From its inception, Ableton always had a dual purpose. There are so many DAWs in the recording studio software world that just another recording program wasn't going to be enough to stand out. Ableton ventured into a realm beyond music production and down the path of live performance. Its ability to be just as integral as a live performance tool as it is a tool in the studio makes this recording program special.
What's Unique About Ableton Live
The session view is what really separates Ableton from all other home studio programs. The session window works in columns instead of rows. Time does not flow from right to left within the session window. Instead, snippets or clips of audio are inserted into each column like insert effects on a channel strip. Clicking on the insert plays the audio.
What's cool about this is that when you click on two or more audio clips, the audio automatically quantizes so the clips sync up with one another. This means that everything plays on time and matches up, even if you click on the clips at different times. This enables you to mix and match sounds quickly and create music in a way that doesn't eat up time with sound experimentation. You drop a sound in, and if it doesn't work with what you are trying to accomplish, you remove it and drop a different sound in. It is that simple.
The session view allows you not only to create music in a new and creative way, but also to use Ableton to perform live. While this software has been used in a variety of projects, it is especially popular among DJs and solo artists to add more of a live element to their performances. Because the session view is so free-flowing, allowing you to add and remove sounds on the fly, it is perfect for DJs to texturize music at will. Also, because the session view automatically quantizes, you can be assured that whenever you decide to drop that sound clip into the song, it will play in the right place. All of the clips can be applied as one-time sounds (one-shots) or looped continually until you disarm the sound.
Perhaps the best part of the session view is that you can create your own clips. The sound library within the full version of Ableton is huge, but it doesn't stop there. You can record something within the arrangement view and turn it into an audio clip to use within the session view. This makes your audio library virtually limitless. For experienced DJs and solo artists, this can be done on the fly, simultaneously recording and looping, all in real time.
Ableton sets itself apart from other recording studio programs. The session view has really changed the game in the music creation software world. Before, recording software was considered to be for studio use mainly. Ableton kicked that door down and opened up a whole new world of live performance possibilities.