Best DAW for Arrangements

I have a memory from the past posing a question to me now. Back in the day i used Nuendo and recorded live drums, chopped and dragged the recorded files about in to some sort of shape. Years past and as i did bits of recording in Studios switched to Pro Tools to mimic their setup at home. More years and became more interested in electronic music, switched to Abelton had a fling with Bitwig but came back to Ableton because of Max4Live.

Now the question somewhere in that past I remember being able to drag a files length over a time period and for that file to be stretched to that length lowering the pitch accordingly and im not sure which DAW it was, this way of working, which i found creative does not seem possible in the Ableton arrangement view ?

And so it got me wondering which DAW is the most flexible and creative and helpful and clean from an Arrangement perspective where you always get to see audio clips against time/beat/grid information ? Any thoughts are most welcome.

You can stretch any audio-clip in Arrangement view in Ableton. For the pitch to drop accordingly you need to have “Repitch” chosen as the Warp-setting for the clip.


You mean stretch by dragging the audio clip edge? As that isnt working for me, only duplicates the clip as far as i can tell?

Hi, I updated above with some links. See if you get some help there.

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Thanks for the link. The end result can be achieved in Abelton but not in the way I remember doing, that being clicking on and dragging a clip edge and this resulting in the sound being stretched all with an Arrangement style view.

Well, this puzzled me so I had to fire up Live and see for myself. Sorry I couldn’t give you a better answer before, but sometimes I forget shortcuts etc when off the Daw. Anyway, I just tried and it works. While holding Shift click and drag the edge of the clip and it will stretch. Depending on the chosen warp-mode you get different artifacts. You can have it “repitch” or you can have the sound break down in various interesting ways.

I tried looking for a video on the site @pATCHES - but couldn’t find it right now. It’s probably there among their (great!) tips.


My word you’re right! Thank you for that its great to know .

I guess im still wondering if any other DAWs lend themselves more readily to arrangement editing. Do you have any view on that?

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Short answer that could have more detail once I’m at home if needed, but Reaper is great for this and I will almost certainly never move to another arrangement DAW. Using ReaRoute from Ableton or Max into Reaper is perfect for my workflow and certainly via keyboard shortcuts allows the quick resizing / stretching you mention (although anecdotally - and possibly based on hearsay only - I’m told the stretching engine is not as good)

It’s def less grid-focussed in principle but set up nice markers and grids and it should be ideal, plus its incredibly good value for money and the expandability via extensions is amazing


I don’t have a very broad DAW experience, but I am also extremely pro Reaper, and you can certainly drag to time-stretch items with ease (hold Alt + drag, from memory). I do this all the time! You can also check a box in the settings of each item to toggle whether of not the pitch is changed with the time stretch, which is helpful depending on what you are going for.


Thirding Reaper for this kind of work.

I’m not an expert on that topic, and I think for small changes it’s probably transparent. But, in a very Reaper-esque way, there is a high degree of customization for the algorithms. They’ve added a few over the years:


Oh wow, i did not know there were so many options. That’s amazing, cheers for the link

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I am not commenting on the time-stretching side of your question, but rather the other side - the fluent arrangement aspect. I would like to throw Digital Performer into the ring as well. It’s a tremendously arranger-friendly piece of kit, having started out as a MIDI studio, and thus it’s got a grid-centric arrangement philosophy – but with a very very flexible idea of grid, meter, and timing. It’s ability to retime MIDI as well as audio (I believe they’re now using top-quality audio restretching algorithms, though i’m not a current user of the software) is possibly one of the best, as I haven’t found that other DAWs give hardly any consideration to musical MIDI transformations whereas DP had it from the beginning, as it was the core focus. I’m seriously re-considering this DAW again, and was glad to see they’ve kept it pretty current. That said, it hasn’t got the development money or effort behind it that Steinberg and Ableton put into their. products, so while it’s quite a modern DAW, there are still a lot of things done differently or outright missing that may or may not be dealbreakers for you, although they’ve closed most of the important gaps recently. However, the things it does right may in fact make you consider that most current DAWs have major missing features too! :wink:

Not sure if this directly applies to your question, but i like using logic for it’s beat mapping capabilities. I will track something like guitar or piano loosely to a click, but then go back in and beat map the slight tempo fluctuations from my playing, and then sequence with rewire from ableton in. So i get an organic sounding track, but can also sequence in time afterwards.

I find it hard to use ableton to arrange, so the crux of my situation currently is how to use ableton for its effects, and record into logic. Rewire is nice for sequencing but I haven’t figured out how to use rewire for audio effects.

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Can you not use something like Sound Flower or its current equivalent? i thought that was multi channel

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Thanks for all the info. Im now trying out Reaper. And Digital Performer will be investigated , im a big fan of pushing midi patterns around in different directions to get something fluid. Yeah, thanks

I had never heard of that - i will definitely be looking into it!

If you are on Mac then Logic X

(in my views) REAPER is winner in : -plaftorm independence ( linux, raspberryPi , win, mac) , cost (60-220) ,audio editing, low system requirements…
Ableton is more sexy and is coupled with cycling74 (max4live…) -that is (also) why is more liked in modular and ambient-minimal-intelectual music community.

Personally I cannot get over the absolute awfulness that is Reaper’s click-heavy, pop-up heavy, sub-window-heavy UI. It’s possibly the worst UI I’ve ever used for any software, and I’ve seen some absolute stunners back in the Win 3.11 days.

You’re not wrong, but I still love it.