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Music producing software: Ableton or Logic

Do you ever wonder whether you should be using Ableton or Logic, or some other DAW for the majority of your work as a producer? Knowing which music producing software to buy can be overwhelming for many. Once you’ve decided on which DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) to use, you’ll most likely continue to buy extra VST plugins in the form of soft synths and audio effects plugins to take your music to the next level.

You may also want to consider Bitwig Studio, which is the hottest new kid on the block that is slated to be the next generation of DAW. In fact, rumor has it that the founding members of Bitwig were previously employed by Ableton….

I have been producing for over fifteen years. I began on Propellorhead Reason and switched to Ableton Live in 2001. I still use Ableton Live today and I’m very happy with the additional functionality in Live 9, but there have been times when I wonder if my music may sound different if I was to switch to another DAW. I have long thought about using Apple Logic Pro, as I know that many of my favorite producers go with this DAW. Some producers even use Ableton for songwriting and then do the mixdown in Logic.

Of course there are other DAWs (most notable are Cubase and FL Studio), but in this article I have decided to compare Logic Pro with Ableton to look at the similarities, differences, pros and cons of each going head to head against each other. The reason why I chose these two DAWs to look at is that they seem to be the most commonly used these days in my opinion.

From the research I’ve done, here are some of the pros, cons, similarities and differences between the two platforms.

 

Ableton Live – The Pros

In recent years, more and more people (especially EDM producers) have been moving over to Ableton from various other platforms. Why?

Many who’ve used various platforms say that Live is their favorite for composing, arranging, and sound design. You may often hear people say tht Live’s workflow is more productive and they fall in love with its ease of use.

They also move to Ableton for live playing because of other integrated products like the Launchpad and Push. If you want a DAW for live EDM, the clue is in the name.

With more and more people moving over to Ableton Live, it creates a snowball effect – if you work with a group of musicians or producers (perhaps on the same label) and they all use Ableton, it might be worthwhile to use it also to avoid some data conversion. This may also lend itself to a more streamlined workflow if everyone is “on the same page” so to speak. This also goes for Logic of course – think about the hugely successful UK drum & bass label Shogun Audio – it is pretty much a prerequisite that to get signed by them you need to use Logic to collaborate with the likes of Rockwell, Alix Perez, Icicle and others.

 

Ableton Live- The Cons

Quite a lot of people honestly believe Ableton’s audio playback engine sounds fairly poor compared to its own render results – and logic is easier to mix well for this reason.. They say that they have exported loops that sound great from logic, really phat and open, but when they open them in Ableton, chosen Hi quality, unwrapped etc. the same sounds have sounded worse – like completely different, kind of ‘closed in’.

Various mastering engineers have tested both platforms and tests prove that the render quality is the same or virtually the same. Playback differences are what people have issues with.

Live is designed to operate quickly and on the fly – it is a live tool at heart, and you may get a slight loss of audio engine quality for that.

Ableton Life is very loop based and MIDI was a later addition. The loop manipulation tools are really awesome but users have often complained about missing some MIDI editing facilities, like smooth automation curves (although these are included in Live 9, released March 5th 2013). The audio time stretching is beautiful though, and I have to agree about this.

 Ableton Or Logic – Which DAW Is Best For You?

Logic Pro – The Pros

Lots of Logic users say that they’ve never had any music app give the same sense of openness and clarity that Logic does.

They almost always say that the audio engine is just awesome. Logic in many people’s opinions has the best built in plugins of any DAW standard, incredible EQs and Compressors, and the ES2 is incredible for making EDM.

Logic has some very powerful synths, Ultrabeat, and apparently better algoritms for mixing, summing, and rendering.

Many mastering engineers say that when clients send them mixdowns to work on, they don’t use Live unless the clients ask them to, they tend to reach for Logic first.  It’s faster for this type of work, has better automation functions, and engineers like the way it’s plug-ins sound.

Young drum & bass superstar producer Netsky writes his tunes in Ableton but does his mixdowns in Logic…. Why could that be? Perhaps it’s high quality audio engine? Better sounding built in plug-ins? It would be a lot of work to make a track, then bounce out the stems into another platform and mix down applying different EQ and compression units and settings all over again, but this is what it takes to be as good as Netsky. It’s something I’m considering doing myself – I am in love with Ableton’s interface and workflow, but I have these audio engine and plug-in quality concerns, which make me think about doing things the way Netsky does. However with the arrival of Live 9 (and Logic X) we’ll have to see what the differences are first with regards to sound quality comparing to the previous version of Live.

Logic is also better in some people’s opinion with regards to score, transport (time code etc) , and just things like applying midi functions to transform your MIDI. tempo changes and other things are easier. – you have more control to type in data you want.

 

Logic Pro – The Cons

Firstly – speed to complete tasks – many say that Logic isn’t as intuitive or easy to use as Ableton. Some processes that would take 2 to 5 minutes in Ableton Live take 15 to 20 minutes in Logic.

If you’re talking about Logic you must be on a Mac. Most 3rd party plugins are available on both PC and Mac but some are only available on PC – there are definitely more plug-ins for the PC than for Mac, which is something to think about, although the gap is closing with the growing popularity of Macs in recent years.

 

Music Producing Software: Ableton Live Vs Logic Pro

 

Similarities:

People seem to forget that both programs are driven by CORE AUDIO and the CPU’s are doing MATH to sum the digital info. That means the programs are, as far as the computer is concerned, the same. With today’s reliable technology, zeroes and ones will not differ from machine to machine, or program to program and that is all that our music is comprised of.

 

Conclusion:

You should use what you feel most comfortable with using. I’ve heard amazing music produced in all of these programs so there’s no such thing as one being better than the other really. In some wats, the program is as only good as the person using it.

The key difference and area of concern for many is the audio playback engines (‘under the hood’) being quite different from each other and having their own distinct sound, however the differences are pretty subtle I think.

If you’re thinking of jumping ship or using both, you want to try the demo versions of the DAW out before you go to buy it. Don’t base your purchase off what other people say because in the end its all about personal preference . I can’t say it any better then that.

 

 

 

2 replies
  1. Mark says:

    I’ve used both and bottom line is the finished project will come out of Logic sounding much better than it will with live. Thats why my Ableton live suite 9 sits on my harddrive unused for time,

    If you had any of your courses based in Logic i’d buy them in a heartbeat. The fact is however good and versatile Abletons drum rack is it still comes out sounding sub-par with the audio engine, and to be honest the compressor and EQ are not good enough for a pro release.

    • xenflex says:

      Hey Mark,

      Thanks for commenting. If you tweak the default settings in Ableton, you can get it to sound virtually the same as Logic in audio tests. The new Glue Compressor is a huge improvement on the previous compressor, as is the updated EQ8 in Live 9. Alternatively, I would recommend Fab Filter ProQ and ProC.

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