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17 Ratings
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Score 9.3 out of 100
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Score 9 out of 100

Attribute Ratings

  • Ableton Live is rated higher in 1 area: Likelihood to Recommend
  • WaveLab is rated higher in 1 area: Support Rating

Likelihood to Recommend

10.0

Ableton Live

100%
7 Ratings
9.0

WaveLab

90%
1 Rating

Support Rating

9.6

Ableton Live

96%
6 Ratings
10.0

WaveLab

100%
2 Ratings

Likelihood to Recommend

Ableton

Ableton Live is a perfect fit for loop-based music like electronic music of all varieties. It is especially suited to minimal techno and IDM, but is really suitable for any style of music that relies extensively on loops and samples. Ableton Live is also well-suited for sequencing out loop-based music through its Live view, while the Composer view allows for enough arranging features that you can take a song from concept to completion fairly easily. Ableton Live is less well-suited for fully recorded music that has no sample-based or looping components. It is less well-suited for non-electronic genres, although it is perfectly fine, but many of the features would not be useful or necessary in these cases.
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Steinberg Media Technologies

WaveLab is well-suited when you want to apply a lot of VST FX processing to audio, or do a real-time recording and be able to hear how the FX processing sounds as you're recording. It is an excellent tool for recording in the studio. However, it lacks the sophisticated multitrack capabilities you find in a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), instead of focusing on the features of an audio editor. It is also great for quickly opening, editing, and saving a lot of files because of how fast it is.
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Pros

Ableton

  • Session View: This is the biggest advantage of Ableton. It provides you this view in which you can create different tracks for the same part of the song. For example:- If you are making the chorus of the song, you can save one thread. Now if you want to try and listen to a different drum set in a new thread, you can simply do that and listen to the new track while preserving the older one. Once you are satisfied with what you're listening, simple record the same in arrangement view and you are done. You can switch to the arrangement view and listen to the final song.
  • Pre-installed instruments and loops:- Ableton's library which is included with the software itself while you purchase it is amazing. I bet you will ever need third-party plugins for it. It comes loaded with hundreds of loops and number of instruments which are completely professional and free to use.
  • Amazing Graphical User Interface:- Even if you're a beginner in this field, Ableton can be learned within a few hours. The basic functionality of this software is very easy to understand and use. Of course, advanced stuff comes with practice but the basic functioning can be learned and within a few hours you are producing your own music.
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Steinberg Media Technologies

  • Realtime FX Chain - This is the big one for me. I always had both WaveLab and Sound Forge (along with some other audio editing programs, and using Pro Tools at school). Of the two, I preferred Sound Forge for its user interface and hotkeys, but I preferred WaveLab for its realtime FX. The ability to easily chain FX together and tweak them on the fly while the audio is playing is enormous for me.
  • Speed - Quite simply, saving a huge file in WaveLab is orders of magnitude faster than in Sound Forge. To this day, I don't know why that is, but it's just faster. Opening and saving files is a breeze in WaveLab, while in some other audio editing programs, it can take 30 seconds or a minute for a large file.
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Cons

Ableton

  • Version 10 chews up all my CPU but prior versions didn't
  • Midi channel automation isn't intuitive, have to make an instrument group
  • New version install should overwrite older versions
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Steinberg Media Technologies

  • User Interface and Hotkeys - I've always struggled with the UI in WaveLab, and even after all these years, I am just much faster in Sound Forge. I used to have a job as an audio editor, where I edited hundreds of hours of interviews. By using the "Mark" feature, I could easily cut out silence, "ums" and "ahs," and other audio artifacts in Sound Forge. I struggled to do the same in WaveLab but was never able to work even a fraction as quickly.
  • Built-In Audio Processing - I much prefer Sound Forge's built-in audio tools like time-stretching, normalization, compression, and so on. WaveLab has many of the same tools, but I have not found them to be as easy to use, and in some cases, nonexistent (relying instead on a VST plugin).
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Pricing Details

Ableton Live

Starting Price

$79

Editions & Modules

Ableton Live editions and modules pricing
EditionModules
Live 10 Intro791
Live 10 Standard3592
Live 10 Suite5993
Live 11 Intro994
Live 11 Standard4495
Live 11 Suite7496
Live 10 Intro - Push7997
Live 10 Standard - Push1,0788
Live 10 Suite - Push1,2789
Live 10 Standard - Students & Teachers26910
Live 10 Suite - Students & Teachers44911
Push + Live 10 Standard - Students & Teachers1,06812
Push + Live 10 Suite - Students & Teachers1,24813
Max for Live15914
Max for Live - Crossgrade7915

Offerings

Free Trial
Free/Freemium Version
Premium Consulting/Integration Services

Entry-level set up fee?

No setup fee

Additional Details

WaveLab

Starting Price

Editions & Modules

WaveLab editions and modules pricing
EditionModules

Footnotes

    Offerings

    Free Trial
    Free/Freemium Version
    Premium Consulting/Integration Services

    Entry-level set up fee?

    No setup fee

    Additional Details

    Support Rating

    Ableton

    I haven't had to reach out to support yet, but they're great at keeping me abreast with updates, compatibility issues, new features, and tons of videos on how to use the software. I feel like they're helping me success by giving me tools I can use in my daily work.
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    Steinberg Media Technologies

    I have never contacted Steinberg, so I am not sure how responsive they are. Still, I've watched countless tutorials on audio editing and mastering in WaveLab, so I am pleased with the level of support available from the online community of users. It is a much-loved program among audio industry professionals, and there are all sorts of great tutorials, tips, and tricks available online.
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    Alternatives Considered

    Ableton

    I cannot say that the other programs listed aren't capable. They surely are. But for what I do and my workflow environment, Ableton suits my needs better. I know a lot of people that use Pro Tools and Logic Pro. They are both very powerful programs. I have knowledge of how to use them all. Going into different studios and collaborating with people, you need to know at least the basics of them all. But for me and my studio, we will continue to primarily use Ableton for the foreseeable future.
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    Steinberg Media Technologies

    I am relatively agnostic about what audio software I use. I still use WaveLab to this day, 21 years later, for applications where I want to apply effects chains and tweak them in real-time. Sound Forge even can't do this for some reason. But when I have a lot of editing to do, I'll typically open Sound Forge instead, because I prefer the workflow of using the "M" hotkey to mark the audio as it's playing, and then quickly skip through markers and edit out audio artifacts. When I'm recording a vocalist, however, if I am not using a Digital Audio Workstation (like Ableton Live), then I do prefer WaveLab. I can apply VST effects in real-time to the audio coming in through the sound card input and playing back in their headphones.
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    Return on Investment

    Ableton

    • Ableton Live allows me to rapidly sequence multitrack music as needed, without getting stuck at any step of the process.
    • Ableton Live also allows me to quickly export or upload to SoundCloud for easy sharing. This is a big time-saver.
    • The only negative ROI I can think of is the cost. There are competitors like Reaper that are much more affordable and have many of the same features.
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    Steinberg Media Technologies

    • Positive Impact - Ability to rapidly edit audio for EPUB3 ebooks and interviews.
    • Positive Impact - Being able to hear in realtime how audio effects chains will sound, and to save commonly-used effects chains.
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