Which DAW has a top quality sound engine between Cubase and Ableton?
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Old 06-02-2010, 09:29 PM   #1
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Which DAW has a top quality sound engine between Cubase and Ableton?

Warm Greetings Audio Junkiez

I was recently working on my latest project and I chose Ableton Live as my main DAW and I realised that when Im using Ableton as a master (DAW) I can rewire Acid Pro,FL Studio and Reason, but I cant rewire Cubase as a slave. So I was wondering if this has got anything to do with the sound engines. Does that mean Cubase sound engine is better than Abletons sound engine? Im more worried about the sound not the production.


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Old 06-02-2010, 09:47 PM   #2
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Re: Which DAW has a top quality sound engine between Cubase and Ableton?

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Warm Greetings Audio Junkiez

Does that mean Cubase sound engine is better than Abletons sound engine?

I would guess no, not at all. It doesn't necessarily say anything about the sound engine quality.

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Old 06-02-2010, 10:07 PM   #3
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Re: Which DAW has a top quality sound engine between Cubase and Ableton?

Thank you, Cirric, was fairly certain I could say this: that you can't slave one to the other may be by design (proprietary sw, after all) or that one of the DAW's is only structured to be a master, never a slave. I believe this is the case with Cubase, as it allows you to Rewire Reason and other DAWs into it. After all, the concept of ReWire was developed between Steinberg and PropellerHead's in the first place, to give both companies an edge.
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Old 06-03-2010, 07:13 PM   #4
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Re: Which DAW has a top quality sound engine between Cubase and Ableton?

Hey Guys thanx for clarifying that for me, your efforts are much appreciated. So I was wondering which one has got a better sound quality between the two DAWs?

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Old 06-04-2010, 01:20 AM   #5
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Re: Which DAW has a top quality sound engine between Cubase and Ableton?

Please that is as a much a matter of religion as anything else

Objective sound quality won't matter: they will produce the same quality output: it is 1's and 0's after all no matter what the sampling rate is.

Subjective sound quality it's the First Church of St Ableton of Live vs the Church of Cubase, not something I wish to delve into, because the debate tends to ignore the objective statement above.

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Old 06-04-2010, 03:41 AM   #6
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Re: Which DAW has a top quality sound engine between Cubase and Ableton?

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Objective sound quality won't matter: they will produce the same quality output: it is 1's and 0's after all no matter what the sampling rate is.
Shane
^^this..

it all depends on how eq..compress etc etc..generally treat the sounds... u can have a vinyl worthy track as well just on reason.. just saying

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Old 06-04-2010, 09:11 AM   #7
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Re: Which DAW has a top quality sound engine between Cubase and Ableton?

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Originally Posted by bandcoach View Post
Please that is as a much a matter of religion as anything else

Objective sound quality won't matter: they will produce the same quality output: it is 1's and 0's after all no matter what the sampling rate is.

Shane
So you mean if I take a sample and use an eq and compression, let's say I save the preset on the plugins and use it on the two DAWs will I get the same sound?

If not which one will sound better, the one from cubase or the one from ableton? This is all I need to know, and I'm more concerned on the sound not production.

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Old 06-04-2010, 09:57 AM   #8
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Re: Which DAW has a top quality sound engine between Cubase and Ableton?

I cannot tell you this because:
  • My setup is not the same as yours
  • I do not know which eq plugin you will use, nor how you will use it
  • I do not know which compressor plugin you will use, nor how you intend to use it
  • Most likely my monitors are different to yours and they will add colouration to what you hear anyway
  • Finally, the subjective element means that even if I could match all of the above, what I think (perceive) to be a better sound, you could very well disagree with.
That is the nature of perception: not that it is different for everyone (that is most likely true at some meaningful level), but that there is no way to objectively quantify differences in perception that lead to value judgements - I do not know what damage your hearing has sustained over your lifetime, so I cannot predict what you will add or subtract from a mix to compensate for it.

It is at the end a matter of personal opinion rather than objective fact as to which may sound better.

So, the only way for you to know is to do the test yourself, same audio, same presets, same plugins, same sampling rate for final mix, etc. Do a series of tests. Then listen to both versions in the car or at a friends or anywhere where you aren't using your day-to-day gear. Play them back randomly, so that you do not which is coming next and see if you can identify without looking at the track counter which is which. If you can then you will know which you prefer. If you can't then it doesn't matter.

I will not cast my opinion only to have it attacked by someone who has a different one and is unable to justify it beyond "it just sounds better you moron". Without an objective statement as to why, you are arguing in the area of religion, as I have said previously.

Shane

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Old 06-04-2010, 10:03 PM   #9
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Re: Which DAW has a top quality sound engine between Cubase and Ableton?

Thanx for the insight. You damn right we don't need people chizzling each other. Peace!!!

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Old 06-07-2010, 03:32 PM   #10
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Re: Which DAW has a top quality sound engine between Cubase and Ableton?

sound engines in all commercial daws are fine.

the only problem with ableton live is that quite a few people that are new to it do not realize that the warping feature is turned on by default so when they throw in audio clips they hear artifacts introduced by warping which in turn leads them to believe that live's sound engine is not up to par. turn warping off and no problem there. plugins in live are also very neutral and do not color the sound at all (except for eq3 which aims to emulate a traditional dj mixer eq and adds a bit of soft gain) which again could lead people to think live's sound engine isn't that great. use 3rd party plugs of your choice and that's not an issue any longer.

one thing to consider is whether you'd like bezier curves since live doesn't currently have them and is a big feature request from its users. perhaps a feature that turns others away from switching.

best of luck.
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Old 06-08-2010, 05:18 PM   #11
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Re: Which DAW has a top quality sound engine between Cubase and Ableton?

Cubase does! The reason Live is so light and handles so easily editing on the fly is that it does rounding off so a bit of compromise ...



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Old 06-09-2010, 08:18 PM   #12
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Re: Which DAW has a top quality sound engine between Cubase and Ableton?

i dont post on here very often and although i just had just spent the last hour writing a HUGE thread about this only to get logged out and lose it... i can say that there ARE definite measurable and factual differences in DAW applications but most people look for it in the wrong places and the myths keep spiraling out of control cause no one really knows what they are talking about.

Summing and audio engines and null tests have nothing to do with it. Any DAW can sum audio and it will null/sound the same, this is scientific fact. although contrary to popular belief the DAW's do in fact use different methods to calculate this sum, 99.9% of the time it will be identical and null to infinity which is irrefutable

the issues that cause real audible differences in DAW's has to do with the PDC (Plugin Delay Compensation), Real-Time Sample Rate Conversion, Pan Laws, etc... The automatic delay compensation found in most DAW's are all subject to fail (and WILL) under certain conditions but how well it's implemented will vary among all DAW's and this is where people are hearing alot of the differences. What this means in audible terms is that unreported latency will cause uncompensated shifts in audio data which can cause comb filtering, phasing, and basically overall lack of tightness, punch and clarity in a mixdown

In the case of Ableton live, since optimized for Live performance, you may have noticed that it utilizes a separate BUFFER setting for vsts that is unrelated to the audio buffer. By default this is set to "as audio buffer" which is essentially doubling the overall latency, this is because Ableton is designed to provide uninterrupted audio no matter how hard you push the application. It is widely known and documented on the Ableton forum that the Automatic Delay Compensation is quite buggy and there's a backlog of threads about this going back years. As stated earlier the separate VST buffering (which makes sense for playing live from a stability standpoint) adds unwanted additional latency where as other DAW's like cubase use a single ASIO buffer setting for the entire project. From my personal experience cubase has superior PDC to most other DAW's but even it is not 100% fail proof, no DAW is. 3rd party plugins can report incorrect latencies to the DAW and in this case manual compensation is the only way to maintain sample-accurate sync. However, Ableton specifically has more exaggerated issues with this when users try and treat it like a traditional DAW and pile on the tracks, plugins, and routing/sidechaining only to wonder why their tight groove has suddenly fallen apart and the sound has lost all clarity and punch. Of course this can be avoided by being careful when adding processing and making use of the freeze/flatten options to reduce latency and real-time processing, however this is not an ideal situation and kind of defeats the merits of Live's creative workflow in some ways. Everytime a new vst is added the overall PDC has to be recalculated and even then the previously reported latencies of certain plugins can change depending on a number of circumstances. The order and type of processing also matters, nonlinear things like compression, especially when dealing with side-chain routing or lookahead functions can make the PDC much more likely to fail depending on the types and amounts of processing going on in the rest of the chain and overall project. This is true for any DAW but they are certainly not created equal in this sense, not even close actually

Another issue in Ableton Live is that automation data is not and never has been delay compensated. there is a lengthy thread over on ableton.com right now where the company has actually come out and "apologized" for not making this more clear in the manual and they admit this is not an ideal situation for using LIVE as a studio DAW. The whole program is built around being able to play to an audience and have the knobs you turn and keys you play be heard by you and the audience in as tight of relationship to what you are doing in real-time. this comes at the expense of numerous other issues i wont get into but you can read the apologies of and explanations of the company here for yourself:

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As stated before, PDC can fail in other programs, maybe not just as easily, but certain conditions make it much more likely and obviously moreso in Ableton. Things really get tricky when you are dealing with routing, ESPECIALLY to nonlinear processes like sidechain compression and even more when the lookahead functions are enabled. People think they can just pile on as much as their computer can take, sidechain and all and have it play perfectly which is not a rational way of thinking. The Fl Studio manual is perhaps the best reference to these issues as they have only implemented Automatic PDC in version 9.1 and they clearly tell you how and why the PDC can fail and why they suggest manual compensation to maintain sample accurate sync in a project. Of course Ableton has always provided very academic and generalized information in their manuals and the result is years of continuing myths and opinions about the software which have nothing to do with the real issues and the factual realities of why programs DO sound different. Of course 60% of their market are teenagers who just want to DJ with it so it doesnt really matter. However im just sick of people getting flamed for honestly HEARING audible differences in the programs only to get bashed on the forums with unrelated information like null tests by computer geeks who dont know shit about digital audio

Of course there are other issues like aliasing and real time sample rate conversion (abletons is one of the worst). If you are serious about production it's best to test your tools and know their limitations, if you do this then you should be able to pull a great product out of any DAW software but it is unrealistic to think that they all operate the same. The point is to always trust your ears, even if it has gone out of style in the age of the internet and false myths. You dont need to know about this shit, there are plenty of artistic people i know who will swear Logic sounds better than Ableton to their death even if they dont really know the real issues and that's fine because their music still sounds amazing and most likely better the people who troll the internet with null tests while in the meantime not making any music!!!

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Old 06-18-2010, 05:04 PM   #13
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Re: Which DAW has a top quality sound engine between Cubase and Ableton?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bandcoach View Post
Please that is as a much a matter of religion as anything else

Objective sound quality won't matter: they will produce the same quality output: it is 1's and 0's after all no matter what the sampling rate is.

Subjective sound quality it's the First Church of St Ableton of Live vs the Church of Cubase, not something I wish to delve into, because the debate tends to ignore the objective statement above.

Shane

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Old 06-18-2010, 06:23 PM   #14
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Re: Which DAW has a top quality sound engine between Cubase and Ableton?

nopattern is super thumbs-up.

Also, you'd be a fool to think that different programs aren't gonna handle things a bti different from each other; unless they're built off the same engine they'll have been coded differently.

that doesn't mean that some are BETTER though, just different. It's like, is a Fender better than a gibson? Are destructos better than grind kings? Are blue pants better than red pants? No, just different.

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Old 06-18-2010, 06:57 PM   #15
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Re: Which DAW has a top quality sound engine between Cubase and Ableton?

alll zreoes and ones but don't say the same:
01110111 01101001 01101110 01101110 01100101 01110010
01101100 01101111 01110011 01100101 01110010
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Old 06-19-2010, 12:44 AM   #16
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Re: Which DAW has a top quality sound engine between Cubase and Ableton?

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Originally Posted by nopattern View Post
i dont post on here very often and although i just had just spent the last hour writing a HUGE thread about this only to get logged out and lose it... i can say that there ARE definite measurable and factual differences in DAW applications but most people look for it in the wrong places and the myths keep spiraling out of control cause no one really knows what they are talking about.

Summing and audio engines and null tests have nothing to do with it. Any DAW can sum audio and it will null/sound the same, this is scientific fact. although contrary to popular belief the DAW's do in fact use different methods to calculate this sum, 99.9% of the time it will be identical and null to infinity which is irrefutable

the issues that cause real audible differences in DAW's has to do with the PDC (Plugin Delay Compensation), Real-Time Sample Rate Conversion, Pan Laws, etc... The automatic delay compensation found in most DAW's are all subject to fail (and WILL) under certain conditions but how well it's implemented will vary among all DAW's and this is where people are hearing alot of the differences. What this means in audible terms is that unreported latency will cause uncompensated shifts in audio data which can cause comb filtering, phasing, and basically overall lack of tightness, punch and clarity in a mixdown
to sum it up: if your mix sounds worse in daw X then in daw y ,then its user error.
each daw has its pitfalls, be it the plugins, the way it sums, the way it handles the PDC or whatever the fuck it is but the point is this: all major daws audio engines sound the same. if you manage to produce two different sounds with the same settings then its, in practice, user error. in technical terms it is somewhat related to the way the plugins and all the other shit is programmed but if you cant manage to get something to sound the same on two different daws then its you who needs to practice, because as stated here, and elsewhere; all engines sounds the same. the output is the same. however your eq settings might not be the same on daw x and daw y because they might use different filter algorithms, but then again its you who need to practice.

what daw sounds the best?
the one you are most comfortable with.

it is only ones and zeros and when you have two identical files (the data represented, not two audibly identical files, as the human ear is very very easy to trick, mind you), then they sound the same. if you run them through a series of effect plugins and what have you then you might notice a difference and then its up to you to fix it by whatever means you wish.
but all major daws audio engines sounds the same.

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Old 06-19-2010, 12:52 AM   #17
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Re: Which DAW has a top quality sound engine between Cubase and Ableton?

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Originally Posted by nopattern View Post

In the case of Ableton live, since optimized for Live performance, you may have noticed that it utilizes a separate BUFFER setting for vsts that is unrelated to the audio buffer. By default this is set to "as audio buffer" which is essentially doubling the overall latency, this is because Ableton is designed to provide uninterrupted audio no matter how hard you push the application. It is widely known and documented on the Ableton forum that the Automatic Delay Compensation is quite buggy and there's a backlog of threads about this going back years. As stated earlier the separate VST buffering (which makes sense for playing live from a stability standpoint) adds unwanted additional latency where as other DAW's like cubase use a single ASIO buffer setting for the entire project. From my personal experience cubase has superior PDC to most other DAW's but even it is not 100% fail proof, no DAW is. 3rd party plugins can report incorrect latencies to the DAW and in this case manual compensation is the only way to maintain sample-accurate sync. However, Ableton specifically has more exaggerated issues with this when users try and treat it like a traditional DAW and pile on the tracks, plugins, and routing/sidechaining only to wonder why their tight groove has suddenly fallen apart and the sound has lost all clarity and punch. Of course this can be avoided by being careful when adding processing and making use of the freeze/flatten options to reduce latency and real-time processing, however this is not an ideal situation and kind of defeats the merits of Live's creative workflow in some ways. Everytime a new vst is added the overall PDC has to be recalculated and even then the previously reported latencies of certain plugins can change depending on a number of circumstances. The order and type of processing also matters, nonlinear things like compression, especially when dealing with side-chain routing or lookahead functions can make the PDC much more likely to fail depending on the types and amounts of processing going on in the rest of the chain and overall project. This is true for any DAW but they are certainly not created equal in this sense, not even close actually

Another issue in Ableton Live is that automation data is not and never has been delay compensated. there is a lengthy thread over on ableton.com right now where the company has actually come out and "apologized" for not making this more clear in the manual and they admit this is not an ideal situation for using LIVE as a studio DAW. The whole program is built around being able to play to an audience and have the knobs you turn and keys you play be heard by you and the audience in as tight of relationship to what you are doing in real-time. this comes at the expense of numerous other issues i wont get into but you can read the apologies of and explanations of the company here for yourself:

[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]

as for this, the man/woman makes valid points. i think it has to do though with the fact that live is first hand to be a: played live, and b: meant to be used with its own set of plugins firsthand.
it is very rare, if not to say completely unheard of, that users that are not using vst plugins have these problems. i am one of those, i never use vst plugins with live. i used too but now ive learned how to use lives own set of plugins and how to program racks properly and i dont even feel the need to use plugins, because lives native plugins pretty does everything i want with a couple of exceptions, which is easily worked around.
its like the stability issue live has been suffering from; you rarely hear users having shit tons of crashes if they are sticking with native devices. live uses a separate buffer for the plugins and it does have automatic delay compensation and when you pile them up it can cause trouble but the point is that live is constructed in a way so that you shouldnt even need to use many (if any) plugins at all. tbh i think the idea that live is having the option to use plugins is just lipservice to the fans. its modular approach to sound design make most plugins sort of obsolete.

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Old 06-19-2010, 12:53 AM   #18
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Re: Which DAW has a top quality sound engine between Cubase and Ableton?

and now with max for live, lives modular approach to sound design makes all vst plugins obsolete

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Old 06-21-2010, 10:23 PM   #19
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Re: Which DAW has a top quality sound engine between Cubase and Ableton?

this may be an old thread and i didnt read all the responses, but sometimes DAW's will treating panning differently and this results in different mix characteristics. I think they call it Pan Law or something like that.
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Old 06-21-2010, 11:42 PM   #20
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Re: Which DAW has a top quality sound engine between Cubase and Ableton?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kmfidm View Post
this may be an old thread and i didnt read all the responses, but sometimes DAW's will treating panning differently and this results in different mix characteristics. I think they call it Pan Law or something like that.
not that old.

And yes, the panning law does come into play on most DAWS. It is essentially what do you do about paired channels that are mixed in the center (in essence a summing law): do you
  • sum only,
  • sum and boost,
  • sum and average
  • sum and cut

Some DAWs, like cubase, allow you to set the panning law:
  • 0db
  • 3db
  • 6db
  • equal

And before tekkmo kicks in, the db in this case is relative to the signal in each channel, i.e. the DAWs channel 0db mark..

Shane

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