Are Ableton Live Stock Plugins Good Enough? (Checked)

Producers and budding music makers often wonder whether they can get their music to a professional standard using only stock plugins. This is normal and it is true that you don’t actually need super expensive plugins such as Omnisphere VST or Kontakt to make great music.

Ableton Live has a host of great plugins straight out of the box together with mixing and mastering effects. As an Ableton Live user, you’ll be glad to know that their factory stock plugins can make excellent sounds.

We’ve put together this article to showcase some of the best Ableton Live stock plugins. Because the question is whether Live’s stock plugins are good enough to make great music with.

Let’s jump right in.

Are Ableton Live Stock Plugins Good Enough?

Yes, Ableton Live stock plugins are good enough to make amazing music. They are easy enough for beginners and powerful enough to compete with some expensive third-party plugins.

It’s always the case with new software such as plugins or new DAW that there will be a learning curve. Live’s stock plugins also need some time to get to know them and learn how to manipulate different sounds.

Once you know your way around the different synths and effects, you can recreate any sound you want. This also goes for producing your own signature sound from scratch with Live’s stock instruments.

Beginners will need to learn Ableton Live’s stock plugins and how to manipulate them to get the sound they need. Once the basics are down, you can then save your presets for later use.

We recommend using a good Midi Controller Keyboard for better experimenting and getting down your ideas.

It is always a good idea to save your self-made presets as you go when using Live’s stock plugins. This saves you a ton of time and will help you carve out your own unique sound.

Stock plugins are CPU-friendly and you’re unlikely to run into common problems with Ableton Live. This is because they are built straight into the software without the need to download them separately.

Do Ableton Live Stock Plugins Sound Good?

Absolutely, Ableton Live’s stock instruments and effects sound great when coupled with good mixing and mastering. Furthermore, Ableton Live is used in a professional studio to make songs using only Live’s factory plugins. 

The quality of Live’s plugins is exceptional when you’ve taken the time to experiment and choose the best presets. Your sounds need to complement each other to add to the whole aura of the final song.

Ableton Live Stock Instruments and Effects

Plugin TypePlugin Name
Audio EffectsAmp, Auto Filter, Auto Pan, Beat Repeat, Chorus, Compressor, Corpus, Delay, EQ Eight, EQ Three, Erosion, Filter Delay, Flanger, Gate, Glue Compressor, Grain Delay, Limiter, Looper, Multiband Dynamics, Overdrive, Pedal, Phaser, Ping Pong Delay, Redux, Reverb, Saturator, Simple Delay, Utility, Vinyl Distortion
InstrumentsCollision, Electric, Impulse, Operator, Sampler, Simpler, Tension
Max for Live DevicesArp, Bass, Buffer Shuffler, Convolution Reverb, Cross Delay, Drum Synth, Envelope, Granulator, LFO, Multi, Phaser, Pitch Hack, Random, Resonators, Spectral Blur, Step Sequencer, Texture Beats, Voice Box

A good deal of mixing will go a long way to get Ableton Live’s stock sounds to pop. This includes EQ’ing and playing with some saturation and compression.

Producers love the Glue Compressor in Ableton to add some puck to their kicks and glue their mids and highs. This stock plugin can also be used in the final mastering stage of the mix to glue it all together.

Mixing and mastering is all about polishing and enhancing your production and the best way to do this is by balancing the sounds. Live’s Equalizer plugin EQ Eight is a great starting point to achieve your clear and polished sound.

All these mixing tools such as EQ and compression are included in all Ableton Live versions. You can edit and experiment with the different presets to get the song to your liking.

What Producers Use Ableton Live in 2023?

Are Ableton Live Stock Plugins Good enough
Photo courtesy of
  • Mike Dean
  • Marshmello
  • Armin Van Buuren
  • Kaskade
  • Trent Reznor
  • Jean-Michel Jarre
  • Deadmau5
  • Flying Lotus
  • David Guetta
  • Skrillex
  • Madeon
  • Flume
  • Knife Party
  • Diplo
  • Bassnectar
  • Daft Punk

What Hip Hop Producers Use Ableton Live in 2023?

  • Tay Keith
  • Pi’erre Bourne
  • MikeWillMadeIt
  • Jahlil Beats
  • DJ Mustard
  • Metro Boomin’
  • Quay Global
  • Ronny J

  • MMG
  • Drumma Boy
  • London On Da Track
  • Nard & B
  • Cash MoneyAP
  • Murda Beatz
  • Just Blaze
  • Nitti
  • Ron Ron The Producer
  • Speaker Knockerz
  • 808 Mafia

Can I Use Ableton Live Stock Plugins For Professional Music Production?

Yes, Ableton Live is a professional music-making software and the stock plugins and sounds that come with it are just as professional. 

Best Ableton Live stock Plugins for Mixing and Mastering:

  • EQ Eight: A powerful equalizer with 8 bands, different filter types, and a built-in spectrum analyzer.
  • Glue Compressor: A transparent compression plugin based on the SSL bus compressor, perfect for adding density and character to your mix.
  • Multiband Dynamics: A dynamic processing plugin with 4 frequency bands for balancing dynamics and controlling frequency-specific issues.
  • Saturator: A versatile distortion plugin for adding warmth and saturation to your mix, with various saturation types.
  • Utility: A plugin for controlling gain, phase, and stereo width to balance levels and stereo imaging.
  • Reverb: A plugin with different reverb types for creating space and atmosphere in your mix.

There are always a variety of alternative third-party plugins that can replace each of Ableton Live’s stock plugins. 

Sometimes, the whole structure of the song can determine whether you sound professional or not. This means choosing sounds that complement each other and have their own space in the mix. 

In a 2019 interview with DJ TechTools, Ableton’s CEO Gerhard Behles revealed that over 70% of Grammy nominees in the Dance/Electronic categories used Ableton Live in some capacity to produce their music.

Ableton’s Live includes all the necessary instruments and effects to get your sound to a professional level. If you’ve learned the software, your production will improve over time and you’ll work much faster too. 

Ableton also has Push, their own controller which goes head-to-head with Maschine for a seamless workflow when making beats and melodies. For even better workflow and efficiency, most producers also integrate Ableton Live with Maschine.

How Can I Improve The Sound Of Ableton Live Stock Plugins?

To improve the quality of Live’s stock plugins, you’ll need to experiment a lot in order to achieve an improved final mix. This includes playing around with different presets and patches from Live’s stock plugins.

Live’s stock plugins come with a lot of different presets you can use to edit and get the sound that you need. You can tweak them accordingly and then give them their own space in the mix.

As soon as you find the right sound, you can then add some EQ to shape it and cut out unwanted frequencies. Live’s EQ Eight and EQ Three are great for this purpose and they also have their own presets.

If you’re happy with your layered sounds and equalization, it’s time to get some compression in. Compression helps the different sounds glue together and complement each other.

So are Ableton live stock plugins good enough to use throughout your whole mix? Different mixing and mastering techniques will help you figure out if this is true.

The Glue Compressor is a go-to for most producers and adds that final touch to your mixes. It makes the sounds more consistent and polished to achieve some clarity within your final mix.

If you just can’t get the sound you need, you can just pass your mix over to a professional mixing engineer. These are professionals at making sure each sounds has its own space in the mix and pops out.

Another awesome idea is to use some delay and reverb on different sounds to add some sparkle and variety. It is advised to use these plugins sparingly as they can muddy up your final mix.

With that said, a good dose of experimentation is good for achieving great results. You might come across a different path altogether for your tracks.

Can I Use Third-Party Plugins With Ableton Live?

Of course! Ableton Live can be used with third-party plugins that can enhance and complement the stock plugins. Third-party VSTs can also help you achieve a unique sound if you can t get it using Live’s built-in plugins.

There is a wide range of third-party plugins and effects to choose from and the list can often become overwhelming, especially for beginners.

Best Third-Party Plugins For Ableton Live

Omnisphere 2Ozone (iZotope)
SerumGuitar Rig
DivaSausage Fattener
KontaktValhalla VintageVerb
TAL-U-NO-LXFabFilter Pro-L2
Korg Legacy EditionPro-Q3 FabFilter 

For beginners and amateurs, it’s important to learn the basics of synthesis and mixing with Live’s stock plugins first. This allows you to transfer that knowledge to third-party plugins when the time is right. 

Third-party plugins can be overwhelming when you first start out with them because of their interface and workflow. Live’s plugins are already integrated into the DAW itself so they don’t need to be optimized. 

Unfortunately, Live’s stock plugins might not offer the sonic quality or variety that you be aiming for. This is where third-party plugins can come in and close that gap. 

A quick drawback with some third-party plugins is that they may sometimes require more processing power. You might need a powerful computer for third-party plugins to run seamlessly without latency issues. 

Ease of use and compatibility are just some of the factors you need to check when it comes to using third-party VSTs. 

Not all VSTs will be user friendly and some might even be very CPU intensive. Ableton’s stock plugins are compatible with both MAC and Windows, which some third-party plugins aren’t.

How Do I Know If I Need To Invest In Third-Party Plugins?

When you’ve played around and experimented with most of your DAW’s stock plugins and features. Sometimes it helps inspiration and creativity to try a different interface, workflow, and sounds. 

Most producers naturally get to a point where their sound is mature and professional. This is the point where it just makes sense to look into investing in some third-party plugins. 

Stock plugins

It is best to learn Ableton Live inside out first before you think about purchasing other DAWs or third-party VSTs. The knowledge is transferable and your productions will improve when you transfer to a new plugin or DAW. 

For a budding or amateur musician, third-party plugins might not be necessary when starting out. A seasoned professional with published music might be in a better position to splurge on expensive VSTs and effects. 

Third-party VSTs are just tools you can use to create dynamic music, but they can add some much-needed inspiration along the way. Sometimes, you just need to avoid the stock sounds you hear every time. 

A third-party plugin might also improve your workflow so that you are more efficient in your productions.  

You also need to look at your budget because some third-party plugins can be expensive. Plugins such as Omnisphere and Kontakt Libraries don’t come cheap.

Is It Worth Buying Third-Party Plugins If I Already Have Ableton Live Stock Plugins?

This depends on your specific needs and the sound that you ultimately want to achieve. If Live’s stock plugins don’t offer features and the sound you’re after, it would be a good idea to research third-party VSTs. 

Although Ableton’s stock VSTs are among the best in the production space, they can become quite stale over time. Third-party plugins can offer great value in terms of diversity and achieving the sound you want. 

Some Third-party Plugins with Prices

Plugin NameTypePrice
Pro-Q 3 by FabFilterEqualizer$179.00
Neve 1073 by Universal AudioEqualizer$157.00
Abbey Road RS124 by WavesCompression$59.99
Waves CLA-2A by WavesCompression$49.99
Delay Tape-201 by ArturiaDelay$99.00
Valhalla Plate by ValhallaReverb$50.00

A good idea is to research and try out different software before deciding on a final purchase. Many big-name third-party VSTs and effects offer time-limited trials so you can try the software out before buying it. 

Ableton Live also has a Lite version and a trial version, which can be downloaded for free. New users can download the software and try it out to see if it fits their production needs. 

You will then need to purchase an Ableton Live license in order to use the software without any restrictions and limitations. 

You might also find that buying a certain VST just improves your workflow you’re more efficient with it. This is awesome for your creative process because you can create tracks faster and actually enjoy the process. 

Huge VSTs such as Omnisphere and Kontakt have made a name for themselves by becoming the industry standard. Although they can be quite expensive, they might be important when you need to collaborate with other producers.

Can Ableton Live Stock Plugins Be Used In Other Daws?

No, unfortunately, stock plugins only work within their own DAW, but there are ways around this. For example, you can’t use FL Studio stock plugins inside Ableton Live and vice versa. 

With the advent of Rewire, a program that allows one DAW to be used in another, it is possible to run stock plugins in other DAWs. One VST will actually run as a VST plugin within another DAW. 

Let’s check how this is done: 

How To Run Stock Plugins in Another DAW

The Rewire process only works on certain VSTs and DAWs and is not a native feature in many workstations. The process is also cumbersome for beginners to set up and might not be worth it. 

Stock plugins and VSTs have a certain unique code that will only allow them to run in their native DAW and not any others. Third-party VST, AAF, or AU, however, will run on most DAWs without a problem.

Are Ableton Live Stock Plugins Easy To Use For Beginners?

Yes, Ableton Live’s stock plugins are great for beginners learning music production. Ableton Live’s workflow is user-friendly and easy to use and the same goes for its stock plugins and effects. 

You’ll need some time to learn the basics of Ableton Live and all of its tools. This will give you some confidence to make your own unique sound with the included presets. 

A good way to start is to experiment with the included stock presets for the stock software instruments. Once you’re confident, you can then start to tweak the presets to your liking to get the sound you want. 

All of Live’s stock plugins are seamlessly integrated into the DAW itself and this makes it super easy to learn. The interface also matches with the whole design of the DAW so beginners won’t be overwhelmed with contrasting designs.

The Verdict: Are Ableton Live Stock Plugins Good Enough?

There’s no doubt about it: Ableton Live’s stock plugins are good enough. They may not have all the features or sound quality of third-party plugins, but they are powerful, versatile, and designed to work seamlessly with the DAW’s workflow.

So, if you’re just starting out or on a budget, don’t be afraid to use Ableton Live’s stock plugins. With a little experimentation and creativity, you can create amazing music using only the tools that come with your DAW.