Which DAW is better: Logic or Ableton?

Ableton 11 MIDI View

Being in a recorded music program, a never-ending debate that I hear all the time is which DAW (digital audio workstation) is better for music production, Ableton Live or Logic Pro X? On one side, you have Logic users, who are typically songwriters and instrumentalists, saying that they like the simplicity and coherence of Apple's Logic Pro X, while on the other side, you have Ableton users who swear by Ableton because of its great interface for live performances and better control over automation and sound design.

So who's right?

As someone who has been producing for many years, I can tell you that there are pros and cons to both, but ultimately, you should choose the one that you know how to use better.

Ever since the Logic 10.5 update, which added live loops and a UI similar to Ableton's session view, the two DAWs aren't that different in terms of functionality. Although I've never used Logic's session view, a lot of people were happy to see Apple finally implementing many of the best features from other DAWs including Ableton (session view and clips) and Pro Tools (slip editing). Apple also improved the Logic mobile app, allowing for better integration between your mobile device and your laptop. This means that now, you can use your iPad or iPhone as a controller for faders and knobs. I always recommend Logic for new producers because it's easy to learn and it's much cheaper than Ableton if you purchase Logic with the Apple Bundle for Education ($199).

On the other hand, Ableton is very good for certain types of producers, especially those in specializing in electronic music production. I love Ableton because it's really easy to create loops and improvise over them, which is my typical creative process. I can also sketch out ideas in session view without committing to them, which gives me more freedom to choose from different variations of a beat or melody when I'm arranging my song. I'm also a fan of Ableton's stock instruments, which include various vintage synthesizers, wacky samples and lush pads. In general, I think Ableton's presets sound much better than Apple's Loops. Although I had used Logic for most of my production career, I switched over to Ableton 11 because of the new features they added, including MPE compatibility and vocal takes, which were previously not available on Ableton 10. The only downside of Ableton 11 is that it's really expensive, even if you're upgrading from Ableton 10.

At the end of the day, I still use both DAWs depending on what I'm trying to do. If I'm recording tracks in a studio, I'll typically use Logic because it's easier to manage the I/O and signal flow. If I'm writing an ambient track or making a beat, I'll typically use Ableton because I can have more creative freedom and I find the new workflow quite refreshing for my inspiration.

However, both DAWs are still fairly complicated and confusing to learn. One of the biggest challenges for songwriters and music creators who are getting started is that the tools available require some sort of music background, whether it's knowing music theory, or knowing how to modify sounds using effects. It's difficult to translate ideas into actual songs, which is why many people get discouraged when their music doesn't sound the way they want it to. I believe that in order for music creation to be truly accessible to everyone, we will need new tools for musical expression and creativity that don't require a person to have any musical knowledge or background. Everyone has the ability to express themselves musically, they just need the right tools to do so. It's the same as how anyone can pick up a pen and paper, and start drawing even if they aren't considered an artist, and the same can be true with music.

As we move into more immersive experiences and more advanced human-computer interfacing, we'll begin to see more tools that allow for accessibility in music production and many other creative fields.

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