Making music is a passion for many people and there are different software options that can help you do just that. In this article, we will compare Cubase vs Ableton Live to help you decide which music-producing software is right for you! Cubase and Ableton Live are both great options, but they have their own unique features that make them each appealing in different ways.
- The Face-off: Cubase Vs. Ableton Live
- Introduction To Cubase
- Introduction To Ableton Live
- Cubase Vs Ableton Live: The Main Comparison
- Differentiating Features of Cubase
- Recording & Mixing In Cubase
- Cons of Cubase
- Differentiating Features of Ableton Live
- Recording & Mixing In Ableton Live
- Cons of Ableton Live
- Cubase vs Ableton: Final Thoughts
- Which One Should You Choose?
The Face-off: Cubase Vs. Ableton Live
Before we get into the meat of this article, these quick key points might help you decide which software to choose – especially if you are looking for a quick answer:
- Ableton Live is more user-friendly and intuitive
- Ableton Live has more live functions
- Ableton Live is more flexible and can be used for other tasks besides music production (Ie. DJing and live events)
- Cubase has a larger range of plugins and sounds
- Cubase is more suited for those who want to really fine-tune their music production skills
Introduction To Cubase
Cubase is a music production software that was created by Steinberg in 1989. It is a DAW, or digital audio workstation, and is one of the most popular ones on the market. Cubase has been used to produce albums for some of the biggest names in the music industry, such as Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Kanye West and more.
Cubase is best suited for those who want to really fine-tune their music production skills. It has a large range of plugins and sounds, as well as many features that can be tweaked and customized to create the perfect soundscape for your song.
Cubase also offers video tutorials on its website, which can be very helpful for those just starting out in music production.
Overall, it is a very powerful piece of software that can be used for a wide range of tasks and is well-renowned in the music industry.
Introduction To Ableton Live
Ableton Live was created by Gerhard Behles and Robert Henke in 1999. It is also a DAW, but it has some unique features that make it stand out from Cubase and other software options.
Ableton Live is certainly more user-friendly and intuitive, which can be helpful for those who are just starting out in music production. It also has more live functions, which can be great for DJing or creating live events.
Overall, it is a very versatile piece of software that can be used for a variety of tasks beyond music production.
Cubase Vs Ableton Live: The Main Comparison
Now that we’ve introduced both Cubase and Ableton Live, let’s take a closer look at the main comparison between the two software options.
Cubase is more expensive than Ableton Live – it retails for $599 USD compared to Ableton Live’s $399 USD price tag.
Ease of Use
As mentioned before, Ableton Live is more user-friendly and intuitive than Cubase. Cubase has a steep learning curve for beginners, however, Steiberg address this by offering free video tutorials on their website.
Plugin Range and Sound Library
Cubase has a larger range of plugins and sounds than Ableton Live. This may be important to you if you want to have a wide variety of sounds to choose from when creating your music.
Ableton Live is more flexible than Cubase and can be used for almost anything audio-related.
Differentiating Features of Cubase
Now let's go deeper into the differentiating features of Cubase that might make it a better fit for you.
As we mentioned before, Cubase is very customizable and has many features that can be tweaked to get the perfect soundscape for your song. This may be important to you if you want to have complete control over every aspect of your music.
Cubase is also favored by plugin developers, as it offers more flexibility and opportunity for development than other DAWs. If you are a plugin developer or want to get into developing plugins, or trying out other producers plugins and open-source projects, Cubase is the better option.
Cubase also supports VSTs (Virtual Studio Technology), these are virtual instruments and effects that can be used in your music production. If you want to use third-party plugins in Cubase, they will need to be VST compatible.
Different Versions To Choose From
There are five different Cubase versions to choose from, which gives you more flexibility in terms of what features you need and don’t need:
- Cubase Elements
- Cubase Artist
- Cubase Pro
- Cubase AI
- Cubase LE
Cubase Elements is the most basic version and is great for those just starting out, while Cubase Pro is the most advanced option with all the bells and whistles. Cubase AI is a mid-level version that has some features of Cubase Pro, but is cheaper. You can check their feature comparison table to figure out which is best for your budget.
Recording & Mixing In Cubase
Recording and mixing in Cubase is a very streamlined process and the software’s interface is easy to navigate. You can easily record your audio tracks, edit them, and mix them down into a finished product.
I find that Cubase is great for more advanced audio editing and mixing tasks, as it offers a lot of control over the soundscape. If you are looking to do detailed editing and mix your tracks down to a high level of quality, Cubase is the better option.
Cons of Cubase
I would generally say the price. However, this is not so much an issue anymore, as they make multiple versions now so that everybody can have access to the software. So instead, some cons may be that:
- Cubase is not as user-friendly and has a higher learning curve than some of the other software out there.
- Cubase does not have the same live functions that Ableton Live has.
Differentiating Features of Ableton Live
Some of the best features of Ableton Live are:
The Session View is one of the most unique and popular aspects of Ableton Live. It allows you to create and edit musical ideas in a more spontaneous way, as opposed to the traditional timeline-based approach that Cubase takes. This can be great for live performances or jamming with other musicians.
The Arrangement View is very similar to Cubase’s approach, but it has been refined and improved over the years. It is great for more traditional music production workflows.
Ableton Live’s non-destructive editing is another major plus. This means that you can edit your audio and MIDI files without having to worry about permanently altering the original track.
Another great feature of Ableton Live is its live looping capabilities. This allows you to create loops on the fly and layer them up for interesting textures and rhythms.
Recording & Mixing In Ableton Live
Recording in Ableton Live is also a breeze, as it integrates seamlessly with your session view. You can record either audio or MIDI tracks live and have them automatically sync to the tempo of your song.
Mixing in Ableton Live is also very intuitive and easy to use. You can easily control all of your channels and effects from one central location.
Cons of Ableton Live
Cubase vs Ableton: Final Thoughts
Both of these software offer premium functionality and are great for music production. Cubase is more geared towards advanced audio editing and mixing, while Ableton Live has more unique features that make it stand out from the rest.
Ultimately, the decision of which software to choose comes down to your own personal preferences and workflow. They both work on both OSX and Windows, so you can’t go wrong either way. Cubase is a little more expensive, but it definitely offers more features for your money.
Which One Should You Choose?
Consider the learning curve. All new software will have a learning curve, and depending on what experience you have with similar software, this can take more or less time.
If you have the time to dedicate to mastering Cubase and watching the Youtube videos and company tutorials, it is a more powerful software with greater control over your music production.
Many music producers recommend Cubase for its quality and range of plugins.
However, if you are looking for something that is more user-friendly and easy to get started with, and you plan on using the software as a DJ etc. Ableton Live may be the better option. It’s versatile enough to be used for a variety of tasks and is just as well-renowned in the music industry.
Wanna Skip The Trash-Beats Stage And Skip To Being A Great Producer & Engineer? 😏
Whatever DAW you pick, be sure to watch all of the lessons offered for free – make the most of that information so you can cut down on your learning curve and get right to work.
If you really wanna kickstart your DAW learning and skills even further; I highly suggest checking out Timbaland's Masterclass! It is like being mentored by the best in the game and having him right there in the studio with you giving you his tips!
You will learn everything from how he uses different types of software, to advanced mixing techniques, sound selection, and more. I cannot recommend it enough!