FL Studio Vs Ableton Live, a long-lasting topic in the music industry. Choosing the right tool is important and especially if you like certain features that a DAW or Digital Audio Workstation has to offer.
Whether you are starting out or you have already used a DAW, there are quite a few things you should consider before you make your purchase. End of the day, you are going to spend on your workstation and you obviously need to make it worth it.
When I was starting out, choosing the right DAW was pretty confusing and that is mainly due to the vast choices that are present in the market. Ableton Live and FL Studio are some of the most popular DAWs for EDM and Hip-Hop music.
FL Studio VS Ableton Live: Which is the best DAW?
There isn’t exactly a winner to this question, because they both have their own pros and cons. What works for one producer might not work for the other.
But, in this article, I will compare both of them for all of their notable and important features to get a good idea and at the end of the post, we will have a conclusion.
I started off with FL Studio and then from time to time, I use Ableton Live when I want to produce a track that I know would be comfortable for me to create in Ableton Live. When you understand the difference between the two software and have a slight idea about your direction of production, it will all make sense to you.
Here is the breakdown:
For a better understanding, let’s break this down in sections.
- User Interface/Workflow
- Learning Curve
- Song Writing
- Stock Sounds
- Audio Recording
- MIDI/Piano Roll
- Live Performance
- CPU Load
Before you start deciding the right DAW, make sure your system is supported by one of this software. If it doesn’t support your system you can easily skip certain parts of the guide.
Keep in mind, these tables show the compatibility of the latest versions only.
Image Line’s FL Studio wasn’t available for macOS until pretty recently as it was more of a Windows software. Their recent version does support macOS.
For the full system requirements from the official site, click here.
FL Studio wasn’t really stable on macOS but now it is it’s own standalone software and works perfectly fine on a macOS 64-bit.
Linux, on the other hand, isn’t compatible on its own but you could use an emulator. When I tried doing that it was kinda glitchy. Anyway, it’s better to use this software where it is intended to use.
Ableton Live supports pretty much only on a 64-Bit machine. The CPU load isn’t too high for Ableton Live but In my experience, I have found it to work seamlessly on a 64-Bit Machine as compared to FL Studio in 32-Bit.
Ableton Live 10 doesn’t support 32-bit but version 9 does support 32-Bit. If you only have a 32-bit machine then you could get a copy of Ableton Live 9.
If you do have a compatible machine but want to check the official Ableton Live System Compatibility Click here.
So, when we take a look at the versions and compatibility of FL Studio VS Ableton Live, one thing you should know is that FL Studio rolls out an update almost every month or two and whereas Ableton takes usually years before they roll out an update.
Do we have a winner?
Well, even though both of these DAW do support Windows and macOS. I will have to choose FL Studio since it supports VST plugins for 32-Bit and 64-Bit.
Especially if you like me and like to use a lot of third party plugins.
2. FL Studio VS Ableton Live: User Interface / Workflow
When you initially begin to use any DAW the speed and flexibility won’t be of a big deal but the more you start to produce these tiny little things play a huge role in your creation process.
What do I mean by that? You see, these creative tools need to be effective enough for you to make whatever you want. Creating automation and editing audio clips in both FL Studio and Ableton Live is quite different and varies in speed. Those tiny things will cost you time if you don’t find a way to figure it out.
You will know what I mean as you read more.
As you can see from the above GIF, the interface of FL Studio is very pretty to even look at and the way things can be organized. Making it one of the best DAW interfaces out there and the unique design and patterns are very helpful and user friendly once you get used to it.
The workflow can be quite different than the traditional DAW.
Keep in mind, even though the interface is perfectly designed in my opinion but it can easily get messed up when you have a huge number of tracks.
PROS: The design of the UI./UX is spectacular and easy to use. A wide range of tools available to organize and arrange your tracks and automation. Piano roll is the best in FL Studio.
CONS: Very easy to get messy when working with a huge number of tracks. Can be quite tricky to understand when you are just getting started with FL Studio.
Ableton Live is obviously built differently from FL Studio as it is also made for effective live performance. Ableton Live is pretty easy to learn from a beginner perspective and the effectiveness of shifting between screens is much smoother than FL Studio is a big highlight.
Certain tasks take few minutes to do in FL Studio and in Ableton Live it can be done in a few seconds. The automation is pretty fast and sampling in Ableton is super effective as compared to FL.
Ableton Live has sessions, scenes, and timelines and each one of them is easy to switch to. When it comes to sampling or audio editing, it feels much easier to do it in Ableton Live.
PROS: Very straightforward workflow and Extremely customizable. Very minimalistic, great for sampling and automation.
CONS: Does get complicated due to its complexity. It can be a little difficult at first to find the right tools that you are looking for.
Winner for FL Studio VS Ableton Live Workflow?
I have worked in both of these software but if I have to pick one then it has to be Ableton Live.
3. Learning Curve
When you are just getting started with working on a DAW. Whatever you pick will look confusing at first.. well, at least for me it was. Especially if you have never worked on any similar software.
FL Studio is by far one of the easiest industry standard DAW to learn. It looks pretty cool and very simple to understand as it’s kinda on the visual side.
I have spoken to many producers and they all agree and you might have even seen many young producers such as Martin Garrix starting their career with FL Studio when they were just a kid.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean Ableton Live is impossible to learn for a newbie but if you have to compare then yes, Ableton Live is pretty tricky at first to learn.
The whole workflow is really effective but not that easy to get your head around it. Mixers and routing features can all be quite confusing to understand.
FL Studio VS Ableton Live Learning Curve Winner?
Which one is easy to learn? Without a doubt, the easiest to learn for a newbie is FL Studio.
4. Song Writing
Well, this section is pretty much the most important one and both these DAW does have the capability for songwriting. This is a comparison and I will be picking the one that is the most easiest and comfortable to learn for the newbie.
FL Studio’s intuitive sequencer makes this process pretty smooth for the songwriting. You can literally create ideas and turn them into loops in just seconds.
Pattern’s and sequencer in FL is super easy to learn and with a few clicks, you will have your idea written down on the DAW.
Also, you can save a template which makes this process faster. Not every DAW has the exact workflow of songwriting as FL.
After you have written, let’s say a drum pattern in the sequencer it is really easy to get them into a chorus or a section.
Ableton Live has a little bit different way to write songs than FL but it’s very effective. You can use the session tab to arrange different combination to figure out what structure you want your song to be in.
You can sketch out the structure in a matter of few seconds in Ableton Live. Though you can easily create and put your ideas into the DAW, it does take some time to fully lay out your entire song as compared to FL Studio.
Winner for FL Studio VS Ableton Live: Songwriting?
Putting down your ideas quickly and turning them into working loops is easier in FL Studio.
5. Stock Sounds
Both the DAW comes with their own stock plugins and effects which are great depending on the sound and effect you are looking for.
If you aren’t happy with the stock plugins and effects there are a lot of third-party samples and plugins you can check out.
In this comparison, we will look at the top most or highest plan of what the both of them offers.
FL Studio’s synth can be a little over whelming when you first take a look at it and as some people call it “Cluttered”.
The plugins such as Fruity Reverb, Compressor, Gross Beat and EQ are some of the best ones out there in the industry.
If you are trying to produce EDM then these stock plugins are perfectly suited for you. Making your own sounds from these stock synths will take time initially.
The effects and synths in Ableton Live are astonishing and really simple yet very powerful. The problem is that it might get a little expensive if you are on a budget to get the high-end plugins.
Even though Ableton Live doesn’t match up to FL Studio in terms of quantity and price, it does contain everything you need if you get the highest package.
Because the stock synths in Ableton Live are easy and well organized, you won’t struggle trying to create your own sounds from scratch as compared to FL Studio.
Winner for Stock Plugins: FL Studio VS Ableton Live?
Considering mainly budget and complexity, it’s going to be a TIE between the both.
6. Audio Recording
Regardless of you trying to record a sample, instrument, or an entire vocal track for your song, the DAW needs to be capable of recording your tracks and should be seamless.
This is a great comparison as both of the DAW do support recording sounds and in their own style. Even if you just producing house music which usually doesn’t involve a lot of recording vocals or instruments, you still need the ability to do it.
In my opinion, both Ableton Live and FL Studio aren’t really up to the mark when it comes to audio recording as compared to logic pro or pro tools.
Only recently, FL has improved in the area of audio recording. Ever since they opened the door to record sounds there is still a long way to go when compared to other DAWs.
Recording audio in FL Studio can be done via two ways:
- Recording using Edison: Edison is a recording and audio editing tool that can record, edit and slice sounds. It loads itself as an effect to a mixer track and can either record or play from that.
- Recording directly on the track: You can arm a track to record and then hit record. This can get pretty messy and it isn’t very effective.
When it comes to audio recording, Ableton Live is much more equipped and on the easier side.
The ability to manipulate the recorded audio in Ableton Live stands out here. You can record in either on the arrangement view or the session view.
The Live Wrap feature helps in the seamless manipulation of sounds that are recorded. Skrillex uses Ableton Live and they pretty much do most of their sampling and sounds on it.
FL Studio VS Ableton Live: Audio Recording Winner?
Both of the DAWs will record of the same quality and that doesn’t differ. They both can record audio in their own ways.
Either of them are superior in audio recording. Pro Tools, Logic Pro and Cubase stands out.
But, Ableton Live’s recording stands out for me as compared to FL.
7. MIDI/Piano Roll
Both of the DAWs come with great support in terms of MIDI and piano roll. You can create melodies and chord progression very easily.
Each of their MIDI/Piano roll has their own style on how they work and configured.
FL Studio has the best Piano Roll and it”s very easy and looks really nice to create and edit your piano roll or MIDI Notes.
Configuring MIDI Hardware on the other hand might take a little messing around but achievable.
You can use a feature called “Dump Score Log” which will capture your keystrokes on your MIDI controller even if you haven’t been recording it.
With FL Studio, you don’t even need a MIDI Controller to write a big melody for it. You can write the entire thing using your mouse.
Ableton Live is also well equipped for MIDI hardware and controllers. Setting up MIDI is pretty easy to do.
Piano roll in Ableton Live isn’t that great as compared to FL. It can be a bit tricky at first to understand the piano roll.
Ableton Live has the “Capture MIDI” feature, which will remember your previously played notes even if you aren’t recording. This feature is especially helpful when you don’t want to lose your melody or ideas.
FL Studio VS Ableton Live MIDI/Piano Roll Winner?
They both have the features for MIDI and Piano Roll. For the winner:
MIDI: Ableton Live
Piano Roll: FL Studio
8. Live Performance
When it comes to Live Performance, as the name suggests “Ableton Live“ the DAW is specifically made for live performance and no other DAW actually has this feature.
One of the main reasons Ableton Live is very popular among DJ/Producers is the unique feature of Live Performance.
The Session View feature in Ableton Live is very intuitive and it allows you to manipulate and individually sample audio in real-time. Which is one of its kind.
Winner for FL Studio VS Ableton Live: Live Performance?
Without a doubt, Ableton Live is the best for live performances.
In any genre especially in HIP-HOP and EDM you will want to use automation for your tracks.
Automation is a very important feature when you are producing your tracks and in FL it might get pretty messy and can be time-consuming if there is a lot.
FL Studio comes with a variety of presets for automation. You can either use presets or you can draw your automation out.
When you create an automation clip-on FL Studio, it adds a separate automation track at the bottom and not below the respective track. You will need to manually create a new track under your selected track and then drag and place your automation clip below it.
In FL Studio automation can be time-consuming and can easily get cluttered. It’s not impossible but it does get challenging when the quantity or the complexity of your automation increases.
Ableton Live has an intelligent feature called Macros. This feature allows you to automate multiple things at once.
If you want to automate 3-4 effects at once, you can easily group them and automate them all in one go. One knob to control everything.
In Ableton Live, automation clips are created right under the track making it easier to organize. This saves times and keeps things looking neat.
Automation: FL Studio VS Ableton Live – Winner?
This one should go to Ableton Live for an effective automation.
10. CPU Load: FL Studio VS Ableton Live
Keeping an eye on the CPU Load is very important. You don’t want your DAW to crash while your producing and you can potentially lose your data.
Unfortunately, Both of the DAW aren’t very friendly or light on the CPU. FL Studio and Ableton Live them can get heavy on your CPU when you have a lot of tracks or plugins.
Ableton Live has a really helpful feature called “Freeze“. With the “Freeze” you can freeze a track and it renders the sound to save CPU.
CPU Load: FL Studio VS Ableton Live – Winner?
There are some ways to get CPU Load low on FL but the fact that Ableton Live supports the only 64bit and has the freeze feature, the winner is Ableton Live.
When it comes to price, you need to look at what FL Studio and Ableton Live offers for their different prices. Especially if you have a budget, it is wise to review both of their features and plans.
Also, it will be more helpful for you to try out their free trial before making a purchase.
Price Comparison for FL Studio VS Ableton Live:
|FL Studio||Ableton Live|
|FL Studio Fruity Edition – $99||Live 10 Intro – $79|
|FL Studio Producer Edition – $199||Live 10 Standard – $359|
|FL Studio Signature Bundle – $299||Live 10 Suite – $599|
|FL Studio All Plugins Edition – $499|
You can see the pricing here but also for more details you can take a look at their official website:
Price: FL Studio VS Ableton Live Winner?
The highest package of FL Studio is still cheaper than Ableton Live’s highest package.
Even if you are on a budget the most affordable option would be FL Studio.
When you buy any plan of FL Studio, you can lifetime updates and that means once you make a purchase you won’t have to pay again for any other upcoming versions of FL Studio.
So the obvious winner for the price is FL Studio.
Also Check Out: 7 Best Free Autotune/Pitch Correction Plugin
So, here we have the comparison and hopefully, you can make a decision, or at the least, you will be open to trying out the software before you make your purchase.
I really hope I helped. Keep in mind that with both of these tools, you’ll be able to make the same song and it all depends on the person behind the software and not the software itself.
Does it matter What DAW is better FL Studio VS Ableton Live?
It doesn’t really matter what is the best, they both have their own pros and cons. Whatever you do in one DAW can be replicated in one way or the other on the other DAW.
So, don’t think too much about the specifics. A mistake I made was overthinking this. Luckily, the free trial helped me.
I personally use both of this software and took me a while to get used to using the DAWs. There are a ton of tutorials on YouTube and a variety of resources for you to learn.
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