Reaper vs Ableton: Breakdown and Comparison

Reaper and Ableton are two popular workstations for professional music creation and optimization. Recording artists and music directors both have used these programs when making sound files. So, which platform is better?

In this guide, I will share with you the pros and cons of each option, providing details about price, usage, and compatibility.

Choosing the right workstation is just as important as making a decision about the best studio monitors. Understanding the differences between the two platforms is important.

Let’s start by taking a closer look at the main differences between Reaper vs Ableton.

Main Differences between Reaper and Ableton

The main differences between Reaper and Ableton are:

  • Ableton has a large number of features, whereas Reaper has only the basics.
  • Ableton has a huge number of instrument sounds, whereas Reaper has only about ¾ of the instrument sounds available.
  • Reaper is much more affordable, whereas Ableton workstation versions can cost over $600.
  • Reaper has an involved support team with many support options, whereas Ableton only has a basic support team.
  • Reaper is compatible with almost any device, whereas Ableton requires a larger memory and storage, which may not work with all devices.


Exploring Reaper vs. Ableton: Features

There are several differences between DAW when creating professional music or otherwise. As these are two of the best audio software stations available, it’s important to take a closer look at various details to see the differences. There is high value in technical considerations as well as personal tastes. Also, price level needs to be considered too.

Top Features

Systems with the highest quality features come out on top. The quantity of features is also important as well, as music recording and editing can be modified in so many different ways.

Put this together, and you have the best possible product. Audio recording, software production, and editing can be completed seamlessly with the right workstation.


While Reaper doesn’t include loops or built-in virtual instruments, it does have free installable plug-ins like Direct-X, VST3, and JS. Reaper workstation records many live instruments at one time and uses the virtual editor to make changes. MIDI quantization cannot be done unless it is with a piano roll.


Ableton beats, samples, melodies, and harmonies are MIDI-friendly. You can also edit existing recordings into almost any sound combination you like. Just recently, Ableton gained the ability to compose several looped regions in its arrangement timeline. Features available with Ableton are geared toward professional recording.


Digital audio workstations depend, to certain degrees, on optimization in audio. Mixing, editing, and multiple instrumental sounds all lend to sound modifications. Both Reaper and Ableton have various optimization options available for both professional and personal use.


The Reaper DAW contains a mixer with standard options. You can track parameters and put together tracks with either a multifaceted routing scheme or just a single chain. Reaper extends its capabilities using Rhea VST effects. Rhea Tune can fix the vocal pitch, and RheaVerb creates a convolution reverb that is realistic.


Ableton’s mixer, while not impressive, can still create a relatively smooth mix. It’s easier to spot mistakes with graphs featured on the compressor, channel EQ, and the gate. However, this workstation has a lovely collection of optimization features, including over 3,000 instrument sounds, 4,000 royalty-free loops, 390 drum kits, and MPE capability. Ableton also has an expansion to the core library. This DAW also has an amazing amount of acoustic material.


Being able to use a digital audio workstation from your chosen device is important. While some DAWs work on almost any computer or mobile device, some do not. Compatibility is an important detail to consider before purchasing a recording and editing workstation.


This workstation uses only 66MB of hard disc space. This means you can install it on any computer system, and you can also use it on a portable device. Any simple or outdated menus or designs can be easily fixed due to Reaper’s preset layouts and free plug-in options. Updates are also free with Reaper.


Ableton doesn’t just work on any system. With this workstation, you will need an Intel Core i5 or AMD multi-core processor. You will also need a minimum of 4GB of RAM. However, 8GB is recommended when it comes to Ableton workstations.


Both platforms have outstanding support teams. When it comes to producing audio, recording, and editing, features may be confusing and overwhelming. With a good support team, aspects of the digital workstation can be easier to use.

While both Reaper and Ableton have support teams, Reaper seems to go above and beyond with their multiple outlets for reaching out. The platform offers a large array of support outlets and a community that is more than happy to help solve problems.


Reaper vs. Ableton: Ease of Use

Ease of use includes anything from device usage to the quality of music recording. Electronic producers do not require multiple instrument recordings, but live musicians do. Ease of use depends greatly on the type of music you wish to produce along with the level of professionalism.


Reaper’s license enables you to install the system on multiple computers, although they cannot be used at the same time. In addition, the Reaper workstation has lower technical requirements, making it easier to use for beginners.


This workstation is focused more on contemporary music production, which usually means using fewer instruments. Ableton has an intuitive interface. You only have to press the space key to switch between arrangement and setting. You can quickly access any other navigational tools.

Reaper vs. Ableton: Price

Free trials are available for both Reaper and Ableton. However, there are noticeable positive and negative viewpoints on each workstation. Both are quality systems, but are both systems worth the price?


This quality workstation comes with a free trial that lasts 60 days. But you aren’t forced to pay for anything at the end of the trial. Instead, there’s an offer to purchase a discounted $60 license or a $225 professional license. This will depend on your needs for the workstation.

The discounted version of Reaper provides a wider set of tools for editing and recording than the Ableton introduction version.


With Ableton, you get 90 days free of charge, but after the free trial, you must pay for the introduction version of the system. There are three versions of Ableton: Intro – $89, Standard – $390, and the Suite version – $670.

Ableton’s intro version offers only a small fraction of Reaper’s discounted license.

Pros and Cons



  • Inexpensive interface with free plug-ins
  • Purchasing this workstation means purchasing the license
  • Easy to use and great for beginners
  • Great support team


  • Limited features
  • Needs plug-ins for truly professional work



  • A great choice for professional recording sessions
  • It has a huge array of features and optimization options
  • It doesn’t require plug-ins to access detailed features.


  • A high price tag for the top version
  • Not recommended for the novice user
  • Support options are limited
  • Not compatible with all systems and requires more memory and space

What Are Some Alternatives?



With a competitive workstation with production and editing software right at your fingertips, Audacity is a viable option. However, this workstation does not have video editing software. It is an audio workstation only. But Audacity does have instrument organization helping you keep instrumental sounds presorted.

Audacity has four themes to choose from and offers an option for donations. This workstation also has its own sound library. Audacity also has MIDI playback and multi-track editing. This DAW is compatible with three systems: Mac OS, Linux, and Windows.

Like some of the other digital audio workstations, Audacity offers quite a few options for support, including community help, FAQs, and email support. The best part about Audacity is that it’s free, except for the donation button. All future updates are also free.

See our comparison between Reaper vs. Audacity to see how this workstation is better.

Logic Pro

log pro

When it comes to some of the best professional-grade workstations, Logic Pro is a good choice. This system was crafted especially for the professional recording studio. The extensive controls and features can even be daunting at times. It’s most certainly not for the novice.

While this DAW was compatible with a few systems in the past, since 2002, Logic Pro has been used almost exclusively with Mac systems as an Apple product. With this being said, Logic Pro provides stunning results with recording, editing, mixing, and producing music.

The software has an extensive audio file library with thousands of instrumental sounds, output tracks, audio patches, and two drum kits categories: 90 drum machine designer kits and 100 Ultrabeat electronic drum kits. Go ahead and produce genre sounds ranging from electronic to classic with this high-grade workstation.

See our comparison of Logic Pro Vs. Pro Tools to understand why this DAW is a great choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What are digital audio workstations used for?

Answer: The DAW is used to record and manipulate audio on a personal computer. While some digital audio workstations are simplistic, others can be packed full of options and features designed for recording, editing, and producing music and other audio.
Your choice of DAW depends on how you wish to use the system. Digital workstations vary as well, with some being crafted more for personal use. In contrast, others are a bit more complicated and used by professional recording artists to create music.

Question: What was the first digital audio workstation called?

Answer: The first DAW was created in the late 70s and early 80s. The very first workstation was called Soundstream, developed in 1977. It was the first system actually called a DAW and was seen as a truly innovative system for transforming audio.

Question: What is digital audio production?

Answer: Music producers use all different types of technology to produce and record music. This music is used in other types of media. Recordings are used on movies, video games, television, and various websites. With digital audio production, there are numerous outlets for audio creation.

Question: What determines the quality of digital audio?

Answer: There are two factors that reveal the true quality of digital audio: the sample format, or bit rate, and sample rate. The quality is greatly improved when the sample rate or bit is increased.

Question: What is an audio interface?

Answer: An interface sends computer audio out to your headphones or studio monitor. It also converts instruments and microphone signals into a format your computer and its software can recognize.

Verdict: Choose Reaper for Easy Use and Amazing Price Options

While both workstations are high-quality digital audio options, Reaper is much easier to use with a price tag you can afford. In addition, the features and optimization of Reaper, while not as extensive as Ableton, can be upgraded with simple plug-ins, which are free.

When it comes to choosing between Reaper and Ableton, I pick Reaper. This workstation is compatible with almost any device and doesn’t take up as much room on the device. The price is phenomenal, and the system is easy to use. It is excellent for the beginner or just for personal use. But don’t cut Reaper short. This workstation is also a great choice for professional recording as well.

The digital audio workstation provides a place to record, edit, and mix your favorite audio. You’ll need a few other accessories like strong speakers and a high-quality microphone. In the comparison between Sennheiser e835 and Shure SM58, you can examine two top-quality microphones that work well with your workstation.

So, if audio manipulation is what you enjoy, whether for personal or professional reasons, Reaper is a great choice. Compare Reaper with other work studios such as FL Studios as a good option for beginner users.

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