Ableton Note is almost live for iPhone

Have you ever had a great idea for a riff that rattles through your head as you catch the bus or queue? Well, if you use Ableton Live, there is now a way to capture those inspirational busts wherever you are thanks to the new Notes app for iOS.

The name is important here. It is not Ableton Live Mobile or Live Go or similar. The idea of ​​the “Note” is as much about noting things as it is about referring to sixteenth notes. Think of it as a notepad for ideas on the go. Ideas that can then be seamlessly collected in Ableton Live proper once it gets to your PC.

Users of Ableton’s Live Desktop DAW will recognize the main Note interface. It bears more than a striking resemblance to Live’s “Session” view: itself a kind of sandbox for experimentation. In Notes, you can have up to eight tracks each with up to eight clips.

For those Not familiar with Live or its Session View, each track can be considered a musical part (drums, synths, vocals, and so on) and each “clip” represents a sequence or short arrangement using that part. From there you can create different collections of clips that form the basis for the different parts of a song.

Note comes preloaded with 261 synth presets, 56 drum kits, melodic samples, and more. Basically most of the things you need to put a song together. Everything in the app is also part of Ableton Live, which is what allows you to export it to Live so easily.

That said, you’re not limited to the sounds included in Notes. You have the option to sample in the app via your phone’s microphone. The good news is that it includes an external microphone and I was even able to sample in the app via a synthesizer with a lightning bolt 3.5mm adapter. All of this should mean that this is very flexible when it comes to sound palettes.


There is also a surprising amount of depth of control. Besides sampling, there are all the essential editing tools like quantize, push and transpose. There are also two effect slots and each of these can have its own performance “automation”: if you change a filter over time, that performance is recorded in the clip.

While there are many apps out there for making music, a true “DAW on a phone” is perhaps a little ambitious. It seems like Ableton has the balance right here, it’s familiar, deep enough but also simple to use. Best of all is the integration with Ableton Live proper, something that is obviously unique to Note.

In Notes there is a setting for Ableton Cloud. Activate it and your current Note projects will appear in Live’s browser on your desktop (provided your PC has an internet connection of course). This cloud feature is free, but limited to five “ideas” or slots (which should be enough for most people).

While the cloud functionality is free, the app is now. The note will cost $ 6 (£ 5 / € 7) and requires Live 11.2 and above to share projects on the desktop.

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