Freakin’ awesome. Ableton, the company that makes the software with which I make pretty much all of my music, has just announced their new version of Live and has begun limited beta-testing (including your’s truly). So far it looks mainly like an answer to many of the requests that users have been itching for on the Ableton Forum: mixed time-signatures, updated automation, better drum sequencing, better effects (visualized compression yay!). I have yet to see ways in which the program has been revolutionized, such as with Version 6’s Rack feature, although several new features look very promising.
The best new feature, as far as I can tell, is the new Drum Rack which seems to crush any need for the now antiquated Impulse drum machine (I’m sure there will still be some quaint ways to utilize it). Drum Rack seems somewhat modeled on Battery from Native Instruments, which after messing with for a bit, used to make me return to my little Impulse with a shrug. You can now map drums, or any other sample or software instrument for that matter, to a midi note (shown in a neat little MPC-like visual. Each mapped note can be clicked on for editing either the audio sample (in a Simpler-like box) or the MIDI instrument. You can also add individual effects to each sound and incorporate subsequent racks to create a literally infinite sound chain. For those of us who make beat-oriented music, this is huge. Each signal also has its own mixer controls so that you can monitor and control panning and volume in the session view.
There are also several new soft-synths: an analog-modeling synth, an electric piano modeler, and a string synth. I’ve tinkered with the first two and, since I’ve been increasingly using synth and keys in my tunes, I’ll likely end up buying them. They get a unique sound that is very distinct from Operator.
The beta seems a little slow and buggy, but that could just be my busted-ass Powerbook, which is terminally on the fritz.
I was hoping for some earth-shattering new feature, possibly involving the Cycling 74 partnership, but looks like we may have to wait a bit (hopefully they are just holding the surprise!).