Should You Update to Ableton Live 9?

Ableton Live 9 has been released! Is it to early to celebrate?

Well it’s been close to four years or so since Ableton Live 8 came out and today the wait is over. Ableton Live 9 is upon us!  One of the big concerns with a new release of any software is stability.  Is it safe to use?  Will it crash like crazy? I’ve had the chance to spend the last few months messing around and testing the beta version of Live 9.  I suppose safe practice is to wait a little bit to make sure any bugs get ironed out, but I am not so patient.  I’ve been using the Live 9 beta for everything, including live gigs (I know it’s playing with fire). And guess what?  It has been rock solid.  I think in the entire time I was testing, I had one crash, and I remember feeling like I deserved it.  I was overloading the system with non Ableton plugins.  Other than that one time, everything was smooth as can be.  Personally I love the new Ableton 9.  Live is my favorite piece of computer software ever, and one of my favorite musical inventions ever (including things like the guitar).  So having an even more amazing version of this product that I love so much is such a treat.

Some of the coolest additions in Ableton Live 9

I plan on spending a little more time discussing the awesome new features of Ableton Live 9, but I thought I’d give you a run down of just a few of my favorite features.

session automation ableton live 9 afrodjmac







Session Automation

The first time I used Live I was a little let down that there was no session automation.  I learned to work around it and in time sort of forgot how cool it would have been to have.  Now, with Live 9, I can tell you that Session Automation is one of the coolest features of the whole program.  The ability to record automation into my clips has added so much life to every sound I create.  Electronic music has never sounded so alive and organic.  The implementation is great.  It does take a little while to get used to, but the best way to explain it is that it works kind of like midi overdub does in 8. If you have ever used midi overdub to build a drum clip one drum at a time, this is the way you might think of session automation recording.  Basically, I will record a part, then on as the clip loops, start moving knobs on my midi controller.  You can keep adding layers of movement and it all gets recorded.  Honestly, it is so freaking awesome!

max for live reverb ableton 9

Max For Live Updates

Max for Live has been integrated into Ableton much more thoroughly and is stabler than ever before.  There are some amazing new effects like the convolution reverb and the updated Buffer Shuffler.  Buffer Shuffler is totally amazing and super deep; you can really work some magic with this one.  The new reverb sounds amazing.  I think it is the coolest bundled reverbs I’ve ever used.  The Envelop Follower allows you to use any sound to manipulate any other sound.  It’s sort of like side-chaining on steroids (steroids are bad, don’t do them).  You can do things like control a filter with your voice or add delay to a guitar every time a snare drum hits.  An updated Max for Live might sound like 1 new feature, but make no mistake, there are so many cool new things that result from this update. Amazing.

The Browser Previews Instruments and Drums

The browser now previews instruments before you even load them into a track.  You know how you have to drop a drum kit on to a track and test out all the different sounds to determine if it will fit in your song?  Yea, that nonsense is over. Now when you click on an instrument in Live’s browser, Ableton previews the sound or the drum kit.  It’s the same way Live 8 lets you preview a sample before dropping it in.  This is such a HUGE timesaver and I love it so much.  One thing that  kinda sucks though: it currently only works on factory presets.  I hope they change that soon, because as you know,  I have a library full of custom sounds.

So Should You Update?

Should you continue breathing air? Of course! My verdict is definitely!  What are you even reading this for? Why am I even writing this? Lets go make some music!  Go update now!  I won’t even write some silly disclaimer stating if you run into problems it’s not my fault.  Do it!

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  • Ruairi Mullan

    I think its interesting that you feel you deserved to crash for using none Ableton plug-ins??? Thats crazy…you should be able to with no problems…who wants to use ableton only stuff….their very quicly turning into the Apple of the DAW world!

    • AfroDJMac

      No no, I expect to be able to use 3rd party plugs and do use them (though somewhat sparingly) . What I meant is I loaded up plugins and tracks until Live crashed. I basically just pushed it passed any reasonable limits. So don’t get me wrong, you’ll be able to use 3rd party plugs, at least just as well as in Live 8. My point was that the beta was so stable that I had to do ridiculous things to get it to malfunction.

  • Adam

    The new EQ 8 is great, but it takes up a lot of CPU power, more than the old one. Forces you to have to group and bus more. People w only 2 gigs of factory RAM be wary!

    • AfroDJMac

      yea 2 gigs is probably a bit on the low side. I guess as time goes on, software will demand more of its hardware.

  • steevyhead

    Hi there. Ive taken a lot of your packs and never said hi; so hi! Thanks for all the work you’ve done, ive really learned a lot on this site. Anyhow, I just got into synthesis this time last year, and started making ambient/trip hop/glitch with logic while testing other DAWs, and then i found ableton live. I INSTANTLY fell in love. I started on 8.3.2. i believe, and then went to 64 bit, got a launchpad and my creativity pretty much quadrupled.

    Sorry for the book, point is, i just went to Live 9 and i feel that something i thought was perfect, GOT BETTER!?!?!!?!? Honestly it just feels better somehow; solid. The colors even look more vivid. The best thing in my opinion is the browser. The clean layout has me using more devices like max 4 live instruments, and samples etc, just because they are right in front of me, i dont have to delve into separate tabs and search etc.

    The glue compressor sounds so crisp, and i agree with the new reverb, its really AMAZING. Sounds so so so crisp and deep. Audio to midi is kind of strange and not what i thought it would be, but ive had some REALLY interesting things come out of it.

    Anyway all i can say is… I am FIENDING for push like a crackhead fiends for a hit. Are you into it? are you getting it?

    • AfroDJMac

      Dude, totally! I preordered Push a couple months ago. I thought I wanted it, then I got to play around with one at one of the Ableton 9 Push Preview events, and it made me want it even more. I think it is going to change the game incredibly. It is built incredibly well, and the videos and pictures do no justice to how beautiful the colored pads look. Sleek and sturdy; excellent design.

      I have to say I agree with everything else you said too. I’m really warming up to the new browser, especially the search function (command F is one of my most used key commands these days). I am really pleased with the release and I really feel like Live has become quite the mature DAW. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and backing me up on my pretty heavily sided opinion in this post!

  • Lil Nas

    Definitely great update. The thing i miss is mainly the browser when we had the ability to switch between at least 3 different folders jusque by clicking on the left side above the groove pool. It kinda sucks that it have to index folders when you add their instead of immediately making their content available (it’s for speed searching purposes i guess).. And yeah the fact that local hard drives and external storages doesn’t show up suck to

    • AfroDJMac

      no external hard drives? I haven’t tried that yet…

  • p2b

    My concern is regarding old sets openning and playing properly. Does anybody have any confirmation on that?

    • AfroDJMac

      So far so good for me

  • UltimateOwnage

    I was hesitant at first to go for Live 9. After all, the updates looked good but are they enough? I jumped a few days back despite a bit of hesitation. However, that was before I saw this article. I haven’t had time to play with all the new features in depth, but reading this makes me feel even more excited to dig in and a lot more confident in the decision to update early. Loving the changes so far.

    • AfroDJMac

      Part of the beauty of updating is that it doesn’t overwrite Live 8. If Live 9 doesn’t work out for whatever reason, just open Live 8. That’s how I got going back in the beta days, and it was helpful because some of the Max for Live Devices I was using weren’t working yet. Now it’s all good.

      • Guest

        This is probably a dump question. But coming from an APC40 do you think Push is worth moving up to, or will it compliment the APC40? I’m deciding on whether or not to make room for Push or keep them both. Push looks amazing.

        • AfroDJMac

          I think they will complement each other, and I plan on using both together. I got to play with a Push and you’re right, it is amazing!

  • MightyMikeLechRPNJUSA

    Live 9 (for me) turned out to be a great upgrade-everything seems to be stabler and smoother than Live versions 8 and especially 7 out of the box. I have always liked Live-it is truly great equally for audio recording and MIDI in a Windows Environment (Pro Tools for Win is a huge resource hog and requires seperate hard drives for recording, playback and running the program; Cubase can be a bit clunky still; Cakewalk Sonar X1′s VST and Audio Support sucks; Reaper/Tracktion 4-you get basically what you pay for; Orion seems to be geared more toward making Industrial/Darkwave music-and my style is more towards a mix of Industrial/Metal/Metalcore/Urban Metal….). I also like Live’s versatility-very good for DJ’ng, Even Podcasting, Recording Audiobooks, and I even recently setup a template to use for live/pre-recorded internet broadcasting…..

    • AfroDJMac

      Sounds like you do a wide variety of interesting work, where can we find it?

  • Ritesh Tripathy

    I have been playing with it for over a month now and got the release version yesterday. Its much more stable than 8 ever was and that 64 bit engine is making its presence known (I can finally make use of the 32GB of RAM!). I’m not sure if I like the new browser yet (terribly slow) but that could be due to how glued I’ve been to the old browser for years. The new compressor, EQ8 (esp the adaptive option, which simulates API 550 curves) and the convolution reverb are finally worth using and those curve automations (hallelujah)!! In short, good update.

    However, I still can’t stand the fact that it doesn’t support multiple monitors and still no bounce in place. That is sheer stupidity. Also, the new “Smart Snap” midi editing is a terrible fail. CPU performance has degraded noticeably. There’s a lot more I don’t like but you get the idea. I’ve been using Live since ver 6, so there’s obviously a whole lot I love about it and it has been my main DAW for all these years. But, I’m not sure I can put up with it any more. Its too little, too late in the form on Live 9. Bitwig looks really promising and I’m honestly pretty eager to get my hands on it. That’s the only thing that can possibly replace Live for me. I’m not upgrading to Live 9, not until I have tried Bitwig Studio comprehensively.

    • AfroDJMac

      Understood. There are certainly quite a lot of features that have been requested, many of which sound great, that weren’t included. I don’t know much about programming except that it is pretty damn intensive. I think Live has always focused on getting a few things right rather than adding tons of things. I didn’t use it then, but I’m pretty sure Live started without midi (or maybe audio?). So I’m happy with more incremental updates that are well implemented. BitWig certainly looks promising, I worry that it’s trying to do everything right out of the gate and that could be its downfall. I don’t have any plans to migrate or really even try it at this point. I’ll let others tinker with it for a while first. I also am pretty happy with Ableton as a company. Any encounter has been quite positive, especially coming from other DAWs who’s employees and staff are virtually untouchable. Ableton has been pretty responsive, and I think that is reflected in the community that surrounds it. Of course that’s no reason to become complacent. I think that Ableton could have freaked with the announcement of Bitwig and tried to match everything, but sometimes that kind of action results in haphazardly constructed output. But at the end of the day it’s about music making. And when I think back to just ten years ago when I first got my Alesis HD24 after upgrading from ADATs, I get pretty psyched about where we are, where we’ve come from, and where we are heading!
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Ritesh!

      • Ritesh Tripathy

        The small things like multiple monitor support, bounce in place etc. should’ve been a no-brainer for Live 9, esp considering it took them over 4 years from 8 to 9. Incremental updates are of course good as it makes the platform more stable and you’re right in saying that its better to get a few things right than get a lot of things wrong. But these are features that users have been requesting forever. To overlook these is a bit like “giving them the middle finger”.
        Bitwig is of course an unknown quantity and pretty much everybody is waiting to see what it turns out to be when they finally let a public beta out. Obviously, there’s no guarantee it’ll be better than Live.
        And I totally agree about Ableton’s support – never had a bad experience with them.
        Like you say, we’ve come a long way with music tech in the last decade and the future will only get more exciting, so cheers to that! :)

  • Msc

    I too got on the beta program and without doubt Ableton has come of age! This truly is the dogs……,,,,.. I even went and brought a new MacBook Pro for her almost like a new cot awaiting for a new baby and bows she’s arrived she’s beautiful!

    • AfroDJMac

      Ha! Congratulations on your new baby!

  • Ipikak

    Tried the demo it sucks its horrible version 8 is waaaaay better

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  • Sasha

    HELL, NO!!! I completely regret updating. Initially it seemed good, but once a set becomes large, performance grinds to a near-halt. I hope you like beachballs, because you’ll be spending a lot of time staring at them.

    • AfroDJMac

      Oh no! Not beach balls… ugh!