I set out this morning to compare the mixdowns of Live 6, versus Cubase SX 3.1. Here's how I did it:
I compared two files for this test. The first was an 8 bar segment from my new song rendered as a 24/44.1 wav file directly from within Live 6. I placed a 1 sample long pulse at the start of the file to facilitate lining up the audio files exactly later on. The Clips in this song used a combination of warp types.
Next, I rendered each of the Live 6 tracks as separate 24/44.1 wav files (in one command with Live 6's new Render All Tracks function), then imported them into SX and dropped into it's Project View on separate tracks. No SX settings were adjusted at all, the mixer was flat, pan law was -6dB to mimic Live's pan law. This was then exported as a 24/44.1 wav file mixdown as well.
In a fresh SX project, I loaded the Live 6 render, and the SX render, lined up the 1 sample pulses in each file exactly, and then reversed the polarity (phase) of the Live 6 track. Playing back both simultaneously, you could clearly hear the differences between the two tracks with the polarity reversed. Namely in the guitar and pad parts, which are quite audible when silence is what you'd expect to hear. I exported this reverse polarity playback as another 8 bar loop for you to listen to.
Clearly the two apps are different sounding. Listen to the original files and A/B them now. The SX one has clearer cymbal tails IMO, you can hear the slight reverb on them, where as on the Live 6 file this is hardly audible.
Originally, it had been my intention to compare one other file as well. I wanted to open 12 rewire channels in SX (this is how many tracks were in the Live song), and feed the outputs of each individual Live 6 track into SX's mixer this way, then render. However, I forgot that I used a combination of VST plug ins, as well as Live 6's own plug ins for this song. Since you cannot open VST effects in Live when Live is a rewire slave, and SX cannot load Live's effects ever, it was impossible for me to do this. I could have done some work arounds, but I felt the test would not be a one to one comparison then.
If you think of any other ways this test may be flawed, please let me know and I'll be happy to attempt to correct it.
Here's the files if you want to listen for yourself: