When it comes to choosing your DAW it’s like choosing your girlfriend or boyfriend..every individual is going to have their preferences!
John Lennon of the Beatles once said:
"I'm an artist, man, give me a tube and I'll get you something out of it."
At the end of the day, the end result is what matters and as a musician, it’s important to choose a DAW that suits your workflow. Now that we established that both options are great, let’s see which option is best for you!
When it comes to workflow FL and Ableton are two completely different beasts. If you are a DJ and love to make long mixes, Ableton is the KING. But if you love programming drums and love the drum machine sequencer flow, FL simply cannot be touched.
When it comes to the simplicity of workflow Ableton LIVE takes the edge, mainly due to its stripped-down look and very simplified overall feel. FL definitely takes the cake on the begging stages of the project, especially if you are making Hip-Hop Beats, the drum sequencer is just amazing. So if you love your drums, definitely be sure to check out FL.
When it comes to the tools provided, both DAWs have everything you need to make a hit record. In the beginning stages, there is absolutely no need for you to spend extra money on third-party plug-ins and both DAWs provide you with the essential effects as well as powerful instruments in order to get you going.
One thing to note: Max For Live gives you access to hundreds of exclusive custom plug-ins (Live Devices) as well as the tools to build your own. These can be MIDI and audio effects, audio and video synthesizers, 3D Jitter visuals, as well as tools that interact with the Live application itself, via the Live API.
This feature gives Abelton LIVE a massive advantage over FL and gives you endless possibilities. But if you are just starting out, this really makes no difference because FL has an endless amount of plug-in options in the box.
If you are planning to use your DAW for live shows, Ableton simply wins the battle. Over the years LIVE has become the go-to DAW for live shows and the competition is not even close. The stability and flow of Ableton in a concert setting are unmatched. So if you are planning to perform your music with the support of your DAW it might be best you start on Ableton from the get-go.
When it comes to online support as well as third-party educational resources, both DAWs are monsters! The popularity of FL and Ableton flood the internet with free tutorials as well as creative tips and tricks available online. Let’s just say, you will not be lost!
And when it comes to direct support both companies have been leaders in that department and will always offer a helping hand.
When it comes to price here is the main thing to look at. If you are on a budget, Intro and Mid Tear prices are a clear win with FL, but if you are going for the whole shebang, Ableton actually takes a bit of the edge. So if you plan on using a lot of third-party plugins it might be best you look into mid-tear FL and save some cash. But if you are going for the whole package Abelton is a great option! I do think that Max for LIVE gives Ableton the edge and flexibility to get more creative with plugins. But at the end of the day, they are all just tools!
It is very difficult to pick a winner so I am going to simply highlight a few features that both DAWs dominate in.
Audio Warping/Editing: When it comes to Audio Manipulation, Ableton simply takes the cake. So if you’re planning to do a lot of audio work/editing, Ableton is a clear winner, especially for time stretching.
Programming Beats: Especially if you are a Hip-Hop producer there is no way you have not heard of the FL's amazing drum sequencer…it’s simply the best.
So who is the clear winner if we have to choose one? The answer is much more difficult than you may think. The best thing to do is to download a demo and try both! They are both amazing and to tell you the truth I actually use both!!!
The key is to fall in love with your workspace, and for us musicians, our DAW is our office!