When comparing Ableton Live vs Studio One 4, the Slant community recommends Studio One 4 for most people. In the question“What are the best DAWs?” Studio One 4 is ranked 2nd while Ableton Live is ranked 7th. The most important reason people chose Studio One 4 is:
All components are laid out in an understandable fashion and almost everything is drag and drop.
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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 Dual monitor support
Starting with Live 9, users can see session and arrangement views at the same time with dual monitor support.
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 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 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 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 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 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 Comes with 54GB included sounds and 40 effects
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 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 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 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 Endless creativity
After some training this daw can be used for doing anything. There are basically no limits.
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 Easy to use DAW interface
All components are laid out in an understandable fashion and almost everything is drag and drop.
Pro Efficient DAW workflow
The Studio One DAW doesn't expect users to deal with a lot of windows, answer questions, or use the mouse excessively. This DAW is known for lettings users be creative without getting in the way.
Pro Dedicated mastering page
Studio one has a page dedicated specifically to mastering which can be very useful when trying to finish your song
Pro Multiple key command templates
Possible to use key commands from Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase, etc.
Pro Melodyne built-in
The Real Melodyne is integrated in the actual DAW. No other DAW is set up to streamline Melodyne.
Pro Very stable DAW
Performance is rock solid and very efficient, even on lower spec computers.
Pro Automatic delay compensation
When a plugin takes time to process a sound, the Studio One DAW detects the gap and compensates.
Pro Vocalign built in
Vocalign Project is can be integrated with the option to upgrade to Vocalign Pro.
Pro Creative songwriting and arrangement tools
Use the 'scratch pad' work on multiple versions for your song without leaving the main window.
Pro Awesome smart tool
Hovering over different parts of the events in the arrange window activates different tools.
Pro Bounces MIDI in place
When bouncing from MIDI to audio, a new track won't be created, the clip will stay in the same place. When bouncing a specific part of a MIDI clip, it will be placed in a new track.
Pro Insert plugins on actual events, not just tracks
Have you ever wanted a delay on just a word or so. No need to automate or move to a separate track. No need to print it to the clip and run out of room on the audio file. Simply amazing feature.
Pro Good interface compatibility
Works great with interfaces, and doesn't fight with ASIO drivers.
Pro Drag and Drop feature is quite flexible and allows for massive free form modification on the fly
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 VST3 Support
Con Not very stable
Plug-ins can crash the whole process.
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 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 Can't edit more than one MIDI clip at once
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 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?
Con The Pencil (Grrr!)
If you click on the wrong part of a track just to set the play back point, it adds an automation point and switches to the pencil tool. This is really annoying even after more than a year of use.
Con No comping / playlist feature when tracking
Con Sometimes very slow reaction, if you switch from one track to another with APC- or Push-Controller
Con No real support for synth hardware
SO3 cannot control your synth. You cannot see/control or access patches, their names, or SysEx. It seems that everything is centered around use of virtual instruments, and not hardware synth.
Con Bad customer service
Con Poor waveform drawing
The waveform drawing looks like something from a much cheaper or free DAW from the 1990s.
Con No snap to zero crossing
Snap to zero crossing lines up audio's waveform at the optimum position so it won't sound glitchy. The Studio One DAW does not directly offer this feature.
Con Interface signal selection is obtuse and not as intuitive as other DAWs
Con Works out quite expensive
The full version of this DAW may justify its price by including VST and VSTi plugins, but the 'affordable' version does not support VST plugins out of the box. So you can't purchase the affordable version of this DAW and simply add VST plugins, either freeware or purchased ones.
Con The DAW can't be used as a ReWire component
The DAW can be used as a ReWire host, but cannot be used as a ReWire component. This is frustrating if you like some of the instrument sounds and virtual synths in Studio One, but prefer another DAW to do your main work in.
The interface Graphical is comic bookish. While the DAW is useful there are better interfaces out there. One of the biggest issues is how the signal path is selected. Other DAW's work more like a patchbay allowing for a more visual interaction with the program. Studio One is different and a little obtuse. For example, Digital performer 11, Protools 11, Sonar Producer provide a better experience.