Making and creating music in today’s world is completely different than what it was just ten years ago. Where back then musicians could, of course, play live sets anywhere that would have them, things were a whole lot different when it came to recording, mixing, and publishing music.
It was necessary for musicians too, at the very least, save up thousands, in some cases tens of thousands of dollars (especially if one was from a smaller town or city) in order to hire a recording company to book studio sessions to record music.
And then, after spending thousands of dollars, musicians were essentially beholden to whatever the recording studio gave them with little control over how the end product might sound digitally mastered. Musicians were beholden to this system because recording equipment was expensive, prohibitively expensive.
But, thankfully, all that has changed. Today’s musicians have so much more control over their sounds and recording possibilities, and they can do their own sounds and recordings at a fraction of the cost thanks to improved technologies.
One such technology that musicians and musician creators can use to start recording and enhance their sounds is Ableton Live. The only problem is that many people are hesitant to use this software due to a perceived belief that it is too hard to use.
Is Ableton Live Easy to Use
Yes, Ableton Live is easy to use — but only once you get the hang of it. There are a lot of features and things you can do with this software and so understanding all of its possibilities will take time, but that time is worth it.
Ableton Live is easy but complex. By this, we meant to say that any slightly tech-savvy individual will be able to jump in and start understanding the different tools offered by this digital audio workstation software, especially if that individual is somewhat familiar with what a DAW program like Ableton Live can do.
Ableton Live is quickly becoming the premier program for songwriting, song editing, music mixing, and so much more, thanks to its wide variety of tools. The following is a more in-depth look at some of those tools and features, as well as how Ableton Live has oriented them so as to be both easy to pick up but also deep and complex enough to truly give the user a professional audio editing experience.
Features That Make Ableton Live Easy to Use But With Complex, Highly Desirable Capabilities
Clean and simple user interface
The user interface is one of the most important aspects of any program or application. If a program or app does not have an interface that is visually appealing and easy to navigate, then it will be downvoted to oblivion, and only a very small niche of users will seek it out.
That’s because there are so many other options out there that users don’t have to struggle with an ugly interface to get results. The creators of Ableton Live understand this and have thankfully packaged all of their powerful sound editing tools into a gorgeous interface that is intuitive to use.
By this, we mean, from the moment you open the app, its sleek design and organized format will make it easy to become familiar with operations, and swiftly you’ll begin understanding where to go and how to use the different tools.
Two different ways of organizing it
When things are organized correctly, they are simply made so much easier to use. The organization makes complex tasks simpler as it breaks down things in a way that is easier for the brain to process.
By offering two different ways of organizing processes or, in other words, enabling users to be able to utilize most of the program’s controls in two select ways, Ableton Live makes features easier to understand and take advantage of. This program does that through its use of two types of views: Arrangement view and session view.
The arrangement view is something you are apt to see in all types of Digital Audio Workstation features as it serves as a timeline in which the user can lay out tracks and arrange them in the user’s desired format to form a song. Session view, in contrast, is something that is almost exclusively unique to the Ableton Live program.
This view enables users to organize tracks vertically as though it were a mixer, and into each of those tracks, the user can input mini data and audio clips. This makes it possible for users to create different track combination and sound ideas as they go. Session view can come to be particularly handy when utilizing the program during a live performance.
Simple but detailed audio editing
When auditing music (or even video), you want to be able to easily cut the sound off at the exact spot or insert a new sound in a specific moment. It is incredibly important for it to be easy to access these points but also to access it down the precise millisecond.
Being able to seamlessly edit your audio with Ableton Live excels in large part due to it having, thus, both simple to utilize audio editing features as well as features that allow detailed, controlled edits. For example, Ableton Live boasts a precision drag and drop functionality that the user of the program can utilize throughout the entirety of Ableton Live’s programming. If you have a clip recorded in your session view, you can easily drag and drop it anywhere else you want throughout the integrated music program.
Seamless change of sounds
One of the most talked-about features of Ableton Live is also one of the features that makes it incredibly easy to use and incredibly versatile. That feature is called warping.
With warping, users can change the tempo and timing of any audio via the program. This feature can be used in real-time, without stopping the music — which can be a really, really big boon when utilizing Ableton Live for a live performance. Similar to the drag and drop sound editing feature, Ableton Live’s warping feature makes it possible to drag audio into living and then seamlessly find key points in the sounds to add a warp marker.
The program can then utilize those warp markers for the user to create a time and sync with the desired BPM. The end result of this is full custom manipulation of rhythm. Of course, this feature is more complex, and for those completely new to sound editing and manipulation, there will be a learning curve before one understands how to take full advantage of this feature.
That said because the Ableton Live warp markers are so easy to use and incorporate, once you understand what is possible with them, it is easy to use.
Save and store your tracks with ease
Again, organization is, or at least ought to be, a founding principle of any program, but especially a comprehensive digital editing programming like Ableton Live — and you will find that dedication to having things intuitively organized in spades with this program.
With Ableton Live, users can easily save all of their presets and store them in an established left-hand menu. This save feature is apt to be most appreciated by solitary musicians looking to save their own unique audio effects to reflect upon later or to mix into other sounds as Ableton Live’s saving features make it possible to build a comprehensive library of your own presets and instrument tracks.
Users can also utilize the program’s Core Library, which is a collection of incorporated synths, drum machines, pianos, and other instruments, to mix and save with their own desired presets.
Bolstered by a passionate community
It is important to note that Ableton Live isn’t going to make an inexperienced musician sound fully professional within days, just like the best guitary can’t make a newcomer to the instrument a master. Ableton Live should be seen as its own type of instrument or tool that you will need to practice and experiment with in order to gain mastery.
The good news is that it isn’t a steep learning curve, and newcomers will quickly be mixing tracks and creating songs with relative ease within a short time span. Furthermore, for those who do struggle with getting a hold of the program’s controls and possibilities, there is a vast community to turn to.
Ableton Live, of course, features its own company user support hotline you can contact, but there are also more informal options. For example, you’ll find Ableton Live Facebook groups boasting thousands of members in which other passionate song makers and sound editors are sharing their own questions and advice on how best to take advantage of the program’s functionalities.
Users will also find plenty of YouTube tutorials and even several channels dedicated entirely to using programs like Ableton Live to improve one’s musical prowess. So if you get the program and find you’re still struggling even after going through all of the integrated tutorials, then head online.
Fun to use
One of the reasons why you will find so many groups on Facebook, YouTube, and other social media avenues dedicated to Ableton Live is because it is not just the features Ableton Live offers. It is how it offers them.
That seamless, organized interface talked about earlier mixed with its unique features makes the process of music editing more fun and exciting.
These tools, in a way, make music editing more about the process than the finished product, and for that alone, it should be worth a trial run by every musician.