Ableton Live 11 Announced – What’s New? (The Biggest Update Ever)

You heard it here…

(and everywhere else)

Ableton Live 11 has been announced & it’s coming in early 2021.

Right now they’ve got a 20% discount on Live 10 & upgrades to 11, which is what seems to be Ableton’s Black Friday deals.

It’s one of the biggest updates we’ve seen in a long time (3 f*cking years to be exact) & there’s a tonne of new features added which will make you drool everywhere and break your laptop from water damages.

(we accept no liability for broken computers)

Anyway, enough of my terrible jokes.

Let’s dive in and see what’s actually included in Ableton Live 11.

What’s New in Ableton Live 11?

Like I said above, there’s a lot new in Ableton & it’s a lot to sing and dance about. I’ve divided this part of the article into sections explaining all the new improvements & additions that come with Ableton Live 11.

Keys & Scales

ableton live 11 piano roll keys and scales
image credit: elphnt

This is hands down the best new feature in my opinion. I have longed for a MIDI piano roll that’s similar to FL Studio’s, and with Live 11, we’re basically getting it.

MIDI clips in Live can now be set to have a particular scale, from a whopping 35 different scale preset types.

When you select a scale, the clip you’re working in highlights the notes of that scale, so you can easily see where to place your notes without going out of key.

It highlights them with the same colour that you currently have your clip set to & indicates where the root note is on the sidebar piano.

ableton live 11 piano roll highlighted keys & scale
image credit: elphnt

Long gone are the days of printing out all the notes in a scale & then folding the MIDI roll.

Although, the option to fold is still included, which means that, if you don’t want to hit or see any of the other notes inside the piano roll, then you can select this.

ableton live 11 midi clip folded to scale
image credit: elphnt

This is an absolutely incredible addition to Ableton’s already fantastic software &, for producers that struggle with theory, writing chords or melodies, this feature is going to make that a breeze.

And, even if your music theory knowledge is great, it’s still an absolutely awesome tool & will help ease your chronic case of eye strain (I’m not a doctor).

The piano roll also gives you the ability to change how sharps & flats are displayed in the clip by right clicking on the sidebar piano.

ableton live 11 midi piano roll sharps & accidentals
image credit: elphnt

Once you set a scale on a clip, new clips will automatically default to that scale, which is pretty damn cool & is going to increase workflow massively.

(who knows, maybe we might be able to globally change the key of a song like we can do with BPM)

One thing that I think is still personally missing from Live’s piano roll is the quantisation options. They’re still very basic and a lot of time is often spent shifting notes around with the arrow keys.

I’m hoping in future updates they implement something similar to the FL quantise where it highlights the grid, & I really hope we get triplets & dotted notes.

Comping + Linked Track Editing

This is one of the big features that has always been missing from Live, making it worse than other DAWs in terms of recording instruments, vocals & other live instruments.

By looping a section of your track, Live will now automatically create new clips and place them in a group.

ableton live 11 comping & editing
image credit: elphnt

You can then comp together the takes by making a selection of your chosen take & hit ‘enter’ to compose it into one clip.

And, like with normal clips, each clip is treated the same as a normal clip. That means you can transpose & do everything else you’d expect.

On top of that you can create new take lanes & put audio into them. This basically takes sample chopping to the next level & streamlines the flow incredibly.

Linked track editing does exactly what it says it does.

It links the tracks you choose together & allows you to edit fades, cuts, looping and more.

This is great for people who record a lot of instruments, vocals etc. They’re new features that have been missing from Live until now & many have used other DAWs for them, such as

  • Logic
  • Pro Tools

MPE Support

MPE stands for MIDI Polyphonic Expression.

With Ableton Live 11, you now have support for this new technology.

But what is it?

MIDI Polyphonic Expression allows you to record MIDI much more expressively. Its aim is to bring the playing of electronic instruments much closer to how you’d play a real acoustic instrument.

You can do slides, record the pressure & a whole other plethora of things.

Even if you don’t have a MPE MIDI controller, you can draw in automation on your instruments.

Here’s what you can edit inside the MPE automation window:

  • Pressure
  • Pitch
  • Slide
  • Velocity
  • Release Velocity

MPE is different to normal automation data, because it allows you to automate single notes, instead of all notes.

The sound design possibilities of this new feature alone are plain incredible.

New Instruments and Effects (f*ckin ay c*nt)!

ableton live 11 new instruments & effects
new instruments and effects

In Live 11 we’re also getting access to some new effects racks & some vastly improved ones.

Live 11 comes with 5 new devices to play with & I’ve listed them below:

  • Hybrid Reverb. This is a hybrid of the Convolution and algorithmic reverb. There are loads of features, algorithm modes & sound styles to choose from and they look amazing for sound design purposes.
  • Spectral Resonator. Breaks up the spectrum of an incoming audio signal, then stretches, shifts and blurs the frequency to give you interesting results. You can use MIDI input to process this is key and even play as an instrument.
  • Spectral Time. This uses spectral FFTP manipulation which let’s you process & manipulate the frequency spectrum of your sounds. It basically breaks audio into mini particles that you can twist and bend into oblivion.
  • Inspired by Nature. A combination of 6 instruments that use natural processes as their inspiration.
    • VectorFM – different FM oscillators manipulated.
    • Vector Grain – a granular looper.
    • Vector Delay – a unique delay unit which lets you pitch & reverse.
    • Emit – a visual granular synth (like iZotope Iris 2, which is free rn).
    • Tree Tone – uses fractal patterns inspired by plants to generate sound.
    • Bouncy Notes – bounces balls up and down on a piano creating pitch shifting, delay effects or arpeggiations.
  • PitchLoop89. Use to create jittering glitch effects, shimmering delays and vibrato. Made in collaboration with Robert Henke, this devices is inspired by the Publison DHM 89. It’s an emulation of an early digital effect that has incredible character.

They also include 6 new sound banks, expanding on the core library:

  • Voice Box – playable vocal samples.
  • Mood Reel – synthetic textures.
  • Drone Lab – atmospheric long tones (the longer the note, the more dread)
  • Spitfire Audio Upright Piano – obviously a piano
  • Spitfire Audio Brass Quartet – brass
  • Spitfire Audio String Quartet – strings

Updated Effects

The updated effects units include:

  • Chorus-Ensemble. Chorus and ensemble effects combined with a new interface, options for vibrato, ensemble or classic & a much adored new warmth control.
  • Phaser-Flanger. The Phaser and Flanger have been housed in one unit, with a much improved GUI & a new warmth control.
  • Redux. Now have more options including a jitter control with a rate control, shape control, filter and FINALLY a dry/wet knob.
  • M4L. There’s a plethora of M4L devices planned, but we don’t know what they are yet.
  • Updated interfaces: Electric, Tension, Collision, Corpus
updated effects units ableton live 11
updated GUI displays ableton live 11

Macro & Rack Improvements

With racks you can now have up to 16 macros to map to different effects within your instrument or audio effect racks.

This wildly increases the sound design capabilities of Ableton Live 11. With an almost endless amount of control over your instruments and effects using the newly added macros.

Another addition to the racks is the ability to hide and show macros. This means you can have 1-16 macros visible on your racks & save extra space in the audio effect area.

rack improvements live 11
image credit: elphnt

To add the macros back in, you just click the ‘+’ button.

To take macros out, you click the ‘-‘ button.

ableton live 11 rack
image credit: elphnt

There’s also a new button which allows you to randomise the settings of all the macro controls.

(I’m personally really hoping you can map this to LFO and have it randomise as your playing)

You also have the option to exclude any of the controls from randomisation. So, if you’ve got a setting that is needed for the particular style or sound you’re going for – just exclude it.

On top of all that Live 11 includes macro variations, which can save a variation of your macro as a setting, which you can go back to.

I can see this being useful in situations where you find yourself realising you’ve completely f*cked up what you’ve done & want to revert to the original setting you had.

You could also use them to easily switch between sounds during live performances.

Probability Sequencing

ableton live 11 probability automation piano roll
image credit: elphnt

In Live 11, the possibilities of randomising things & leaving them to chance has just improved tenfold.

With Ableton Live 11, there is a new probability option directly included in the piano roll.

It’s located below the current velocity settings & can be toggled using the new buttons found in the clip view.

When editing the probability of a clip, you’ll be inputting percent values between 0 and 100. This controls the probability that a particular note will trigger.

So what does that mean?

Let me explain…

If you were to set the probability of a note to 50%, that note would play half the time.

So, if you’re into chance, randomising & algorithm based music then this is gonna give you an absolute stonk on.

One of the coolest features of the new probability settings is the new velocity range control.

Using this, you can set a range of velocities that the notes will be triggered by.

(even Ableton gets triggered in 2020)

That means that your velocity can now be randomised directly inside the piano roll.

No longer do you have have to put in the effort of a couple more clicks to open the MIDI velocity device!

On top of that, there’s also a new button that let’s you completely randomise the velocity & probability function at the click of your mouse.

And, you guessed it, it’s called ‘randomize’.

Tempo Following

Tempo following is a new tool where Live listens to an external sound source & *attempts* to match the tempo correctly.

I can see this being useful for live jamming or live performances.

Follow Actions

ableton live 11 follow actions
image credit: elphnt

Follow action settings have been wildly improved & have also added new ‘jump’ action.

The follow action length of the clip can now be linked to the length of the clip, which means you can add follow actions anywhere inside a clip.

With Ableton Live Suite 11 follow actions have also been added to the newly improved scenes view, where you can add follow actions to your live setups.

Interface Improvements

Search Improvements

ableton live 11 grooves folder
image credit: elphnt

Finally there is a separate grooves folder!

If you’re like me, I used to spend hours (not hours, maybe 5 minutes) trying to f*cking find the grooves folder.

Now there is finally a designated home for them that you can see on the browser & it’s made my day.

There’s also a new ‘templates’ option.

The audio effects also have different folders in which they’re organised into:

  • EQ & Filters
  • Modulators
  • Drive
  • Dynamics
  • Performance
  • Modulators
  • Pitch and Modulation
  • Time & Space
  • Utilities

On top of that M4L MIDI, audio & instrument devices are not included inside the normal Live Suite folders.

That means no more searching in a separate max folder!!

Better Ableton Session Templates

ableton live 11 templates
image credit: elphnt

If you already use Ableton, you’ll know that templates aren’t exactly special – but they’ve always been a bit of a hassle to set up.

Now, with the newly improved version of Ableton, there is a dedicated menu for templates.

You can also save your current live sets as templates from the file menu now – making getting into your music production groove easier than before.

Templates are a great way to get in flow quickly.

You could, for instance, set up genre specific templates, sound design templates & whatever you need!

Better Clip Editing

ableton live 11 clip editing
image credit: elphnt

Clip editing is also better in this major update of Live.

You can now (thank god), select multiple clips and edit them at the same time. You could do this before, but it was a hell of a lot more tricky & would deselect all the damn time – it’s a great feature that’s been added.

This specific feature comes with a dedicated button to toggle between focusing on multiple clips or just a singular clip.

Also, if you don’t have Live Enhancement Suite, this next one’s gonna tickle your balls.

In the MIDI roll, you can now draw notes in according to pitch & where you move your mouse.

This is different to before, where it would only draw notes in on the selected note range until you clicked again somewhere else in the MIDI roll.

It’s called melodic drawing.

CPU Usage Meters

ableton live 11 suite cpu bars
image credit: elphnt

(the yellow bars)

This new feature allows you to toggle the yellow CPU bars on and off.

By doing this you get a quick overview of which tracks are using the most of you computer’s CPU & are able to freeze them or swap out effects accordingly.

This really improves workflow, because instead of freezing everything (because your computer keeps freezing), you can see and freeze only the tracks that are taking the most of your much needed computer juice.

There’s also a newly improved CPU display (top right corner) which shows your current CPU usage and your average usage across the entire set.

Where Can I Buy Ableton Live 11?

ableton live 11 studio
image credit: Ableton

As with all Ableton Live copies, you can purchase them directly through the Ableton website.

It comes in 3 different versions:

  • Ableton Live 11 Intro ($99)
  • Ableton Live 11 Standard ($449)
  • Ableton Live 11 Suite ($749)

Right now there is a 20% discount to make use of, which comes off the price if you’re buying in full or choosing to upgrade to Live versions (Intro, Standard, Suite).

They come with different plugins, effects & sound banks which you can find out more about on the Ableton website.

I’m on Live 10 – Do I Get A Free Upgrade?

free upgrade ableton live 11
image credit: Ableton Live 11 Reddit

Unfortunately, as this graph from r/ableton reddit suggests – you don’t get a free upgrade.

This sucks tbh.

They have barely updated Live 10 & it’s only currently on version 10.1.25 – which should really suggest that there is a lot more updating to do.

On previous versions of Live, they’ve gone to .5s, so to update at .1.25 is a bit of a cop out & it shows that they just want to suck more money out of users.

Obviously it’s worked because I’m still upgrading & (probably) so are you.

Ableton Live 11 comes out early 2021 in quarter 1.

How Can I Test The Ableton Live 11 Beta?

ableton beta program
image credit: Ableton

You can actually get early access to Ableton Live 11, by taking part in the beta.

To sign up for the Ableton beta, be sure to head over to to sign up.

You’ll only get access if:

  • You’re accepted
  • Have a copy of Ableton Live 10 Standard min

Final Thoughts

Ableton Live 11 looks amazing! There are so many new instruments and effects, features + interface design changes that are an absolute god send for producers everywhere.

I’m a bit p*ssed off I have to pay for an upgrade, but hey ho.

I know me and you are probably both gonna end up getting it, so let’s just spend our money and enjoy the hard work that went into it!

Looking for plugin savings this festive season?

Check out our Black Friday plugin deals guide!

(we update it daily with all the best new deals)

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