Switching from Cubase to Ableton

I started with Cubase. The Artist version.. it was around 75 euros and at the time of starting to want to record and share music it seemed like the best choice. Minimising the cost of a DAW and keeping as much budget available for hardware like mics and guitars. The alternatives seemed to be 500 euros. As a result I’ve become habituated into Cubase and when I’m jamming or quickly in a session all attempts to switch DAWs has quickly broken down as something tiny in the workflow was breaking my creativity. As a result I quickly switch back to Cubase to get the project or session done. I’ve tried many times to jump into Reaper, Ableton and even Slow Tools. However, Cubase Artist edition is handicapped over the much more expensive Studio version and these limitations are now blocking my collaborations (Exporting all tracks as STEMS quickly is just one such problem). Friends work with Ableton and so collaborating on projects would make sense if I was too. So it’s time to address this.

Finally armed with a copy of Ableton, so let’s goooo. What do I need to make the change? Let’s list the basic workflows that would at least allow me to complete basic Tracking sessions first:

Cubase Workflow for Tracking:

1. Quickly Creating Tracks and Assigning Inputs. (In Cubase I find myself duplicating tracks and deleting the recording to quickly create new tracks when I’m double taking vocals and guitars).

2. Re-takes. Currently I am not using Cubase to comp like it can do, with lots of takes. I manually move the time back for each take and press record. I’ve gotten use to this but it’s very slow and clumsy.

3. Cutting/Splicing. Comping vocals takes me a long time. I manually cut all the silence out of a vocal and manually fade in and out every tiny section. This takes a long time but I’ve seen pros working in the same way to achieve best results.

4. Looping Tracks. I struggle with looping massively in Cubase. I am currently splitting a vocal, matching it to the bar grid, then duplicating it by stretching it. Imagine the pain this causes. I don’t even know how to loop something that doesn’t match the grid… seriously limiting my creative possibilities.

4. Fading in and out. With so many cut vocal tracks I need fade-in and out to be quick and easy.

5. Bouncing effect tracks. I’m sure this is possible but I can’t figure it out in Cubase Artist version easily. I have an effect track on say a vocal, a nice reverb. If I want to only use the Effect Track I cannot! example: Maybe I want to turn off the original vocal track completely and just have the reverb track playing. Doing so would effectively reduce the volume going to the effect track to zero. So, I need to print the Effect Track and be able to mute/remove the original track that was feeding it.

6. Exporting STEMS. Currently I Solo/Mute tracks and manually do an export of each track one by one. I do not have the advanced export options in Cubase in my version. This takes me ages.

Not essential but would be nice to work on:

Inserting plugins and recording with playback on. This is sometimes, but not often, important to the creative flow. I’ve always struggled in Cubase to have this working in realtime with so little lag that it doesn’t affect the performance. Also my fault as I’ve bee on 96khz with 24bit 🙂 but even reducing that down to 48kz and 24bit or even 16bit, with samples down to 64 on the Fireface still get’s overrun quickly with a few reverbs or delays on… Reverbs are often needed for vocals and seem to be the most heavy on resources.

Shortlist of the above:

1. Quickly Creating Tracks and Assigning Inputs.

2. Re-takes.

3. Cutting/Splicing.

4. Looping Tracks.

4. Fading in and out.

5. Bouncing effect tracks.

6. Exporting STEMS.

7. Inserts with Playback for Recording.

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