Ableton Live and DJ.Studio are two pieces of audio software with slightly different uses - although they can both be used for making a DJ set.
Ableton is designed for music production, with features enabling users to produce music from scratch.
While DJ.Studio is designed for the DJ mix creation process - making it easy and efficient.
As a DJ and mix creator, I previously used Ableton Live as my main software for creating mixes.
However, my workflow was revolutionized after discovering DJ.Studio and its unique new tools for DJs.
In this guide, you'll be taken through a detailed comparison of DJ.Studio and Ableton and you'll learn which is the best for your needs!
I'll also explain why I made the move to DJ.Studio, and why you should consider moving too!
TL;DR - DJ.Studio vs. Ableton Live#
DJs can now make mixes in a studio without mixing live - using audio software rather than decks.
Ableton Live innovated music production technology, but it is not ideal for DJing.
DJ.Studio takes concepts from DAWs and applies them to DJing software.
Ableton is better for music producers, DJ.Studio is better for DJs.
Studio DJing Overview - Why Compare These Programs?#
Ableton Live and DJ.Studio can be used for DJing - both taking a different approach compared to traditional live DJing.
Traditionally, the only way a DJ could create a mix was by recording through a decks and mixer setup - either vinyl turntables, CDJs, or a controller. However, recent developments in software have made it possible for people to make mixes using software alone - all with a mouse and keyboard.
Using the studio mixing method has several advantages over live DJing, although both techniques have their advantages.
Producing mixes in a studio with non-linear audio editing allows you to:
Not worry about making mistakes when recording live.
Speed up the mix creation process.
Tweak the mix in as much detail as you want.
Removes the need for 1:1 recording time, so mixes can be rendered in quicker than real time, without needing any manual attention.
Allows DJs to change their creative process and take advantage of additional software techniques.
These are just some of the advantages presented by the 'Studio DJ Method'...
What is Ableton Live?#
Ableton Live is a DAW or Digital Audio Workstation. This is a style of computer software that is used for audio editing tasks in a range of situations - but it's mostly geared towards music production.
Being over 20 years old, Ableton has seen a huge range of progression since its conception. It's used by electronic music producers all over the world and has produced countless hit records.
As a very fully featured piece of software, Ableton can perform basically any audio-related editing task you could imagine that revolves around the editing, manipulation, transformation, and production of audio.
Ableton Live is designed to facilitate the creation of audio from start to finish. Whether this is electronic music production or recording bands - Ableton Live gives you all the tools you need: from recording audio to editing, mixing, and mastering.
It's also a great tool for sound design and has enough features for a music producer to produce music without any other equipment.
One thing to note about Ableton Live, that sets it apart from other DAWs is its ability to be used as a live performance tool. Other DAWs, like FL Studio, ProTools, and Logic don't have all the features needed to work as a live performance tool.
What is DJ.Studio?#
DJ.Studio is a new piece of DJ software that is designed to be the DAW for DJs. This isn't a traditional DAW, nor is it traditional DJ software, but instead a mix of the two. This offers a completely new solution for DJs, mix lovers, podcast producers, and anybody else who wants to make a fully recorded mix.
You can see DJ studio as a piece of software that sits in between Ableton Live, and traditional DJ software like rekordbox.
While DJ.Studio doesn't have the capacity for full music production, like Ableton, it's also much closer to the toolset and workflow of a DAW when compared to traditional DJ software like rekordbox.
While the interface does look similar to DAWs like both FL Studio, Ableton, and Logic, it's designed for use by DJs to create full-length mixes using a timeline-based workflow.
This makes it arguably the most powerful tool for studio DJ mixing - even more so when you take into account the unique features it offers which are good for mix creation and building DJ mixes.
Ableton Live vs. DJ.Studio: The Detailed Comparison#
This section of the guide will give you a detailed comparison between these two pieces of software, looking at the range of different factors.
The features offered by Ableton Live and DJ.Studio are fairly contrasted, due to the intention behind the software.
While Ableton Live is designed for producing electronic music, DJ.Studio is intended to create DJ sets, so the feature set is different between the two.
There are several features that are common between the two programs, mostly revolving around giving users the ability to edit and manipulate audio, however, both have unique features too.
This is a list of features that both DJ.Studio and Ableton Live offers:
Cut, Copy, Paste audio
Create and automate effects, including reverb, delay, equalization, filters, and more
Export audio faster than real-time recording
Layer multiple tracks of audio together
Import audio from a wide range of sources and audio formats
Powerful project and library management features
Adjust the system settings to maximize CPU and system resources, allowing you to tweak the audio engine for the best performance
Adjust the BPM and playback speed of tracks
Add, change, and remove metadata information of audio files
Can be run on Windows and Mac operating systems
Regularly updated with new features and improvements
Ableton Live Features
Here are the unique features offered by Ableton Live:
Has all the tools you need to create your own music from scratch
Record audio clips and files using external audio inputs, like microphones, guitars, keyboards, and other audio devices
Use a piano roll to create MIDI, and use MIDI editing tools to create unique musical arrangements
Use external plug-ins to mix and master projects, as well as create sounds
Use virtual synthesizers and other instrumental simulations to create original audio, material, harmonies, melodies, chords, and more
It can be used as a live performance tool by triggering different clips of audio and manipulating effects in real time to create a live set.
Use MIDI controllers and MIDI keyboard products to record live real-time performances
It could be used to control hardware synthesizers and drum machines by using a MIDI output
Here are the unique features that DJ.Studio offers users:
Access powerful, harmonic analysis that automatically determines the key of every track imported into your library
Use the automix algorithm to quickly work out the best order of your playlist, based on harmonic mixing techniques, and beat matching. This proprietary algorithm is incredibly accurate and helps you to create perfectly harmonically, mixed DJ sets that flow seamlessly from track to track.
Connect directly to YouTube to create mixes from any YouTube video or track on YouTube music from directly within the software, allowing you to quickly create streamable mixes of your favorite songs without needing to buy them.
Use transition presets so you quickly switch between different types of transitions for each song.
Features an internal video creation engine, which allows you to create full-length videos using audio-reactive visuals, spectrums, text information, album covers, and track information. This means users can create full-length mixes from DJ.Studio, and then export them directly to YouTube with a cool hypnotic video.
Comes with a unique Carousel view editor, which makes it fun and easy to create and edit your DJ sets. This is also designed to work well on mobile and tablet devices.
Workflow Comparison: Step-By-Step#
Looking at the intended workflow behind these two programs offers a great insight into their differences and specializations.
By understanding the workflow, you will be able to see which type of program you need.
How To: Ableton Live Workflow#
These steps explain a typical workflow for Ableton Live users. Although, due to the diversity of Ableton Live, there are an infinite number of other workflows and processes that can be used.
I'll explain two types of workflow that can be offered by Ableton - one for music producers, and one for DJs:
Ableton Live Music Production Workflow:
If you want to produce music in Ableton Live, this is a typical workflow.
Download and install Ableton Live, and register an account.
Import audio clips you want to use. This could be anything from a drum loop to pre-recorded vocals, synths, live instruments, or soundscapes.
Start to arrange some kind of track using the samples you imported
Now, you can record additional layers using an audio interface - this could be things like a live guitar, vocals using a microphone, drum kits, or any other type of audio source you can imagine. Simply get your PC plugged into a mic or instrument, and Ableton is ready to record.
When all the elements of your track have been added to the session, it's time to add some effects and do some editing. Ableton lets you get really creative with effects, and combine them in any way possible. All effects have automatable parameters, meaning you can change how the effects perform over time.
Mixdown - When you are happy with the overall arrangement, it's time to perform a mixdown. Here, you set the relative volumes of all the different tracks in the mix, making sure that all instruments, vocals, and effects are well-balanced, and everything can be heard how you want it to. This is a complex skill that can take years to master.
When you are happy with the mix, you can put some additional effects on the master bus to complete the mastering process - typically involving norma. This is also very technical, but an essential stage of music production. Many professional musicians will pay for a separate mastering engineer to do this stage.
Exporting - The final stage of production is to export the finished tune. Here, the Ableton project is 'bounced down' to a single audio file, which can then be distributed online, burnt to CD, sent to a vinyl pressing factory, or sent wherever else the file needs to go.
Because Ableton Live can also be used as a live performance tool, it can be used in a range of other ways (which won't fit in this article)!
However, because you can use Ableton Live as a studio DJ mixing tool - I'll also explain how you can use it to make DJ sets. This also gives you a good comparison to the DJ.Studio workflow.
How to Make DJ Sets in Ableton Live:
Import the music you want to use in the mix.
If you want to mix harmonically, you'll need to use some additional key analysis software to work out the track's keys, and then spend a lot of time looking at a Camelot wheel to work out which tracks go well together - while also considering their BPMs. - This is hard and requires a lot of practice!
After you've worked out a good order, you can arrange the tracks on the timeline as desired. You will need to manually adjust the BPM for each track and the master timeline automation to make beat-matching possible. Then, you can line up the tracks in a beat-matched manner.
Now you can manually add some transitions - you'll need to use the automation features to do this.
Make some final tweaks to your mix - making sure the volumes are right, and adding any master effects and jingles.
Export - Use Ableton's export window to bounce the file and share it. Files can only be exported as wavs and mp3s.
This explains the basic Ableton Live DJ process. It can also be used to perform live DJ sets, although this takes a lot of preparation and isn't as effective as traditional live DJ software.
How To: DJ.Studio Workflow#
This section shows you the mix creation process in DJ.Studio, making the most of its smart AI features and powerful timeline editor.
Download and install DJ.Studio.
Launch the app, and register your account.
If you are already using any DJ software like rekordbox, Traktor, Serato, or others, you can connect these programs to the DJ.Studio app, allowing you to instantly access your libraries from these other programs.
Create a new mix - choosing either the 'Local File' mode, for using downloaded files, or the 'Online Mode' for mixing with YouTube videos and audio from YouTube music.
Now, it's time to import tracks into the playlist and library. In local file mode, you can drag and drop tracks from your computer into the software. In Online mode, you can use our YouTube or YouTube Music browser to search and find tracks or add entire playlists to your set.
Choose the tracks you want to use in a set and create your playlist.
Click Automix - DJ.Studio will now analyze the BPM and key of every track in the playlist, and work out the optimal order based on your preference of either Key or BPM. This will automatically harmonically mix your entire set list, making sure that keys are compatible as the mix moves from track to track. No brainpower or manual calculations are required!
You will now see your tracks arranged on the DJ.Studio timeline. Here, you can make any tweaks you like, including changing the order, moving the placement, cutting, copying, pasting, or looping sections, adding effects, automating parameters like EQ and filter, and more.
Next, it's time to use the transition editor. You are given a bunch of transition presets which let you quickly create and pick a fitting transition - also letting you stack up as many as you want simultaneously, which couldn't be achieved if you were mixing manually on decks. Then, you can switch over to the manual transition editor, which lets you draw in custom automation lines for each parameter, letting you create unique transitions.
When you are happy with transitions and the arrangement, make any last-minute fixes or tweaks, then move on to the next step!
Now, it's time to record and export your project. The recording system for DJ.Studio lets you export your audio to a range of locations, including YouTube, Mixcloud, or even as an Ableton Live multitrack set for further editing and recording. You can also export custom videos with audio-reactive visuals, which is explained in this blog - The Best Music Visualizer.
There you go!
You can see how DJ.Studio provides all the necessary editing tools to make full-length mixes - just like Ableton Live.
However, it is also kitted out with a bunch of unique features that have been designed specifically to make the DJing process much easier and more powerful.
The pricing Systems of these two software programs have some similarities but are largely different.
Ableton Live Pricing
Ableton Live comes in three different price points.
All of these are bought as a one-time payment and are not offered as a subscription.
Live Intro is $80 and has the least features.
Live 11 Standard is $350 and has around half the features of the full Suite version.
The fully featured edition is called the Ableton Live Suite version, which is around $600 and has the most features and tools.
You will need to pay for future updates after 2 years.
DJ.Studio has a slightly different pricing model.
It can either be bought as a monthly subscription, or as a one-off lifetime purchase which includes all updates and support for two years.
DJ.Studio also comes in two editions: Lite, and Pro.
These offer slightly different features set at different price points. The DJ.Studio Lite version is more affordable, with slightly more limited features – it costs $12 a month for the Lite subscription or $129 for the perpetual license.
Alternatively, the DJ.Studio Pro version has a full set of features that are designed to give professional DJs everything they need to get ahead of the game. You can see more about a comparison between these two versions here - DJ.Studio Version Comparison.
The Pro monthly subscription for DJ.Studio costs $29 a month, whereas the one-time perpetual license costs $299.
Note! The one-off purchasing price for these programs does not include free, lifetime, updates, forever, however, they both offer around two years of updates.
After this time, you have to pay a small fee to access the latest updates.
Here I'll explain the situations where each software is the best choice.
Ableton Live - The best for music production, sound design, long-form audio editing (e.g. podcasts, TV soundtracks, video games), and live performances.
DJ.Studio - The best for DJs looking to create mixes, radio show hosts, mix creators, playlist enjoyers, party hosts, event, fitness class instructors - essentially anybody who needs to make full-length DJ-style mixes, but doesn't want the effort of recording manually, or using mismatched software.
It's also worth noting that there is an advantage to owning both pieces of software - I do!
They complement each other well, and their strengths account for the other's weaknesses.
Personally, I use both programs.
I've been using Ableton Live for over a decade, and it is easily one of my favorite DAWs.
However, since I discovered DJ.Studio, I realized that Ableton Live didn't have all the tools and features that I needed when it came to quickly making DJ sets.
So now I actually use both pieces of software to produce my DJ sets.
I start off with DJ.Studio, by using its automix algorithm, and slick timeline editor to arrange the mix.
I find this saves a huge amount of time as the automix algorithm instantly finds the best order of my tracks in the playlist. So I don't have to worry about finding out all of the tracks' keys, and then working out a way where they can connect up easily and in a harmonic mixing way.
Then sometimes I'll export my DJ.Studio mix into Ableton Live to do some final editing. DJ.Studio has a built in Ableton export feature, which converts your set into an Ableton Live project file.
This stage mostly revolves around mastering and adding jingles and additional audio effects. Also, it allows me to use third-party plugins to enhance my mastering process to add an extra bit of shine and polish to my mix.
Although I hear that DJ.Studio will soon offer 3rd party plugin integration!
Ultimately, the best choice for you depends on your interests and needs.
I only use Ableton Live as I have years of experience using it. It has a very steep learning curve and if you are only wanting to make DJ sets, then learning how to use Ableton Live is a bit pointless because DJ.Studio does everything you need and is easier to use.
However, if you are already experienced with Ableton Live - adding DJ.Studio to your tool kit is a great option. If you're interested in making mixes and DJ sets, DJ.Studio offers a complimentary set of tools that goes hand-in-hand with the features of Ableton Live.
If you're only interested in music production and just want to learn to make music, and have no interest in teaching or creating DJ sets then Ableton Live is the best choice. DJ.Studio is designed for DJs rather than music producers, but Ableton Live is designed for music production.
Owning both apps provides the most versatile workflow.
However, if you are only looking for the basic uses - Ableton for music production, DJ.Studio for DJs!
Find out yourself and check out the free 14-day trial of DJ.Studio today-
FAQs About DJ.Studio vs Ableton
- Is Ableton good for DJs?
- What is a DJ studio?
- How do I record a DJ mix in Ableton?
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