Ableton vs Studio One: Battle of the Best Daws Available

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Are you having a hard time comparing Ableton vs Studio One to determine which one’s better?

You’re not alone! Every day, thousands of musicians and producers find themselves in the same situation. 

I know it can be really hard to decide between DAWs, as there are many options out there. But even with similar programs, there are obvious differences that need to be pointed out. 

Below, you’ll find both DAWs compared under different categories to help you make an informed decision in the future. 

The main things you want to look at before buying a DAW are price, compatibility, and system requirements. Additionally, if you want to make the most out of your resources, you should also consider stock plugins, and ease of use.

Keep reading to see which DAW wins this battle!

#1 Price

Studio One price. Ableton price
Quality does not come cheap

Let’s be honest, this is probably the first thing most of us think about before pulling the trigger on a brand new recording program. After all, it’s not like they’re cheap, so buying one is a big commitment. 

Depending on your needs and the size of your studio, you might have to go for the most expensive versions of each DAW as they offer the most options and features. 

When talking about Ableton vs Studio One, it’s hard to say that either one is budget-friendly. But even among pricey programs, there are marked differences. 

Believe it or not, the top-of-the-line Ableton version is almost twice as expensive as its Studio One counterpart. The former goes for $749, whereas the latter can be purchased for $399.95. 

I know, that’s enough to make your piggy bank cry, but knowing what you’ll get for each one might soften the blow!

Both Ableton’s Live 11 Suite and Studio One 5 Professional boast thousands of stock sounds, instruments, loops, and samples. They also offer unlimited recording tracks, MIDI compatibility, and much more. 

That being said, considering that Studio One offers virtually the same features for half the price, it’s clear that it will give you the best bang for your buck. 

If you don’t want to pay over $700 for a DAW but feel like Studio One doesn’t offer enough stock content, Cubase might hit the sweet spot for you. Make sure to check out our piece on it to widen your range of alternatives. 

#2 Compatibility

Studio One Windows. Studio One Mac. Ableton Windows. Ableton Mac. Compatible
Not all DAWs are cross-platform

Moving on, let’s talk about system compatibility. 

Surprisingly, a lot of people tend to forget considering this, as they assume every DAW is available across all platforms. And while that’d be great, it’s simply not true. 

Some of the best DAWs out there, such as Logic Pro, or Cakewalk are only available on Mac and PC respectively. Luckily, this is not the case for Ableton and Studio One, as they’re available on both operating systems, so you don’t have to choose if you own either one. 

Good news, right?

#3 System Requirements

Studio One minimum requirements. Ableton Minimum requirements
Make sure your computer meets the minimum requirements

If you’ve been recording or producing music for a while, you probably already know that owning a powerful PC or Mac is essential to a good workflow. 

A computer with enough horsepower can handle more plugins at the same time, load them quicker, and lighten the load on your audio interface. As a general rule, you always want to have at least twice the amount of RAM memory your DAW requires.

This will not only allow you to work comfortably, but also leave enough headroom for your computer to run any background processes. According to PreSonus, Studio One 5 needs a minimum of 4 GB of RAM to work, whereas the starting point for Ableton is twice that!

This means that, in order to use the former while allowing your PC to run normally, you need at least 8 GB of RAM as opposed to a whopping 12-16 GB for the latter. 

This may not sound like a lot considering modern-day standards. But remember that if you own a laptop, upgrading your RAM may not even be an option, so you must be careful before making a decision.

#4 Stock Plugins

In this world, there are two kinds of producers. Those who work in-the-box, and those who collect third-party plugins. 

These days, every DAW comes with a large set of stock plugins, sounds, loops, and samples for you to work with from the get-go.

This is not only useful but also budget-friendly. In reality, for 90% of production purposes, you should be able to get wonderful results with what comes included on your DAW. 

Whoever tells you differently is trying to sell you something!

Why am I telling you this? Well… because the importance you give to stock plugins will greatly decide whether you stick to Studio One or Ableton. 

You see, while the flagship version of the former only offers about 32 GB of stock content, the latter knocks that out of the park with an incredible 70+ GB.

This means that, on paper, you should initially have twice as many production tools with Ableton Live 11 Suite than you would with Studio One 5 Professional.

And while that sounds great, your computer’s current storage space might not like the larger file sizes. 

Assuming that you’re already running out of space, Ableton might not be the best choice for you. In that scenario, you could try purchasing Studio One 5 Professional and using the money you saved to buy a couple of third-party plugins you need. 

If you’re interested in learning more about Studio One’s stock plugins, we have a ton of information you may find useful.

#5 Ease of Use

Studio One Interface. Ableton Interface. Tutorial.
There will always be a learning curve

Lastly, let’s talk about ease of use. 

This may sound unimportant, but trust me, when you’re working with tons of files and plugins, you want the simplest interface and workflow. 

Not unlike any other program or activity out there, getting used to either DAW will have a learning curve, there’s no way around that. But as someone who has used both Ableton & Studio one, I can tell you that it took me a lot longer to feel comfortable with the former. 

Studio One is very intuitive, and loading new plugins, tracks, or instruments is simple. The DAW does not expect you to deal with several windows or jump through hoops to edit audio. It’s basically point and click. 

That being said, it’s all a matter of personal preference. If you have the budget and prefer Ableton over Studio One, by all means, go ahead and get it. I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it in the blink of an eye!


Trying to accurately compare Ableton vs Studio One can be challenging. Both DAWs offer a wide range of options, stock plugins, and features, so deciding between either one is no simple task. 

I hope this piece has helped you better understand the main differences between them and how they can adapt to your workflow. You should now have enough information to buy the right program and start creating masterpieces with it. 

Thank you so much for sticking with me all the way to the end. If you found this article helpful, you’ll be glad to know that we upload new content weekly. Please be sure to check out all our other incredible resources below to become a Tech Detective yourself!

Best of luck to you.