A lot of people ask me what my top DAW’s are. For me, I like to use different DAW’s for different tasks, and 3 DAW’s stand out because of the different benefits they provide me. And although I use all 3 of them, there is still one that I prefer above all. Let’s take a closer look at the top 3 DAW’s: Ableton Live Vs FL Studio Vs Pro Tools.
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In FL studio, the main problem I have, is there are too many windows and too much to keep track of. The key commands also feel very quirky, at least on the Mac version.
For music production, Ableton is the most intuitive and fastest DAW. I know a lot of people look at Ableton and say it’s too difficult, and that’s because of the look of it. It’s not the best-looking DAW. Personally, I’ve grown to like the look of Ableton. It looks very clean to me, but I can see why people would criticize it after using something like FL Studio that is very animated and smooth. Ableton can feel a bit sterile and cold, but I don’t mind that. For me, it’s about the music.
The workflow in Ableton is phenomenal. For warping, you drag in a loop. You’re chopping the loop. It just works fast. And when I open it, it’s just that main window. I don’t have a million things open all at once. I don’t have to mess around with resizing things.
Maybe I’m biased because Ableton is the DAW I’ve used the most and for the longest time. But for me, Ableton is still the fastest and most flexible. If you hit tab you can get between your mixer, your audio and you have clip view. I know a lot of people don’t care too much about clip view when they’re producing, for for live performances clip view is amazing. Ableton is the only DAW I’d use for live performing. Ableton is also great for integrating with external hardware. Recording audio and sound design is amazing too. There’s probably a lot of stuff I am miss, but Ableton is by far my top DAW.
FL Studio is an amazing DAW for making beats. I know you can record vocals in it, but personally this isn’t the DAW for me to do that. It just doesn’t have the workflow I prefer for recording vocals.
The first thing I like about FL Studio is its graphics. Everything is so smooth in this DAW. And it feels fun making beats in FL studio. The piano roll is so intuitive and smooth. I like how you can resize different images. It’s meant for that.
Drum programming in FL Studio is amazing. I love all the tools on the bottom bar to handle panning, timing, velocity in one area. You can make crazy drum patterns, and quickly. Channel Rack is also great. And then you can convert from channel rack to piano roll. Super smooth editing. With the timing features in channel rack, you can get crazy grooves. If you click in the boxes, it’s easy to be on the grid and since most Trap music nowadays is on the grid, it’s perfect for that. But if you want to get a little quirky with it, you can easily shift the notes around or shift the velocities and make something groove just from clicking in too.
It’s built for clicking. So, if you’re a clicker and not much of a piano player or finger drummer, FL Studio is perfect for that. Another thing about FL Studio that I love is the lifetime upgrades. You buy FL Studio once and you got that for life. I love that. It’s genius and I think that’s why they have so much of the market share.
Pro Tools is my go-to DAW for mixing. If I have a full song: the beat is done, the artist laid vocals down, and all I need to do is go in and mix, fine tune, and freshen it up; I use Pro Tools for that.
Most sound engineers use Pro Tools. So, when the time comes to move sessions back and forth, it’s really easy to do so. But that’s not the main reason. Typically, I’m doing the final product myself. So, if I’m working with another engineer or mastering engineer, it doesn’t matter if I’m using Ableton because I can just bounce the stems.
Here’s the deal with Pro Tools. If I want to take an effect and drag it across all the tracks, I hold down two keys, drag the plug in and it’s on every channel. Why doesn’t Ableton and FL Studio do that? It’s so amazing to bring one effect in ten instances with one click. Pro Tools is amazing for that.
Mixing effects and audio editing in Pro Tools is the best. Once I learned Pro Tools, after knowing Ableton, I went back into Pro Tools and I saw that Ableton was likely inspired by the workflow in Pro Tools. Pro Tools is the king of audio editing. With key commands, I can hit the A key and it will remove all the audio from that point and before. And with the S key, it’ll remove all the audio after the point where your cursors at.
Pro Tools has saved scenes. If I want to show a certain part of the song, I can hit a key command and go right to that part. It’s like a snapshot of wherever you want to go in your session. You don’t have to scroll around and do all this stuff. Pro Tools workflow is amazing for that kind of surgical editing.
Routing is incredible in Pro Tools. It’s so intuitive to me. Some people think it’s difficult, but it’s really simple. And in Pro Tools you can have several master channels.
What I don’t like about Pro Tools is its performance. The performance seems to be worse in some ways although it doesn’t crash like some other DAW’s. But, the way that the CPU handles audio, it tends to max out frequently. I have the most powerful MacBook Pro that you can buy and sometimes I’ll throw 40 tracks in Pro Tools with a couple plugins and it’s maxing out. This doesn’t happen for me in Ableton or other DAW’s.
Now, if you’re coming from something like Ableton or FL Studio, there is a bit of a learning curve, but it’s not as hard as I thought.
Ableton Live Vs FL Studio Vs Pro Tools: The Verdict
It’s important to weigh all the pros and cons of each DAW and see how they fit within your unique workflow. Ableton provides me a fast and creative workflow to make music. FL Studio is great when I want to have some fun making an effortless drum pattern. And Pro Tools is my go to for mixing and audio editing. What are your favorite DAW’s? Is it Ableton Live Vs FL Studio Vs Pro Tools, too? Let me know in the comments.