Of the dozens of music-production software titles currently available, Ableton Live is unique. With its roots in live performance, it presents the user with a fluid, flexible interface that often makes it feel more musical instrument than recording studio. Still, version 5 excelled at both performance and recording, with comprehensive MIDI/audio editing and mixing built around its live performance toolset. Version 6 continues in this vein, with a range of new features on top of an otherwise untouched user interface.

According to Ableton, the most requested feature was video support. Live 6 obliges with the ability to import QuickTime videos and, in characteristic fashion, it includes an unusual twist. Warp Markers can be added to QuickTime files in the same way as they’re applied to audio recordings, but are used so that the tempo of the music follows cue points in the video. This makes it easy to line up audio events with video cues. The video’s soundtrack is processed just like any other audio channel, and it’s possible to trim and even combine video files on a timeline. However, it’s disappointing that videos can’t be chopped and rearranged on the fly in Session view or piped to a FireWire port as a DV stream.

Instrument and Effect Racks increase Live’s signal-routing flexibility. As with Device Groups used in version 5, a Rack can consist of a string of instrument or effect plug-ins for easy saving and recalling. However, Racks can also comprise plug-ins routed in parallel.




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