Goodbye Ableton Live

For several years I have used Ableton Live Suite extensively in making music. I have come to the realization that it is no longer worth it. There are better DAWs out there that do not drag their feet on new technologies.

The first thing is Ableton live has a great workflow, I would say I do not deny this as the main benefit to the DAW. There is also a significant amount of depth in terms of features. Most of which I barely scratched the surface on.

Here is the thing though, they have continually dragged their feet on new core technologies related to midi and VST. However one issue stands above the rest. When Ableton 10 was announced there was no support for MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE). While this may seem like a small issue MPE is becoming an increasingly important technology for hardware instruments. Roli’s Seaboard, and Roger Linn’s Linnstrument may be the biggest names, but there is a wave of new instruments coming in the future that use this technology. Midi is moving beyond the keyboard and knobs into more expressive controllers. While there are other DAWs which lack support, Ableton’s lack of support for MPE is becoming a glaring shortcoming. A $200+ upgrade for a new version of the software without substantial new features is not worth getting. Especially if those features are becoming increasingly common in competitors DAWs as upgrades roll out.

Ableton is not the only company that is failing to support MPE, but it’s exclusion at this point is unacceptable. The thing is it is not just MPE, it is VST3 as well. Especially in the face that it’s competitors that are biting at its heals, Logic, Reaper, Cubase, Tracktion, and Bitwig, fully support the MP3 and VST3 technology.

The technological lag in most cases would be acceptable if the technology needed to stabilize and if implimentation of this was unknown. However, VST3 and MPE are known technologies. So what the hell is Ableton really waiting for. When ableton 9.5 rolled out the lack of MPE support was questionable, but understandable. But why are they charging several hundred dollars for an update that is not fully compatible with the newest technologies? While some new features are nice, the lack of adoption of current advancements in core technology for DAWs is problematic. While they took over Cycling 74 for MAX, they failed to integrate a core MAX feature, which is support for MPE.

My advice for Ableton upgrade is to skip it for now. If you need a workflow like Ableton, Bitwig comes rather close. Reaper is an inexpensive feature laden DAW if one needs that. Hell Reaper may have been the best DAW on the market for years. The reality is there are options out there, and what Ableton offers is becoming harder to justify considering the steep price. For me I will be likely using Reaper in the future. It seems like the best approach for me personally.

Arturia Joins the Desktop Semi-Modular Game with the Minibrute 2S

The Arturia Minibrute 2S

Arturia has been on a bit of a roll these last few years, becoming a major player in the synth game. The brute synthesizers brought Arturia well into the realm of hardware analog synthesizers. But I will be brutally honest, outside of the Drumbrute, which I love, many of the synths they put out were not for me. They were either brutally heavy for me, such as the Matrixbrute, or just were lacking some key features such as the microbrute and original minibrute. (Okay, enough of the puns!)

There is nothing that I love though like a desktop semi-modular or modular synth without a keyboard. I think my review of both the Kilpatrick Phenol and Moog Mother 32 prove that out. Lets put it this way, the Minibrute 2S intrigues me. While the Minibrute 2 features a keyboard, the Minibrute 2 ditches the keyboard for a fully featured sequencer. Both of the new Minibrute 2 models also feature an extensive patchbay as well.

This is very much an updated instrument, featuring many features overcoming some of the originals shortcomings, plus adding new depth. The wave multiplying of the brute is there, but now external signals can be used. Likewise with two LFOS, two envelopes, and two oscillators, and there is also FM on both the principal oscillator and the filter, expanding the timber possibilities. Looking at the architecture and patch points, I am pretty impressed with elegance of the architecture of the synth voice so far.  On the 2S however they added a pretty fully featured sequencer. Probably the most full featured sequencer I have seen on an instrument at this price point and size. All of these features are wonderful for those of us who really want to dig into synthesis and experiment a bit more, but can do without a keyboard.

The Arturia Minibrute 2S will sell for $649 in the US.