Pro Tools vs. Live

Featuring Loops In Worship Posted on June 14, 2010

I got a question from a new user to the site yesterday.  It’s a question I get quite frequently and I felt like it was time to address the question in a blog post.  Here’s a portion of the original question.

    “…What are some pros and cons of using Pro Tools as opposed to Ableton Live. I currently own both but have never really used Ableton much. I have always been a Pro Tools guy…My question is, is Ableton Live that much better in this situation that it would be worth me learning it? “

In even simpler terms the question always boils down to, “which is better for using loops Pro Tools or Live”?  This is an understandable question because so many people own one or the other and don’t want to purchase another program unless they can really justify it.  Lets unwrap this question and I’ll give my response and thoughts!

It’s important to note that there are various versions of Protools as well as Live. For the sake of this article we’ll assume you’re looking at Pro Tools LE or M-Powered and Live Intro or Live.  Start where you are.

I’ve touched on this before but when you’re starting to use loops it’s best to begin where you are, using what you have.  Don’t feel like you’ve got to go out and buy a lot of new equipment and software.  I would encourage you to start using what you have now.  In fact I really strongly believe that ” the most creative are those who do the most with the least.”   The fact is in most situations you can create results similar to people with thousands of dollars worth of equipment.  You may not have the money or tools they have but if you’ve got the time and the drive you can do it!  If you’ve got the budget to purchase software, investigate your options before purchasing.  One thing about great software is that it will save you loads of time accomplishing the tasks you typically perform.  So that leads us back to our question… Which is better for using loops: Pro Tools or Live?  We’re asking the wrong question.

Asking, “Which is better for using loops…Protools or Live?’  is similar to asking which is better, “A Harley or a Ford”.  Both can perform similar tasks and essentially get you to the same point (Using loops live or driving you to your destination).  If you’re a family of four, you’re not going to be able to get your family where you need to go on a Harley.  It’s gonna make much more sense to buy a Ford than it is a Harley.

You can use Pro Tools for loops and you can use Live for loops.  One is not better than the other.  Both of them perform similar tasks, but each can perform tasks the other can’t do as well.  It all depends on what you’re more interested in doing.  I try to break all software/hardware used for loops into two categories, Loop Creation/Production and Loop Playback (more info here).  Again, both Pro Tools and Live can do either but each does one better than the other.  Here’s a quick list that may help you figure out which is better for your needs.

Pro Tools

  • Pro Tools is the industry standard when it comes to recording and editing Audio.  The reason is that it is great at tracking audio and editing & mixing audio.  If you’re primarily looking for a recording software this is a great choice.  Adding plugins and virtual instruments will give you a great palette of sounds to work with.
  • If your primary need/use is to record audio and your secondary need is to playback those loops this is the way to go
  • If “playback” of your content essentially means pressing play and performing to the loop this is the way to go
  • If you don’t need flexibility when you’re using loops ( to change the arrangement) then this is a good choice


  • If your primary need is to playback loops this is the way to go.  Live is the industry standard for loop playback.
  • If you want flexibility in your arrangement when using your loops live this is the way to go.
  • If you want to use virtual instruments live while using loops this is the way to go.
  • If you want freedom in your worship set when using loops then this is the way to go.
  • If you want to play WITH loops not TO loops, live will allow you to do this perfectly.

So what is my idea of a perfect setup for loops?

  • Pro Tools- For tracking and editing/sweetening of audio
  • Reason-For creating synths and beats
  • Live-For playback of content and hosting VST’s

Again, I want to encourage you if you don’t have the ability to purchase either software that’s okay.  If you do have the ability to purchase them, don’t get stressed trying to decide which is best.  Just figure out what your primary focus will be and purchase the software that is best for that.  And remember you can always purchase the other software when you have the ability and finish out your setup!


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