In this tip, Pyramind instructor Will Marshall goes over his views on the advantages and disadvantages of DJing with Ableton versus CDJs. Will has performed using both, so he is able to speak to how he uses them for different types of performances. This is a must watch for up and coming producers who are getting ready to start performing live.
First he goes over the advantages of using CDJs. One major advantage CDJs have is venue consistency - they are installed in almost every venue you might play in. You don’t have to carry any gear with you - so the convenience factor is huge.
Another major advantage is performance flexibility. You can easily change your set on the fly to adapt to different audiences and their energy. You can also spontaneously scratch, loop, or trigger cues during your set. This is where CDJs excel when compared to Ableton.
The main disadvantages of using CDJs are the limited FX choices, as well as not being optimal for live instrument integration. However, when it comes to traditional DJing, CDJs are a better choice.
Next, Will talks about the advantages and disadvantages of performing live using Ableton. One major advantage Ableton gives you over CDJs is in constructing live shows - allowing you to precisely dial in how you want certain tracks to be delivered.
Ableton also provides you with precision regarding FX and performance planning. If you’re performing with other musicians, or perhaps a live band - Ableton really shines. You can also easily integrate live synth work into your performance - another area where Ableton comes out on top.
One disadvantage of performing live using Ableton is the amount of prep work required. If you’re performing with a band or performing a set that is pretty specific, the prep work isn't as much of an issue. However, if you’re doing more traditional DJing and want to change up your set a lot, the prep work can be tedious. This leads Will to discussing the other main disadvantage - not being able to change your performance on the fly. Everything has to be planned and dialed in beforehand, leaving less room for spontaneous changes mid set.
Overall, both devices are great tools for live performances. CDJs seem to be the more practical choice for traditional DJing, although there are plenty of DJs who use Ableton. If you’re performing with a band or other musicians, or you want to be very meticulous with your set, Ableton is the way to go.