Ableton Packs: Our Top 5

Posted by James Cullen on

Ableton Live’s website features a section of their store titled ‘Packs’. Have you ever explored this and tried out some of the free or paid options? If you’re familiar, read on anyway as we will discuss some of the best options on the Ableton Packs shop which you may not be familiar with, and if you’re unfamiliar, stay tuned to find out exactly what the fuss is all about!

Ableton is my favourite DAW simply because of all the extra stuff available. You don’t only have the software, but the store is full of tonnes of other resources, such as these packs, as well as the integration of Max for Live which gives third party and user created devices a stage within Live. On top of that, there’s a dedicated MIDI Controller in Push 2 (sadly I only have Push 1) and there are a load of top level producers who use Ableton and share their expertise through tutorials, workshops and templates.

Ableton Packs are one way Ableton gives you even more to work with. But what are they?

Today with Top Music Arts, we will explore what an Ableton Pack is, and give you an overview of our Top 5 favourite options available. So sit back, grab a coffee and let’s get down to business.

What is an Ableton Pack?

Ableton Packs are supplementary content packs for use within Live. They are collections of sounds and presets that you can use when making music within Ableton, and Live Packs can also contain Live Sets, samples, Clips, presets and extra documents.The section to find your Packs is in the Places section of Live’s browser. All packs you have installed will appear here.

While some packs may be included in your version of Live, each pack contains its own license that will be added to your Ableton account once your purchase or download the pack itself. 

It’s worth noting that additional Live Packs are limited in their compatibility with your Live license. What this means is, if you buy a pack with a license meant for Live Suite, but you only have Live Standard, some functionality will be missing. You can check in your Live account, which will show you what packs are compatible and available to purchase.

A few things to bear in mind from Ableton’s website:

  • For Packs containing Max for Live devices, a Max for Live license is required.
  • Packs containing Live Suite devices will have limited editing for users who do not have a Suite license. In such cases, only a set of 8 Effect Rack Macros will be controllable, and the instrument within will not be accessible. 
  • Live Lite has further limitations and it is generally advisable to be cautious when purchasing Packs. We would recommend upgrading to a full license.   

All packs downloaded from Ableton’s website should automatically appear, though some may require you to re-authorize your Live license before they can be used. You can install third party packs, but the installation and management of these is a bit different. Head over to Ableton’s FAQ section on their website for all the info you’ll need.

For now though, let’s take a look at some of the best and most unique packs available on Live’s site!

CV Tools

CV Tools is creating a bit of buzz online lately, as it’s just been released, and introduces a set of controls allowing users to control their external Modular gear with Ableton. Particularly exciting if you’re one of the brave souls who has stepped into the belly of the beast that is Modular Synthesis. Personally, there are too many wires for me, but I digress!

CV Tools adds ten new devices to your Max for Live library that generate and receive Pitch, Control, Clock and Trigger CV.  Bear in mind this is meant for Live Suite! For those who don’t know, CV stands for Control Voltage, and it’s how modular synths are controlled.

Let’s see what Ableton has to say about it:

You can now send and modulate CV to and from your modular setup or other CV-based gear and Ableton Live using a compatible dc-coupled audio interface. Use Live as the tempo leader or set it to follow your modular system clock.

Plus, even if you don’t own a modular setup, the Rotating Rhythm Generator and CV Utility devices add modular-style workflow inside Live or to your non-modular hardware setup.’

Very exciting for users who run a modular set up, as it gives the possibility of using Ableton as the MIDI clock to keep everything synced together, but it also adds some modulation controls like LFOs and envelope followers. Using the above mentioned Rotating Rhythm Generator, you can also add modular sounding rhythms to any instrument or drum device within Live! 

So while you don’t need a modular set up to run CV Tools, you’d be getting the best out of it if you did have one!

Creative Extensions

Creative Extensions is a pack featuring one sequencer, two synthesisers, and five audio effects. Not bad right? It’s a free addition to Live 10 Suite created with an experimental approach to sound processing and generative composition.

All in all, you get 8 new Max devices, with 288 presets to play with.

It’s a collaborative effort between Ableton and Amazing Noises, and it’s designed to enhance and expand the punch, color and texture achievable with Live. The collection includes “new ways to pitch shift and sequence melodies and delays, creative and characterful studio processing, a device that creates ethereal, reverb-like spaces, and two revamped Max for Live synths.”

If you’re an experimental producer, or you’re just looking for ways to switch up your style or approach, this could be a good place to start!

Melodic Steps is the pack’s sequencer, a fast and intuitive MIDI sequencer that allows you to introduce evolving melodies with just a few clicks of the mouse. If you’re looking for ways to create quick melodic variation, polyrhythmic melodies or simply randomize your results, this is the plug in for you! With an interface designed for play and encouraging experimentation and new discoveries, it’s the perfect way to switch up your approach to music making.

The two synths, Bass and Poli allow the creation of all kinds of bass sounds and polyphonic synth textures between them (extra points if you can guess which synth does which!) Each designed to allow the biggest range in sound creation, you won’t be stuck for new sounds for a long time!

Check out the pack’s page on Ableton’s site to also check out the info about the effects included, and download it if you haven’t already!

Probability Pack by Sonic Faction

Another pack designed to introduce unorthodox and creative ways to making music within Live, Probability Pack features 5 new Max devices that serve to introduce probability and chance into your music. A free addition to Live 10 Suite, there’s no excuse to not be using these devices! (Unless of course you don’t have Live 10. Or Suite. These are fine excuses.)

This pack is a set of sequencers which allow you to add controlled randomization to your composition and performance process. Each sequencer has its own unique ways of adding randomization to patterns for unpredictable outcomes, whether it’s a subtle inclusion or an extreme makeover. 

These sequencers can be perfect for generating new ideas, creating variations of your existing musical sequences or setting up unpredictable, ever-evolving musical textures. You can also consider combining them all to create a completely chaotic end result.

While the sequencers were designed for hands-on use with Push, hardware is not necessary to use them. Each sequencer has its own set of presets to explore the possibilities before diving in yourself and creating your own sounds

Synthwave by ModeAudio

Have you watched Stranger Things season 3 yet? Have you noticed how 80s synth timbres are coming back again? Kind of like how the Mind Flayer keeps coming back? Either way, 80s synthpop’s influence on modern pop music is here to stay.

Well, don’t worry, because with the Synthwave pack, you’ll be creating 80s nostalgia in your bedroom or studio instantly. It features an extensive collection of 100 Instrument Racks, 327 loops and 516 one-shots, 15 Drum Kits, 15 Effects Racks, 69 Midi Clips and 6 Demo Projects to sink your teeth (or strange fleshy toothy tentacles) into.

There’s a free demo, otherwise it goes for £39.

To create this Pack, the sound designers at ModeAudio sampled their extensive collection of analog and digital drum machines and synths, and combined them with their own specially-configured Live effects chains to bring you this huge collection of sounds and samples.

They also make extensive use of Wavetable, demonstrating how much is achievable from this versatile synth. 

Sample Logic Bundle 

Technically this is 4 packs shipped in a bundle, but the content is so good that we just had to include it here. As of writing this, it’s on sale for £129 reduced from £256, so grab it while you can!

The bundle compiles more than 1000 and 500 clips of cinematic sounds into one huge 4 pack monstrosity of content. Aimed at film scorers primarily, or anyone who wants to add a cinematic touch to their music, the packs contain every kind of sonic texture from acoustic to electronic, and percussive to atmospheric. It's a complete set of creative tools for film score, soundtracks, or adding cinematic flavor to any type of music.

The packs included are Tronix, Acoustix, Metalix and Rhythomatix. So let’s take a little exploration into what each of these entails.


As you may have guessed from its title, Rhythomatix is a pack dedicated to rhythm. Featuring 338 loops which are full of details, grooves open up and breathe, injecting space, color and dynamics into your productions when you drop them in a sequence. Many clips are subtle enough to layer several at a time without cluttering your sound. Straying away from hard hitting individual hits, the pack focuses on loops. All loops are pre-warped and are divided into five categories: Cinematic, Electronic/Experimental, Hat Lite, Pop Hop, and World. 

The 442 sounds included in Rhythomatix are derived from both real-world acoustic material and from synthesis – ranging from tiny blips and bongos hits to cavernous explosions. The Pack comes with a generous amount of processed percussion sounds from all around the world. A few synths round out the selection and add color to the mix. 

Rhythomatix makes good use of Live's Rack format, letting you easily tweak effects parameters such as filter cutoff, distortion, beat gate, reverb, delay, arpeggiator, vocoder, and more.


Tronix is a more versatile pack. It’s a massive collection of uniquely created instruments derived from real-world acoustic sample material, synthesis and physical modeling. Each sound has been morphed and created by sound designers, making the pack ideal for producers or composers who are looking to add some out of the ordinary textures to their music. 

Tronix consists of four instrument sections plus a pool of audio loops:

Atmospheres – 45 sonically rich soundscapes, plus 21 stingers

Ensembles – 10 highly playable multi-layered instruments

Melodics – 27 gated arpeggios, 21 bass sounds, 52 leads, and 24 pads

Percussives – 111 percussion instruments, divided into kits, individual ‘impact’ hits, impact sequences and short transitions 

Audio Loops – 75 tempo-synced clips

A great feature in Tronix is that it makes a great use of Ableton Racks, mapping each instrument and FX chain onto an easy to use rack with detailed and simple controls for quick tweaking. With Macro controls mapped to attack, release, cutoff, resonance, reverb, delay, arpeggiator and more, you can apply quick changes in a live setting, as well as automating changes in an arrangement.


Acoustix is a diverse toolkit built from a vast selection of morphed acoustic sounds, including organic instruments, bombastic percussives, atmospheric pads and audio loops. Created by taking real life instruments and warping their sounds to create a cinematic soundscape, the sounds in Acoustix offer instant tools to beef up and make your productions more epic!

As with the previously mentioned pack, the presets are mapped to Ableton Racks with 8 easy to use macro controls, giving you the functionality you need to make quick and easy changes.


Similar to Acoustix, Metalix features a collection of sounds and textures put together from morphed metallic instruments, percussive sounds, atmospheric soundscapes, pads and tempo-synced audio loops. Sampled from real-world metallic instruments and objects, Metalix dives deep into the sonic world of twisted metallic timbres while unlocking the beauty and rich harmonic characteristic of alloys.

Definitely a more experimental pack, but this is so useful for adding those out of character sounds to your productions to really add some tone and cinematic ambiance!

We hope you enjoyed this overview of our Top choices of Ableton Packs. Remember that this is barely scraping the surface, as there are many more packs available from Ableton’s website, as well as third party packs as well!

They are great to add a bit of flair to your productions, or if you feel like your process is stagnating, they can be a great way to inject some fresh ideas into your music making!

Thanks for checking in with us here at Top Music Arts, and make sure you check back regularly as we will continue to bring you the latest news, features, tutorials and templates, giving you even more resources to add to your music production skill set!

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