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Ableton Live 10 review

Ableton Live 10 is a beat maker that does so much more as a full DAW experience.

Ableton Live 10 review
(Image: © Ableton)

Our Verdict

Ableton Live 10 is a full DAW with powerful beat building capabilities, a super synth and fantastic Echo – expect lots of great sounds.

For

  • Fantastic Capture feature
  • Lots of excellent sounds
  • Superb beats builder and synth

Against

  • No comping

Ableton Live 10 is a very powerful DAW that does it all from the ground-up with lots of sounds onboard and the ability to build your own beats. There is a Standard Live 10 and a Suite Live 10, the difference being that the latter has more sounds and devices onboard as well as integrated Max in Suite.

The graphical layout of Live 10 is attractive while offering a very useful layout which makes the best use of the screen space it takes up. The color coding across the platform makes for easy use at a glance, enabling fast workflow.

There are lots of new features in this version, which follows the Live 9 release over four years ago. Yes, there were updates in between, but this represents a jump forward. It's certainly enough to earn a spot among our best beat making software.

Ableton Live 10: Features

Ableton Live 10 features a very capable system which offers great complexity while managing to remain intuitive to use thanks to a clear and well designed interface. The years of experience that have gone into getting to this version of Live are pretty clear right from the outset. 

The new Collections panel, at the top of the Browser, features seven color-coded filter folders where you can place anything from samples and devices to projects and presets – all for quick access. A nice customization feature that can help organization and speed up workflow. 

Ableton Live 10

(Image credit: Ableton)

The Wavetable synth is a powerful new tool which offers two wavetable oscillators, a sub oscillator, two filters LFOs and envelopes, plus the ability to expand its UI into the main window for ease. 

Echo is another standout feature which offers Stereo, Ping Pong and Mid/Side modes with independant offset of the two channels by up to 33 percent either way to give you nice wide - and dramatic - stereo sound, if you need. Other features include low and high pass filters, distortion, reverb and a graphic to show everything clearly for clear delay timing and easy feedback.

Drum Buss offers an analogue style drum processor which combines fixed compression, distortion and separate areas for blowing up high-mids and low end kit items. The Boom knob offers low-end processing control while the Decay control extends the length to change tone. Sure, there's no compressor, but the sound result is still superb.

Ableton Live 10: Performance

The big performance feature that makes this really worth the price tag is the Capture function. This is constantly recording from all the MIDI inputs right to all tracks, even when playback is stopped. What this means is that you can hit the Capture button to create a MIDI clip of everything you've recently played. 

All that means no more worries about recording, and - more importantly - not recording, as you just play and work that part out afterwards. Simple.

Ableton Live 10

(Image credit: Ableton)

The Arrangement View is super clean now, with automation lanes and chooser menus hidden away as the default. Create a breakpoint by double clicking an automation lane in the Arrangement or Clip Envelope and then those breakpoints will auto snap to the horizontal grid when dragged. There's also optional vertical constraining. 

Fade handles are useful as they allow you to quickly adjust fade lengths from both ends where placing the mouse on the automation envelope breakpoint will show a pop-up of its value. 

We enjoyed the addition of mouse wheel or trackpad scrolling to quickly zoom in and out. It might sound like a small thing but when you consider this allows you to add in more on the one screen and zoom in and out, it effectively increases your workspace dramatically. 

Should you buy Ableton Live 10?

Ableton Live 10 represents a huge update to the DAW program which adds some of the best beat building and super friendly interface additions yet. This more than justifies its price and offers multiple options including a free trial, at time of publishing, for those new to the program. 

This isn't the most easy to use, though, and is aimed at professionals. But with lots of guidance online this is a great way work with audio of any kind.

Luke Edwards

Luke is a veteran tech journalist with decades of experience covering everything from TVs, power tools, science and health tech to VPNs, space, gaming and cars. You may recognize him from appearances on plenty of news channels or have read his words which have been published in most tech titles over the years. In his spare time (of which he has little as a father of two) Luke likes yoga, surfing, meditation, DIY and consuming all the books, comics and movies he can find.