Software based audio production tools are ultimately all about the interface. If you can't get things done quickly and easily, see what's happening in the timeline or tweak effects applied to a particular track, you'll spend more time working than you will actually making music. So with the introduction of Live, Ableton came along and more or less completely revisited the way audio files are handled.
Drag and drop never felt so good.
Now comes Live 2, an enhanced version of their very well received sample manipulation and processing system. It makes music construction even easier and offers up some new pro-quality features.
Like its predecessor the name of the game is still samples, and the more you have the better it gets, but now you can make your own with the addition of recording and editing features. This may not spark the interest of those of you who have shelves full of sample CD's, but being able to get new audio into the Live 2 environment without having to launch another audio production tool has got to be a major plus for the rest of us.
Once the new samples are on your drive there are a number of new ways in which you can manipulate them. Maybe you'd like to be able to adjust the tempo as it tracks using an envelope that continuously changes. You can now do this thanks to a feature set called Elastic Audio which allows you to stretch and warp your samples in a number of different ways. This alone is an extremely useful tool that will help you set your samples apart from the rest.
Budding DJ's among you will also like the way in which a crossfade feature helps you mix from track to track, either on the fly in a live situation or as part of a programmed series of events. Effects presets also make Live 2 a more efficient music production machine by allowing you to save and recall your custom effects settings.
So these are just a few of the numerous new features, a full list of which can be found at http://www.ableton.com, but as I mentioned for me it's all about interface, and Live 2 puts out much more than its predecessor.
Website: Ableton Live