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Moving away from Ableton (or am I?)

DerGeist

Active Member
Hi everyone, my name is DerGeist and I do orchestral scoring in Ableton Live. I recognize that it is a bit of an outlier in the orchestral world but I know it well and the bundled instruments and fx have served me well. Lately I have been a bit restless and have started to wonder if I'm missing out on something that would serve me better.

I'm not unsatisfied with live but I never use the clip view or most of the more loop based features. I also find envelopes, editing, etc. a bit fiddly. Otherwise I'm a fan.

But, am I fan because I don't know that there is something that suits my needs better? I mostly play orchestral parts with a keyboard and record as midi. I don't compose in the piano roll but I will do a lot of midi editing as required.

Am I missing out? What am I missing out on? Am I just looking for an excuse to spend money? Help me VI control!
 

Manaberry

Active Member
I was using Ableton before, for my orchestral stuff (now I use it only for band purpose).
I switched to Cubase Pro (feat. VEP) because of few things:

- Advanced midi edition
- Track versioning
- Remote controller editor
- Expression maps / Drum maps / Score editor
- Chords pads
- Video features
- VST3 (Ableton took so much time to make this happen)
- A more customizable UI
- Marker system

There is some other stuff I missed to write down but the overall is here.
Obviously it was my needs. You have to find what's yours.
I miss the renaming of automation lane from Ableton to be honest..
 

MillsMixx

Production Director/Sound Designer
I'm not an EDM producer but I absolutely love Ableton I am one of the few people on this forum that uses it for composing.

Most people here use Cubase and I upgraded to Cubase Pro a couple years ago and while I like it, I still seem to come back to Ableton for putting my song ideas together quickly and easily. The session view is an amazing way for me to get the ball rolling right away. I guess I just know it better and find I can work faster and get ideas together much easier.

Unlike what other people have said about the piano roll differences I find it much easier to work with midi as well. That's just me of course and how I roll. I'm not one of these guys that has a huge template but sort of create it as I go and love all the features that it has to offer.

It's a completely different approach to working and it took me a while to figure out but once I wrapped my brain around it I now love it and I'm excited about some of the new features that are coming out in the new Ableton 10 update.

Daniel James and some others on this forum started out using Ableton (still using it for sound design) and then switched to Cubase. He has a good video out about that if you search for it as it explains the differences and why.

For me Cubase Pro is harder to grasp than Ableton because it offers so many, many features! but that's just how my mind and workflow works. Like people have said it's whatever DAW works best for YOU to make you the most productive.

That being said I still try to try to spend an equal amount of time in both DAWs and continue to learn in Cubase, it just comes harder for me than Ableton. For me it's sort of like Photoshop, a beast of DAW that will do anything but there's quite a learning curve.
 

paulmatthew

Senior Member
The biggest problem for me with Ableton it that the track headers cannot be on the left side of the screen and makes it clunky . They really need to add customizable options to the daw .
 
OP
DerGeist

DerGeist

Active Member
I'm not an EDM producer but I absolutely love Ableton I am one of the few people on this forum that uses it for composing.

Most people here use Cubase and I upgraded to Cubase Pro a couple years ago and while I like it, I still seem to come back to Ableton for putting my song ideas together quickly and easily. The session view is an amazing way for me to get the ball rolling right away. I guess I just know it better and find I can work faster and get ideas together much easier.

Unlike what other people have said about the piano roll differences I find it much easier to work with midi as well. That's just me of course and how I roll. I'm not one of these guys that has a huge template but sort of create it as I go and love all the features that it has to offer.

It's a completely different approach to working and it took me a while to figure out but once I wrapped my brain around it I now love it and I'm excited about some of the new features that are coming out in the new Ableton 10 update.

Daniel James and some others on this forum started out using Ableton (still using it for sound design) and then switched to Cubase. He has a good video out about that if you search for it as it explains the differences and why.

For me Cubase Pro is harder to grasp than Ableton because it offers so many, many features! but that's just how my mind and workflow works. Like people have said it's whatever DAW works best for YOU to make you the most productive.

That being said I still try to try to spend an equal amount of time in both DAWs and continue to learn in Cubase, it just comes harder for me than Ableton. For me it's sort of like Photoshop, a beast of DAW that will do anything but there's quite a learning curve.
This has kind of my feeling as well. So far I have had no issues with Ableton and am not sure I would be faster or better using anything else. My only real gripe with Ableton is not being able to rename midi ins, the zoom in an out which never does what I want (i know this is a user issue), and a few other small issues. I wouldn't want to be without the midi clip multi edit from Live 10.

Part of me has always wanted to try digital performer but it looks like it might make my life harder rather than easier.

If you haven't tried it, the free (if you have Live suite) convolution reverb is as good or better than anything else I have tried.

https://www.ableton.com/en/packs/convolution-reverb/
 

InLight-Tone

Senior Member
I have both Live and Cubase Pro 10 which I am pretty fluent in. Ableton has some strong advantages that many overlook.

-Racks!: The ability to layer instruments on a single track, which many of us do, instead of separate tracks is huge. Add to that the ability to use any number of midi, and/or audio processors, Live is really a modular synth/composition system in itself.

-Browser: The browser is far more speedy & functional than Cubases clunky MediaBay. Setup your own presets in folders like a big virtual template

-Max4Live: Allows you to customize the program with your own features, midi edit routines, plugins or whatever you fancy. The sky's the limit including video as well.

-Session view and clips: The ability to access any clip or song section/scene in any order and combination helps immensely when sketching and the beginning development of a track.

-Push 2: I consider the Push a MUST if using Live as it really allows the program to shine. It allows you to access EVERY midiFX, instrument, insert and send from a hardware unit and tweak and automate to your hearts content. Many hardware controllers exist for Cubase like CC121, but the amount of control over your sound is elementary compared to the deep diving you can do with Push.

Push Sequencing: It also does step sequencing and drum sequencing well, far superior to Maschine and Cubases Beat designer. There are a million Max4Live devices for programming interesting drum sequences.
 

pottering

New Member
Nicholas Britell got indicated for the Oscar 2 times and is a Live user.

https://www.fastcompany.com/90296560/lets-break-this-music-inside-composer-nicholas-britells-experimental-creative-process

Ludwig Göransson won the Oscar this year with Black Panther, here is an interview with him showing a track in Ableton Live (at 3:25)


Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross won the Oscar in 2010 with The Social Network, this NY Times interview states it was recorded entirely in Trent's home studio, in which the computer screen shows Ableton Live (at 2:48):


(It shows "electronic music" doesn't oppose "movie scoring".)

Jóhann Jóhannsson (RIP), Oscar-nominated 2 times

http://daily.redbullmusicacademy.com/2017/01/johann-johannsson-feature

Much like it happened in other music genres, Ableton Live went from being treated as a joke and having zero presence in movie scoring, to 2 of 5 composers nominated to the Oscar this year (including the winner) being Ableton Live users. Not saying this number will continue rising, but Live is demonstrably usable for movie or game scoring.

Maybe Live is not "ideal" for movie scoring, but it sure won't stop you from being a successful composer.
 

brenneisen

Active Member
Ludwig Göransson
and DP

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
and PT

Jóhann Jóhannsson (RIP), Oscar-nominated 2 times
and Cubase


the point? Live is awesome as a secondary daw, has features that no other daw has; for media composers, though, it lacks important things (see @Manaberry's post but I'll add: macros, more zooming options, visibility agents, better mixer, better fx busses, better routing, VCA faders, surround, multiple midi lanes, 5,7,11tuplets)

now a pic of a lovely couple:

jnh.png
 

pottering

New Member
and DP



and PT



and Cubase


the point? Live is awesome as a secondary daw, has features that no other daw has; for media composers, though, it lacks important things (see @Manaberry's post but I'll add: macros, more zooming options, visibility agents, better mixer, better fx busses, better routing, VCA faders, surround, multiple midi lanes, 5,7,11tuplets)

now a pic of a lovely couple:

View attachment 19305
Don't forget Nicholas Britell, 1 out of 5 Oscar nominees (if you want to dismiss Ludwig Göransson) is still pretty good for a DAW people openly treat as inferior in this forum.

But I don't accept the "secondary daw" characterization, that concept seems based completely on assumptions, none of the composers use terms like "secondary daw" nor talk about having such a hierarchy in their workflow.

Why even think in terms of "secondary" and "primary"?

Why did you even assume Live was not "equal" or even "primary" in their setups, assuming a hierarchy exists?

I mean, those links I posted are not marketing blurb interviews, those are interviews about other topics, where the composers mention or show Ableton Live completely unprompted.

And that list of composers above is not exhaustive, it was just the "easy names" I could google easily (from the Oscar nominees, a easy list of "successful composers").

There are other composers that use Live, people like Cliff Martinez and Alva Noto.
 

kitekrazy

Senior Member
I'm a fan but as far as screen real estate it's small. The session view is great for testing out that new loop library. The annoying thing they put in 9 is the scanning of places. It reminds me of Gigastudio and also it takes up more drive space.
I don't really need to know what artists use a certain DAW to solve insecurity issues.

I have seen Mac users going more towards Logic for EDM as of late.

The only knock I have with Live is their Suite is a joke if you have previous versions of Suite. There's very little upgraded and I've had Suite since 8. I probably wont do the upgrade to Suite in the next version.
 

krops

Active Member
The only knock I have with Live is their Suite is a joke if you have previous versions of Suite. There's very little upgraded and I've had Suite since 8. I probably wont do the upgrade to Suite in the next version.
Mind you, I haven't really given this much thought, but isn't the upgrade price from x Suite to x Suite reasonable enough? Is there considerable money to be saved by "down-upgrading" from, say, 9 Suite to 10 Standard?

Either way, it's easy to forget the potential added value of Max for Live. While I use 3rd party VSTs for most of my synth, sampler and processing needs, there are some instruments with a lot of potential in Suite (Tension, Collision, Operator; I find Operator a lot more intuitive than FM8).

I have a few gripes with Live's rudimentary MIDI editing (I really miss some shortcuts to split notes and align note start/end), but I would never want to start learning a new DAW when I know Live so well.
 

kitekrazy

Senior Member
Mind you, I haven't really given this much thought, but isn't the upgrade price from x Suite to x Suite reasonable enough? Is there considerable money to be saved by "down-upgrading" from, say, 9 Suite to 10 Standard?

Either way, it's easy to forget the potential added value of Max for Live. While I use 3rd party VSTs for most of my synth, sampler and processing needs, there are some instruments with a lot of potential in Suite (Tension, Collision, Operator; I find Operator a lot more intuitive than FM8).

I have a few gripes with Live's rudimentary MIDI editing (I really miss some shortcuts to split notes and align note start/end), but I would never want to start learning a new DAW when I know Live so well.
Nope. Nothing really updated to justify that cost. 3rd party stuff is better. Max4Live is something you have to put some time in.
 

pottering

New Member
Downgrading is a bad idea, mainly (but not only) because you will have trouble opening your past projects with 9 Suite content if you only have 10 Standard.

To me just the way Max For Live is much better integrated now in 10 was enough to justify the upgrade. Max For Live devices load just like VSTs now.

But Live 10 is really about loads of small improvements everywhere that people don't even notice consciously, not bullet-point list features (though it has those too, Echo and Wavetable are great)
 

kitekrazy

Senior Member
Downgrading is a bad idea, mainly (but not only) because you will have trouble opening your past projects with 9 Suite content if you only have 10 Standard.

To me just the way Max For Live is much better integrated now in 10 was enough to justify the upgrade. Max For Live devices load just like VSTs now.

But Live 10 is really about loads of small improvements everywhere that people don't even notice consciously, not bullet-point list features (though it has those too, Echo and Wavetable are great)
There is nothing I would miss. This has been discussed on Live's forum. You can access your Live 9 Suite in Live 10. I have Live 10 Suite and it will be my last Suite.
 

crd

New Member
Is no one going to mention the number one flaw with using Ableton Live for scoring?? No time code/sync. That is kind of a deal breaker. I know there are work arounds with M4L devices but its crashy. I tried for months to make it work with Video Slave and it was literally hell on earth to get anything done. Also exporting MIDI was a pain. Ableton Live's work flow is still king for music non-synced to picture for me.

I can't imagine working without Cubase now that I've made the switch. However the day Reaper supports expression maps I will switch over to it as fast as possible.
 

Brian2112

Active Member
I have developed a strange workflow. I boot up Ableton when I’m just screwing around on the piano. I use the capture midi thing if I accidentally play something cool. Then I move it to Studio One and rewire Ableton and screw around with the idea some more . Then if the idea is cool and getting to big, then it goes to Cubase 10 with VE Pro.
Crazy I know.
 

Daniel James

Senior Member
Hey,

I was a HUGE Ableton user (I worked on Metal Gear Solid V in Live) so its definitely possible.....it just doesn't make your life easy.

If you work primarily in musical sound design or hybrid music you will get a lot more from live but if you ever want to stray into orchestral mockups and 5.1 you are shit out of luck. It lacks even simple things like editing multiple midi clips at once (so if you have a section with 50 midi tracks stacked, you are gunna have to move those notes 50 fucking times xD)

If you want to score movies I really recommend trying something like Cubase, Logic, DP... something with great midi editing functions, score editors, dedicated mixing windows, 5.1 support etc. All of these things need workarounds in Ableton Live and you just have to ask yourself the question I did, is it worth the wasted time.

Cubase for me was the obvious choice because it was already up to a high standard in terms of the way I work with audio and it also had a function to create custom key commands, so I was able to change cubase commands to the ones I prefer from Ableton Live. It almost felt like Live sometimes xD

I see some people above pointing to all of the people who successfully use Live for movies, but from my own personal experience I wouldn't even want to anymore, I would waste so much time doing pointless shit that is just made easy for me in a DAW designed for writing music first and formost. If you look at ableton lives updates and new features, film composers are clearly not a focus.

So yeah you can stick to live if you want but trust me if you want to get into orchestral shit, the grass is most certainly greener on the otherside.... be that DP, Cubase, Logic. And just because someone has made it work doesn't mean it made their lives easy, just that they worked around its shortcomings and no doubt wasted a lot of time doing so. At least in my experience.

-DJ
 

pottering

New Member
This has been discussed on Live's forum. You can access your Live 9 Suite in Live 10.
No offense but you better provide some proof of this statement (I'm considering "Live 10" in that quote as "Live 10 Standard"), at least the link to said discussion.

Somebody downgrading to Live 10 Standard from Live 9 Suite, having all their Live 9 Suite projects opening in "demo mode" (no saving or export), then having to upgrade to Live 10 Suite, will spend $69 extra or more that they didn't need to spend, plus unnecessary annoyances.



I did write myself in the first comment "Maybe Live is not "ideal" for movie scoring, but it sure won't stop you from being a successful composer."

Seems people are thinking I made claims of "superiority" or "use Live and you will be successful" by listing "famous" composers that use Live?

I thought the context was clear, mentioned by OP ("Live... ...an outlier in the orchestral world").

I just provided some evidence, with sources, that Live is not such an outlier anymore.


Also, DP is shown in the Göransson vid I posted myself, PT in the Reznor vid, not like I was trying to hide they use those other DAWs and portray them as "loyal Live fanbois" or whatever ("brenneisen" seems to imply I was trying to mischaracterize those composers).
 
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