Grand Pianos in Ableton Live


To improve my digital music production skills, I’m commiting to trying a new tool or technique each month.. This month’s demo focuses on Addictive Keys from XLN Audio (XLN Audio Site) and my recording of “Down by the River”.

In December I enjoyed working with a trial version of Ableton Live, and found that I preferred some of its features over Sonar, which has been my go-to DAW up to this point. After the trial expired, I decided to step through the three versions of Ableton, beginning with the “Intro” version. Since most of my current DAW use is simply to record piano or organ pieces, this version has all the basics I need, including a very respectable grand piano instrument.

This month, I’ve focused on how Ableton behaves with VST plug-ins. In particular, I wanted to try the sampled grand piano from XLN Audio, Addictive Keys, and compare it to built-in pianos in Sonar and Ableton.

As with other aspects of Ableton, VST setup was effortless. After installing Addictive Keys, accessing the instrument from Ableton was a simple matter of scanning for plug-ins from the “Options | Preferences | File Folder” panel. Following this, Addictive was available in the Ableton Plug-ins menu, and could be dragged directly into MIDI track intrument racks.

To evaluated the pianos, I’ve recorded an offertory piece I played recently, and applied the two different pianos to the same track. In the case of Addictive Keys, I’ve used the “Intense Keys” setup, to see how its very bright sound comes across in Ableton.

Here are the two comparison tracks:

First the built-in Ableton grand: Down to the River – Ableton

And then Addictive Keys: Down to the River – Addictive

There are still many other features of Addictive Keys to evaluate, so the fun will continue. And using the XLN VST with Ableton is a breeze.


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