Max for Live is a platform that lets you build your own devices for use in Ableton Live.
With Max for Live, you can create your own custom synthesizers, samplers, sequencers, audio effects, and much more. Max for Live also allows you to build devices that modify Live itself, including the properties of tracks, clips, and native Live devices.
If you’re not interested in constructing your own devices, there are plenty of free ones out there that you can add to your collection. Below, we share our top 10 Max for Live devices that you can grab for absolutely free.
1. Palmas (MIDI instrument)
Palmas is a playful but useful device that’s dedicated to one task: synthesizing claps. It provides up to 32 pairs of hands to simulate anything from a lone clapper to a large group of people. There are additional parameters that control stereo position, velocity, playback speed, and attack, allowing for fine control over timbre and character. To top things off, you’re greeted with different philosophical quotes if you hover over each of the four parameters.
2. VIZZable 2 (video effect)
VIZZable 2 is an incredibly fun video effect that will transform live video from your webcam into mesmerizing patterns. There are tons of visual effects including a slicer, kaleidoscope, fisheye, blur, and more.
3. AnalogKick (MIDI instrument)
AnalogKick is an amazing device for designing synthesized kicks. There are parameters to fine-tune elements like the amplitude envelope, frequency, distortion, and EQ. You can also create a blend between the beater (the object that strikes the kick) and the oscillator. If you’re looking for a solid starting point, try out any one of the 21 presets.
4. Group Humanizer (MIDI effect)
One of the most common challenges of programming drums and other instruments is humanization. Group Humanizer is a great tool that humanizes tracks by adding variances to the timing of MIDI patterns. What separates Group Harmonizer from the crowd is its ability to humanize multiple (up to 10) tracks at once. With unique parameters like listening and influence, different tracks can influence — and be influenced by — one another.
5. TapeStop 2.0 (audio effect)
Everyone has heard the classic wind down or ‘tape stop’ effect before. TapeStop 2.0 is a simple but effective tool for creating this timeless sound. You can control the length of the effect by milliseconds, or sync the device to your DAW’s tempo and set the length using beats.
6. Advanced Step Sequencer 2.0 (MIDI effect)
While there are a lot of Max For Live step sequencers out there, Advanced Step Sequencer 2.0 is particularly great for the balance it strikes between functionality and simplicity. You can draw in patterns with speed and precision under the Pitch panel, and the Octave and Velocity panels offer additional control. The sequencer also offers a neat Scale tool, which allows you to make patterns adhere to different scales.
7. Architect (LFO)
Architect is a device that improves upon the stock LFO from the Max for Live Essentials collection. Architect gives you the option to switch between MIDI (one-shot envelope mode) and Loop (repeating LFO mode) settings. Its best part is its main window, which lets you freely draw your own shapes.
8. Circular Doppler (audio effect)
Good panning and stereo imaging can make all the difference in your production. Circular Doppler is an amazing device that allows you to modulate the stereo signals of your track in a way that makes it feel as though the audio is rotating around you. While traditional panning creates a two-dimensional sound field, Circular Doppler creates the illusion of a three-dimensional one. To top things off, Circular Doppler offers a host parameters for meticulous customization.
9. MotionMod (video / utility effect)
MotionMod really shows off the interactive prowess of Max for Live devices. This device allows you to use your webcam to track the amount of motion at any given time. From there, you can map the device to any parameter. MotionMod is definitely geared towards live and interactive sets, but it’s super fun to play around with in any setting.
10. Jo.Floating Oscilloscope (video / utility effect)
Jo.Floating Oscilloscope is a must-have for anyone who’s interested in diving deeper into the world of sound design. Like any standard oscilloscope, Jo.Floating Oscilloscope allows you to analyze an electrical signal’s properties such as amplitude and frequency over time. In addition, the device also provides additional features including a detachable floating window and an X-Y controller.
Do you have any favorite Max for Live devices? Let us know in the comments below.
If you’d like to try out Ableton Live, new users can get Ableton Live 11 Lite for free after starting a Splice subscription for a limited time:
January 7, 2020