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Ableton Live 11 - My Top 5 Favorite Features

Updated: Dec 31, 2021

Ableton Live 11 is a game changer. The introduction of comping in itself is enough to persuade those users bouncing between DAWs to finally settle into Ableton once and for all. As someone who has bounced between Logic and Ableton since I purchased Logic about three years ago, I have continued to use Ableton less and less frequently, especially after the release of Logic 10.5 which basically adopted all of the features which made me use Ableton. After the release of Logic’s big update in May, Ableton realized they had to up their game if they were going to stay on top of the DAW totem pole. And so, only shortly after Apple’s big update, Ableton announced the release of Ableton Live 11.

Ableton users need to pay to upgrade to Ableton 11, something which I personally think might deter some people from upgrading. I have been lucky enough to become part of the Ableton Live 11 Beta Program and have been using Live 11 for about a month now. I have been playing around with all the new features because of my nerdiness and have loved them all but have definitely developed some favorites. These are by far my top five favorite new features introduced in Ableton Live 11!

**This list does not include new devices such as the new Hybrid Reverb and Inspired by Nature. Look out for a video and blog post coming soon on the topic of new Live 11 devices.

1) Comping

YES PEOPLE! Ableton has done it! Ableton Live 11 users now have the ability to record in loop mode and store multiple takes within a track for comping later on. As a vocalist, not having the ability to store takes while recording and comp was the biggest reason that I would work in other DAWs. Unless I was recording a quick scratch take, I would virtually never use Ableton to track anything and would rather import audio later from Logic or ProTools.

Comping is basically the process of comparing different takes and stitching them together in order to create the best possible performance in one track. I would definitely say that comping is most commonly used for putting together vocal takes but can definitely be used for instrumental performances. In the case of Ableton, the comping feature applies to both audio and MIDI recording.

In past versions of live, when recording in loop mode, Ableton would simply create one long audio file with all of the takes in it. In Live 11, Ableton will create a “take lane” for each time the loop occurs. These lanes basically look like tracks inside of tracks but actually have very specific functionalities.

The take lanes allow you to highlight any part of the lane and press enter to add it to the comp. You can audition any lane (listen to it alone with the rest of your arrangement) by selecting it and pressing “T” on your keyboard. You can also use draw mode to automatically add parts of lanes to the comp simply by selecting them with the pencil.

2) MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE)

For people with a passion for sound design and synthesis, MPE has been a game changer. This is another boat Ableton jumped onto a bit later in the game, but it is something they are doing quite well in my opinion. Similarly to the way most DAWs have slowly begun integrating MPE into their software instruments in a “one by one” sort of fashion, Ableton 11 introduces MPE to three of its software instruments. Wavetable, Arpeggiator, and Sampler now have MPE compatibility, and there is a Max for live device called MPE Control which allows users to assign MIDI Polyphonic Expression to other Ableton devices.

3) Clip View “Re-design”

Clip view has never looked better, with an adapted design that now includes three tabs which organize automation and editing quite nicely. There is a tab for basic functions, a tab for automation, and a tab for MPE control. There is also a new “follow actions” feature which is super cool and definitely requires its own point on this list...

4) New Follow Action Update

As someone who loves live looping, this revamp of “follow actions” has made me extremely happy. I always felt like setting up follow actions was super roundabout in previous versions of Ableton, but this new update has created a nice section of the clip view where you can tell clips what to do after they finish playing. You can even select “any” as a follow action and Ableton will trigger a random clip after the clip finishes playing.

Ableton Live 11 Follow Actions

I think this update is really going to improve workflow and performance setups for anyone who likes to prep their looping, but even for people who want to work on arrangements in the session view.

5) Linking Tracks

This one seemed to me at first like it wasn’t useful at all, but after thinking about it a bit, I think it would be super awesome for working with doubles and other related types of groups. Ableton 11 now allows users to link tracks. When tracks are linked, edits made to a track will apply to all linked tracks.

Ableton Live 11 Menu with Linking Tracks

For example, if you wanted to adjust clip lengths or warping on multiple tracks at a time, you can simply link the tracks and adjust them together. I imagine myself linking harmony doubles and vocal tracks to make editing quicker and more uniform across tracks.

So that's it! Ableton Live 11 beta will continue to expand its features so stay tuned for some more Ableton 11 videos and blog posts!!

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