If you're paying attention to music technology, you're probably familiar with the simultaneous feeling of elation and panic. As something amazing comes out every week, you check it out and think: "This is just too good. I need this, but I don't have it. This is so, so great. What a miracle to be alive. But I'll never keep up!" Maybe this is just us, but that's doubtful. We had another moment like that this week when Ableton dropped its triple-lindy announcement of the big Live 9.5 update (free to current Live 9 users), the Push 2 hardware and the Link wireless networking synching protocol.
It's been a good long while since Ableton offered news this big. Especially if you're already a Live and/or Push user, you will love this. You may just love this to the point of existential despair. Remember to breathe deeply and evenly, and try to enjoy the following.
It's been a while since Live's Library was updated, so you can start by enjoying the new drum kits and hundreds of new one-shots and clips in the 9.5 update. Live Suite users, who also have Max for Live included, can enjoy the new Max for Live Essentials pack: 35 new devices, including three synths: Bass, Poli and Multi.
Every level of Live user will also enjoy Live 9.5's new analog-modeled filters, which find their way into new presets for the Simpler, Sampler, Operator and Auto Filter devices. Based on a classic analog hardware, the new filters exhibit new feedacking, distorting and self-resonating behavior. See the video below.
Live 9.5's interface improvements include more detailed waveforms, color-coded track and clips and new mixer meters that include both peak and RMS (root-mean-square) levels, so you get an idea of the track's perceived loudness.
The Simpler sampling instrument was also rehauled in a major way with a new interface and warping. It's now a powerhouse of sample slicing, which you can map across a keyboard, and use it in Classic, One-Shot or Slicing modes.
Live 9.5 comes in Intro ($99), Standard ($449) and Suite ($749) varieties, available now.
Honestly the Push 2 was the announcement that really gave us the queasy feeling in the pit of the stomach. With electronics, it's often the second version that really starts to define the piece, and while the original Push was awesome, the Push 2 is just quite a bit mo' awesomer, hands down.
As if it took the best of the Native Instruments Maschine and Novation Launchpad Pro and then added it's own flare, Push 2 seems like a complete Live 9.5 production assistant in one box. The new high-res color screen can display a lot more info, including waveform editing and slice playback from the updated Simpler. Two rows of buttons above and below the screen manipulate high-level functions and track functions. You can also access the browser from the screen, load samples, and play them. Edit waveform from the screen to create loops and more.
Additional controls make it more efficient to navigate Live 9.5, so you can select sounds, edit them, perform with them, step sequence, record and more all from Push 2.
If you have an original Push you can trade it into Ableton and get a 30% discount on Push 2, while they send off the original to an educational facility. But if you want to keep your original Push, the free Live 9.5 update adds several new features for the original Push as well.
Push 2 is $799 (street) with discounts if you bundle it with Live, available now.
This nugget of joy is not available quite yet, but Ableton is torturing us with the news anyway.
Basically, Link provides wireless or Ethernet network synching of more than one Live session at a time from as many computers as you like. It will also work with certain compatible iOS apps—13 of them at current count. Users can drop in and out of the live jam without stopping the Link; iOS apps can even use it without Live at all.
While everyone's been touting Live software as the DAW that's also an instrument for a long time, Link looks like it will actually fulfill the promise of letting multiple Live users play together in sync like a real band.