Live 6

Live 6

This is Live 6's Session view, the interface which you use to mangle your audio files on the fly.


During long-winded debates with your devoted-to-vinyl DJ friend, launch Ableton Live 6, load a few beats and some media clips, and start mixing. Then let DJ Luddite give it a try. The next challenge will be figuring out how to pry DJ Ozzy Oldschool away from your Mac.


Putting a tune together in such monster music software as Steinberg's Cubase or Apple's Logic demands preparation, whereas Live enables you to load disparate audio and MIDI snippets and jam away with ease. It beat-matches and repitches effectively, and sequencing facilities are on hand for creating more structured pieces. With Live 6, it's now possible to drag and drop movie (MOV) files into the Arrangement window, trim them, and warp music to match the action.


Live's four-band EQ has doubled up to eight, offering finer control over tone shaping, and it includes the ability to morph from extreme EQ to bypass for those trendy filter-sweep effects. There are also new tools for adding warmth to the tone. Dynamic Tube emulates the characteristics of vacuum-tube amplifiers, while additions to Saturator include a wave-shaper for custom saturation curves and a second output stage to keep the signal in check should you go mad with the main stage. Both are too light for metal heads but do lend a passable ”British crunch” to otherwise clean guitar and add a useful edge to analog synth patches.


Sound-generation-wise, Live's Simpler sampler receives several gigabytes of multisampled instruments, the collection comprising chiefly traditional timbres. The package also hosts a new instrument called Sampler, Simpler's big brother. However, the full version costs an extra $199 - Live only comes with a demo version of Sampler.


Live 6 can use multicore processors and multiprocessor systems. On a dual-processor 2GHz Power Mac with 2.5GB of RAM, Activity Monitor showed the CPU approximately 82 percent idle when playing back a demo song in Live 5.2, but it was around 90 percent idle with Live 6. Add in Deep Freeze, which lets you render CPU-heavy tracks as audio while retaining access to many editing functions, and you've got an altogether more system-friendly package.


Live's new interface is smoother thanks to a project folder system through which collections of sets, presets, and their attendant audio and movie clips can be grouped to help organize, archive, and distribute your work. Racks have also been introduced so you can group instruments and effects together, control multiple parameters simultaneously, save your own configurations, and share them with collaborators.


The bottom line. Seasoned users will find that Live retains its instant-groove appeal, while stage performers will appreciate enhancements to project organization and MIDI control.


COMPANY: Ableton
PRICE: $599 box, $499 download
REQUIREMENTS: G3 or faster or Intel processor, Mac OS 10.2.8 or later, 512MB RAM
Makes experimentation a breeze. Movie support. Racks and folders improve workflow. Flexible MIDI mapping. Multicore and multi-processor support. Universal binary.
No surround-sound support. Sampler software costs an extra $199.





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