Live 2.0 Public Beta Released

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Date: Thursday, December 19th, 2002, 08:31
Category: Archive


Okay, now having aired my sour grapes over the continuing painfully slow transition of pro audio to OS X, here’s some good news: one application has been introduced for the first time on Mac OS X (as well as 9), concurrent with a Windows release, changed the way people think about audio software, torpedoed a Windows-only program by vastly expanding what a category of software can do (i.e., rival loop software Acid), and is now about to be the first Mac OS X audio software to reach its second major release: Ableton Live, now in public beta. You don’t even need a serial number to try it out: but careful, you may be hooked. (No need to wait to buy, though: version 2 is free for anyone who buys v1 now.)

Ableton is a perfect example of a development company started by musicians, that has been extraordinarily receptive to users comments. Live 2 includes all kinds of user requests, like a cross-fader (book my DJ gigs now!), MIDI/keyboard assignable scene advance and track launch, finally making evening-long sets practical, presets for saving and loading effects settings, both solo mode and prefade-listen mode on the mixer bringing it on par with hardware mixers, multiple MIDI unit support, full screen mode, and — finally!! — the much-requested ability to turn off tempo controls for soundbites, and the ability to time-stretch anything, not just loops, via an improved algorithm. These developments can’t be understated: by creating a new category of performance, Live vastly expanded what live computer-based musicians can do in a performance, but feature limitations translate into creative limitations. These fixes steamroll over those problems. I know competing Acid has earned a lot of respect in the PC community, but that’s been my problem with Acid all along: it actually encourages uncreative mixes and doesn’t work in live performance, forcing you to stick with burning dull CDs. It’s great to see Live taking a big leap forward, in contrast. And all running smoothly on OS X (with VST support, too, ahem, ahem, Emagic!).

Downloadable upgrades for existing users will be just EUR/US$ 69., or 20 extra bucks/Euros for a boxed version with a printed manual. Because I believe Live can be fun for newcomers to musicians as well as pros, stay tuned following the Live 2.0 release for a full feature from me on what all the above means for an evening long live set in Live!

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