Ableton Live Voted The Best Digital Audio Workstation In The World

Ableton Live Voted Best DAW In the World

Ableton Live has been voted “Best DAW In The World” by readers of, one of the leading Internet destinations for electronic music information.

Over 5,000 votes from around the world were cast in Synthtopia’s Best DAW In The World Poll. This poll is thought to be the largest poll of its kind.

The top position was hotly contested by FL Studio, which garnered 24% of the votes, compared to the 25% of Ableton Live.

Other popular DAW’s included Apple Logic, Cockos Reaper, Cubase, Propellerhead Reason/Record & Cakewalk Sonar.

The Top 10 DAW’s In The World

  1. Ableton Live – 25%
  2. FL Studio – 24%
  3. Apple Logic – 13%
  4. Cockos Reaper – 12%
  5. Cubase – 6%
  6. Propellerhead Reason + Record – 5%
  7. Cakewalk sonar – 3%
  8. Avid Pro Tools – 3%
  9. Apple GarageBand – 1%
  10. Sony Acid – 1%

Other options, including Steinberg Nuendo, Renoise, PresSonus Studio One, MOTU Digital Performer, Ardour, Adobe Audition, Dr T’s Keyboard Controlled Sequencer, Nanoloop, Mackie Tracktion, got 1% or less of the votes.

Write-ins were also allowed. (See the complete list below.) Some of the stranger write-in options were “iDunno”, “the one you use” and “mama’s cake.”

The Best DAW poll results are sure to be controversial – so weigh in with your thoughts on the results.

And if you’ve got ideas on how we could improve future polls, let us know!

About The Best DAW Poll

This poll represents the subjective opinion of readers of, rather than an objective comparison of features of the various DAWs. As such, it is influenced by the makeup of the readership of Synthtopia & the relative strength of each DAW’s online user community.

For the purposes of this poll, options were presented in random order for voting.

Some evidence of ballot-stuffing was identified early on, so voters were limited to one vote, by cookie & IP address, for the majority of the poll.

Write-ins included:

  • amplitude 6
  • Orion 6
  • Samplitude 5
  • Audacity 4
  • Reaper 3
  • Fork 2
  • reaper 2
  • Bhajis Loops 2
  • EnergyXT 2
  • Buzz 2
  • Mixcraft 5 1
  • lmms 1
  • Mixcraft 1
  • Question is non sensical 1
  • reason 1
  • Protools 1
  • Sawstudio 1
  • sequoia 1
  • Studio Vision Pro 1
  • Energy XT 2.5.2 1
  • ars ‘n’ Pipes (amiga) 1
  • maschine 1
  • bars and pipes 1
  • iDunno 1
  • synapse orion platinum 1
  • proppellahed 1
  • Mu.Lab 3 1
  • only know ableton, but it’s not a base for decision 1
  • lsdj 1
  • Jeskola Buzz 1
  • orion 1
  • Cool Edit Pro 2.1 1
  • Acoustica Mixcraft 1
  • presonus studio one 1
  • Orion Platinum 1
  • the one you use 1
  • Maschine 1
  • Nuendo 1
  • Zynewave Podium 1
  • Sensomusic Usine 1
  • Audiomulch 1
  • cock 1
  • SawStudio 1
  • there is no ‘best’ 1
  • iSequence for iPad 1
  • Podium 1
  • soundscape 1
  • MINE! 1
  • TESTasto 1
  • gary numan 1
  • Synaspe Orion 1
  • The Law Of Miracles 1
  • mu lab 1
  • energy xt 1
  • soundation studio 1
  • DAWson’s Creek 1
  • pro tools 1
  • ensoniq Paris 1
  • Magix Music Maker 16 Premium 2009 1
  • RaXnTraX 1
  • LMMS 1
  • Project5 1
  • The DAW Of The Dead by Romero 1
  • Sequoia 1
  • mixcraft 1
  • Mixcraft5 1
  • Sony Soundforge 1
  • max/msp 1
  • Pro Tools 8 1
  • cooleditPRO 1
  • Opcode Vision 1
  • Accessible for blind people. Sonar and Reaper come close but not great. 1
  • Propellerheads Record 1
  • mama’s cake 1

77 thoughts on “Ableton Live Voted The Best Digital Audio Workstation In The World

  1. no way…
    I'm using Live since version 1.0 so I know that thing inside out but best DAW is just crazy…
    it's a great piece of software but you can' compare it to PT or LOgic /Cubase not even from a distance. Mind, I use ALL of them…

  2. The poll topic was 'which is the best DAW' and not 'which DAW do you like most'. I think there is a difference between the two. For example I voted for Reaper, which I think is 'the best' but I don't like it at all and never use it…

    It would be interesting to have a new poll which would ask 'which one do you like most' and finally to compare results…Maybe the correlation between the best (imply 'technically') and the one you like ( less rational) is not as important as that ?
    I think people have already voted for the one they like most…

  3. Ableton Live at the top is no surprise – but WTF with Fruity Loops?

    Does anybody really use that or do they just have a rabid fan club?

  4. Having had no attachment to any DAWs and a desire to add some software interoperability with my hardware performances I recently sampled FL, Ableton, Reaper and Reason. I came to the conclusion that Ableton really is the best and voted accordingly. FL had some saving graces in usability over others such as Reaper, despite its amateurish appearance, so I'm not too surprised to see it so highly favored.

  5. Ableton makes sense, but I'm surprised Logic didn't fair better.

    Really amazed by the long list of DAWs, though, never knew there were so many.

  6. Ableton is fun, but it is really just a toy. The FX, Synths and most options are stripped down compared to Cubase and Logic. The worst thing is it compresses the hell out of everything and makes everything sound the same. At least people have stopped falling for the ultimate suckage that is Pro Tools. 😀

  7. FL Studio is mainly Drum n Bass producuers *cough*KIDS*cough*. I guess they all band together… I only see FL as a toy, and constantly remind people it IS called "Fruity Loops" which sounds ridiculous. I used it, it's too close to a toy and yet impossible to get deep with it.

    Can you tell I'm an Ableton addict? Not having much need to record live audio and mainly working with synths, ableton works best for me.

  8. Really? FL Studio is #2? Did a bunch of High Schoolers vote in this poll? Reason + Record isn't the best (at least as a DAW), but it's my favorite. I've heard good things about Cubase and Logic. I have ProTools, but it drives me crazy with all the rendering and the unintuitive interface.

  9. The cheeky "Best in World" title, as others have aptly put it, it ends up being "The One You Use". And Mmmmm suggests that "My Favorite DAW" might have been more useful. Also, the title side-steps the fact that the Synthtopia demographic is perhaps a little bit skewed toward a particular range of genres. Still, it was a simple enough poll to produce an effective sound-bite.

    But rather than try to argue which DAW has the strongest MIDI features, most flexible time-signatures, best included instruments/plug-ins, best bang-for-buck, etc.; — which would have made for a complex poll– the goal was much more manageable.

    FWI, I've used MOTU's Performer/Digital Performer since 91.

  10. I like how someone put Maschine as an other option. Maschine is totally not a DAW, but frustratingly close to it. I wish they would change a few things and add a few features cause Maschine is fun as shit.

  11. I voted for live but i have to say FL is not a toy anymore. You can get very creative with it. And it's fun to use. So maybe thats what those 24% meant…

  12. The poll is based on how many users of a specific software feel the need to chime in the fact they use it. That has nothing to do with "the best daw". It just means Live and FL Studio users have no music to make, just polls to take. 5,000 votes? That is like .001 of the entire daw market, highly scientific. If you want a more realistic poll, check out other countries use and you'll see the real "best daws" at the top of the list. This would be cubase, reason, protools and live. Let's not play around with these silly polls and actually believe they mean anything at all.

  13. given the fact that most FL Studio users are want to be gansta producers, aging from 9 to 17. it's easy to see that this poll was probably hacked and tainted with proxy (ip changing) submitted votes from the same gansta beat makers. it takes someone a few years to find out what you're missing after using FL Studio. lucky most of the users are pirates and aren't out the money for their "free updates for life" SCHEME. which will get you, minimal host updates, free 1990's plugins and your very own cut down or demo'd version of a want to be vst instrument. oh now i see why FL Studio is #2, NOT.

  14. here is what is top selling DAW ranking in Japan

    (Based from the survey of Mixi SNS Community and Community in 2010 May)
    1 : Cubase (12544)
    2 : Ableton LIVE (8651)
    3 : Cakewalk SONAR (6743)
    4 : ProTools (5606)
    5 : Reason (3898)
    6 : Logic Pro (2904)
    7 : FL Studio (2899)
    8 : Garage Band (452)
    9 : REAPER (427)

  15. I'm most of all a Live user and after reading many music fora and online blogs and stories there just isn't any denying that Live has a big influence.

    I think Live is a two faced phenomenon. Its key strength is automatically also a perceived weakness. Namely the interface. Its very direct and to the point, right to a level where some people perceive this as "easy" or maybe even "cheap". Naturally the power lies underneath all that, but like with all things a lot of people don't (bother) to look that far so it seems.

  16. Why you so sensitive on the Fruity Loops moniker?

    FL is like Kentucky Fried Chicken trying to pass itself off as KFC, to make you think you're not eating a tub of deep fat fried chicken.

    Some of us remember that MOTU is really Mark of the Unicorn, too, and that Sequential Circuit's mascot was a white-haired Gandalf-style wizard!

  17. LIVE is a great composition tool, and my favorite for building songs quickly or remixing. As a FULL FEATURED DAW, it falls short. Feature-wise, Live is far behind logic or Cubase. For Vocal tracking, Pro-tools kills it. For scoring, Live is not even present. For virtual instruments and included effects, it lags far behind Logic, Cubase, and Sonar. same for audio editing, CC automation, scoring to film, bussing, and a million other things…. o and ableton is buggy as hell.

    Despite all this, Ableton is my favorite because of the user interface and it's ability to inspire. Ease of use and and the ability to play it play it like an instrument are perfect for me.

  18. it really doesn't seem like he was being sensitive about calling it Fruity Loops, just point out that it /isn't/ called Fruity Loops. It just /was/ called Fruity Loops.

    the past and the present are two totally different concepts just thought id point that out, seems like you don't get it.

  19. I sold over 80 copies of CRACKED LIVE 7.0.3.
    So, i'm not surprised at this….


  20. All this poll was made for is trolling and for people to thump their chests about how awesome their chosen DAW is like it's some sort of fucking religion and the mere possibility that other DAWs might just be good or better is the end of the world.

  21. So Live users didn't do that then? I've been watching this poll and it's interesting that it was closed as soon as Live took the lead.

  22. Here's my problem with this poll.

    1. The author posts an article how great Live is doing.

    2. Image-Line have a little social networking fun and the poll skews to FL Studio. Author sequels about it.

    3. Author waits for Live to re-take the lead and closes the poll.

    It's clear the author is a Live fanboy and indeed this site is a Live fanboy page (check the forums).

  23. of all daws i know live supports my creativity most. so if you like to be creative you will be a live fanboy sooner or later…

  24. There is no best, there is just what works best for you and everyone has different needs and goals.

    This goes for EVERY platform debate. DAWs, OSes, Phones, Soft/Hard synth, musical styles, the list goes on.

    I love Ableton Live, it is by far the best FOR ME. But that's because I make electronic music that fits well into the pattern based paradigm and I like to compose in my DAW environment.

    If I were a more traditional Audio Engineer, and I was recording a traditional band, I am certain that any of Logic, Cubase, Sonar, etc would be a far better choice.

  25. "This poll represents the subjective opinion of readers of, rather than an objective comparison of features of the various DAWs. As such, it is influenced by the makeup of the readership of Synthtopia & the relative strength of each DAW’s online user community."

    Not sure what you don't understand about that.

    They're not saying Live is the best daw and they're not saying that they like Live the best, they're saying that people voted Live the best daw.

    And what's up with the Fruity Loops and Reapers users trying to cheat all the polls and then complaining because they didn't get to cheat enough?

  26. O.k. as far as I am concerned, there is no " Best " there is what is " Most Popular "
    People slam FL Studio, and I don't see what the joke is. It's an environment that
    I am most comfortable in. it's like a Lamborghini, yeah, it's an awesome car, and
    would be perfect for one peron, but not all. I don't like cars, I like SUV's, they fit my needs
    and I am most comfortable in a SUV.

    I read some people here say " It just means Live and FL Studio users have no music to make "
    and " given the fact that most FL Studio users are want to be gansta producers "
    this tells me they have absolutely no experience with FL Studio, or tried it and it was " Too different " then what they are use to so it's rubbish then.

  27. I create Ambient, evolving atmospheric soundscape music and most everything I do is in FL Studio, there is nothing wrong with it. I have tried other DAWs and not saying they were bad, but it just seemed like greek to me so I uninstall and fire FL Studio back up and get down to creating music. I'd never bash a DAW or anyone that uses a particular DAW, and I think that anyone that does, is plain immature at best.

  28. 1. future proof?
    2. work flow?
    3. number of workarounds?
    4. number of limitations?
    5. sounds quality?
    6. basic saturation, distortion units?

    image-line makes more money from selling after market vsts to pirates then it does in legal sales. their copy protection methods and lack of urgency to solve such rampant internet piracy is quite intriguing. but if you think about it, "all updates free for life", it's pretty much something they're giving away free anyways. so how much do they really care about their host environment? don't you think the 1990's outdated coding platform is a little outdated? 64 bit, 128, 256?

    FL Studio becomes an expensive sketchpad over time. You could save money and time spent learning an environment, if you choose a future proof, not stripped down version that provides the highest quality vst and vsti included. unless you enjoy getting trapped in the web add on expense.

  29. Oh look it's EX3 everybody. What have you got against Image-Line, I see you posing as JMC, Gol and about 20 other people all over the internet spouting BS. They must have finally locked you out of the forums because your BS is out of date.

  30. Come on what a joke. FL Studio gives you lifetime free updates and you talk about expensive 'add on VST's'? What about $150-$250 upgrade costs associated with Live, Reason, Cubase etc etc. I don't know anyone (no matter what DAW they are using) that doesn't end up buying more VSTs that the DAW shipped with. Sound quality? I see you are a tin-foil hat wearing wannabe.

  31. reason/record update is $129. doesn't require any additional vsts.

    fl studio signature costs $299. (factory vsts are questionable)
    image-line changes $189 maximus (should be free, all other companies include one)
    they also charge $179 for sytrus (should be included free, only half way decent synth they offer)
    you're already @ $667.

    reaper ($60) + nobrainers plugs ($20×4=$80) + crysonic entire bundle ($59) = $199, that would be the price of the fl studio producer bundle.

    times are changing, vst prices are too. free for life SCHEMES only work in a healthy vst economy. i wonder if the 32 bit operating source/host/platform that fl studio is coded in (delphi) will be as forgiving as the naive in a few years when 32 bit becomes extinct.

  32. Spend another $229 @ ikmultimedia and get 3 synths, maybe 4+ during the group buy…

    you're only @ $428..

    seriously it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this stuff out. get future proof, 64 bit, fully customizable and weekly updated DAW with top notch 3rd party vsts for a fraction of the cost. fl studio should be on the bottom of your list of choices in this day and age. people are still living in the past, thinking their 1990's instruments and effects still stand up to all the options and advancements in today's market. good luck image-line. my guess is a vst only company in a less then 2 years. hopefully i'm wrong, because i own this shabby piece of retro ware, legally.

  33. Logic and Fruity Loops both have a sample/song structure hierarchy that is extremely efficient and I miss it in Live and Reason. I was so happy to leave Reason's double-click happy sequencer and Digital Performer for Live. Now, I'm looking forward to Reason 5, although Record seems like a giant screenhog, but mulitrack Reason with a new sequencer and sample editing everywhere could be a new winner. Live has got some retarded aspects to it dealing with basic sample editing, but It's prob my fault.

  34. What crock. You seem to be conveniently ignoring that the FL Studio user will get FL Studio10, 11, 12, 13 etc FREE. While all the other platforms you mention will have cost the user $500-$1400 over that same period just to keep their program bug-free. It's these paid updates for what are mainly bug-fixes that suck. Thank you Image-Line (FL Studio user since FL3 now 9, 6 years of awesome free updates THANK YOU!)

  35. for $129 you get both programs updated from propellerheads. let's see image-line charges $189 for one of their synths and you get…

    kong vs drumaxx demo (corny name btw)
    dr. octo-rex vs nothing
    neptune vs vocodex (closest attempt)
    blocks vs removing blocks

    what are you actually getting free year after year? old hand me down, outdated plugins now made free. cut down versions of vsts or even better demos. you get a bunch of minor bug fixes. and lastly you get major changes every few years. it took them over 7 years to get auto pdc. they are scrambling like mad to get their 32>64 bit crutch, i mean bridge down. also disk streaming. all to help with the elephant in the room, 32 bit host/platform/source code. how long until 32 bit is extinct? what then?

  36. someone has to much time to try and blow smoke up your #@#$! check out which daw got the longest review and which one was the finally punch. fl studio? it's funny how he dodges the fact that the host/platform/source code is all 32 bit FOREVER in an outdated 90's delphi programming language that does not support 64 bit. the developers at image-line have already vowed not to translate millions of lines of code that will take years to get converted, compiled and stable. you can only use so many crutches (bridges) before it takes a toll on the processor and ram. you can only bandaid something so much. let's just keep everyone truthfully informed.

  37. Ableton has done a great job of marketing. I'm new to Ableton and the whole DAW world but … every music store I went into raved about Ableton. And I visited a bunch of stores all over California. We could debate if these music store people knew anything but they all knew Ableton was cool and the thing to use. Congrats Ableton.

  38. I wonder how many comments came from people who use multiple daws and are proficient at them…. Probably almost none.

    1. I used Cubase (5 and then SX2) for 10 years before dabbling in Sonar for a year and then finally moving to Ableton for the last 2.

      When I switched to Ableton, it suddenyl became instantly clear to me that Cubase and Sonar have been made for the traditional Audio Engineer sort of user, and I am just not that kind of user at all.

  39. it's all about learning the environment's structure, workflow and hot keys. just be sure to choose wisely from the start… trying to unlearn fl studio's hokey… hodge podge way of working can actually develop poor habits due to limitations and workarounds. it's nice having all the useful and current tools at your disposal. no wonder so many have trouble using a real professional daw after being infected with the fruity virus.

  40. wow…
    I searched for this too find out which would be best to use…
    Ive tried, FL, Live, Cubase, Sonar – so far – I like Live interface but Sonar is the one for me – so far..
    I agree with previous comment "it depends what you want to use it for, music, film, type of music, band production..etc etc"

    I dont know what to believe if the results are rigged by teenagers but it does sound about right, but again someone said that Live is best for electronic music which is what Iam wanting to create..

    I will keep trying

  41. I am using Live now. Before i used Protools. Now i Love LIve because of its simplicity. It is really simple, cool and user friendly software. I use only for music arranging, not for scoring for film etc. Creating music is really easy with Live. It must be the best daw for arranging music and recording instrument and vocal tracks. it is my experince. you have right to disagree with me anyway.

  42. Isn't there some entity that tracks software sales the way record and car sales are tracked? I would just like to see quarterly sales break downs.

  43. 'fl studio is mainly drum n bass producers'??
    i don't think so…its not a toy anymore, and its quickly surpassing any other daws that are out there…
    i use cubase, logic, reason and fl…and i can tell you that fl is the easiest to operate and does things that the other mentioned daws haven't even thought of yet.

    of course they need to step up their fx processors, coz those kinda suck….but that's what using protools to mix is for…
    and oh yeah, i don't do 'drum n bass' or hiphop….i actually write 'real' might have heard some of it on tv..

  44. please help i just got my internet back on before i was having no problems but anyway for some reason while in abelton i cant pull up whatever cd i have in my drive when i go to workstation no disc shows up as it usually does

  45. I’ve tried SONAR X1, ACID 7, Studio One, Cubase, Reaper, Live, and Energy XT, and I personally am a fan of FL Studio for sequencing and SONAR X1 for recording audio. I’m not sure why so many people bomb on FL Studio just because it’s easy to use. Yeah sure, a lot of youngsters use it, but it’s precisely because it’s easy to use (and get good results from) that it’s so popular with them. I don’t make D&B with it, or Techno, or any of that electronic BS. I compose classical/game music with it. Anyone bombing on FL Studio either hasn’t tried it yet, or is a fool who assumes the DAW they’re using is better.
    I will say this, though. FL should REALLY go 64-bit, ‘cuz all that 32-bit BS is pissing me off. I can’t utilize all my RAM in a 32-bit environment.
    Ultimately, this poll is subjective, so it should be noted that this poll is really “Top 10 (favorite) DAWs (of the limited amount of people that I’ll allow to take this poll before I’m unhappy with the results) in the “world”.

  46. Also important to note is that everything ultimately comes down to personal preference. FL Studio is not for everybody, but neither is Live, or Logic, or Cubase.
    I’ve heard great works come from EVERY DAW listed there.
    DAWs are merely tools. In the right hands, they can do great things.

  47. This is a joke. After years on the grind (and i mean serious grind) ive come to realize ableton is an Amateur DAW trying to mask itself as one of the big boys. Fact is its so easy to use it makes you feel your your the best producer intown!….when really your just throwing stuff together….. Trust me, When you start getting into heavy Modulation using 3rd party (top-of-the-line) Plugins (…I say top of the line cause if its not hardware…then it really has to be the best there is in digital “soundtoys” “Sonnox” “ssl” “softube” etc etc., or its really just playing rather than approaching it profesionaly)

    When you stack 3-4 or 5 Top-of-the-line plugins in a row Ableton completely falls apart…. …then your sitting there (not making music anymore) and trying to find away around the amateur problems (Latency-Slight Timing issues Witch leads to a muddyness etc etc) ……. more and More youll find these issues bieng discussed (same issues) ….I believe its because everyone that started getting there groove on with Ableton is actually maturing into serious Producer/Engineers and were all waking up ruffly @ the sametime, …….”Shit this program actually sucks?!!” Dont get me wrong I love it…Its fun! But really nothing serious can be made from it. I know you can make some great music with it …of course, thats a no brainer, But when you want to go beyond your own limits (continuously evolving) LIVE only reaches a certain point…… Then its just a pain in the ass to even ‘try’ to get the results you need (worflow-sound quality-etc etc) …Logic doesnt ask any question and tells no lies… You can just tell its STRONG …1 thing, I can probly through in 3 times as many plugins before it shows signs of CPU faults. “3 times” thats alot in plugin land

    Fuck Ableton….. So many people are Trying really hard to get used to Logic/Cubase/Protools after investing so many years in this pretenda daw. Im not even gonna go through the list of things Ableton “HIDES” from its users… its pathetic. …I swear its built off of some free template or something haha. seriously though. What year is it??? really, you can only assign half of the features to a command….. frikin joke.

  48. People . Please use Fl studio like “pro” , not “Pro”tool or Logic “Pro” . Fl studio is best DAW for making music

  49. Ableton Live is the best software daw because it makes you creative.Most of the people who bash live have never used live.These same idiot still get on the fourms,and tell everyone it’s a dj only is more than a dj daw you freakin morons.It’s also a live instrument because it has something called session.Arangement view in live is where all other daws start.I can take everything I did in session view,and it’s all placed in arangement view to mix and master.Understand session view is any musical idea thats placed in clips,and you can build drum patters,and any other kind of musical idea in real time.Live is no slouch when it comes to building a massive beat.Live is really special because it’s a build a beat from nothing kind of daw that just works.Live 8 Suite is your meat and potatoes daw with tons of sounds and cool effects it’s limitless.I’m still blown away by live and it’s capabiltys.Any producer that has ideas in his head all the time owns live.It’s by far the best daw to transfer ideas from your head into a working song.It’s just click and drag with live.You have too many steps in other daws like cubase,reason,logic,pro tools,and ect that ruins creative ideas because of it’s workflow.Like i said live is click and drag your done,and your makin awsome ideas because your ideas are easy to transfer from your head.True Story live is the best daw for anyone with a creative mind.People don’t like live because they still think it’s a dj only daw,and it’s their ignorance that makes them miss out on a really creative piece of amazing daw software.

  50. Great review!.. I personally have used FL first (2yrs), then Live (3yrs) and now Logic, Ive seen that FL has improved so much since the last I used it, it’s an awesome DAW, really simple, but the FX are bogus :/ But it’s improving faster than other DAWs, and the affordability of it is great!. .. Live is like, a funner way of making music, it adapts so well to DJs, (to me, at least) I’m a DJ and I like how I can narrow down ideas quickly from Ableton… I recently got Logic because of its features mostly.. I love Logic, although it can work on its Editing workflow.. I’ll just have to get used to it since I don’t have so much time learning key commands 😀

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