SOUND QUALITY COMPARISON, Live versus Logic

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
esky
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Re: SOUND QUALITY COMPARISON, Live versus Logic

Post by esky » Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:48 am

Thank you Tarekith for this test. Interesting. Before 2007 i worked with Logic for 12 years, than i switched to a Win/Live setup, since a month i'm back with a Logic/iMac combination. So i spent a lot of my lifetime with both DAWs and to my ears the difference is huge. But i'm affraid you won't cover it with some audiofiles playing together. In Logic i can add and add instruments, effects, audiotracks, whatever i like, i can easily keep the mix transparent and clear. I will always find little spots to put my signals in. In Live things get messed up in an early stage. Timing is sluggy, especially with lots of midi stuff internal and external going on. I don't have an idea why that is, i'm a musician and producer, not a computer specialist. I still use Live in rewire mode with Logic, a perfect combination for me. Just my 2 cents...

anybody human
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Re: SOUND QUALITY COMPARISON, Live versus Logic

Post by anybody human » Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:34 pm

pencilrocket wrote:This forum got behind years. I'm surprised to see many noobs in this forum still believe difference of the daws' sound. I'm in Galapagos island now .
From what I understand, DAWs do sound slightly different. Digital summing & plug in delay compensation are handled differently. How big a deal this is is subjective. I'm not overly concerned about digital summing because eventually I'd like to sum analog anyway. PDC is something they could look at, as has been noted.

I remember Sound On Sound discussing this on a podcast because it's a FAQ, and they noted how many things are more consequential to the sound of your mixes (interface, room treatment, monitors, and on and on). I think this is what you're referring to.

Thanks for doing this comparison Tarekith. Always interested in your thoughts on all things audio.

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Re: SOUND QUALITY COMPARISON, Live versus Logic

Post by Tarekith » Tue Dec 06, 2011 6:06 pm

The following was added to my original blog post this morning, but I'll add it here so people don't have to go back to my site to read it:

Well, it took awhile but the flood gates have opened about my Live versus Logic sound quality test that I just posted. Some people have raised some good points about ways I could have modified the test to include other parameters, so I've gone back and done a few things differently as sort of a round two. I also wanted to clarify a few questions that seem to keep popping up on different forums again and again.

First and foremost though, I wish people would have not just skimmed the article and actually read my conclusions. I am NOT saying that Live and Logic ALWAYS sound the same. The point of this test was to isolate one specific area for comparison, and show how at the core, the way these two programs combine multiple audio tracks into a stereo wav file is the same. That's it.

Like I stated in the original post, there's a LOT of other areas where there will likely be difference in sound quality. Instead of getting mad at me for not doing all the work for you, it would be great if people instead tested some of this on their own and said "hey look, here's one area where I can reliable show a difference in signals".


Anyway, here's some other things I looked at over the last day, and some clarifications on the test itself:

- A few people mentioned that they hear the differences most notably with recorded instruments. The guitar in this test was recorded live, it's a Parker Dragonfly using a combination of the piezo and mag pickups, through a Pod HD500 and then into an RME Fireface400.

- Some people have questioned whether the soundcard I use (see above) could have any impact on the signals in the test. Short answer is no, the soundcard doesn't factor in at all until after the DAW has done it's thing and that signal is trying to get out of your computer. Or if your song sucks, maybe the signal is ashamed and is trying to stay in your computer, I don't know.

- Other people wanted to know if perhaps the test would turn out differently if I use more than 9 audio tracks. So I duplicated the tracks in each DAW many times, and added some other random loops from my collection as well (to rule out it just being these audio files that this was happening with). In total, I used 80 stereo tracks, exported, and still got total cancellation when comparing the two.

- This last test was one of the most interesting. Someone had suggested using the same 3rd party plug ins in both DAWs, and seeing if that had any impact on whether or not they cancel (or sound). So I used a combination of Fabfilter Pro-L, DMG eQuality, Voxengo MSED and Polysquasher, and PSP Xenon, placed randomly across the different tracks (yet the same tracks in both DAWs). Some were placed one after the other in series on the same track, others were solo by themselves on a single track.

Interestingly, when I compared these two results, they did NOT cancel, barely at all in fact. As I dug into this some more, it seems that the Voxengo and PSP plugs were the primary cause, as once I removed these the signals almost cancelled. Summed they were inaudible, but I was still seeing some very small signal around -96dB on the Free-G meter. This gave me an AHA! moment though, when I realized this looked a lot like a dither signal. Sure enough, I had forgotten that I had dithering enabled by default in Pro-L. Once this was turned off, the two signals cancelled completely.

So, I'm really not sure what kind of conclusions one can draw at this point about this, other than some of the differences in this part of the test seemed to be down to the plug ins themselves. Perhaps they report their latency differently, or have some sort of random processing happening as part of the way they work internally, I really don't know.


Anyway, the long and short of all this is that all this testing was never meant to be a definitive statement about which DAW ultimately sounds better, or which people should prefer. I've gotten a lot of surprisingly hateful emails from people calling me an "Ableton Fan Boy" (is that an insult?) among many other not so nice things. At the end of the day yes, I do like Ableton Live for many things, but it's only one of many tools at my disposal.

For instance, when clients send me mixdowns to work on, I don't use Live unless they ask me to, I always reach for Logic first. It's faster for this type of work, has better automation functions, and quite frankly I like the way it's plug ins sound better and how quickly I can add an EQ to a channel if I need to. (far from perfect though, Logic has been buggy as shit since OSX Lion came out).

As always I'm sure people will draw their own conclusions no matter what I say, but I do ask that instead of sending me nasty emails or message, maybe try instead to offer something more constructive to the conversation than "You must have tomatos in your ears!".
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Warrior Bob
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Re: SOUND QUALITY COMPARISON, Live versus Logic

Post by Warrior Bob » Tue Dec 06, 2011 6:21 pm

Speaking as an avowed Live fanboy myself, I really appreciate you taking an objectivist approach to comparing certain properties of the different software. Partially because my own experience is very subjective, but also because you're a considerably better writer than I am :)

I confess I'm not surprised by the results, just because digital summing seems like something fairly absolute - I don't see how different algorithms or implementations would produce different results, as (as far as I know) they are literally adding numbers together for each sample.

I am surprised to hear that there's some kind of difference when certain plugins were added to the mix. In retrospect I suppose it makes sense (since there are differnet philosophies to delay compensation) but I hadn't thought about it.

Thanks as always!

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Re: SOUND QUALITY COMPARISON, Live versus Logic

Post by rekloos » Tue Dec 06, 2011 6:32 pm

if ur looking at it from a scientific point of view then yes, perhaps they are the same but when we create, and others listen, science takes a back seat- waaayy back! cause in the end our ears make the decision not our eyes.....
so yes, we create some guidelines, set both apps accordingly, and let computers do the testing. but, can we create something in logic, get it to sound a certain way then try to reproduce that in live? or viceversa? i think not, and that's really what i think it comes down to: real life application, that's what makes logic stand out.

i think we should just switch our focus from 'what is better' to 'how can i make it better'.
and my answer would be, use live for starting out, finish it in logic. i've done it plenty and it does make a difference, big enough for me and others to be noticed, but that's def not the rule.......
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Re: SOUND QUALITY COMPARISON, Live versus Logic

Post by Tarekith » Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:23 pm

rekloos wrote:cause in the end our ears make the decision not our eyes.....
In general I agree with you, but at the same time our ears are biased too. I'm sure a lot of people have seen this, but I want to point it out again:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYTlN6wjcvQ

I'll be the first to say that I don't always agree with Ethan Winer's comments in that video, and it's been proven many times that sometimes his understanding of digital audio can be a little.. lacking. But that does a really good job at showing how we can't always believe our ears, and that we can sometimes hear what we WANT to hear, and not what's really there. Worth a watch if you haven't seen that before.

Not to sound wishy washy, but I think anytime you talk about audio quality it's going to come down to some combination of provable scientific fact and emperical evidence. The problem is that many times people only focus on the emperical (what THEY can hear), and chose to ignore the scientific side of things.
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Re: SOUND QUALITY COMPARISON, Live versus Logic

Post by agent314 » Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:25 pm

Very nice writeup Tarekith, esp. the addendum.

When I read stuff like this though, I realize that no matter what the outcome, Live's still got me over a barrel since I prefer its workflow to any of the other major DAWs

In addition, if the only thing that's stopping your tracks from being amazing is some barely perceptible quirk of your DAW's audio engine, you have a very peculiar problem indeed :D

Parametex
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Re: SOUND QUALITY COMPARISON, Live versus Logic

Post by Parametex » Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:27 pm

Thanks for the test dude ... I have no idea how you have the strength to cope with the flocks of morons that the internet is throwing your way ...

Anyways, big up!

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Re: SOUND QUALITY COMPARISON, Live versus Logic

Post by mholloway » Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:51 pm

Thanks Tarekith!

I really feel for you -- trying to perform a service, and what do you get? Hate mail. Amazing that people are so defensive about these things that they'd prefer "gut feelings" instead of scientific tests, and, far worse, would be mean to other human beings when those feelings get challenged......oh wait, nothing new there, eh? fucking human race.

Whenever cancellation tests like this show up in forums, there's always multiple replies where people still insist on their Gut Feeling about one program sounding better than the other, though they haver zero technical data to post, and needless to say aren't interested in making any tests of their own. Thanks, guys.

Big thanks for actually doing this work. It's interesting stuff and much appreciated. Though from reading this thread I honestly get the feeling it's far past time time we all just stop giving any attention to the "I just know my DAW sounds better" folks.

-M
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my dark jazz / noir music made with Ableton Live: https://michaelarthurholloway.bandcamp. ... guilt-noir

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Re: SOUND QUALITY COMPARISON, Live versus Logic

Post by Tarekith » Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:05 pm

mholloway wrote: Whenever cancellation tests like this show up in forums, there's always multiple replies where people still insist on their Gut Feeling about one program sounding better than the other, though they haver zero technical data to post, and needless to say aren't interested in making any tests of their own.
There's nothing wrong with going with one's gut when making a decision on which DAW to use. You just need to be nice in expressing that opinion :)
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simmerdown
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Re: SOUND QUALITY COMPARISON, Live versus Logic

Post by simmerdown » Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:07 pm

well i find this really interesting, everyones comments and observations....

i'd love to hear a full track, the same track, rendered out of the 2 daws and hear the difference/sameness...

believing there are subtle differences that might not be picked up thru testing though...i can tell an FL studio track Vs. a Live track without a doubt...but maybe its just bc FL people are....
Last edited by simmerdown on Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: SOUND QUALITY COMPARISON, Live versus Logic

Post by evon » Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:03 pm

beats me wrote:Logic sounds better. Period.

No studies need to be done. My roommate’s tracks done in Logic with his 5 months total music writing experience sound better than my tracks in Live with 20+ years of music experience and better gear. As further testimonial he really doesn’t know what the fuck he is doing as far as mixing. It just comes out better with minimal effort.

Exactly why this is or whatever scientific data is being compiled on this I don’t really care. It’s just fact in our household.

:x
I will bet that "your" 5 months in Live sounds better than your 20+ years in Live. I know mine does, and I am also willing to bet that most pees do.
Then hearing was simpler and sweeter.
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Re: SOUND QUALITY COMPARISON, Live versus Logic

Post by masterblasterofdisaster » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:15 pm

Tarekith wrote:
rekloos wrote:cause in the end our ears make the decision not our eyes.....
In general I agree with you, but at the same time our ears are biased too. I'm sure a lot of people have seen this, but I want to point it out again:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYTlN6wjcvQ
Looks interesting so far, thanks for sharing this.

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Re: SOUND QUALITY COMPARISON, Live versus Logic

Post by arafel » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:32 pm

Thanks for treading into the mire for us... :D

and huge thanks for the tip about entering the Live track fader value in manually (as Live only shows 1 decimal place).
That in itself was worth the read.

Cheers :D
2.8ghz Quad Mac, Live 9.77, Remote25, Maschine 1, Fa-66 optical link, Samson 65a. Dog hair.. lots.

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Re: SOUND QUALITY COMPARISON, Live versus Logic

Post by beats me » Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:09 pm

Is there any DAW out there that has a worse reputation than Live as far as end result?

I don't get out much.

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