Ableton live vs logic pro for mixing indie music?

No Gravatar

So I’ve got an Ableton live that comes with the M-Audio 410 firewire that we use to record and experiment with the music, playing with the drum beats, adding strings, back-up voice overs. All in hope of getting the right kind of feel for the song.

Since i’m using the Ableton Live “lite” version, there are many limitations currently faced:

  1. being able to record only 4 audio and 4 midi layers
  2. having a scarce number of samples
  3. can’t configure many of the effects for the existing layers
  4. can’t add more than one effect on a layer

Getting a bit more serious about recording, mixing and experimenting with other musical instruments, we are in need to either get the full version of Ableton live 7 (US$499), or find another platform that can do it better. So far, Ableton Live 7 is renown for it’s easy interface and many shortcut keys that help you execute commands with a touch of your keyboard. (especially when you’re doing a Live performance like a deejay)

My friend, Chee wee (who owns a recording studio Backbeats), told me about “Logic pro”, which has like got 49 GIG of samples that i can work with! That’s tons of resources for a single program!

Other pros and cons about Logic Pro are:

  1. 49 Gig of samples and effects
  2. Industry standard in many of the studios. That way you can easily bring your ‘Logic Pro’ files over to the studio to continue mixing.

But, with all the pluses that Logic Pro has, there is one basic “flaw” to me. It’s software is only for a Mac. Since i’m a PC user and don’t own a Mac, my investment for this software must include a Powerbook or a Macbook ($1788+++), that’s not including the cost of Logic Pro (US$499).

So both have the same price-tag of US$499, LP is an industry standard for recording studios while Live has an easy interface that give your flexibility when performing live. For LP, I’ve got to get a Mac first so I’m leaning more towards Live. And since I’ve already been through the Live learning curve, I’m going to stick to it.

If anyone of you know of other softwares that might be more suitable, comment and let me know! If not..

It’s gonna be LIVE

11 Responses to “Ableton live vs logic pro for mixing indie music?”

  • Live comes with a pretty solid collection of samples and instruments, too, if you get the Suite version. Also, right now Ableton has everything (including upgrades) on sale for 25% off. At that price, you might as well upgrade Live now and see how far it will take you.

    I have and use both, though, and I have to say I strongly prefer Logic for composing and producing. Live is designed to be great for performance, but Logic is designed to be great for recording, composing, mastering, and releasing music.

    Also, the instruments in the box with Logic are phenomenal. Not only do you get samples, you get modelling instruments that cover organs, electric pianos, clavinets, drum machines, analog synths, FM synths, and more. Yes, the extra cost of getting Mac hardware is significant, but when you compare it to the cost of buying a Nord Wave, Nord Electro, and Nord Lead, it’s not so bad. The quality of the instruments you get in Logic are definitely in the same class as high-end hardware like Nord.

    More importantly, the effects you get inside Logic are phenomenal production tools. Stuff like the Space Designer reverb has no compare in Live. Again, it’s a difference of design philosophy: one is focused on recording an album, the other on performing a set.

    So go with an upgraded Live for now…definitely master what you know before jumping off to something else. But keep Logic in mind for your next big leap, because it’s got a LOT of power inside.

    Another alternative would be Cubase, which runs on Windows and has much the same design philosophy as Logic. It also has some value-add in the box, but not as much bang for the buck as Logic does. Worth considering.

  • Hey dean, I nearly lost you at “Live comes with…” it’s too much bingo-lingo over there.

    Anyway you do have a point about getting Logic for the purpose of recording an album (which I am) and since Low Intensity’s music isn’t going towards performing live with LIVE and a laptop, i do have to reconsider about getting LIVE right now.

    I was looking at the full suite that has all the bells and whistles but don’t really know how it’s samples would fair in a head on battle with LOGIC.

    Like what I wrote in the post, I’d prob still go ahead with LIVE since I’m already started skiing on the learning slope rather than starting from the foot in LOGIC.

    Meantime, I’ll do some research on Cubase. Yet no one really talks about Cubase. That can’t be good…

  • Hey man, I just found your site while researching Ableton Live. I am both a Logic Pro and ProTools user. I find Logic Pro to be a great songwriting tool while ProTools is a great recording tool. If you have friends who are able to play all your instruments live, then ProTools will work fine for you. I realize that’s not on your list, but I think it should be since it, and not Logic, is the industry standard. Since you have the FW410, which I also own, you can get the M-Powered version of Protools for around 300 dollars. It’s not great, but you can take your Protools project to any studio in the world, and they’ll be able to mix your project. If you want to take Logic, Cubase, Ableton or Sonar project anywhere else, you’ll first have to bounce each individual track as a WAV or AIF format. BTW…you can do a lot with a FW410. I’ve recorded almost all my live instrument tracks with it, including movie soundtrack work. The quality is very good for the money.

    If you are looking to heavily use a MIDI trigger for samples (ie. you can’t afford a drummer, so you’re going to use drum samples), Logic’s built in library is a ridiculously good value for the price. Logic also has, as was mentioned above, fantastic mixing tools. Space Designer is my favorite software reverb unit, and some of the analog synths are great. I use to work at, then ended up running, a small studio, and I would write and record instruments in Logic, record the artist on Protools (since all the nice gear was hooked up to Protools and my Logic key was personal), and then bring the project back home to mix in Logic. It’s a convoluted path, but it’s what I found worked the best between the two software titles.

    Ableton Live, especially in its latest iteration, seems like a powerful application. I don’t have any experience with it, but all the material I read about it expounds its virtues as a tool for live performance. No doubt, it has great recording and mixing abilities but, for the money, Logic is built straight up for complete audio production. I do not have experience in Cubase, but at least two of my colleagues run successful small studio businesses with it and at least one was previously a Logic user (back when it was also available on PC).

    I don’t want to spam your site with personal links, but I run a website called Key of Grey that talks about these types of issues and you can easily find some information that might help you. Click on the Featured Articles button to skip to my editorials and advice. Let me tell you something I learned…people who like Logic can be crazy lol. I caught so much crap when I suggested that I might even try Protools 8 even though I’m a Logic user. Anyways, I realize you wrote this article a couple months ago, but I hope I was still useful. Good luck with your recording! Oh, and if you’re worried about having to buy a Mac, you can always build a Hackintosh on the cheap.

  • Whoa!

    Thanks for the comment Sean, and I’ll definitely check out your site for more ableton-pro info.

  • Talking about Logic, there is also Logic Express version for half the price, it just lacks few plugins and support for some very expensive studio hardware - and it still has more features than you can ever explore.

  • Yo Jakub! (is that kinda like Jacob in another lang?) Thanks for the input man, heard that guys that are looking for Logic but don’t really wanna deep fry your wallet, there’s a Logic Express! I might just check that out.

    Any idea where you can get it from?

  • @Jason Ho: You can get Logic Express off the Apple website directly. Both Logic Studio and Express are available with heavy educational discounts I believe. So if you are a student, or know someone who’s a student, you can definitely get a good deal.

    I will be frank though, Logic Express isn’t nearly as good a value proposition as Logic Studio. The reason why is that Logic Express has very few plug-ins or sample content. Basically Logic Express only allows you to record your music; there isn’t much in the way of professional mixing or effects plugins. It’s barely a step up from Garageband. If you are looking for cheap solutions to just record music, I would suggest looking at Reaper which can be had for very little money. If you’re serious though, you should take the plunge with Protools 8, or Logic Studio (using a student discount of course). I was trying to get manufacturers to send me review versions of software so I could run a Protools/Cubase/Ableton/Logic comparison, but they weren’t too receptive to the idea. When Ableton 8 comes out, I’ll probably buy it and do a review on it though. Cheers!

  • Hey again Sean from! Must say you’re quite the know-alot-of-deep-stuff in terms of music editing tools! About Logic express, sounds like it doesn’t make too much an impact for editing. Maybe Jakub could have a go at this interesting mental sparring of minds.

    By the way, which program do you use for editing music?

  • I must disagree with Sean in this point (but I like Keyofgrey!). Logic Express is GREAT step from GarageBand - originally I wanted just to expand GB with some better drum machine, then I have found that for bit more money (compared to iDrum) I may get Logic Express with amazing Ultrabeat drums, EXS sampler, lots of plugins etc.
    Difference between Studio and Express is surely huge for professionals, but for “hobby” musicians like me Express is far more than enough.
    For brief comaparasion between LS and LE see

  • @jakub : I’ll amend my previous statement; I made the comparison without realizing that Logic Express 8 had more features than the previous versions of Logic Express that I was familiar with. It offers much better value now.

    However, I still feel that Logic Studio is better overall value (even at more than double the price), given all the stuff and flexibility it offers. But if you don’t really need the flexibility or extras, Logic Express will work better for you (since it’s more streamlined) and will be cheaper.

    In all fairness, I still use Garageband sometimes (although not to mix), so you can still make great music with limited tools.

  • Hey guys, I’m have been going back and forth on which software to get to record an album. Logic Pro vs. Live 8 Suite. Or Logic Express vs. Live 8 or Live 7LE. I like how Live lets you group your tracks into scenes. Can Logic do anything to make exploring different arrangements of a song easily without sliding tracks around and making umpteen versions of the same song?

    Thanks for your help,


Leave a Reply