Any Improvements In The Audio Engine Of Ableton Live 10?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
Tarekith
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Re: Any Improvements In The Audio Engine Of Ableton Live 10?

Post by Tarekith » Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:19 pm

Open discussions about this sort of thing are good to have, but let's try and keep it civil please. There's a lot of baseless accusations happening about people's experience and skill level that don't help anything. A frequent poster like Stromkraft should know better, ahem.

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I've used PT and Ableton for mixing quite a bit, along with Logic, Studio One, and Cubase over the years. These days I still tend to prefer Studio One for client mixes, but only because of workflow features that speed things up where time is money. Namely Strip Silence and tracks inheriting the same name as any audio files you drop on them. Just speeds up prepping the mixdown.

In terms of sound quality, I 100% believe that there is no difference among DAWS when all else is equal. I've happily done mixdowns and even mastering for clients in Live when asked, and not once did I feel it delivered any sort of sonic degradation compared to other options doing so. In terms of EQ and compression, I actually prefer Live's included options to all other DAWs. Having done a lot of testing of this among DAWs over the years, I haven't been able to scientifically recreate any audible differences either. Mixes done in both either totally phase cancel, or the difference is so low as to be inaudible (summed audio at say -140dBFS.)

There's a few reasons I think Live has gotten a bad rap about this over the years:

- Warping tends to be on be default, and if there's any tempo differences that will trigger timestretching which obviously alters the sound.
- Fades on clip edges is on by default, which can affect transients and help lose a sense of depth in some cases.
- Different DAWs use different panning laws, some are just stereo balance instead of true panning too (thankfully fixed in Live 10).
- SRC. In the past Live's sample-rate conversion was so so. Fine for live use, but not always the greatest for the studio. Ableton themselves in the past recommended doing any SRC in another app before bringing the files into Live. This was greatly fixed in Live 9 with the addition of the SOX algorithm, though this is only used when downsampling and not upsampling.

(btw, there are a ton of mixing tutorials and courses using Live, not sure where you're getting that from.)
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TheCoil
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Re: Any Improvements In The Audio Engine Of Ableton Live 10?

Post by TheCoil » Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:30 pm

Stromkraft wrote:
Clearly you know very little of digital audio or you would understand I don't need to**. You're interested comparing to PT. I'm not.

You made claims. I did not make those. The burden is on you. Unfortunately you seem to not be skilled enough so set up an exactly similar projects in an two DAWs. I can make some suggestions, but you need to share everything.

I have compared with other DAWs, that I'm more interested in.

So where are the exactly adjusted project files and work products. C'mon, just do these already.

Do I care what you prefer to mix in? Of course not. I only care about you making claims without merit about summing in DAWs that are quite laughable. You're late in the game as well.
I certainly don't know as much about digital audio as you but I've experienced PT "sounding better" than Ableton as well, much to my consternation. I've tried to A/B the two as close as I can, probably not close enough, even favoring Ableton because I so much want it to sound at least as good, if not better. However, PT just seems to have a bigger, warmer, clearer, more open sound. Trust me, I want Ableton to sound better than every other DAW so I don't have to have this niggling doubt in the back of my mind.
This all being said, I understand that the science of digital audio says the two should be the same, but then why do people constantly come up against this issue? And why is it always Ableton sounding worse, and not better? If it was a matter of human error or people not having a good ear, you'd get some variation where people were saying that PT or Logic sounds worse than Live, but it's always the other way around. And many of these people are not Logic fanboys but avid Ableton users, so it's not necessarily a partisan issue either.

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Re: Any Improvements In The Audio Engine Of Ableton Live 10?

Post by Tarekith » Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:38 pm

At the same time though, every time this issue has come up over the years, I have yet to have one person who makes that claim actually able to provide files that demonstrate the difference. If it's so obvious to some people that Live sounds worse than other DAWs, why can no one provide examples?
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TheCoil
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Re: Any Improvements In The Audio Engine Of Ableton Live 10?

Post by TheCoil » Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:44 pm

Tarekith wrote:At the same time though, every time this issue has come up over the years, I have yet to have one person who makes that claim actually able to provide files that demonstrate the difference. If it's so obvious to some people that Live sounds worse than other DAWs, why can no one provide examples?
This is also true, which is why it's baffling.
The ones and zeroes say one thing but the ear often says another. Maybe there's a confluence of factors that result in a slightly inferior sound quality that can't be explained by the science.
The old adage about using your ears to mix rather than your eyes might come in to play here, there's something in the final translation that's lacking to our ears even as logic dictates that it's impossible.

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Re: Any Improvements In The Audio Engine Of Ableton Live 10?

Post by yur2die4 » Sun Nov 12, 2017 8:07 pm

What's funny though is that even comparison tests don't reveal the whole truth. Comparison in quality or comparison to the original mix is the most important question.

It is actually possible for one to hear something that is Not exact or transparent and feel that it sounds more desirable.

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Re: Any Improvements In The Audio Engine Of Ableton Live 10?

Post by TheCoil » Sun Nov 12, 2017 8:34 pm

yur2die4 wrote:What's funny though is that even comparison tests don't reveal the whole truth. Comparison in quality or comparison to the original mix is the most important question.

It is actually possible for one to hear something that is Not exact or transparent and feel that it sounds more desirable.
I agree, what sounds "good" has a fundamentally subjective component to it, regardless of what objective, technologically sound comparison tests are being done.

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Re: Any Improvements In The Audio Engine Of Ableton Live 10?

Post by Tarekith » Sun Nov 12, 2017 8:39 pm

I experienced this last year when I was comparing current AAC and MP3 conversions at identical bitrates. Sometimes I would personally prefer the MP3 version, even though the AAC version always sounded closer to the original uncompressed wav file.
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Stromkraft
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Re: Any Improvements In The Audio Engine Of Ableton Live 10?

Post by Stromkraft » Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:36 am

TheCoil wrote:However, PT just seems to have a bigger, warmer, clearer, more open sound.

This all being said, I understand that the science of digital audio says the two should be the same, but then why do people constantly come up against this issue?
The better mixing environment
It may certainly be the case that Pro Tools is the better mixing DAW for a number of producers. I'm not arguing against this notion at all. What am adamant about is that this has nothing to do with digital summing.

History and idiosyncrasies
I think that the main reason this comes up is that many, many years ago there might have been problems with audio in Live and people like to subscribe to the theory that they have no part in how it sounds if that's bad, so it must be the DAW. There are also idiosyncrasies with Live that one needs to know about and route around for sure. Most of these have already been mentioned.

Other reasons: gain staging not used
There are also other reasons. One example is the lack of usage of gain staging that I've noticed tutorials using Pro Tools strikingly often either assumes you know about and use or they will even focus in on the importance. At the same time it would seem to be significantly less tutorials using Live that assumes the use of gain staging or focus on it.

I propound that gain staging is a vital habit to make use of in order to get great mixes in any DAW. One of my biggest breakthroughs using Live arrived when I gobbled everything I could find on the subject and started to religiously use it in every single project. Mixes certainly opened up and some third party tools I had tried to master started making more sense, drums kicked harder and so on. It was amazing how I could have missed to be aware of this simple and effective habit before. This experience is one reason I tend to plug this when a possibility comes up (See what I did there?). I'd assume this is something you use to some extent, in both DAWs, so maybe not a factor for you.

Crackles and micro dropouts
There is also this very real case of micro dropouts or crackling that people encounter a little too often. I've learned to route around this easily, because I've used Live on quite old computers, so I'm not affected enough for allowing this to colour my view of Ableton Live's sound quality. But if you constantly hear this, maybe too short to register consciously, of course this will influence your judgement of the sound quality.

Exports don't crackle
It's important to note that this does not need to affect the exported work product. I happen to know about a whole album made on a small Macbook Air where the producer couldn't hear all tracks at once, yet managed to make the exports sing (a quite experienced DJ and music producer).
Make some music!


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Re: Any Improvements In The Audio Engine Of Ableton Live 10?

Post by [jur] » Mon Nov 13, 2017 4:36 pm

hoffman2k wrote:Relevant clip :lol:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8Sg7bq6wuw
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2pauluzz2
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Re: Any Improvements In The Audio Engine Of Ableton Live 10?

Post by 2pauluzz2 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:03 pm

I haven't read the whole thread but felt the need to reply.

This is such a huge myth. Any claims about an inferior audio engine should be accompanied by audio examples from Live and other DAWs so that we can all do a blind test. That never seems to happen.

I'm not defending Ableton for the sake of it but this is just plain wrong and potentially damaging misinformation (not necessarily for Ableton, but for the poor sap who actually loses time on this and perhaps even considers switching DAW based on this false argument). Tarekith sums it up nicely.

I don't want to offend anyone personally, but I think whoever really thinks this way is actually dissatisfied with the results that they are getting and are looking for ways to blame it on the software.

Download one of the many free live packs by respectable artists and see for yourself how they managed to get great results. For example the Minus crew, Acid Pauli, Apparat, or download one of Mr. Bills projects (or even listen to his stuff on YouTube, or check out this guy Slync). Or listen to notable Ableton-only artists (Recondite springs to mind). Tastes may vary of course.

Consider that the reason for poor perceived quality might just be you. It might be that you are not as good and experienced as you think you are. Or you might just be seeing problems when there aren't any – your tunes might actually sound really good but you've become biased due to over-listening (a very common source of self-doubt among artists).
There are a ton of tricks that your brain can play on you. I too once felt that moving a fader in Pro Tools in a big fancy studio affected my audio more than when I did the exact same thing on my laptop in Ableton at home. I've also, on more than one occasion, adjusted compression or EQ parameters on a track that wasn't the one that I was listening to in solo and my brain went "there, that's better" when nothing had changed. Seasoned engineers use this trick with clients sometimes: they fiddle with a knob that isn't connected to anything, making them go "yeah that's better".

I used to be somewhat of a purist as well. In hindsight that was just a result of a lack of experience rather than "superior hearing". Nowadays I make music and get on with it. That's the best and quickest way to grow as an artist. If Ableton is good enough for 80-90% of the artists that I look up to in terms of artistic achievements and sound, then it sure is good enough for me.
"Paul" is fine too.

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Re: Any Improvements In The Audio Engine Of Ableton Live 10?

Post by Stromkraft » Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:17 pm

2pauluzz2 wrote: Any claims about an inferior audio engine should be accompanied by audio examples from Live and other DAWs so that we can all do a blind test.
First of all, this is not good enough. One also need to supply the project files and source files for both DAWs.

Secondly, so called blind tests are not so useful for this as these are still biased on preference and if there are differences familiarity.
Null Difference testing, using polarity (or phase) reversed signal on one source, is a non-personal and therefore non-biased tool for comparisons and which results, if testing is done right and transparently, and if the sources do null is non-debatable. If they do what you think you hear is all in your head.

If the source files do not null one can analyse the results and discuss them.

The hard part is setting up two DAWs to actually sum the same signals. This takes great knowledge of both DAWs. I'm planning a few tests for this.
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Re: Any Improvements In The Audio Engine Of Ableton Live 10?

Post by Tarekith » Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:19 pm

Here’s how it did it back in the day, maybe this gives you some ideas how to set up a similar test:

http://innerportalstudio.com/sound-qual ... sus-logic/
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Re: Any Improvements In The Audio Engine Of Ableton Live 10?

Post by fishmonkey » Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:34 pm

Stromkraft wrote: Secondly, so called blind tests are not so useful for this as these are still biased on preference and if there are differences familiarity.
Null Difference testing, using polarity (or phase) reversed signal on one source, is a non-personal and therefore non-biased tool for comparisons and which results, if testing is done right and transparently, and if the sources do null is non-debatable. If they do what you think you hear is all in your head.

If the source files do not null one can analyse the results and discuss them.
i think you are over-simplifying things. there is no single test that suffices. even if you play the same audio file in two different DAWs, you cannot assume that each audio engine outputs the audio exactly the same.

in the end is unlikely that basic digital summing that is the most audible issue, if it is even an issue at all. if we are talking about mixes sounding different, when then there are whole range of other possible differences, many of which are explored in Tarekith's experiments.

double-blind testing is an important method because it shows whether or not we can reliably perceive a difference over a number of trials, and it illuminates how subjective our perceptions are.
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Re: Any Improvements In The Audio Engine Of Ableton Live 10?

Post by [jur] » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:45 pm

When this kind of topic arises, I always feel like "seriously, don't you have anything else to care about?".
We're in 2017; if you can't make your music sounding good with what's available maybe you should blame someone else than your tool(s).
Even if we'd suppose that Live's "engine" doesn't good as other daw's ones, just for the sake of supposing, then just use you equalisers, saturations, reverbs and compressor to fill the gaps. Just adapt your mixing to your daw's "inferiority". The same way you would do to counteract your mixing room's imperfections.
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