to total functionality to control in real time the parameters that other software. Definitively, Live revolutionized the form to edit, to compose and to execute music in addition to being very intuitive.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Better than any other recording software Ive tried"

    May 24, 2006  |   By The Jimmy

    Version: Live 7.0.1

    Pros

    I love how simple and fast it generally is to make music. Plus, its excellent quality sound. I've tried out Reason demos and Cakewalk, but this one is the best. I like how I can drag and drop clips from my comp directly to my destinated track. Lots of MIDI to explore and MIDI/Audio effects. Also, its nice being able to choose which tracks I want to have record on same as playback. This means I can record and hear what Im playing at the same time, or do whatever I want (this is not the same in Cakewalk).

    Overall, its a great software.

    Cons

    Uses good amount of resources and is expensive $400 I believe. But you should get it if you want to do computer recording. If youre playing guitar or whatever into it, its very laggy unless you get ASIO driver, which eliminates all the crap.

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  • 4.0 stars

    "Advanced interface, but worth the effort"

    September 30, 2005  |   By vegashayes

    Version: Live 7.0.1

    Pros

    You can use it as a Multitrack recorder, Sequencer, Sound generator, Mixer, Remixer(makes it easy), and Looper, besides the obvious "live" capabilities. Amazing sounds/effects/soft syths. Gobs of parameters, a thousand ways to mutilate/variate your music. A solid beast for the intermediate DJ/Remix artist. Once you get past the hard-to-understand user interface(who knows, maybe it's because it's a German product), you'll be amazed at how good you sound.

    Cons

    The user interface is NOT intuitive.

    Simple recording of an instrument sound is complicated(because there are so many ways to do this).

    Simple exporting of loops is not a simple task either. Some WAV files won't import unless they have been "Analyzed" first. MP3 files can be imported, but not created/rendered from Ableton. In other words, you can't hit a button and turn an Ableton Live Set/Song/Clip into an MP3. WAV and AIFF only. This is a feature on most audio software programs under $99(ACID Home Studio comes to mind). Maybe it's possible to do this, but good luck figuring it out. Overall, the software is detailed and useful for intermediate to advanced level audiophiles, but fails the "experienced amateur" and anyone below that ability level because there are just too many ways to do everything. For $499, you're probably better off getting Reason or Soundforge, unless you work in a professional studio. But you probably aren't looking at Ableton Live if you're a professional, because there are better "professional" grade products(albeit more expensive) out there.

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Results 1-10 of 11

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