Pros and Cons, Abelton or Mainstage
on Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 11:08am
Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 11:08am

Hi all,

I'm new to looping. I have lead worship for years, and recorded digitally on and off over the years but have never had the two collide. I have been reading a lot on the community here to try and determine where to invest as far as software goes. I am the warship leader, I play guitar, and would likely be the one triggering loops/transitions.

So my question is this... what do you see as the pros and cons of Ableton vs Mainstage 2/3 in the live setting while leading? Mainstage looks simpler and more straight forward... Does anyone author loops in Ableton and run live using Mainstage?

Thanks in advance,


  • Contributor
Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 11:46am

I use both a lot. Die-hard Ableton users will definitely make it clear that you can do more in Ableton and that MS is really not a comparison. I certainly would not argue that you can do everything in MS that you can in Live. I will say, though, that for $30 and the advantage of getting to use Logic, I find it a lot easier and more convenient for certain users. No one would ever argue that MS is somehow comparable to Live. They're not supposed to be.

To me, the biggest advantage of using Ableton is the flexibility of automating items more. You can have volumes or segments automatically update mid song. MS is purely a performance software so it doesn't have things like that built in. I like Live for that. Plus, you can do a lot more things (which I don't find helpful for Sunday mornings) in Live (ie: I'm never going to automate ProPresenter via MIDI clips. Maybe you are and there you go - use Live).

I like MS because I can create in Logic, export to MS, and then have it play from start to finish with the ability to adjust roadmaps on the fly. Can you do that in Live? Sure (see my video on that requiring Ableton Suite and a third-party plugin). In my personal opinion, I think it's a lot more work to do it consistently, and that's what nice about MS.

I will at this point let the Live gurus elaborate on their distaste for MS. I just wanted to make sure you heard it from someone who uses both.

Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 11:53am

Thanks Kyle. Your reply is helpful. I don't see myself doing too much adjusting on the fly. I think between leading vocally and playing guitar, I need to keep things simple, at least for the foreseeable future. Having not done much hands on I may be missing something, but I would imagine playing a song through in the "practiced" sequence, with a very occasional chorus repeat or other minor flow change would be the most I would want to do live. It sounds like the workflow from Logic to MS may be an advantage in itself.

Thanks again,


  • Contributor
Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 12:36pm

Sure thing. Like I said, you can certainly do this in Live, as others will I'm sure affirm. For me, though, it's pretty straight forward to do it with MS using something like the LC Mainstage Template, especially if you're already using GB or Logic.

  • Contributor
Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 2:28pm

Totally agree! I currently MS2 and I love it. I am a very visual person so when it comes to mapping things out and creating templates I love it.

I like how easy it is to go between Logic Pro and MS and the price for MS is nothing compared to Ableton. I can go on and on about the pros and cons but for our church and size the ability to be spontaneous while leading and playing is just not necessary.

Plus I have put too many hours into building something that works for us so why move to something else I am not comfortable with just because it's what the majority of "loopers" use lol.

  • Contributor
Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 2:29pm

Oh last thing ha..I have all my custom plugins and patches made in Logic so it is carried over to MS flawlessly!

  • Contributor
Friday, September 6, 2013 - 10:08am

Personally I've used both and I find mainstage is a lot easier to use. I also use logic to record things so in that way everything switches back and forth flawlessly. If you have a sound made while recording in logic to can actually export the sound and import into mainstage and if you have logic pro x and mainstage three you can save patches in user patches and they will show automatically without exporting. I have mainstage three. Love the built in sounds! I love, as a designer, being able to put every piece of equipment and knob in individually and map them to whatever I want.

Also if you are a guitar player and have your computer on the ground you can see what's on your screen easier. I find ableton is tiny. With mainstage you can go fullscreen and have all the parameters for each track show up and just scroll through the setlist on screen.

  • Contributor
Friday, September 6, 2013 - 11:00am

Can you use MS 3 sounds with Logic Pro 9 or do you have to upgrade to Logic Pro X? Also do you know how well Logic Pro 9 works with MS 3 as opposed to MS 2? Sorry for all the

  • Contributor
Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 12:43pm

Tim, I'm wondering the same thing. Did you ever figure that out? I don't want to drop the money on Logic X yet, but I'd like to upgrade MS.

  • Contributor
Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 1:08pm

So you can use some MS3 sounds in logic 9. Most of the new sounds are really just built with the same instruments you would see in logic 9 so..... Now there are a few that wouldn't like if I'm using drummer and a few things like that, that you would never use in MS for live. I would still say I absolutely do not regret putting down the coin for pro X though! Flex Pitch if you do anything with vocals is golden.

  • Contributor
Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 1:09pm

upgrading to MS3 alone is still a good idea, cause you could find all the good sounds using the old instruments and save them then import to logic 9

  • Contributor
Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 1:14pm

awesome! Thanks for the info! I'll definitely upgrade to Logic 10 when I can, but in the meantime I think i will upgrade to Mainstage 3. I just wasn't sure if I'd run into any problems since I don't have Logic 10. Thanks brother!

  • Contributor
Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 1:31pm

Also all your old patches that you have will work with MS3. As a heads up, if you use "downloaded" plugins that are 32bit they won't work with the 64bit MS3/logicX.

  • Contributor
Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 1:33pm

awesome! Yeah I heard that about the 32bit plugins. that stinks... but I don't have a lot of those, so that's good. Thanks again!

  • Contributor
Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 1:37pm

Well, if you have a legit copy of the program they almost all come in both so it'll usually work fine. I just got NI Massive, some focusrite stuff, novation bassstation synth. They all work fine.

  • Contributor
Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 1:45pm

awesome! yeah actually the only thing I have is omnisphere and a couple free things I rarely use. so I'm set. thanks!

  • Contributor
Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 2:07pm

oh, only omnisphere eh? lol I'll trade ya!

  • Contributor
Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 2:39pm

haha. massive is pretty sweet I hear.

  • Contributor
Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 2:45pm

Killer for Bass sounds especially.

Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 6:19pm

Hey All,

I am new to loop community and looping/tracks in general. I am wondering if you all wouldn't mind sharing your perspective on what is currently working best for you. I am a worship pastor that leads from guitar and most likely will be triggering loops/tracks (mostly tracks). After reading this thread I have gathered that for my situation most likely MS3 is the best software to use but I am open to using abelton as well. Are most of you using split tracks or multitracks? If you are using split tracks how does that work if you have a full band with you on stage? Does the live drummer play over the drum tracks? I understand that if you use a multitrack you choose what you send to FOH. Also, what is the best interface to use if you are using multi-tracks? I am also looking into a Radial ProD8 and a looptimus foot controller unless you guys have some better options.

Many thanks,


  • Contributor
Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 11:54pm

MS3 is the best for $30, but I think all would agree Ableton has MUCH more control and versatility, which is why its more expensive but very much worth it.

  • Contributor
  • Ninja
Saturday, February 28, 2015 - 7:09pm

Even the Intro version of Ableton Live 9 is fine for launching live clips as a guitar player. I have Suite because I also create with it, but it's not necessary if you plan on purchasing multi-tracks to use in Worship. I recommend multi-tracks because it allows the flexibility to mute/unmute tracks as needed for a particular service.

An earlier comment was made about Ableton's User Interface has a screen that was tiny compared to other DAWs. Actually, you can expand the screen to take up the entire available screen area if you take the time to learn how the program works.

What I like most about it is the flexible routing at your fingertips. You can route any signal from an external source or from the software to any channel you want to send out. Your only limitation is the amount of sends your interface has. To my knowledge, it works with any interface you choose...

You can group tracks, and/or take advantage of all the options available from the midi controller you choose as well.

It's money well spent if you ask me.

Monday, January 18, 2016 - 7:31pm

Look...I am a diehard ableton user and I'd totally tell ya that nothing comes close. BTW it's the ONLY software I use and I use it for a lot (effect pedal, synth, loops, sounds, click track, pro presenter slide cues, ect...) The problem is that people don't spend enough time working in ableton to figure out what it can really do. The sounds are better than MS the workflow is better than MS AND it's highly customizable... it's 720$ more and worth every ¢. I don't think any tutorial of ableton live can cover even the main things but I'm pretty sure you could just about hit everything MS can do in a 30 minute video.

  • Contributor
Wednesday, January 24, 2018 - 2:16pm

Anyone know where I can find info (tutorial) on best practices for setting up you MS files for adjusting roadmaps "on the fly"?