Cubase vs. Live

20+ years broadcast TV post-super, dissatisfied home guitar/kb Logic user, looking for a more versatile DAW. In studio using a pimped out Mac Pro tower 18GB RAM, CUDA, etc. FC/Premiere, Mackie automated board, looking to produce music for our shows at home.

Currently in home trials with Cubase 7 and AB Live on a Macbook Pro running OS 9.1 with 2.4 GHz Intel Core i7, 8 GB 1333 MHz DDR3, AMD Radeon HD 6770M 1024 MB. Have Native Instruments NI Komplete 8, NI Machine, NI Guitar Rig, any advice on which DAW is more compatible with my setup? Any advice appreciated, thank you for taking the time!

Aloha m,

Wondering if scoring/notation is a main part of your workflow?
I too have tried AB but could not get around those issues.


Hey curteye,

No, scoring/notation is not a problem. I’m mainly concerned with my Native Instruments investment integration, spent too much $ on it already to abandon it now. Also, adding another DAW workflow, custom key command system into my brain may be an issue, ha!

Just want to make an informed decision.


hi, I think this would be more a decision about workflow than feature or integration with your NI plugins.
Both will offer compatibility with NI, maybe Ableton will offer a little more integration as you’ll be able to drag n drop audio from the arrangement window to your NI plugins, while cubase will require you to use a 3rd party software running alongside cubase (XML translator) if you want those drag n drops. Other than that you’ll be fine with both.

Cubase is a good all rounder, you can do everything with it and you’ll work in a more classic way, similar to Logic. Ableton offers that Session view workflow, very tweakable at a clip level and those macro controls and racks allows you to be very creative very easily. It is also more headed towards live performance, and have nice specific controllers for that. Also it is a little bit more headed towards electronic music, but you can produce everything with it.

In my opinion those are two of the best DAW, Cubase is similar to logic, protools, sonar, reaper, studio one, and is one of the best among them. Ableton is in a different category, so you should wonder what kind of workflow you want to make your decision. Also a few years ago Cubase was a little more efficient performance wise ragarding CPU, but I don’t know if it’s still true.

Cool, thanks for the thoughtful advice patcub, leaning towards Ableton now…



If you work a lot with loops, there is no better program than Ableton Live. Live also has stunning time stretching and transpose functions of audio files. you can edit audio files almost like midi files, stretch it, loop it ect… And all in realtime!! Also the build in FX with lots of presets are awesome. There is hardly a programm which you can work so creative with. Also you can “integrate” Ableton in Cubase with the rewire funktion, so Cubase is master and Ableton the Slave. Works really great, but you should have a faster computer for that
Nevertheless for classic mixing, and recording jobs I still prefer Cubase.

cheers, Bert

I have and use both Live Suite 9 and Cubase 7.5, and while I really like Live’s elegance and believe Ableton consistently comes up with some cool and innovative ideas, Cubase 7.5 is just a ridiculously full-featured product.

Also, until Cubase 7.5 came out, Live might have had the edge on Cubase in terms of ease of use when working with virtual instuments (like the Native Instruments stuff), but with Cubase 7.5 I think they’re on equal footing in terms of flexibility with plugins (and Cubase has always offered far more power and flexibility when working with external hardware instruments).

Also note that Live doesn’t support VST3, so its plugin compatibility isn’t 100%, at least not on Windows. I think all the NI plugins are covered, but numerous Antares and Waves plugins either aren’t supported at all or only offer limited functionality on Live, for example.