Ableton Live Lite The Limitations Explained

Posted by Esteban Miranda on

Well, if you follow this blog for a bit, you should probably already know what Ableton is, but maybe if you’re a new one, first we´re going to go through some fundamentals about, what we consider, nowadays best digital audio workstation software for you. And for the more advanced, we bring you a sort of a recap of Ableton 10, the different editions it comes in, and all you need to know about Ableton Live!



Ableton Live is a software music sequencer and digital audio workstation available for Windows and Mac. It’s 64 bits only and it’s not supported on Linux. What makes it different, is that it’s been thought to be an instrument for live performances and is a great tool for composing, mixing, recording, mastering and arranging. For its versatile use, DJs also use it for crossfading, beat-matching and to perform other effects used by turntablists. Ableton Live was one of the first DAW to automatically beat-match songs.

The latest version has been released on Feb of 2018, is Live 10, and if you liked Live 9, it will blow your head with its new features, and it’s possible that you won’t need to open the Live 9 version again.

Let’s talk about some of the ones that stand out the most since these are the ones that won´t variate in the different editions you can purchase.

  • It comes with an improved Interface with a new font, an updated color palette, the appearance of audio and MIDI clips are different in session view and arrangement view, midi notes in the piano roll are now in the color of their midi clip and come with five new themes.

  • In this new version’s new file Browser, you can now search and install new packs and install updates. The new browser also includes a new color feature, which lets you set tags for your favorite sounds and clips. Right click on a tag to rename it. You can assign new tags by right-clicking or by using the numbers keys 1 – 7.

  • Lite 10 gives you new export options. You can now export your audio as WAV and MP3 simultaneously.

  • In your audio output configuration settings, you can also set custom names to your audio tracks and groups outputs. Your audio out custom names will show up in the audio out select box.

  • Talking about the metronome and mixers, in Live 10 you can choose between 3 different sounds: classic, click and wood. It includes also some improvements to the mixer. Right click on a pan knob to enter split/stereo pan mode, which will now give you more control of the panning of your tracks. You can also quickly reset knobs and sliders to default by double-clicking.

  • In arrangement view, you can now move individual clips by using the arrow keys and holding command for finer adjustments. You can also activate and deactivate selected portions of clips. If you hold ALT while resizing one track, it resizes all of them.

  • In this new version, you can create groups within groups. You can also set the color of all the tracks that group by right-clicking and choosing assign track color to grouped tracks and clips.

  • Also, in the arrangement view, fades are always visible in the content lane, giving you quick control over your fade adjustments. You can now turn on a global automation mode using the Global Automation button. This now makes all the automation lanes visible in arrangement view.

  • Capture is an exciting new way to get music into Live without the stress of hitting the record button. Simply press the capture button and it will create a session clip which contains the last phrase played without the need for you to activate recording. Live plays back the captured Loop immediately and its ready for you to add more material. Live is now always listening for your next performance.

Live 10 also gives us a handful of new devices and audio-effects. On this subject, there are limitations between Ableton different editions. 


  • Wavetable is a brand new instrument for Live. It’s a dual oscillator synthesizer with flexible modulation. Echo is a new effect for modulation delay, which gives you a wide range of new sounds. The Pedal plugin is another new audio effect which is inspired by distortion pedals. Drum bus gives you an analog style drum processor that gives body and character to a group of drums. The utility device also received a few improvements, such as a mono switch, a bass mono switch, and the left and right buttons now invert the input signal instead of the output signal.


For those interested in buying Ableton, the Intro version includes great essentials at a great price -$99-; the Standard one has full features plus extras -$449-; and the Suite version is a complete professional tool, where you visualize a complete integrated studio -$749-. All of them come with all of Live’s essential instruments, effects, recording tools, controller, workflows and so much more! Must say that if you’re a student or a teacher, they are offering 40% discount, and if you buy digital download versions of standard or suite, you can save $50 over a boxed copy.

Now let´s dig into this Ableton Editions, and what they´re all about...

Ableton 10 Live Standard

It gives you unlimited audio and MIDI tracks. It also gives you 256 mono inputs and 256 mono outputs. So, if you’re planning to record your complete band at once, and you have a full drum kit, vocals, guitars, keyboards, etc. you’re going to need to get at least this option. Otherwise, it is just not going to work for you.

It´s a great tool for integrating your external hardware synthesizers into tour Live Sets with the ease and flexibility of plug-ins and includes 5 software instruments, 34 audio effects, and 8 MIDI effects.

You also can get more than 10 GB of sounds and samples to start working and putting into your productions, which are a lot of sounds for you to work with. Also has 12 send and return tracks.

Ableton 10 Live Suite


This is the most expensive, but it is also the most featured pack. You can get the same 256 mono audio inputs and outputs than the standard version. 

It also adds 60 GB more of samples and sounds, so we have a total of 70 GB... and that is a lot, I mean, just make sure you have room on your hard drive for that. It adds some more audio effects too, giving you a total of 55 audio effects, and it adds 9 more MIDI effects, giving you a total of 17.

Ableton 10 Live Suite includes all the key features options, like the possibility of generating or receiving pitch, control, clock, and trigger CV, Max for Live (that powers the range of instruments and devices, and lets you work and customize your instruments).

Another positive thing is that includes all software instruments, like Analog, that emulates the unique character of vintage analog synthesizers; Bass, an analog synthesizer that provides a huge palette of bass sounds; Collision, that allows you to improve percussion sounds; the DrumSynths, that allows you to create unique drum and percussion sounds using synthesis; Electric, that has different sound of classic electric pianos, the possibility of combining frequency modulation and subtractive synthesis; Tension, a physical modeling string synthesizer and more.

Ableton 10 Live Intro


This one is the less expensive of them, and this edition is commonly mistaken with the Lite version. It´s the most limited but also the most affordable option for most people. You can consider this as a really good place to start with Ableton music production. This affordable approach can actually get your hands on it and it’s also going to give you an idea about the potential of the DAW, and hopefully enough to decide whether or not it’s worth spending the extra money to upgrade to the suite or the standard version.

Ableton Live Lite limits you to 16 audio and MIDI tracks, and that’s any combination meaning that you can only have 16 tracks total. It also limits you to four mono inputs and four mono outputs, so if you are thinking of tracking a whole band with Ableton Live Lite, it is not going to happen. You just won’t have enough inputs and outputs to do it.

It comes with 4 software instruments options -Drum Rack, Impulse, Simpler and Instrument Rack-, 21 audio effects and 8 MIDI effects. You got to send and return tracks and limited audio warping functionality. And you are not going to be able to slice audio or change audio into MIDI. 

It has 8 scenes2 send and return tracks, more than 1500 sounds, and 8 mono audio output and input channels.



Ableton 10 Live Lite


This one is an edition meant for when you´ve just unboxed your new hardware, a MIDI controller for example, and need a DAW to use it with. It comes as a bundle pack with a variety of apps and hardware products. It´s a limited version as well as the Intro, but this one deals with fewer CPU loads, making it lighter to your computer.  

You can’t buy this Ableton edition separately, it´s bought when you buy a product and comes with a Lite Serial, a code that you use to download it free (after you´ve bought a piece of gear).

Even knowing it does not have instruments and samples from Live Standard and Suite, in our opinion, it´s a really good option for all of you beginners out there. It brings a more than reasonable amount of sounds, effects, plugins, and features in general. It features:


8 Audio & MIDI tracks
8 Scenes
2 Send and return tracks
8 Mono audio input channels
8 Mono audio output channels



You can use it for DJing or learning the DAW, or start knowing your new device, like a first option if you’re not sure to buy the Standard or Suite ones for a very cheap and affordable price. And mentioned you can get it for free, buying some hardware MIDI controllers like:

Ableton Push, Novation Launch Series, Akai APC40 MKII and APC20, Akai APC mini and APC Key 25, Livid Instruments Base MIDI Controller, touChable 2 and touChable Mini, Patchworks Conductr, Liine LiveControl 2, LivKontrol and M-Audio Oxygen MK IV, among others.




And for those who like to dig deeper, we have the complete technical details about Ableton Live Lite, straight out of Ableton official site:

Software Instruments


Audio Effects




MIDI Effects


System Requirements


  • Windows 7 (SP1), Windows 8 or Windows 10 (64-bit)
  • 64-bit Intel® Core™ or AMD multi-core processor (Intel® Core™ processor or faster recommended)
  • 4 GB RAM (8 GB or more recommended)
  • 1366x768 display resolution
  • ASIO compatible audio hardware for Link support (also recommended for optimal audio performance)
  • USB port (USB 2.0 or better) for program installation
  • Access to an internet connection for authorizing Live (for downloading additional content and updating Live, a fast internet connection is recommended)
  • Approximately 3 GB disk space on the system drive for the basic installation (8 GB free disk space recommended)
  • Up to 76 GB disk space for additionally available sound content]


  • OS X 10.11.6 or later
  • Intel® Core™2 Duo Processor (Intel® Core™ i5 processor or faster recommended)
  • 4 GB RAM (8 GB or more recommended)
  • 1280x800 display resolution
  • Core Audio compliant audio interface recommended
  • USB port (USB 2.0 or better) for program installation
  • Access to an internet connection for authorizing Live (for downloading additional content and updating Live, a fast internet connection is recommended)
  • Approximately 3 GB disk space on the system drive for the basic installation (8 GB free disk space recommended)
  • Up to 76 GB disk space for additionally available sound content

Including in Live’s core library of sounds and presets

  • 268 Instrument Racks
  • 48 Drum Racks
  • 117 Audio Effect Racks
  • 5 MIDI Effect Racks
  • 50 Instrument Presets
  • 172 Audio Effect Presets
  • 109 MIDI Effect Presets
  • 84 Loops
  • 1249 Drum Hits
  • 513 Multisamples, FX and other one-shots


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