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  • They say timing is everything. Live 5 has added some interesting tweaks that compensate for timing problems, and allow for custom timing changes.

    Plug-in Delay Compensation. Okay, pretty much everyone has it these days, as they should: Being able to compensate for timing differences among plug-ins is a prerequisite for working with audio in today’s digital environment. Note that Live doesn’t “cheat” and apply compensation only to tracks, but to the bus returns as well.

    “Feel factor” track timing advance/delay control. This is not the same as delay compensation (an automatic process) as you can manually advance or delay a track, in one millisecond increments up to +/- 1 second. This lets you tune out timing differences manually, or “slip” tracks to alter the “feel” of a part (delay to drag, advance to rush). Thankfully, you can type in the delay value if you’re not a fan of dragging on numericals. Click on the Attachment to see the Track Delay parameter (outlined in red).

    Nudging and scrubbing. This is a lot of fun, although I must confess, I haven’t always been able to obtain predictable results when nudging with an external MIDI controller. Basically, you nudge Clip playback (MIDI or audio) in increments based on global quantization. I file this under the category of “Tools to make repetitive loops more interesting” as you can add rhythmically intricate syncopations. A small orange dot indicates the playback offset point, while a Revert option places the start point at the beginning of the clip, and a Keep function makes the offset permanent (well, as permanent as anything is in Live – meaning, until you change your mind). Click on the Attachment to see the Nudge section and the little orange dot (both outlined in yellow).
    Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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    • As you might expect there are lots of little update features, some despite being more utilitarian than anything else are very helpful to have. Such as…

      MP3 compatibility. Bring MP3 files into Live – a Good Thing for DJs who have converted a lot of their collection into MP3 format. Live also handles Ogg Vorbis, Ogg FLAC, and FLAC files. However, it has to decompress these files (a mercifully short process, thankfully), write them to disk, and read them from there. The Live manual gives the impression that these files have to stay on disk, but that’s not true: You can pull them from disk into RAM. Of course, this means using up your RAM, but as mentioned earlier, this makes life a lot easier when dealing with laptops that have slow internal drives.

      Multi-clip editing. Yup, you can control-click on Clips and adjust the same parameter in all selected Clips (of course, this applies only to common parameters). Most of the time, if parameter values differ, they move together (e.g., if one clip is set to transpose by +0, another one by +3, and you boost them up by +1, the clips will transpose by +1 and +4 respectively). However, once a value reaches its limit, it won’t move any further although other ones will until they hit their limit. From that point on, the values move together. This is a good way to set a bunch of parameters to the same value and edit it for all clips at once: Slam the value all the way in one direction, then set to the desired value. Another cool application is to convert a bunch of Clips into RAM clips, all at the same time.

      Clip deactivate. Just as you can de-activate individual notes in the MIDI Note Editor, you can de-activate clips to they don’t launch in Session view, or play back in an Arrangement. A big deal? Not really, but this comes in handy when you want to alter the arrangement without actually deleting Clips.

      “Detach” Clip loop markers from the file beginning and end. This may not sound like a big deal, but it allows you to start at the beginning of a Clip, play through to the end of the loop, then jump back to the beginning of the loop (not the start of the file). Before, when you set a loop start point, this also established where playback would begin.
      Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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      • This feature is definitely one of my favorite features in the update, so it gets its own post.

        Launching with Locators lets you set locate points at any time in the Arrange view, and freely go to any locate point whenever you like – with the usual quantization option where the switch to the next locator occurs on the next measure boundary, next beat, etc. But you can also trigger these from keyboard or QWERTY keys (or by double-clicking on a locator), which is a blast: instant rearrangement. This is sort of a “playlist on acid,” and I don’t mean the program by Sony…with enough good bits in a tune and enough locators, you could probably keep people entertained for hours.

        Click on the Attachment to see the Set Locator button, Prev/Next button, and the locators themselves.

        Well, after we cover the new effects and a few more of the more important features, we’ll wrap this up with some conclusions.
        Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

        Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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        • Live is good about not adding “me-too” effects, and the ones in 5 are no exception. The Flanger includes an envelope follower, and a tempo-synched multi-waveform LFO, including sample-and-hold effects. There are two modulatable delay lines, and you can adjust the phase between them, as well as “detune” the speed so that the two LFOs are not frequency-locked. The only bummer: You can’t get through-zero flanging, even if you add the Mono Utility afterward (although increasing width can sound really cool). This flanger is a useful addition that’s not all that much like other flangers.

          The Phaser has a complement of controls that’s similar to the Flanger, although you can choose the number of poles (1 - 8). The sound is useful, although at least to my ears, it doesn’t nail the “vintage” flanger sound. But you can always use a multi-stage parametric for that sort of thing.

          The Auto Pan surprised me: It’s very, very cool. This is because you can change the phase between the two waveforms controlling amplitude in each channel, as well as the offset (where along the waveform the pan begins). Now, if these were static settings that would still be pretty useful. But when it gets really wonderful (and actually, this applies to most of the Live effects) is when you start controlling parameters with MIDI controllers and varying them in real time.

          Another “they’ve done it again” effect, the Saturator, is not your basic distortion yet it’s very easy to obtain great results. You have a choice of clipping options along with drive (as expected), but what makes this thing rock is the set of “color” controls, which allow radical changes to the sound – anything from thin crunches, to booming fuzzes. Good stuff.

          But I’ve saved the best until last: Beat Repeat is totally twisted. It captures, then repeats, portions of a signal. How often it captures the signal, the duration, and where it comes from in the file are all adjustable, as are several other parameters. Repeated material can be inserted in place of the signal, gated, or mixed in with the straight sound. I don’t know if this is an effect you master, or whether you just twist the dials and see what happens…but this is like nothing you’ve heard or seen before, with the possible exception of some of Pluggo’s outer fringes.

          Want to see what the effects look like? Click on the Attachment to see the Saturator, Flanger, Auto Pan, and Beat Repeat modules.

          The Simpler has also sprouted a few new parameters: Separate envelopes for pitch, filter, and amplitude, an attack delay control for the LFO, and glide.
          Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

          Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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          • There are still a few things we haven’t touched on: Preset buttons in each device to make it easy to browse and load presets, instrument presets that now recall any associated effects (although this works only with Live instruments, not others you bring in), a new sound library with lots of presets and Live Clips, and – this is neat – the ability to “unfold” Live sets to see what they comprise, and drag over or audition elements within the Live set. Bottom line: Workflow and ergonomics are better, and they weren’t shabby to begin with.

            Okay, we’ve pretty much covered the details…so let’s zoom out and get some perspective.

            Software revisions are, in some ways, like remodeling a house. Hopefully the process isn’t too difficult, you end up with something better than before, and don’t crack open a gas main accidentally. Also, the remodeling should keep the house’s aesthetics and flow.

            In previous updates, Live added the equivalent of more rooms. Live 5 is more like an update that replaces the existing TV with a big-screen model, adds dimmers to the lights, replaces the old bathtub with a jacuzzi, knocks a new window in the kitchen to let in more light, and attends to numerous details that make the “house” a better place to live. None of the improvements represent dramatic, mind-bending changes – although being able to load entire device chains, do more sophisticated on-the-fly arranging with the launchable locators, and have auto-warp deal with complex files are all welcome and extremely useful. But when you add in features like the improved browser, well-implemented nudge, new effects (Beat Repeat in particular), plug-in delay compensation, and all the other changes, the whole becomes far greater than the sum of its parts.

            I also feel that Live has not lost its laser-sharp focus on what makes it great in the first place: A live performance, groove-oriented tool with no real equivalent (although Cakewalk’s latest rev of Project5 comes closer than anything else so far). The clean, efficient interface has not suffered from the additional features, even though functionality has increased significantly.

            The big remaining question for some users is “Okay, is Live a real DAW now?” I don’t really understand why this is so important to these people, but the answer is yes…and no. For many, if not most, applications, Live can do all the functions you expect a DAW to do. But if you want to do video or surround, forget it. And there are other, smaller limitations as well, such as fairly basic metering. MIDI is not as well developed as on the “cubeperfonargic” type of DAWs (although Live offers a valid approach), and the “Beats” stretching option – while excellent at making files useable – doesn’t offer the same editing flexibility as acidized or REX-format files. However, Live offers multiple stretch algorithms, which in most cases will more than compensate.

            But how much of this really matters? After all, there’s a little thing called “ReWire” that means you can add Live’s capabilities to your DAW of choice if that’s what spins your crank. And if you’re really hung up on this DAW thing, bear in mind that Live’s current functionality handily beats that of most DAWs of only a few years back.

            Now to get back to the original question: Is it worth the bucks to upgrade? I’d say a definite yes. All the improvements add up to a smoother workflow and enhanced user experience. That’s important to me – far more important than, say, adding video support (which I presume most Live users don’t find all that vital anyway). If you know your way around Live 4 and you’re totally happy with it, I suppose you can always wait until Live 6 comes along. But if you’re a Live aficionado, it’s hard to imagine not being able to appreciate the plethora of talents that Live 5 brings to the table.

            This concludes the main part of the review, but any further questions, comments, or discussion are most definitely welcome. Thank you very much for your participation!
            Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

            Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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            • >And if you’re really hung up on this DAW thing, bear in mind that Live’s current functionality handily beats that of most DAWs of only a few years back.
              --------------------------------------------------

              Not with regards to MIDI recording/editing! For what it's worth, I'm not hung up on Live becoming a "real DAW." I thought my posts were directed at fleshing out the MIDI support that has already been added so that it is faster to work with MIDI data in Live. Heck, even drag and drop support would help things considerably.

              However, let's be honest. Live's MIDI tools are the weak link in an otherwise great package. I can not honestly think of a single sequencer package from ten years ago or more that does not make Live look downright clunky with regards to MIDI recording/editing.

              I suppose I'm in the minority here in that I don't use Live for much audio work. I have a "real DAW" for that. I use Live to host my CPU-hungry VST instruments on a second computer in my studio.

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              • <<I'm not hung up on Live becoming a "real DAW." I thought my posts were directed at fleshing out the MIDI support that has already been added so that it is faster to work with MIDI data in Live. Heck, even drag and drop support would help things considerably.>>

                Well, at least you can import SMFs into Live, so if you really need to do intensive MIDI editing you can do so in another program and import it. Or just Rewire it...not that I disagree the MIDI implementation could use some beefing up. I just think that Live has come up with a way of handling MIDI that fits into the "Live way of life," and also, that the MIDI effects make up for some of the implementation's limitations.

                <<I can not honestly think of a single sequencer package from ten years ago or more that does not make Live look downright clunky with regards to MIDI recording/editing.>>

                Pro Tools and Samplitude come to mind. I'm pretty sure all they could do was import MIDI files and play them back, no significant editing. Ditto Cool Edit (now Audition, and still without a significant MIDI implementation). Same too with Acid and Vegas when it was an audio-only program, although neither was around 10 years ago.

                This isn't to say that the MIDI implementation can hold a candle to Logic, Cubase, Performer, Sonar, etc. But they all started as MIDI sequencers, whereas Pro Tools, Samplitude, Live, etc. did not.

                BTW Samplitude 8's MIDI implementation is pretty good these days! Much improved over V7.
                Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                • HOW COOL IS ABLETON??? The new 5 beta update online has the "select on launch" via midi and keystroke that I was whining about!!! ITS BACK!!! Now I can shut up and buy 5 and get to looping. Thanks Ableton, Live 5 is on track for being the worlds best looping device with this crucial feature back.

                  Ryan

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                  • HOW COOL IS ABLETON???


                    What would be even cooler if they did that just because they read your comments and wanted to make you happy! Now that's what I would call customer service...

                    Hey I have an idea...let's ask them to put an anti-gravity module in the next rev. Maybe they can figure out how to do it.
                    Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                    Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                    • Craig,

                      Excellent review of "Live"!

                      Quick question. I'm working on a song right now in ProTools, using Live through Rewire. I need to make a few edits for radio and I was wondering if there is a simple way to duplicate the edits that I do in the ProTools session, to the Live session?

                      Thanks! In the meantime, I'll check over at Ableton but I thought I'd ask here first to see if there is an easy way for me to do this.

                      BTW, I've just registered and I look forward to being a contributer to your forum.

                      Dave Reitzas
                      www.reitzas.com

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                      • Hi Dave, it's always an honor to have you stop by (low bow)!

                        Quick question. I'm working on a song right now in ProTools, using Live through Rewire. I need to make a few edits for radio and I was wondering if there is a simple way to duplicate the edits that I do in the ProTools session, to the Live session?


                        You can't have one program "mirror" the other (i.e., if you make a change in Pro Tools the file acquires the same change in Live), but I don't think you really need to.

                        I have not tested Live's rewire capaabilities with Pro Tools, but with Sonar, you can just make whatever edits you want in a Sonar track, then drag the edited version over to Live's arrangement view OR into a clip in the session view. From there you can of course loop, stretch, bend, fold, staple, or mutilate.

                        Does this do what you want?

                        BTW isn't rewire great? More props to the prop-heads.
                        Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                        Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                        • Originally posted by Anderton
                          Hi Dave, it's always an honor to have you stop by (low bow)!



                          You can't have one program "mirror" the other (i.e., if you make a change in Pro Tools the file acquires the same change in Live), but I don't think you really need to.

                          I have not tested Live's rewire capaabilities with Pro Tools, but with Sonar, you can just make whatever edits you want in a Sonar track, then drag the edited version over to Live's arrangement view OR into a clip in the session view. From there you can of course loop, stretch, bend, fold, staple, or mutilate.

                          Does this do what you want?

                          BTW isn't rewire great? More props to the prop-heads.


                          Live, especially with Rewire, is one of my favorite creative tools!
                          More specific to my question is, suppose I have a song in ProTools that Live is 'chasing' via Rewire. In the arrangment window of Live, I have all of my sounds triggered according to the bar numbers that coincide with my ProTools session.
                          Now let's say I want to remove a 2 bar re-intro before the second verse. The verse started at bar 30 before the edit, . When I remove the 2 bars, the verse now starts at bar 28. However, in Live, the sounds that happened at the top of the verse, still get triggered at bar 30.
                          Is there an equivalent of a shuffle delete in Live that, after removing bars from the arrangment, would shift everything accordingly?

                          This may be a simple thing to do and I feel guilty taking up space for my technical questions on your review thread. I guess I could pursue this question in a more appropriate place, like the Ableton's website, but since I started here I might as well finish it here.

                          Thanks in advance!
                          Dave Reitzas
                          www.reitzas.com

                          Comment


                          • <<Is there an equivalent of a shuffle delete in Live that, after removing bars from the arrangment, would shift everything accordingly?>>

                            Yes. Set up the "loop braces" around the section you want to delete (e.g., measures 17-21), then go Edit > Cut Time (or type Ctrl-Shift-X). The start of measure 21 will now occur where measure 17 started, and measures 17-21 will be gone.

                            <<This may be a simple thing to do and I feel guilty taking up space for my technical questions on your review thread.>>

                            Au contraire! This is what the review thread is about, talking about the product but also, asking questions about it. For someone reading this, being able to do what you want to do might be very important, and finding out it's possible may make them more interested in seeing what Live is about.
                            Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                            Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                            • Originally posted by Anderton
                              <<Is there an equivalent of a shuffle delete in Live that, after removing bars from the arrangment, would shift everything accordingly?>>

                              Yes. Set up the "loop braces" around the section you want to delete (e.g., measures 17-21), then go Edit > Cut Time (or type Ctrl-Shift-X). The start of measure 21 will now occur where measure 17 started, and measures 17-21 will be gone.

                              <<This may be a simple thing to do and I feel guilty taking up space for my technical questions on your review thread.>>

                              Au contraire! This is what the review thread is about, talking about the product but also, asking questions about it. For someone reading this, being able to do what you want to do might be very important, and finding out it's possible may make them more interested in seeing what Live is about.



                              Duh!
                              I knew it was a simple thing, but I was just spacing out and a little distracted by more pressing studio issues at hand. Thanks for answering my question so quickly. I will pay it forward for sure.

                              Dave Reitzas
                              www.reitzas.com

                              Comment


                              • Good to see you over here Dave.
                                **********

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