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Ableton Live 12.1 Public Beta – Everything about the new DAW!


Ableton Live 12 Review: MIDI Generators, New Sounds, and more!  · 

Source:
Marcus Schmahl / Ableton

Ableton Live 12 Review - More MIDI, more GUI, more sound

Ableton Live 12 Review – More MIDI, more GUI, more sound  · 

Source:
Ableton / Gearnews

Ableton presents Live 12, the next major version of its DAW for music producers, musicians, sound designers and live performers (get all versions here). For the time being, there was “only” a public beta, which was officially launched on March 5th 2024. In addition to performance improvements, the developer surprised us with many interesting new features, a new look and new creative sound generators. And that’s exactly what I had to try out in my own home studio. Here is my review of the official release of the new DAW from Berlin. And now you can try the pre-release version of Live 12.1 as a public beta, which will bring much more new devices and bug fixes to the big DAW in just a few weeks after the official launch. A pretty cool free update – what do you think?

All about Ableton Live 12

Ableton Live 12 Public Beta 12.1 with many new features and bug fixes

[02.07.2024] Ableton is pleased to announce Live 12.1, the latest version of Ableton Live. The free update to Ableton’s music production and performance software brings major new features and enhancements to all versions of Ableton Live 12, including Live Lite and Push (standalone).

Here are the new features: Ableton Live 12.1 introduces automatic tagging, making it easier to find the right sounds in the user’s library. New tags are automatically assigned to all samples in your library that are less than one minute in length, as well as all VST3 and AU plug-ins.

Auto Shift, Live’s new pitch-correction and harmonisation tool, lets you extract and manipulate vocal harmonies in real time. Simply select a key for the instrument and it will create harmonies from any monophonic signal that you record live or feed into the designated sidechain input.

New Instruments in Ableton Live 12.1

The Drum Sampler, Live’s new compact sample player, makes it easy to edit and enhance drum sounds. The Limiter and Saturator have been redesigned, and the MIDI Editor now lets you filter and select notes by time, pitch and other criteria. Two new MPE-specific MIDI transformations – Glissando and LFO – let you create curves for the MPE parameters of selected notes.

Ableton Live 12.1 also brings updates to Push. Push 2 and 3 allow you to assign macros, try macro variations, organise sets more easily and use Live 12’s browser filters. Push 3 lets you instantly add groove to all MIDI clips in a set by simply turning the encoder, while Push 3 also supports Live’s new automatic sample tagging in standalone mode. Wow! This free update (for all Live 12 licence holders) definitely packs a punch! Click here to subscribe to the public beta test. And here you will get the full release notes.

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The wait is over: Ableton Live 12 is now officially available!

[March 5, 2024] Ableton Live 12 is finally here. The new version just launched. In addition to the overhauled browser, sound similarity search, the bi-timbral Meld synth, the multi-band distortion beast Roar and generative MIDI capabilities, loads of new sounds are included in the final version.

There is a new sound pack called “Lost and Found”. A completely re-done version of Granulator is also part of the update. Additionally, all existing packs have been updated to work with sound similarity search. Get Ableton 12 now at Thomann*. And if you own a Push 3, there will be a significant update with many features of Live 12 added pretty soon.

Highlights

  • Generative MIDI: have Live 12 create melodies, rhythms, and chords for you
  • Global tuning: set the key globally and have all clips and devices follow it
  • Microtuning and non-western scales
  • New devices: Morphing bi-timbral synth Meld and multi-band distortion Roar
  • GUI overhauled: view arrangement, mixer, devices, and clips simultaneously
  • New browser workflow: search with tags
  • Find new sounds quickly through similarity search

Ableton Live 12 Review – how did we get here?

It’s been an exciting but somewhat rocky year for Ableton. In spring, they released Ableton Live 11.3 with a new software synthesizer and MPE capabilities for just about every included instrument. All that came to fruition with the release of Push 3 in May.

Multiple devices connected to the audio inputs
Multiple devices connected to the audio inputs · Source: Ableton

But it seems not every Ableton fan was happy to go for a two-thousand-dollar standalone version of Ableton. One that, to some, seemed a bit unfinished. That seems to have passed, but with the hardware out of the way, all eyes turn to Live.

And the Berliners are a bit under pressure here. Almost every DAW maker has released a significant update this year. With FL Studio adding stem separation and cloud connectivity, Logic Pro adding a mastering assistant and a powerful granular sampler, and Bitwig finally fulfilling Community wishes with the new MSEG module and a new browser, it was clear: Ableton needs to step up their game. Let’s see if they did in this Ableton Live 12 review!

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Ableton Live 12 makes music for you (if you want)

As AI is all the rage these days, it’s no surprise DAW makers start including it in some form. While it is not exactly artificial intelligence, Ableton now brings four tools to generate MIDI notes for you. Create new drum grooves with the click of a button, endless melodies and glissandos, and even chord progressions through Ableton’s new generative MIDI tools.

Transform, generate, and split notes in Ableton Live 12
Transform, generate, and split notes in Ableton Live 12 · Source: Ableton

While we’re at it, some neat additions to the piano roll have been introduced as well. You can now split and multiply notes, just like in FL Studio, whose piano roll is among the DAW game’s most powerful ones. There are also various tools to transform your existing notes, similar to what FL offers.

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Existing MIDI chords can be arpeggiated and strummed; melodies can be extended and spruced up with legatos, frills, and even grace notes. These tools all take a moment to fully understand, even if you’re a seasoned Ableton veteran. It took me a few tries to grasp which notes to select and how to generate and change things. But once the penny dropped, I spent hours generating and manipulating melodies and chord progressions. This has been one of the highlights of my Ableton Live 12 review.

It’s one of the first things you see in the new update: the added „Filter“ section in the browser. Live’s search has historically been a bit limited when it comes to quickly finding that one VST or sample you always use. Now it works with tags. So, if I’m looking for „Serum“ or „drumbeat_128_splicepack“, it’s not an additional dozens of clicks and folders anymore. Just select the tag.

Search results are rated by how similar they sound to the original
Search results are rated by how similar they sound to the original · Source: Ableton / Gearnews

If there are plugins, Ableton devices, or presets that you always reach for, you can even save a browser search as a one-click search. This helps gloss over the fact that, unfortunately, we don’t get any additional „Collections“ in this update. Because seven just isn’t enough.

The most powerful addition to both the browser and drums racks is similarity search. It’s a new tiny button that appears next to any Ableton instrument preset, any one-shot or loop. The DAW instantly shows you similar sounds you can replace it with. And in Drum Racks, you can even replace every sound in your drum kit with similar sounds with the click of a button. Brilliant! Let’s move on with our Ableton Live 12 review.

Global tuning with microtonal and non-western scales

This falls under the category „Finally, because most other DAWs have had it for YEARS. “ You can set a global key in DAWs like Logic Pro or Cubase. Depending on the DAW and your workflow, new MIDI (and sometimes even audio) clips are automatically set to it. This is now integrated into Live 12. But Ableton being Ableton, it goes further.

The little purple button at the top left corner of Meld applies the tuning - Ableton Live 12 Review
The little purple button at the top left corner of Meld applies the tuning – Ableton Live 12 Review · Source: Ableton / Gearnews

Not only can you import any scl-file and have the DAW conform to any microtonal or non-western scale you desire and the DAW applies this scale to all MIDI clips in your project. It also applies the scale to the new software synthesizer Meld, where overtones matter. That’s not something I have ever seen anywhere else – and it helps a lot in sound design.

Ableton 12 review: new and updated devices

Meld is a two-oscillator polyphonic synth with 14 different oscillator types, ranging from VA to wavetable for various types of FM to unusual sound sources like „Bitgrunge“ „Tarp, “or „Bubble. “ And with some of these types, you see a little (b#). That indicates the overtones in this oscillator will be tuned according to the globally set scale. Neat.

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Ableton 12 Review: multi-band madness with Roar
Source: Ableton / Gearnews

They have also added Roar, another highlight for me in this Ableton Live 12 review. It’s a multi-band distortion effect. It does feedback, even in M/S. And that feedback can sound so gnarly, so sexy… Whem I combined it with some of Meld’s more aggressive sounds, I got some of the most evil sounds out of Live I have ever heard.

Not many devices have been updated. Granulator III, from Ableton’s own Robert Henke, has been rewritten from the ground up and is now much easier to use for live granular shenanigans. Live’s arpeggiator and chord devices have been slightly changed to fit into the new global scale option. But that’s about it. If you were hoping for changes in Operator, Sampler, or Auto-Filter, you have to be patient.

Fulfilling community wishes: All-in-one screen, bounce-in-place and more

It was one of the few really big annoyances if you worked with Live on a single screen. Switching back and forth between the mixer in the session view and the arrangement view, back and forth between editing a clip and working with the effects on a track. Now you can see everything. But that comes at a price.

Busy screen
Busy screen · Source: Ableton / Gearnews

Because Ableton Live is famous for its minimalism, it does get crowded if you have a full arrangement, plenty of mixer tracks, and loads of plugins all visible at the same time. But I guess there is no way you could solve this differently. I personally appreciate it a lot. And then there is „Freeze and flatten“. You read that right. You can now bounce a track’s clips into audio with just a single click. Finally!

What’s missing? There is no support for ARA, CLAP, or the new universal DAW file format DAWproject. You still can’t freeze groups, and there is no dynamic EQ or vocal tuner. To name a few. None of these matter particularly much in the big picture, in my opinion. But if you are among those disappointed because these things are missing, I urge you to try the new beta. It’s one of the most innovative DAW updates in recent years.

Conclusion

During my Ableton Live 12 review, I couldn’t help but be transported back to when I started with the DAW around version 6 or 7. Ableton has added so many new features and has changed so many existing things; it often felt as magical as my humble Live beginnings.

The updated Granulator III
The updated Granulator III · Source: Ableton / Gearnews

Mind you, this is the beta version we’re talking about. There are still a few bumps in the road, especially regarding the new MIDI tools. But given that we’re still 3+ months away from the final release, I’m sure Ableton will come around.

Price and Availablity

You can get Ableton Live Intro, Standard, and Suite right now over at Thomann (Affiliate).

More about this Ableton Live 12 Review

Ableton Live 12 Review Pros and Cons

Pros

  • MIDI tools like Transform or Generate are great creative additions
  • Roar is one of the best-sounding, most versatile distortion effects on the market.
  • Similarity search helps find new sounds quickly
  • Bounce-in-place
  • New all-in-one GUI makes everything more transparent

Cons

  • DAW can become a bit cluttered with everything visible at the same time
  • Plugin formats ARA and CLAP still missing
  • Still only seven collections in the browser

Videos on Ableton Live 12

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Ableton Live 12 Review: MIDI Generators, New Sounds, and more!

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John Smith

My John Smith is a seasoned technology writer with a passion for unraveling the complexities of the digital world. With a background in computer science and a keen interest in emerging trends, John has become a sought-after voice in translating intricate technological concepts into accessible and engaging articles.

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