Quality of Ableton

This question has the potential to definitely start a geekfest / not my intention. I have a full studio with class A analog gear like the EMI Chandler Zener, Andromeda, Big Ben, vintech X73 pre’s, etc…In general analog is a time hog. Once you make your samples you don’t have the ability to go back as you do when working directly in Live using the sylenth and Live’s plugs. I love the concept of finishing everything, top to bottom on my laptop. And I love Live after the switch from cubase.

My question is for the instructors at SA. Do you feel Live and a few plugs like the sylenth is all it takes to get professional, class A productions for dance music? What do you think about their EQ’s vs. Flux - Live compressors compared to waves? Do you feel Live is truly sufficient? Is it all about about mastering your domain? Does anyone as SA use Live for their complete productions, or is it a teaching tool?

I know Laid Back Luke uses FL8 and I’m sure Live is on par with that, so in theory it is very possible…Whats your professional oppinion?

Thanks you for your time as it’s been a heavy topic for my colleagues and I.


i finished all my tracks top to bottom in ableton live.

if im not getting the sound out of it i need i look to 3rd party plugins.

one thing i notice from live after a switch from cubase is that my work flow has been disrupted and my attention span has dropped dramatically.

cubase i can work on a song for hours. ableton i can work for maybe 10-20 mins at a time. dont know why that is!

as for the sound. i can’t hear any difference myself, panning may be slightly different to my ear, but to be honest if you are good enough it doesn’t matter what DAW you are using. you’ll get a great sound out of everything and it just comes down to personal preference.

i love getting ideas down in live, but arranging is not its strong point

Thanks for your input. Are there other opinions from the SA instructors as well? I see you are the cubase wiz and may have a preference towards that daw. I’ve been using steinberg for a long time and recently switched because of the work flow and arrangement ease. I think that the arranging really needs to be done in the arrangement window. otherwise it can be odd, therefore creating mental disruption. Do you ever rewire Live into cubase and go back and forth?

Thanks for the help. You guys are really a blessing and I want to thank you again for all you do. Keep on coming on strong!



i have done rewiring between the 2 but i like to keep everything contained in one DAW.

otherwise it begins to get a bit too messy for my liking!

Any other SA instructors out there…Phil? What up peeps;)

I’m not an instructor, but I think that you can accomplish everything you want in Ableton, even with the provided plugs. Being that your accustomed to working with an analog rig, you probably know how to program just about everything from the ground up. That being said, you should be able to make anything in Ableton do what you want it to as it is Class A in it’s domain and you can rely on the components to work properly. As far as out of the box working, I think FL studio is the best for that as it has tons of “starting points” for you to use. Whereas Ableton doesn’t, their presets sucks IMO. This is also where I agree with Brian on the attention span. With Cubase and others like it, you get an idea of the big picture right off the bat because it’s arrangement view. Ableton requires too much experimenting to get things right IMO again. Which destroys the workflow. I think Ableton Live is suited best for just that, Live. Sure it has an arrangement window and can do everything, but it was originally designed for sample manipulation and cutting in real time, making more of a performance tool, then a production tool. If you really want to use something that will be top notch and require only your laptop, I would look into Logic Pro, stay away from Pro Tools, it’s freekin overkill for dance music. Kind of like all that analog gear you have! :stuck_out_tongue: j/k Just my two cents, to each their own!


I purchased Live this year (after watching all the tutorials here, so thank you SA) and I have to agree, my attention span and getting ideas across has been more quicker. But I still use Nuendo for arranging and mixing. Just a preference. Not that I hear a difference in sound quality. As for analog vs plug-ins. Do you hear a big difference? It may also be dependent on what genre you’re working on imo. If dance, I think Live’s plug-ins can cut it. Live plug-ins vs third-party? Probably the only big difference would be the EQ’s. I’m actually happy with Live’s compressors. The sidechain feature is extremely easy to set up. But yeah, I still use third-party plugs a lot more than Live’s.

Well in all my years of pro DJing/production and tutoring. I have taught on, used and seen others use nearly everything available.

I have friends putting out constant releases on Cubase, Reason, Fruity, Acid, logic etc

I think the usual question is: ‘which is best?’

and because people manage on them with a good sound I think the real question is which is easiest to get the best sound from?

I grew up on Cubase, used it since 96 on the Atari until very recently on the PC.

I have slowly been using Ableton more and more over the past 5 years and now and have got to the point where I avoid Cubase over Ableton.

Stock plugs wise, Ableton has some very interesting ones for gen audio maintenance. It also has some very cool audio manipulation effects too, especially in live 8 now. However I can’t vouch for the suite as I dont have it.

The one thing I dont get from the stock plugs with Cubase or Ableton is added tone in a box.

Thats not to say you couldnt get tone and a good sound from the stock plugs, its more a question of how long I want to spend doing it?

Essentially you could decide that you want to do that yourself with intricate effect chains, you could decide you want to make all your drum sounds from a synthesizer, you could insist that you want to sequence all your tunes in C+ code ewithout a sequencer old school style.

I personally want good results quick so I can make a decent sounding tune easily while I generally keep my musician hat on. Then later if needs be go back fresh to it with my producer hat on for tweaks. Having to spend to long on technical aspects for me sucks life out of creativity. But I can’t be creative with a project that sounds like cack.

I use the UAD plugs with ableton and am very happy with how seperate I can make my instruments sound. I also use the sonnox EQ over the ableton one as I prefer the way it sounds.

Again its probably possible to do it with ableton plugs but it depends on how long you want to spend on something vs how important an excitement/creative driven work flow is.

For me there are a couple of things I miss from Cubase still. The main thing being accurate volume envelopes for tweaking drum hits. I also havent tried any none electronic based work yet in ableton which I can imagine could be quite hard.

Recording and compiling lanes of guitar and vocal parts for instance would be a lot harder.

I now realise I’ve just ranted on but hope its useful :slight_smile:

I have been using ableton now for about 6months to make my tracks and

i love it, have used reason, acid pro, cubase and logic pro in the past i

find ableton the best for getting things down fast and even finishing tracks in one sitting on my own as never been able to do that on any

other DAW as always needed to be working with someone:cool: