Ableton Live Audio Engine Quality

Hey, yes I know it’s a very speculative topic, but still…

I use Live since last 15 years, and more or less got used to it long time ago, especially for live gigs, quick beat / loop / techno oriented productions etc.

But still when I record or just monitor external instruments the sound quality changes DRAMATICALLY! Just sitting here right now with Live + RME combo and listening sequence from my modular thru Live, thru Reaper and compare it with direct monitoring signal thru RME.

Really notable difference! First, levels are not matched when listening thru Live (need -3db to match volumes… have no idea why! ), while listening thru Reaper has definitely same level as direct RME monitoring.

Next - Live definitely does something to the sound - attacks / transients sounds a bit “smoothed” and “blurred”, seems like there’s a bit of compression involved… And the whole feeling out of Live sound even before recording is like comparing 128kbps mp3 with Aif/Wav file. After recording the difference is even more notable. With Beat Warp mode it’s more or less accurate (with even more messed transients and “mp3” feeling ), other Warp modes sounds even more “experimental” : )

With Reaper there’s same thing happening after recording- the sound quality starts to degrade and something happens to it, but not while monitoring.

I read a lot of interviews with electronic artists I respect, lot of them work in Logic or Pro Tools and always say there’s a reason for that - sound quality! How the engine translates transients and work with “delays” / “time” aspects between different plugins / tracks.

So, I’m wondering what is your experience on that. What’s the deal with BitWig? Any interviews / opinions from respectable artists? I can put here a quote from ATOMtm / Uwe Schmidt:

“Probably the most important element of sound design to me has to do with the possibility of being “close to the sound”. In that sense, Protools is the most perfect environment to do so. Almost everything I do is related to timing, either in the sense of transients or frequencies. Over the years, I have developed a method of building sounds which appear to be “simple”, yet contain out of sometimes very complex arrangements of layers. In order to do that properly, the reproducing software has to be absolutely perfect in order to avoid phase- or other time-related problems. I had very disappointing experiences with other DAWs in the past, yet feel very safe in my current software surrounding. Those layered sounds I then often reduce down to single sounds again, and they are being swapped between the DAW and various other instruments. It’s something like “zipping” different sounds into one, often done multiple times. To maintain the integrity of the sound throughout the process, I find essential here.”

Of course I will continue to use Ableton, it’s very fast in some cases. I’ve seen Uwe / Atom also uses Live on stage, besides Pro Tools is his main tool… no problem here… But I’m not so sure if I want to continue record and prepare my samples in Live as well as do mix / master / compose.

Isn’t it too late to change DAW? : )