Ableton Live is a DAW known for its versatility resulting from two separate views. This DAW can be used for live performances just as easily as it can be used for studio production. Because of its widespread use, there is a huge amount of tutorials online and dedicated hardware.
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Pro Great creative DAW workflow
Ableton's session view gives a much quicker, more flexible way of experimenting with ideas than a typical linear interface. In session view, each instrument part is a separate entity that can be mixed and matched with other parts without having to rearrange anything. Any and every effect is consolidated into one clean looking interface.
It allows users to experiment with effects and other manipulations very quickly. Because of this, Ableton is known as one of the most creative DAWs out there.
Pro Advanced automation
You can add curves to automation. Additionally, Ableton lets users duplicate certain automations quickly.
Pro Great for sampling
The Ableton DAW offers a great sampling experience, which can be approached in many different ways. Audio can be directly chopped, quantized, warped, and even chopped into MIDI clips. Ableton's built in sampler also allows clean pitching along with useful loop functions.
Pro Max for Live lets users build custom tools
With Max for Live, users can create custom synthesizers, audio effects, sequencers, samplers, and more. Max for Live is a feature that is available starting with Live 9 Suite.
Pro Optimized for playing live music
While all DAWs are capable of playing music live, Ableton Live is the most DJ friendly DAW out there as it allows mixing and mashing various MIDI or audio clips together in real-time while still making sure that they're in sync.
Pro Advanced content browser
The browser lets users choose from live Sets, tracks, clips, devices, presets, samples, etc. There is also an auto-play function for audio clips that enables users to browse samples quickly. The search function is also handy, but only for clips that are labeled appropriately.
Pro Minimum skeuomorphism
Skeuomorphism is described as retaining antiquated aesthetic features on an updated version of a device. For DAWs, this happens when an interface is littered with analog nobs, wires, and other things that are reminiscent of older technology. While this can be considered a stylistic choice for some DAWs, it tends to block progress towards better practices in music production.
Pro Many software specific controllers
Many MIDI controllers have been developed for the exclusive purpose of being used with Ableton. Some popular Live controllers include Push, APC40, and Launchpad.
Pro Outstanding EQ
Ableton's new EQ includes an integrated spectrum analyzer so users can see exactly which frequencies need to be adjusted. Additionally, this EQ cuts by 48 db. Up until Ableton Live 9, the EQ only cut by 12 db.
Pro Dual monitor support
Starting with Live 9, users can see session and arrangement views at the same time with dual monitor support.
Pro Comes with 54GB included sounds and 40 effects
Pro Exemplary time stretching facilities
Not only can the time stretching can be done in real-time, there are about a dozen of TC/E algorithms to choose from.
Pro Endless creativity
After some training this daw can be used for doing anything. There are basically no limits.
Pro Supports "scales" plugin
If you want to write in a specific scale, choose it from the scale plugin and your music will automatically be configured to be that key.
Pro Multiple "workflows" or ways of achieving an outcome
Not everyone realizes this, but anything can be done in multiple ways in Live. Multiple ways of playing samples, multiple ways of slicing samples, multiple ways of sequencing MIDI, etc.
Pro Can play a midi note from the middle
Since Live 10, you can play a midi note without having to play it from the start.
Pro Multitude of tutorial videos online
For any question there are many videos on youtube that will tell you how to do it.
At around $749, the Ableton Live Suite DAW is more expensive than other DAWs. Ableton Live Standard can be bought for $449, and Ableton Live Intro can be bought for $99.
Con No comping / playlist feature when tracking
Con Limited routing
Tracks can go into groups and sub-groups (as of Live 10), and sends are available, but that's the extent of routing.
Con Plugins on frozen tracks are loaded and unloaded as the session opens slowing down opening and creating DSP limitations.
For example: If you freeze more than the allowed number of plugins on a UAD DSP device, when you open your session, Ableton will open and close all the frozen plugins on every channel even though they are not active in the session. The UAD control panel application displays the DSP usage of the hardware. During loading the levels (bars) will fluctuate by extreme amounts and typically will produce errors once the Ableton session is loaded.
After the session is loaded, UAD plugins that should be running are disabled because there wasn't enough DSP available during load.
The user then has to open and look at each UAD plug in to see if they are disabled and turn them off and on again to enable them. This illustrates there is enough room for the DSP load for unfrozen plugins, but that the loading process was at fault.
Con Can't save keyboard shortcuts globally
Shortcut keys have to be set per project, for every project (Cmd-K on Mac) and shortcuts can't be exported to other projects unless you set it up in one and save that as a template, but if you ever add another key, you have to add that individually to all hundreds of your other projects.
Con Sometimes very slow reaction, if you switch from one track to another with APC- or Push-Controller
Con Not very stable
Plug-ins can crash the whole process.
Con Interface looks terrible
It really looks shoddy. The fonts are much too small to be comfortable and there is no return to beginning button included in the navigation controls. (But font size can be increased)
Con Max makes startup longer
Con No VST3 Support
Con Worst punch-in ever
You can't start recording other than where you start playing. This absurdity causes everyone to use the work around of making extra tracks just to punch in a part. Huge waste of time and design flaw. Do Ableton designers use their own product?