Studio Versus Ableton: Side by Side Comparison

DJ with mixer singing and playing music

​Every now and again there comes an entrant into any market that shakes up everything and has the "big guns" scrambling to keep their dominant positions due to the stiff competition. In the DAW (Digital Work Station) market, that entrant was Studio One DAW by Presonus.

It's easy to see why Studio One has become so popular; Presonus used an incredible amount of ingenuity, innovation and relied on some established concepts as well as razor-sharp attention to the smallest of details to produce one of the market's most well-rounded and very nearly complete digital work stations for people who need it.

Studio One, as beautifully constructed as it is, doesn't operate in a vacuum. It came into a digital work station market that was already occupied by big players such as Ableton which has been releasing update after update to ensure that it gives the customers exactly what they want. One of the best installations from Ableton is Ableton 10 Live which came a few years after the much-acclaimed Ableton 9.5 updates.

Like its fierce competitor, Ableton 10 Live gives you a myriad of options in an attempt to suit every single user. One such option is the fact that you can choose to buy the software in the Standard option which gives you 10GB of bundled sound or you could choose to buy the Suite version which gives you a whopping 70GB of bundled sound.

These two outstanding DAW software are not only beautifully designed and easy to use, but they are also quite reliable and jam-packed with delightful goodies that any music producer would love to experiment with at any given time. Let's take a quick look at how these two stack up against one another.

In this piece, we'll look at:

  • All the wonderful features that each DAW brings to the table
  • What updates both software have?
  • Who would best be suited for which software?
  • Which one should you consider buying?

At the end of it all, you will have a clearer picture of each DAW and hopefully, a clear direction in which to go.

Studio Versus Ableton 10 Live

The thing about Studio One and Ableton is that they are both very well rounded software that has seemingly left no room to grow. That's how good they both are, but as is the case with every software, there will need to be updates, and thankfully, the updates are more evolutionary than they are revolutionary. This means that, while you will get better stability and functionality, you won't get an entirely new system that needs to be learned from the ground up.

Studio One 4 update improved its workflow and made it easier for producers to program melodies and beats while Ableton 10 Live updates made it simpler, improved the workflow and resized the interface thus making it the simplest DAW to navigate in the market.

To appreciate what each one of these DAWs brings to the table, let's see how they stack up head to head against one another.

Studio One 4 Review

In less than a decade, Presonus has built their Studio One DAW into a formidable force in the digital work station market, and it doesn't seem as though they intend to stop. This is a fully professional sound production system that is perfectly suited for both instrumental and vocal music. One of their most iconic updates to date is their Studio One 4 which will be the focus of our discussion today.

What Does Studio One Bring to the Table?

  • It's a DAW that can work on both Mac and PC
  • It comes with Melodyne Essential 4 editor
  • 64-bit resolution (you get support for up to 384kHz audio)
  • It has an integrated mastering suite
  • Online cloud services
  • 37 effects
  • Unlimited instrument and audio tracks
  • 4 Note FX
  • It has AAF support which allows you to easily exchange files with most other DAWs
  • 5 instruments
  • System reqs: Win 7+, Intel Core Duo or AMD AthlonX2 4GB RAM (8 GB rec) for PC. Mac system requirements: OS10.11+, Intel® CoreTM 2 Duo processor, 4GB RAM

The update also offers you new features such as Impact XT, Chord Track, SampleOne XT and Patterns for melody and drum composition

Key Features of the Studio One 4 Digital Work Station (DAW)

  • Real-time "Harmonic Editing": This is Studio One 4's best new feature. You get the ability to edit polyphonic and monophonic MIDI tracks and audio. This means that you can automatically shift individual elements within the song to your defined key and chord progression.
  • New MIDI programming systems: Studio One 4 goes further to introduce two MIDI programming systems that cover Patterns and Drum Editor. The Drum Editor will be of particular interest to many as it essentially acts as a percussion alternative to a piano.
  • Impact XT: This is yet another wonderful addition that can be used to program beats in the new Pattern Mode and in the Drum Editor.

There are also a lot of other enhancements such as the ARA 2 support, track notepad, AAF and song data import capabilities but the Studio One 4 is mainly about the new MIDI editors, real-time Harmonic Editing and the XT instruments.

Pros and Cons of Studio One 4 DAW


  • The real-time Harmonic Editing is highly useful
  • The Drum Editor is an absolute joy to use
  • The new Patterns are impressive
  • The new Sample One XT and Impact XT and outstanding upgrades

  • The One-window interface is rather hectic
  • You can't tie notes when in Patterns

All in all, Studio One 4 DAW has received some serious upgrades that make it one of the best DAWs on the market today. For its price, you are certainly getting a good deal.

Ableton Live 10  Review

Ableton Live has received praises as the one digital work station that isn't afraid to do it all! For years now, Ableton has been a leader in the market, and it's Ableton Live 10 upgrade is a wonderful addition to that long-standing tradition of excellence. So, what exactly does this track-based DAW bring to the table?

What Does Ableton Live 10 Bring to the Table?

  • It comes with a Wavetable synthesizer that not only sounds good but looks good too especially when you have it in full-screen
  • Push has a brand new melodic step sequencer
  • It comes with a revamped Live Pack content that allows for handling directly from your Browser
  • It has a "Capture" feature that recalls the last MIDI phrase you were playing before you record
  • Max for Live is now fully integrated which means that you don't need separate installation nor startup. Plus, you get better performance
  • You now get multiple clip editing
  • It comes with "Push 2 integration." The MIDI notes are now viewable on the Push display
  • You can now create groups within groups

Key Features of the Ableton Live 10 Digital Work Station (DAW)

Beautiful User Interface and Workflow: While the Ableton Live 10 has a vast number of upgrades including a shiny new device, the truth is that the one thing that will stand out for most avid users is the new UI and efficient workflow that comes with the upgrades. These upgrades include an outstanding "Capture" function which can help you create a MIDI clip of everything you've recently played.

Groups within Groups capability: It can be argued that this function should have already been there from the start, but thankfully, it's there now, and you can have full access to the groups as well as their contents right from the browser.

Cleaner look: By hiding the chooser menus and automation lanes, Ableton Live 10 now has a cleaner look, which means that there will be no more incidences of accidental automation changes.

Ableton Live 10 has a myriad of other upgrades such as MP3 and FLAC export capabilities; Chase MIDI notes; input/output naming; Livepack update notifications; Split stereo panning; automatic backup of 10 last saved set versions and many other little and extremely incremental upgrades that make this one of the best DAWs out there today.

Pros and Cons of Ableton Live 10 DAW


  • The new devices are a joy to use
  • Max for Live is now properly built into the system
  • The "Capture" function is life-changing
  • Suite has some seriously awesome sounds


  • No comping

While most of the new features are more "catch-up with the market" features as opposed to innovation, the Ableton Live 10 is definitely here to challenge the best of the best.

What Separates the Studio One from Ableton?

The real issue that you can pick between these two DAW giants is that Ableton Live 10 is playing catch-up with the industry as opposed to leading it. Studio One 4 is well designed, and the upgrades are outstanding. You can see why it might be the one to look at as far as innovation is concerned.

However, Ableton is a trusted brand and whatever upgrades the company makes is based on thorough market research and a pure intention to bring you exactly what you need as opposed to something new and shiny that could end up being superfluous.

So, which one should you choose? It all depends on your UI preferences. Both DAW systems are excellent and deliver exactly what they promise to deliver. It might come down to UI and pricing.

    About the author


    Click here to add a comment

    Leave a comment: