Helps Creators Be Creative Through Mix-and-Match Experimentation
Updated June 01, 2020

Helps Creators Be Creative Through Mix-and-Match Experimentation

Jonah Dempcy | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with Ableton Live

I was an early adopter of Ableton Live, making the switch from MAGIX ACID Pro (formerly Sony, and Sonic Foundry before that) way back in 2002. I have used Ableton Live on countless projects, both personally and professionally, including my electronic jazz music project Revolution Void as well as producing many other artists. Additionally, I use Ableton Live in a professional capacity to produce interstitial music and when I need to do multitrack audio for such applications as advertisements, film and video game soundtracks, and now, for rich media ebooks to show off EPUB3 capabilities. It is my preferred Digital Audio Workstation, although I have used just about every DAW there is at one time or another. Ableton Live is simply the easiest, quickest and most conducive to creative experimentation that I have found. Most DAWs are full of menus within menus, and countless windows, while everything in Ableton is available within a single window that has expandable and collapsable tabs. Fantastic!
  • User Interface - Instead of countless windows and menus, everything in Ableton Live is readily available in expandable and collapsable tabs.
  • Grouping and Routing - Easy and intuitive multitrack grouping, routing, and effects buses.
  • Creative Experimentation - This program is designed for experimenting and helping producers and composers come up with new combinations and variations of sound. Intuitively integrates with a workflow based on experimentation and loop-based iteration.
  • Automation - Ability to copy-and-paste automation envelopes, along with expected features like recording automation, makes it a breeze to modify effects sends and VST settings on the fly in realtime.
  • Bouncing to WAV - The "Freeze" option is invaluable for bouncing tracks to WAV, either to save precious CPU resources or because you want to edit the WAV itself rather than the computed track.
  • VST Plugin Management - Once you get 100s of VST plugins, it is a major pain to keep them all organized.
  • Replacing Moved WAVs - When you move the WAV samples, there is the ability to auto-search and replace, but it rarely works. Most often, you have to manually replace the WAVs.
  • Latency - The ability to autocorrect sync issues due to sound card latency is supposedly a feature offered by Ableton Live, but I have not been able to get it to work correctly, and often have to fix the latency issues myself.
  • Freeze Occasionally Doesn't Work - Theoretically, you can freeze any track to bounce it to a WAV, but sometimes these WAVs end up blank. This happens with the Access Virus TI-2, for example.
  • Clicks at Loop Points - Due to quickfades, loops sometimes have clicks in them, particularly if they have a lot of bass frequencies.
  • 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.
Ableton Live has just the right feature set for electronic music production. It offers more professional features than GarageBand, while not featuring the level of hardware integration or other high end features that you find in Avid Pro Tools. However, I prefer Ableton Live over Avid Pro Tools for electronic music and loop-based or sample-based music production. Pro Tools is great when you are in a studio that has the hardware and you are laying down track after track of recorded audio. But Pro Tools does not have any features to help with songwriting, production, composition, or arrangement. Ableton Live is made with the creator in mind so it has features like the Live view, as distinct from Arrangement view, which allow the creator to easily mix-and-match different sounds and arrangements as a way of discovering what works and what doesn't for a song. Pro Tools is better when the song is already written and you just want to record it, but Ableton Live is better when you are still searching for the eventual arrangement of the song and want to experiment with a lot of different options.
I do not have any experience contacting Ableton Live support directly, but over the years I have had any number of problems with Ableton ranging from sound card issues to latency, to simply wishing to understand certain behaviors of the program. In each case I was able to quickly find forums and tutorials that answered my questions.

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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.