One question that gets asked by musicians and producers of all ages is whether or not Ableton is good for rock music.
While Pro Tools and Logic may have been the go-to DAWs for rock music for quite some time, Ableton Live 11’s bundle of new features makes it an excellent candidate for recording and producing rock genres.
To understand the ins and outs of what makes Ableton a good choice for rock musicians and producers, let’s dive in and explore the nuances of the DAW.
New Ableton Live 11 Features That Make It An Excellent Choice For Rock Music
While Ableton Live has always worked for just about any kind of music, there were some limitations that the software had for many generations that kept it from being a top choice for rock musicians and producers. Finally, Ableton has answered the prayers of many with new features that make recording rock music easier than ever.
Finally, Ableton has updated its software with take lanes, allowing vocalists, guitarists, bassists, and other instrumentalists to record multiple takes and choose only the best portions to craft the perfect take.
In the modern rock world, singers especially will use a process called comping to take bits and pieces of different vocal takes and comp them together in order to get the best line or word for each part. Up until Live 11, singers had to record different parts on completely different tracks, which filled up the sessions fairly quickly.
With new take lanes, very similar to playlists in Pro Tools, you can see and audition multiple takes during the tracking and editing process, making comping easier than ever.
Up until Live 11, editing live drums using Ableton software was a huge pain. With this new feature, users can now link together multiple tracks so that they can edit and move them around with a single click.
Having the ability to link your tracks together helps to keep everything in phase while recording, making sure that you’re not mixing and matching separate overhead takes with separate snare takes or separate kick takes with separate room takes.
You could also use this feature for editing bass DI and bass amp combos, guitar amp and room mic combos, and so much more!
One really neat feature is that you also have the ability to warp multiple tracks when they are linked together as well. You can edit drums, for example, perfectly to the grid, without having to go through and align every single track.
While it isn’t a new feature for Live, we thought we would touch on the fact that Ableton is great for multitrack recording. For whatever reason, people believe that Ableton does not have multitrack recording or that it is inferior to other DAWs like Pro Tools, Reaper, and Cubase when it comes to recording multiple takes live.
Similar to other DAWs, all you have to do is arm multiple tracks with different inputs to record. Once you have them armed and ready to go, you can record full drum kits, horn sections, choirs, or whatever your heart desires.
A Few Other Rocking Features From Ableton
It should be known that Ableton comes with a stock guitar amp plugin, simply called “Amp.”
This amp plugin is surprisingly versatile too! It comes with the ability to select and customize different guitar cabinets and optimize the sound with various mics in custom positions. There are three main parameter controls on the amp, including tone, vibe, and character, allowing musicians to craft beautiful or dirt-ridden tones quickly without having to search for the right knob.
If you can’t record a physical amplifier at home or you don’t have any third-party virtual amp software, having this feature included in the Ableton bundle is very helpful.
Of course, one thing that Ableton is known for is programming virtual instruments. If you are producing rock music with programmed drums, then you’re in luck, as Ableton is one of the best tools for the job around.
With Ableton’s drum rack, you can easily build your own drum kit using your own samples, which can be incredibly helpful if you don’t have third-party drum programming software, such as Addictive Drums, Superior Drummer, or Slate.
Regardless of what you use, making realistic MIDI patterns in Ableton is incredibly easy. You can manipulate velocities, add swing, and humanize your drums by adding a number of timing variations to your patterns.
Popular Rock Albums Recorded In Ableton
For those who still don’t believe that Ableton is more than capable of handling rock music, here are a few popular rock and indie albums recorded using Ableton Live:
- Currents – Tame Impala
- Modern Vampires of the City – Vampire Weekend
- St. Catherine – Ducktails
- Salad Days – Mac DeMarco
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Best DAW For Rock Music?
For many years, Pro Tools has been the standard for recording rock music and is still one of the best DAWs to this day. The interface is set up very similarly to an old-school, analog console with inserts, sends, and complex routing, allowing you to record, edit, and mix large, live sessions with ease.
Pro Tools is also industry-standard, meaning just about every studio you record at or rock group that you work with will have or have an understanding of Pro Tools in some capacity.
With that said, there are plenty of other excellent choices for rock music, including Reaper, which is completely free, Logic, Cubase, Studio One, and, of course, Ableton.
Is Ableton Good For Recording Bands?
Absolutely! Ableton is 100% capable of recording multitrack audio at a professional level. Before Live 11, there were many DAWs that had far superior workflows when it came to recording audio, especially when it came to comping.
Now that Ableton has comping, it is just as capable as any DAW out there for band recording and editing, especially in the live realm.
Of course, if you are in need of custom or complex routing capabilities, such as custom monitoring feeds, for example, you may be better off going with a more capable DAW like Pro Tools.
Do Professionals Use Ableton?
Are there Grammy-winning albums made with Ableton? Absolutely! Are big artists around the world using Ableton in their live setups to trigger tracks? Yes! Does Ableton have a sound engine compatible with Pro Tools or Logic? 100%!
With stability, support, and tons of great updates, Ableton is an equally great option for professionals as it is for those just starting out.
Final Thoughts – Should I Use Ableton Live For Rock Music?
Ableton Live 11 is a top-notch DAW that is great for a variety of genres. With a new set of long-awaited features, we can now safely say that Ableton is just as good as any other DAW out there for rock music.
Beyond its recording abilities, Ableton is an excellent tool for songwriting. Users can easily lay down loops during the writing process to come up with new ideas on the fly, which can be very helpful for home producers working by themselves.
Overall, we think Ableton is a solid choice for anyone looking to write and record rock music. Don’t let any of your purist Pro Tools friends tell you otherwise!