5 Best Alternatives to Ableton Live

Ableton Live is an outstanding DAW, but it’s far from the only option out there. Knowing how to use several of these to handle your audio needs can help you stay ahead of the game and ready for anything. There are a few excellent alternatives to explore. 

My name is Donovan, and I’ve spent thousands of hours working in Ableton Live. I also have years of experience working with several other DAWs and know through first-hand experience how they compare to one another. 

This post will highlight the best alternatives to Ableton Live. I’ll provide a bit of background on each option and tell you why you may or may not want to consider using it instead or in addition to Ableton. My goal is to help you find the best DAW for your needs.  

Let’s get started. 

The Best Alternatives to Ableton Live

Here are some solid alternatives to Ableton Live. Each DAW is a little different from one another, but all of them can help you create, record, edit, and mix audio. In my experience, everyone has a different preference as to which works best for their needs and application. 

I always think trying at least a few DAWs before deciding which option you’ll use extensively is a good idea. And even though I use one as my primary option (Logic Pro), I use Ableton for various situations as well. 

I’ve spent at least some time with all of the DAWs you’ll find here. By exploring them all, I figured out which I like to use the most. I recommend this method if you can do it because every producer or engineer has different preferences. 

1. Logic Pro

Image from Apple

Logic Pro is my go-to DAW for most situations, and I think it makes a great alternative to Ableton Live. It’s an easy-to-use option that is intuitive and has a user interface that makes sense to anyone with experience using Ableton Live. 

The arrangement view on Ableton and Logic looks very similar, and even though there are plenty of differences between the two, you can transfer skillsets between them quickly. That ease of use comes in handy when you are changing platforms. 

Logic Pro is probably a better option for recording live audio, while Ableton Live is better for making samples. This means that DJs will likely still like Ableton, although you can use Logic in a live setting as well. 

I think both platforms’ live instruments and MIDI sequencing features are pretty comparable, and you can access a large library of software instruments in both. Both of these can get you headed in a great creative direction and are high-level options.  

The full version of Logic Pro is also cheaper than the full version of Ableton Live, so Logic can be a better option for anyone on a budget. Logic only has one version, so you can’t really purchase a lower-price option. 

These are the two DAWs that I use the most currently, and I think they are both great. This is a good combination if you want to use multiple platforms for various purposes. You can’t really go wrong with either. 

Logic Pro is only available on Mac, so that’s a definite downside if you are a PC user. And there is no mobile version of it either. 

2. FL Studio

Image from Image-Line

FL Studio is another alternative to Ableton Live that’s worth exploring. I think this one is a good option for DJs and beat-makers who want a DAW with similar functionality and features to Ableton and don’t need as in-depth audio recording capabilities. 

That’s not to say you can’t record audio with FL Studio because you certainly can. But it’s typically better suited for similar purposes to Ableton than other recording-first options. FL is a very capable platform, no matter how you need or want to use it. 

FL Studio has a great user interface that makes the creation process a breeze. I like how you can easily set up various workflows in the DAW without needing to have too much experience using it. 

You also get access to many features and effects to help you build your tracks from the ground up. You can use software instruments, samples, or your own recordings to quickly and easily make beats. 

Another cool thing about FL Studio is that it comes with multi-language support. If you are not a native English speaker, you can change things up to get the DAW to work with a number of other languages rather than learn that as well. 

All the loops and samples in FL Studio are copyright-cleared, so you won’t need to worry about getting in trouble or owing royalties to use them. That’s a bonus if you plan on releasing or performing anything you create with it. 

3. Pro Tools 

Image from Avid

If you want access to professional-level audio recording capabilities, Pro Tools is an industry-standard option that rivals all the other DAWs in terms of performance and features. That makes it another good option to explore away from Ableton Live.

Pro Tools will allow you to quickly and easily record, edit, and mix audio of all kinds. You can also make beats, samples, and loops, but this isn’t as straightforward here as it is with Ableton Live. This one is more on the production end of things, for sure. 

One good thing about using Pro Tools is that a ton of other music industry professionals also use it. That means you can easily collaborate or share tracks with other people. This is obviously possible using different DAWs, too, but the seamless nature can be nice. 

Pro Tools is very well-designed and built for professionals, but it’s also relatively easy to use and approachable for beginners. The user interface is brightly colored and simple to navigate while still offering very high-end capabilities. 

The features and functions of this DAW are world-class, especially if you get the full version. You’ll have everything you need to create, mix, produce, and share complete audio recordings like a professional. 

There are also a very high number of plugins, software instruments, and other tools that you get access to while using Pro Tools. New options are released almost every month, which means you have an endless supply of creative inspiration at your disposal. 

Pro Tools is pretty expensive, but its professional-level capabilities make it very worth it, in my opinion. I still like Logic and Ableton a little better, but Pro Tools is right up there with the best of them. 

4. Reaper

Image from Reaper

If you are looking for a more affordable DAW than Ableton Live but still want access to high-end features and functions, be sure to check out Reaper. It’s a solid all-around DAW that has everything you need to record and produce well. 

Reaper is a lesser-known and not as widely used option compared to the Big Three I listed above. But it’s still worth looking into and can accomplish many of the same things as the others without leaving you overwhelmed. 

I like Reaper’s cross-platform functionality a lot. This will work on any Mac, Windows, or Linux system, meaning you don’t need to worry about compatibility issues. It’s also easy to figure out, which is a great bonus for beginners. 

The DAW comes with hundreds of studio-quality effects that can help you start building new tracks or mixing any projects you have in the works. It also has solid audio and MIDI routing capabilities with multichannel support. 

Reaper is compatible with most third-party plugins, which is essential if you want to expand its capabilities. This option doesn’t come with as many plugins in the box as the full versions of Ableton Live or Pro Tools. 

You also get free lifetime updates when you download Reaper, and these updates are coming out all the time. That means you won’t need to worry about dealing with bugs, glitches, or other issues that might appear for very long. 

5. Audacity

Audacity makes the list here because it’s another excellent alternative to Ableton Live, and it’s free. A highly functional DAW that won’t cost you a cent is worth exploring, and this one will have you covered in many ways. 

Audacity is a pretty simple and straightforward DAW that doesn’t come with many bells and whistles. But if you just need quick access to a recording and production tool without all the extras, it’s a top option all around. 

This option is more focused on audio recording than sampling and beat making, so that might be a downside for anyone used to working with Ableton. But it still delivers impressive quality audio capabilities for its free-to-use design. 

The user interface for Audacity is simple, making it a good option for beginners. On the other hand, it’s not as complex as the other options on the list, so it likely won’t have enough features for professionals. 

You can use most third-party plugins with Audacity, so you can customize it to your needs and expand its capabilities beyond the basic elements it comes with. It also works across platforms for easy collaborations and workflows with other people. 

I don’t really recommend Audacity for any professional purposes, but it can work really well for beginners who just need to start recording. It’s simple but still capable, and I think that goes a long way toward teaching you the basics of audio recording. 

Final Thoughts

All of the DAWs on this list make great alternatives to Ableton Live. Most of them have some sort of free trial, which is a great way to explore what they offer and how they function without needing to pay for them.

Ableton Live is a solid music creation tool, but it’s always good to explore other options. You never know when you might find something to expand your horizons and get you into a new zone. Sometimes, you just need a change of scenery. 

What’s your favorite DAW to work with other than Ableton Live? Let me know in the comments below.

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