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Pro Tools vs Ableton: why so many differences in their methodology?

Discussion in 'Ableton' started by amadeustm, Mar 2, 2015.

  1. amadeustm

    amadeustm Active Member

    hello everyone. i am a newbie into daw and audio production, but more used with Ableton way of be.
    recently in my town i have decided to look for a intern job in a big studio we have here. there they use only Pro Tools. so i went study a little of it, installed and everything. then i realize that pro tools has a very old school method of production.

    i am comparing Pro Tools 10.3.7 or Pro Tools Express 10.3.4 versus Abelton Live 9.1.7, always using Windows environment.

    for instance, in order for you to have a master volume control you have to manually add a track called "master" and set it to stereo or mono. it automatically routes all audio to it. ableton has it as default, it is always open on the right side by side with two insert tracks for every new project you create.

    another example is the click track. for you to have a time counter clicking for you, you have to add a click track, plus a metronome instrument in the insert and then you have a timer ticking for you.

    i wonder why (with huge emphasis on "why")?! is it so hard to codify a "default" track for those two?? does it really need to be an extra track to have metronome? ableton is so much simpler to do many, many tasks. could anybody please help me figuring out the reason for this methodology?

    thank you all in advance!
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I'm not a Pro-tool user but I've tried a few older versions.
    Pro-tool was created for professionnals and was presented in a way to set it appart from the amateur croud.
    For reasons that you can imagine, they would not give it to you easy. But you can save a session tuned just the way you like it and without recording tracks, the recall that file everytime you need it.

    Every DAW has their own take on workflow. I for once, can't get to like Samplitude. I know it sound great but the more I try it the more, I'm saying to myself; why change, this this and this works faster for me in my current DAW.

    Thing is, I know that if you are hired as an intern. The last thing they want is having somewone questionning their choices and crying about how badly concive are the Tools they work with everyday. Anyway, if you are Lucky to get an internship. I bet, you will serve coffee, classify and clean stuff, deal with cables and mic placement for a long time before having to deal with Protools. So when you get there, you'll be glad to use anything ;)
  3. Reverend Lucas

    Reverend Lucas Active Member

    Pro Tools has been around since about 1991, basically the birth of the DAW. Early adoption by studios (and maybe a clever name) led it to become the de facto standard for professional use in the industry. For better or worse, it has been building on its original code since. Since then, other developers have come up with different, some would argue better workflows for creating audio. However, Pro Tools remains the standard because studios have large investments in:
    • Software and hardware, as Avid interfaces are proprietary
    • Experience in engineers who are used to working in the Pro Tools environment
    • Projects recorded in Pro Tools, that would be more difficult to access in another DAW

    I'm interested to see how this plays out in the industry in the future. On one hand, it's nice to have plug and play compatibility between studios, but on the other hand there are more project studios that are less likely to pay a premium for something because it's 'industry standard.'
    pcrecord likes this.
  4. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    because most PT use is in a studio proper where everything is monitored through a console or some kind of controler or interface. .... master faders are redundant. if i were you i would be happy PT offers a solution option, not complain about it.

    because programs like PT are designed to record live music played by musicians who don't need a click to lay samples down on ... programs like PT have nothing to do with others like Ableton ...
  5. amadeustm

    amadeustm Active Member

    hey man im not complaining, just trying to understand the why behind it and settle it better into my mind. i'm a newbie. rather ask people in the forum than face my new boss and commit social suicide because of a bad comment. thanks anyway.
    Chris likes this.
  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    (y) sorry didn't mean to be grouchy ....
    amadeustm likes this.
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    amadeustm, don't let Kurt get to you, he is old school and means well but has little understanding ( or lets say appreciation) of modern workflow.
    Pro Tools is a dated mess in many regards, from your POV, and just sucks at midi but it also rival Ableton when it comes to tracking "real music". I know a lot of people who use pro tools and another DAW, specifically Ableton. I have Ableton here but I haven't had time to work enough with it to advise you BUT! Ableton actually sounds better than ProTools when it comes to electronic music.It has a warm fat engine and nice tools.

    If I was you, bring Ableton in the studio gently ( as your contribution) and start blowing them away with your youthful skills. You will without doubt bring a new crowd and vibe to that studio which will make them more money and credibility. Trust me on that.

    As far as the click, what kurt said is correct. Pro tools, as with a few other Pro DAW's are geared around real music and the implementation of monitor controllers, consoles, OTB mixing and summing. we assign the click to whatever bus we want, can use a sample or the preset it has.
    As far as the Master out. We will often avoid the master out and stem groups OTB to use analog gear. When you are mixing and summing OTB, like I do, I bypass the Master out on the tracking DAW and mix into another DAW which is uncoupled from the tracking DAW.
    We do these things because acoustic music has more sonic information in it than VSTi. Therefore, although many people don't realize this, it takes more skill or a different understanding of audio to mix and master first generation acoustic music because of all the acoustic space and transients that are part of the actual sound and performance. Its a big topic. Learn about that and you will be miles ahead of the generation that only understands EM.

    The reason EM is louder, is because you don't notice the transients limited. It takes very clever understanding of both acoustic and EM to get it to "Glue".
    amadeustm likes this.
  8. amadeustm

    amadeustm Active Member

    hey @Chris thanks for answering. a few things I couldn't understand.

    why would you mix into another DAW? would it be two instances of PT, different computers?
    what do you mean by uncoupled from the tracking DAW?
    about "acoustic space and transients" I agree, EM sound very shallow to me. electronic music by itself lack of all the warmth sound should have, I my humble opinion.

    but you know what? it is a lot to take. a lot of topics to learn about. getting into a studio is pretty hard when you are an outsider. people on that studio are very worry about the quality of my time, how would I spend it and the future of this effort. I must conquer their trust before step into their studio. really don't know how to do it other than read the whole Pro Tools Reference Guide and try to show them that I understand the basic and advanced topics of the DAW.

    but during the last few weeks I have realized that it wouldn't be enough. I can be expert in clicking between menus on PT but I will never learn how to place a mic and equalize whatever it is captured to the sound I want. Lynda dot com has provided me a lot of help to install, run and understand the basics of PT, I have found a few other courses on acoustic recording. but that's too theoretical. if the studios do not allow me to learn having practical experience, how would I become an audio technician? one could say: buy a practical course. well... I have not enough resources to that yet. I was wondering if there is another way around.

    thank you, very much!

    @Kurt Foster and @Reverend Lucas, thank you too for your replies. It really helped me out on understanding. It is quite overwhelming to have a doubt, as dumb as it is, and have no clue on the answer. love this forum and its members for that.
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Why would you say that? Have you ever had the chance to try?

    I'm not saying that you haven't a very large undertaking ahead of you - audio engineering is a deep subject, and there's much to know....but it seems a bit fatalistic to hear you say "never"... never is an awfully long time.

    Many veteran engineers got their start by doing exactly what you are looking at doing... working at a studio for little to no money, sweeping floors, making coffee, answering phones, and in between, paying as much attention as possible to everything around them, asking questions ( between sessions - you don't ever want to bother an engineer while he's with a client, nor do you want to appear to be second-guessing them, either) studying, learning all you can, getting your hands on as much info as possible, observing, doing.

    You have one thing now at your disposal that many of us didn't have when we were starting out - you have the internet. A wealth of information at your fingertips, all from your own bedroom. Videos on youtube, articles in trusted trade magazines like SOS, Mix Magazine, Home Recording, and, even right here at RO.

    Ask your questions, try to be specific as possible, and don't expect to learn it all in one day, one week, one month, one year, or, in even five years for that matter.

    But ... every time you learn one thing, that's one thing less that you have to learn. You follow?

    It all comes down to just one thing...

    How much do you want it? ;)
    amadeustm likes this.
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Its a long topic but basically its another way to mix OTB instead of summing back to the same DAW (Round Trip). I use 2 DAW's. One to track and mix OTB and capture the sum on another DAW uncoupled ( not clocked to the tracking DAW). Its has a nice sound that way.
    Regardless, Pro Tools or Samplitude are two examples of DAW that work really nice with analog gear. We deactivate the master bus for that step, then sum back to "a DAW or capture device" then master it. Hybrid Summing/Mixing.
    Make sense?
    amadeustm likes this.
  11. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    And let's not forget, someone may own patents, licensing rights, intellectual property, etc. on certain aspects of the DAW, GUI, workflow. Some may do things differently because A) they're working around other limitations, B) they genuinely think they have a better method, or C) they don't want to pay the licensing fees to a competitor who beat them to the market with a truly better idea.
  12. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    By doing it on a small scale at home. The software is a very small part of a Billboard Hit. There is so many other thing that gets into the recipe.
    Honeslty, living the dream of becoming a legend while starting as coffee boy with no knowledge and no experience is more of an utopia these days.
    Think of it, I'm sure more experienced and knowledgable persons live in you town. So if you really want it you need to offer something.
    These days, there is so many teens wanting to work in a studio, you can be sure they will take the best one. So they often judge them by recordings they've made.

    Things to know or to do:

    1. EAR Training (recognising frequencies, delay time, how a record should sound etc)
    2. Room acoustics,
    3. Basics of instruments (maintaining, tuning and sonic particularities and a bit of how they are played)
    4. Mics and placement,
    5. Preamps
    6. EQ, Comp, Delay and other effects
    7. DAW
    8. Mixing board and automation
    9. How to mix a song and a clue to what is mastering
    10. Having a good taste but still be creative
    11. Human understanding and being easy to live/work with. (with the long hours, it's a must)
    12. ...
    Is it worth it ? YES, for those who get there !

    So here's my 2 cents ; Get a small recording kit (interface - mic - headphones or monitors) and start to record. Record anything and listen to the results on many systems.
    Theory is important but not much relevent if your ears are not trained.
    amadeustm likes this.
  13. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    oh ! you can also download stems and practice mixing ;)
  14. amadeustm

    amadeustm Active Member

    Hey everyone, one reply for all.

    I was referring to not being able to learn how to put a mic into a drum outside of a studio environment, etc. doing in my home is not acoustically comparable as inside a studio. The result is to watch all lynda courses on recording (like this one) and try to make you all proud, hehe. I know it may be too theoretical but it is the least I can do.

    @pcrecord thanks for the tips man, really a good guideline. I will try my best to follow it. about stems, in google I can find a lot of them. any good source you care to mention?

    @dvdhawk thanks man.

    @Chris yeah, two DAWs is a new thing to me. Never heard about this methodology. Another thing learned, one thing less, hehe. Makes sense yes, thanks for explaining.
  15. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    To add to Marco's suggestions, my advice would be for you to call a few pro engineers in your area, and ask them how much they would charge you to come to your place and give you lessons, on your own equipment.

    If there are pro studios in your area, then there are pro engineers, too. Contact them and ask how much they would charge to teach you, on their off-hours.

    Learning on your own gear, at this point, is going to be the best way for you to get better at it - at least for now - unless you can afford to go to an accredited recording school.

    At this point, in this entry-level phase, this would be better than interning at a pro studio, where they're likely going to be too busy to help you, and also, because they have a bunch of expensive gear that you don't have.
    (Although at some point, I suggest that you should book some time at a real place, just so you can hear the difference between the entry level gear and the pro stuff).

    You can always ask questions here for free, and we're happy to help, answering questions, or to critique any mixes you post, but we can't be right there next to you when you are doing it. ;)



    amadeustm and pcrecord like this.
  16. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    @Chris @pcrecord @Makzimia

    Putting a mic in a kick is going to be the same no matter where you do it - gain structure, mic and mic placement, all of those things are universal.

    Now, of course, results may differ, based on many things; the mic, the preamp, the room itself, but you need to get out of this mindset that you have, thinking that you can't ever get acceptable - or even great - mixes outside of a real studio - because you can. You'd be amazed at the quality mixes that I hear, all the time, coming from some home studios.

    Sure, pro studios are nice, they have acoustically tuned environments, nice gear, and pro engineers. So yeah, maybe you won't get the same sound from your studio that Criteria does, but still, you'd be amazed at just what you can do on your own these days, with the technology available.

    One thing's for certain: you'll never find out, if you keep thinking it's not possible. ;)

    Check out song posts here on the forum from people like Marco (PCrecord) or Chris (who just did a great mix on a song that his daughter wrote, and in his own home too, by the way) or Makzimia ... all have done really nice stuff without recording at Abbey Road. ;)
    I've also got several song posts as well, and I too am working out of my home, after owning a pro commercial studio for almost 20 years. I'm doing stuff here at home that is just as good - and sometimes even better - than what I used to get in my "pro" studio.

    I personally know several people who have gotten their songs placed in TV shows, documentaries, commercials, as well as releasing albums that sound great - all out of their home studios. Now, I'm not gonna tell you that they did all this with an $89 condenser and a $99 Tascam preamp, because they're didn't. They have some very nice gear, and, they know how to use it... but still, they are doing it out of their own home studios.

    If you want to sit and wait for a pro studio to come along and offer you a job where you can learn and work, you're gonna be waiting a very long time, especially with your limited experience and knowledge.

    So, you can do that, and stick with this mindset of yours that you can't do anything "good" unless you are in a "pro room", or, you can get your basic rig together, get a few nice dynamic mics (57's and 58's are excellent), a Focusrite or Presonus preamp - audio i/o, and start to record. Get some mixes going, improve them. Get good with what you have, and as money allows, upgrade your equipment. No studio is going to hire you without hearing your demo reel, anyway. ("demo reel" is an old school term for a 2 track reel that engineers used as resumes, containing several mixes, in several styles, that they would play for the studio, so that the studio could hear how well you could mix, these days, you'd use a CD or Flash drive)...
    So, get started on that. It may take you 2 years, it may take you 5. But right now, you don't have anything. Put one foot in front of the other and get started.

    I don't think it's going to be very long before you start to discover just what you can do, instead of what you can't.


    amadeustm likes this.
  17. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I agree with Donny, the worst places to record will still make you learn ! ;)
  18. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Maybe even more so, in a way, because you are forced to adapt and make things work under limitations, and limitations aren't always a bad thing.

    Ask @Kurt Foster - he's an advocate for having certain limitations in the recording process. He'll probably tell you that some of the best songs ever recorded were done so with limitations, because there weren't hundreds of options to choose from - having a finite number of tracks and limited choices for processing, makes you end up focusing on the artistic side more, and in the end, that's what matters most. If you don't have a good song, well-performed to start with, all the plug ins and boutique mics and pres in the world won't help.

    All you'll end up with is great sounding recording - of a very bad song. ;)
    amadeustm likes this.
  19. amadeustm

    amadeustm Active Member

    Yeah, I have already started. I do own a pair of yamaha HS5, one avid mbox, one keyb midi controller axiom pro 61, a pair of headphones koss porta pro and that's about it. no mics, two guitars and I currently use ableton and Pro Tools with several Native Instruments libraries. But I still can only create basic nonsense MIDI musical phrases and irregularly apply Ableton EQ8 into Kontakt drums instruments (e.g. Studio Drummer).

    I was having that mindset maybe because I was too anxious. But you all from the forum have changed the way I look at the issue. I will try to find the stems, since I will not be able to purchase mics for a while. And check the posts as you suggested. great! a lot to do now!!
  20. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    You could buy an sm57 or 58 for near 100$ brand new. I's start there. Those are work horses that will be in you recording life forever.
    Working in a recording studio is all about, you know, the action of recording and this starts with at least 1 mic ;)
    The uses of virtual instruments like native won't help you a lot about recording and mixing because they are usually pre-mastered (ready to print).
    The real work starts with RAW tracks. For stems, there is many free mixing contests at http://www.puremix.net, just check for the next one. They offer legal track downloads which aren't recorded perfectly so you still have work to do on them and Learningl ;)

    Also, once you get a mic, I encourage you to post samples of your work here, it'll be our pleasure to guide you to things you could get better...
    amadeustm likes this.

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