10 Know-Hows Making Ableton Live Unique (Part 2)

6. MASTERING: EVERYTHING IS ON-BOARD

Live native plugins allow you to emulate the workflow in Izotope Ozone with no effort, including the preset management. Yes there will be a slight difference in sound — but still you may come VERY close, emulating the the same processing chain like in Ozone with Live native plugs ONLY, eg:

PreEQ M/S — Master M/S Reverb — Multiband Stereofield handling — Multiband Saturation — Multiband Compression — PostEQ M/S

7. WORKFLOW: FACTORY & 3RD PARTY PACKS

In my opinion — PACKS — is the fastest and most comfortable way to browse & pick up the samples, instrument patches, FX racks as well as audio and MIDI clips. PACK is a one of the proprietary Ableton’s file formats (.alp) that unpacks automatically installing its content into the corresponding Library categories, and depending on the creator may contain project files, pre-mapped instrument patches, FX racks, MIDI and audio clips, etc.

It’s also a great way for sharing the content you’ve created — as allows no human error during the installation and unpacking process + you can deliver complex data in one .alp file (samples, instrument and effect patches, etc).

Pre-mapped parameters allow you to check the tweaking of the sound textures / patches in no time, and if you are satisfied with the patch — you already got tweakable parameters at your disposal to record the automation or play live. Excellent solution for orchestral instruments with pre-mapped articulation parameters on the fly, just having loaded the instrument from a pack you got the access to all instrument articulations — e.g. Legato, Staccato, Pizzicato.

Great solution to share the racks / packs of your own with your teammates or collaborators. Healthy selection of FREE racks & packs is available — at Ableton.com and around and growing daily.

Click to zoom

8. WORKFLOW: SHORTCUTS, KEY/MIDI MAPPINGS, TEMPLATES & SCREEN REAL ESTATE

Live’s working window architecture is just great in its simplicity and operability. Unlike most of the DAWs, the working window in Live is coplanar, with the major working sections (File Browser, INs/OUTs, Sends/Returns, Mixer Section etc.) to be opened or closed depending on what you need to work at in any given moment. As soon as you learn the shortcuts — it happens on the fly, with no effort, that allows to work comfortably even on 15.6/17 wide screens.

Adding 2nd or 3rd monitors allows you to use 2 screens for Live project, while using the 3rd monitor for third party software floating windows, that looks like ideal configuration to me.

SAVE IT ON THE FLY: Incredibly easy way to save everything worthy for future use into your Library — from the synth presets to MIDI/ audio clips, tracks and even the whole sets (all the tracks except return tracks).

Madeleine from Sonic Bloom explains:

Another great option — is a possibility to merge tracks from different project versions (excluding the group tracks and returns though), that’s extremely comfortable when you want to compare different versions of your instrument patch or part.

Click to zoom

Here we have a dual screen view of Session / Arrangement sections with everything hidden.

Click to zoom

Here we have a Session View window with all sections opened.

9. WORKFLOW (+): FULL LATENCY COMPENSATED AUTOMATION & MODULATION

Actually the title says it all. For years absence of this features set up properly generated tons of criticism, and used as an argument to make Live incomparable with the grands, like it’s still a “no-pro tool”. And of course tons of headache for Live users, but those gloomy days are gone now.

Full Latency Compensated Automation / Modulation is available from version 9.2 and on!


10. LIVE ACT SPECIALS

Ableton sets for live performance vary substantially depending on the artist approach, band configuration, set structure, genre etc. so there are multiple opportunities here, but what I would like to stress here — is a possibility to integrate both video (graphics) and light control into Live environment. And according to my knowledge Live is the only DAW that allows you to do that.

VIDEO/GRAPHICS: Richie Hawtin’s “Plastikman” show — according to my knowledge, at least the video part of the show is Live controlled / integrated (not sure about the lights in this specific case):

Apart from being ranked from 1st to 3rd place according to different rankings in Top Global Techno/Top Global Tech House (November 2015), the same year Richie Hawtin has received a Honorary Doctorate award “in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the world of music technology” Wiki

Another example — Robert Henke (one of the co-developers of Ableton Live) and his audiovisual performance “Lumiere II” in Boiler Room/Mexico.

LIGHTS: This example demonstrates LED-lights control integration into Live allowing you to run both audio and light-control streams simultaneously.


My 10 points list is far from being complete. I only picked up the things that matter most to my personal workflow (another thing is that due to Max4Live integration the possibilities are getting virtually limitless).
Still the things mentioned make Live truly unique production environment in my opinion, bringing you the whole new level of creative freedom.
And at the end of the day — it’s the only thing that actually matter.