Christmas has come early as Ableton have finally spoken on what’s coming in the next big update to their DAW Ableton Live 12.

It’s finally coming. The next big drop for Ableton is on the way with Ableton Live 12. There’s a lot coming in the new update and we’re going to explore it in here, and get hyped together.

A lot of the new features promote playing with what you’ve got. Customising and twisting your MIDI clips is a large part of the update. They’re also introducing features that help you come up with MIDI with ease, offering generators for chords, melodies, and rhythms.

There are also new instruments, effects and packs of sounds to play with. Discover a brand new atmosphere with two new instruments and effects to change up your old sounds.

Enough chit-chat, let’s get into the good stuff.

New instruments, effects, and packs in Ableton Live 12

So far, Ableton have announced two instruments and one new effects module coming in Live 12. There are also 2 new packs of samples and sounds to explore for a new world of potential in your tracks.


A bi-timbral, MPE-capable instrument designed for deep sound shaping that lets you create a wide array of textural and experimental tones with its two easy-to-use macro oscillators.

Granulator III

Image credit: Ableton

The latest iteration of Robert Henke’s granular instrument now has MPE capability, giving you expressive control over parameters like note bend, vibrato and glissando. Plus, you can now capture audio in real time and start manipulating it immediately.


Create everything from subtle and precise mastering-grade warmth to wild and unpredictable sound degradation with Live’s new coloring and saturation effect. Roar’s three saturation stages can be used in series, parallel, or even in mid/side and multiband configurations – and it comes equipped with a feedback generator and an extensive modulation matrix.

New Packs

Lost and Found – A collection of sounds fashioned from unusual materials, percussive trinkets, unique foley recordings and expressive objects to infuse your productions with character and authenticity.  Dig deep and create layers of decorative, expressive instruments, playful Drum Racks and rich sound effects.

Performance Pack – A set of innovative devices from Iftah that push the boundaries of performing with Live. Capture snapshots of your sets and deploy them later, control multiple parameters with layered macros and curves, extend performances with looping in Arrangement View and pre-arrange the structure of a performance before you have even recorded it.

Ableton have also added a tweak to how modulation works. Modulation destinations aren’t taken over by the modulation source anymore. They hope that this will speed up workflows, allowing users to adjust the parameter being modulated after assigning an LFO or other modulation source to it.

New features and workflow

Ableton have added a bunch of interesting new features to empower experimentation and exploration. With new tools to transform your MIDI, new ways to come up with melodies, rhythms, and chords, and even brand new notes to explore.

MIDI Transformations

Create a variety of simple or complex variations to your MIDI clips: add ornaments and articulations, draw acceleration and deceleration curves, connect successive notes and chords, or simulate the strum of a guitar.

MIDI Generators

Conjure up melodies, chords and rhythms with new MIDI Generators. Give your chosen Generator custom constraints, watch it create playful and original patterns, and then turn the ideas it produces into your own.

Max for Live MIDI Tools

Max now facilitates even greater experimentation, letting you create new MIDI Transformations and Generators – either based on existing ones, or your own creations.

MIDI Editing Improvements

Arrange the order of a selection of notes by pitch, velocity or duration. Stretch, split, chop or join notes in new ways; shape the velocity of notes; transpose them into a scale; or add intervals chromatically or in key.

Image credit: Ableton

Keys and Scales

Set the selected clip’s scale in Live’s Control Bar to see its notes in any clip you create. Then edit the clip using scale highlighting as a guide, use the clip scale to transform and generate musical ideas, or sync the scale of MIDI devices and instruments to the clip being played. Any changes in Live will be reflected in Push, and vice versa.

Expanded probability

Assign a single probability rule to a group of notes so that the entire group of notes is played whenever the trigger is fired. Or select a chord and tell Live to randomly play one note from it whenever the probability trigger is fired.

Embrace and explore tunings

Follow your preferred tuning systems or try different ones more easily. Work outside the 12-tone equal temperament system, and access tunings with Live’s devices as well as any MPE-capable plugin.

The updated design in Ableton Live 12

Updates to the UI makes using Ableton quicker and smoother than ever before. There are a bunch of quality of life improvements as well as brand new ways of looking at and using your projects.

Stacked Detail Views

View your devices and the Clip Editor, or automation and device parameters, at the same time – so you can work without the distraction of switching between views.

View styling

Live 12’s cleaner, more minimal look removes visual complexity and keeps the focus on your music.

Mixer in Arrangement

Live’s Mixer, previously available only in Session View, can now be used in Arrangement View. Toggle it on or off with Mixer View Control located in the bottom right corner or via the View menu, and configure it independently of the Arrangement Mixer.

Image credit: Ableton

Mixer improvements

Live’s Mixer also comes with visual improvements that make it more accurate for detailed mixing decisions, and easier to read and control.

Browser Tagging and Filtered Searches

Search for your sounds in the Browser without the constraints of Live’s built-in categorization. That means when you search for bass sounds, you’ll see all the bass sounds in your Ableton library, whether they’re samples or instrument presets.

Live 12’s sound content is also tagged using a new system that acts as a more flexible alternative or addition to Collections in the sidebar. Sounds now come with sensible labels to make them easier to find – but if you need more detail, or just want to use your own method of labeling, you can also add your own.

Aside from Live 12’s built-in tags, you can create your own custom categories in the sidebar for easy access to all your favorite sounds and devices in the way that makes the most sense to your workflow.

Sound Similarity Search

Start with a sample and tell Live’s browser to find comparable sounds and instrument presets, with the help of a neural network. Or swap all the samples in your Drum Rack for similar ones to quickly try out new percussive textures – like a drum machine with seemingly-infinite kits.

Browser History

Retrace your steps, and see and hear the sounds or categories you’ve previously searched for: Live’s Browser now lets you backtrack through your search history as you would with a web browser. 

Accessibility and navigation improvements

Control core workflows in Live 12 using assistive technologies like screen readers, and use new keyboard shortcuts to navigate to nearly every part of Live.

New Themes

Choose new themes and adjust them with cool, neutral or warm tones and even a high contrast mode.

If you want to get even deeper into the nitty gritty of what’s going on in Ableton Live 12 then check our their release notes here.