I am currently using Ableton's standard piano roll to insert MIDI notes for creating my synths with Ni Massive, It does everything I want it to do but I hate the way its laid out...

I would much rather use something more flexible and less "Stiff" If that makes sense. (Something like FL's Piano Roll would be alot more convenient for me)...

I was wondering if anyone knows, or could recommend some VST Plugins that do the same thing as Ableton Piano roll so I can have a gander at some of them...

Thank you in advance.

  • Not what you're looking for but maybe it will give you some ideas: Ableton Push has a nice step sequencer mode. And there is a Max for Live plugin included in Live Suite that is a software step sequencer (I haven't tried the latter yet). Mar 20, 2015 at 10:57

2 Answers 2


The folks at Ableton went for simplicity. This being said, it turned out to be a sane decision.

If you read through the manual, you'll realize Ableton's piano roll supports step input, "draw" input, regular input, quick note velocity editing, transposing, doubling/halving note duration, MIDI parameter envelope editing (graph-style and grid/draw style), and many other things.

It just look a bit bland. But there's a lot in it.

  • There are various regions of the editor which allow you to quickly change zoom settings. Basically, double-clicking on a ruler will zoom-extend the selected notes or bars, the same goes for vertical zoom. The "Fold" option is convenient when editing drum patterns, or other non-keyboard sequences. Nov 6, 2017 at 23:38

I've been using Ableton's piano roll for a decade, and I was doing mostly standard multi-track band stuff, for which Ableton was a comfortable DAW.

However, my midi needs intensified greatly in the last year with Superior Drummer 3 and other new instrument vsts, and I tell you what, Ableton's piano roll and midi editor is not 'simplified' it's actually UNUSEABLE for complex material. It's simply horrible. It looks totally flat, it is missing massive amounts of work assists it could have. It is flat out ridiculous that is has stayed static over the years with one gouging upgrade after another. It doesn't interface well with VSTs and gives you zero prompts on what instrument is where. Its zoom is a complete joke, and you zoom in and out constantly when working in midi editing.

I'm looking for a plug-in that will make it so I don't have to stare at that awful piano roll any longer. The velocities are WORTHLESS. You have to SPLIT multi-instrument pieces into individual tracks to edit velocities. It's hard to see, it's hard to manipulate, the zoom is terrible and innacurate. I'm ok with the rest of the software, but until this midi/piano roll is overhauled, I'm looking elsewhere. I hate it to the core. And forget chopping samples in Ableton as well, although with the Simpler, you don't really have to chop samples. Thank God for tender mercies, because Logic is a thousand times easier environment to cut samples in as well. Simplicity doesn't help when you want visual cues, and sample cutting and midi editing don't need a super sterile, dysfunctional environment.

There are some third party sequencer/editors. I'm running to them at high speed, but its unacceptable that software that claims to be the world's gold standard for autosyncing and playing samples live (which it is good at) is so lousy at midi editing and loop cutting.

  • I'm not sure you have anything in here that is useful for the OP - it sounds like a rant. If you read the other answers you will see useful guidance and one of those was accepted. If you then have nothing to add it's best to just not post anything. Thanks.
    – Rory Alsop
    Nov 1, 2018 at 17:27
  • @Blobbo You're partly right, I use EZdrummer, but here's a very easy workaround to get the mapping for the drums (keep in mind you only do this once): you take the Drum Rack, and in the "list view" create placeholder "pads". Rename them according to SuperiorDrummer specification, and map them to notes. Then drag this to the library, and you have a drum map for your plug-in. When you "fold" the piano-roll, you'll get the names of the drums. Or just have someone do it for you. It's a one-time thing. Nov 4, 2018 at 12:07
  • Agnes, thanks for that tip. THat will help with the naming for sure. It won't help with the velocity settings or the general environment. Ableton is essentially the worst option for this work, and that would be all right if they were just a loop triggering device, but they are not. They claim to be a DAW, and you can't edit 4 min tracks, let alone 15 minute classical compositions in their environment with any kind of accuracy, let alone comfort. It's really that simple. They shouldn't offer convert audio to midi if they don't work on their midi and piano roll, and FL Studio's is 10x better.
    – Blobbo
    Nov 5, 2018 at 2:09
  • @Blobbo As much as I like having all the options, in the end, simplicity is about as helpful as versatility. FL is older than Ableton Live, but Ableton Live was created from the point of experience, user design, usability and proper market research. It offers just enough to satisfy even a pro musician, while being accessible to beginners. Feb 2, 2021 at 1:21

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