28. Max for Live Devices

Live comes with a selection of custom-designed, built-in Max for Live devices. The Working with Instruments and Effects chapter (see Chapter 19) explains the basics of using devices in Live.

Max for Live devices have additional functionalities and editing possibilities, which are described in the Max for Live chapter (see Chapter 27).

28.1 Max for Live Instruments

28.1.1 DS Clang

The DS Clang Instrument.

(Note: the DS Clang instrument is not available in the Intro, Lite and Standard Editions.)

DS Clang consists of two separate tones, white noise and a filter, allowing you to create a variety of cowbell, clave and noise percussion sounds.

The Tone A/B sliders let you set the volume for each cowbell tone independently.

The Filter control sets the high-pass and band-pass filter cutoff, allowing you to change the color of the sound. At higher values, the signal has more high-frequency content.

The Noise slider allows you to set the amount of white noise applied to the signal.

When the Clave switch is activated, you can add repeats to the clave sound using the Repeat slider.

You can use the Pitch parameter to change the pitch of the instrument. The Decay knob sets the length of the sound, while the Volume control adjusts the overall level of the instrument.

To preview the sound of the instrument with its current settings, click anywhere in the upper half of the display.

28.1.2 DS Clap

The DS Clap Instrument.

(Note: the DS Clap instrument is not available in the Intro, Lite and Standard Editions.)

DS Clap is a mix of filtered noise and an impulse running through panned delay lines, that allows you to create a range of sounds from a tight electronic clap to a more organic, humanized handclap.

The Sloppy control adjusts the delay time between the two delay lines, so you can set how tightly or loose the panned claps play together. Tail adds filtered noise to the impulse of the clap.

The Spread slider sets the stereo width of the clap. 0% yields a mono signal while 100% creates a widened stereo image. The Tone slider adjusts the color of the clap. At higher values, the signal has more high-frequency content.

You can use the Tune parameter to change the pitch of the clap. The Decay knob sets the length of the clap, while the Volume control adjusts the overall level of the instrument.

To preview the sound of the instrument with its current settings, click anywhere in the upper half of the display.

28.1.3 DS Cymbal

The DS Cymbal Instrument.

(Note: the DS Cymbal instrument is not available in the Intro, Lite and Standard Editions.)

DS Cymbal combines sine and pulse waveforms with high-passed noise, making it possible to recreate a variety of timbres, from a thin ride cymbal to a heavy crash.

The Tone slider in the display sets the high-pass filter cutoff, allowing you to change the color of the cymbal. At higher values, the signal has more high-frequency content.

You can use the Pitch parameter to change the pitch of the cymbal. The Decay knob sets the length of the cymbal, while the Volume control adjusts the overall level of the instrument.

To preview the sound of the instrument with its current settings, click anywhere in the upper half of the display.

28.1.4 DS FM

The DS FM Instrument.

(Note: the DS FM instrument is not available in the Intro, Lite and Standard Editions.)

Inspired by a classic Japanese FM synthesizer, DS FM lets you create a variety of effects, from static bursts to metallic lasers.

The Tone slider in the display sets the low-pass filter cutoff, allowing you to change the color of the drum. At higher values, the signal has more high-frequency content.

Feedb. adjusts the amount of feedback applied to the FM algorithm. Greater values yield more noise.

Amnt sets the amount of FM modulation, while the Mod slider blends between different modulation types.

The Pitch parameter provides global pitch control. The Decay knob sets the length of the drum, while the Volume control adjusts the overall level of the instrument.

To preview the sound of the instrument with its current settings, click anywhere in the upper half of the display.

28.1.5 DS HH

The DS HH Instrument.

(Note: the DS HH instrument is not available in the Intro, Lite and Standard Editions.)

DS HH is a blend of noise and sine waveforms, with which you can produce an number of sounds, from sharp closed hats to sizzling open hats.

The Noise toggle lets you choose between two noise types: white or pink.

The Tone slider in the display sets the high-pass filter cutoff, allowing you to change the color of the hat. At higher values, the signal has more high-frequency content.

The pitched portion of the sound is filtered through a resonant high-pass filter. The filter can be switched between 12 and 24 dB slopes, and the attack time can be set via the Attack slider.

You can use the Pitch parameter for global pitch control. The Decay knob sets the length of the hat, while the Volume control adjusts the overall level of the instrument.

To preview the sound of the instrument with its current settings, click anywhere in the upper half of the display.

28.1.6 DS Kick

The DS Kick Instrument.

(Note: the DS Kick instrument is not available in the Intro, Lite and Standard Editions.)

DS Kick is a kick drum synth with a modulated sine wave.

The Pitch slider lets you tune the kick in Hz. You can shape the kick sound by adding distortion via the Drive slider, or adding harmonics using the OT slider.

The Attack parameter smooths the sound of the sine wave. The Click switch adds a click sound to the kick, creating a sharper transient.

The Decay knob sets the length of the kick. Env can be used to set the pitch modulation. The Volume control adjusts the overall level of the instrument.

To preview the sound of the instrument with its current settings, click anywhere in the upper half of the display.

28.1.7 DS Sampler

The DS Sampler Instrument.

(Note: the DS Sampler instrument is not available in the Intro, Lite and Standard Editions.)

DS Sampler makes use of your own samples to create a drum synth module.

You can load a sample by dragging and dropping it onto the upper half of the display. The Start control adjusts the position of the sample start, while the Length slider sets the sample playback length.

You can use the Tune slider to tune your sample by +/- 48 semitones. The Loop switch toggles the sample loop on and off.

The Decay knob sets the decay time of the sample’s amplitude. The Shaper parameter adds distortion to produce a punchy and gritty sound. The Volume control adjusts the overall level of the instrument.

28.1.8 DS Snare

The DS Snare Instrument.

(Note: the DS Snare instrument is not available in the Intro, Lite and Standard Editions.)

DS Snare consists of a pitched oscillator and noise, providing a snare palette ranging from a traditional acoustic snare sound, to the gated noise snare often heard in electronic dance music.

The Color parameter controls the tone of the pitched signal, while the Tone parameter controls the presence of the noise signal.

You can apply one of three different filter types to the noise signal: low-pass, high-pass, or band-pass.

The Decay knob sets the length of the snare, while the Tune parameter provides global pitch control. The Volume control adjusts the overall level of the instrument.

To preview the sound of the instrument with its current settings, click anywhere in the upper half of the display.

28.1.9 DS Tom

The DS Tom Instrument.

(Note: the DS Tom instrument is not available in the Intro, Lite and Standard Editions.)

DS Tom combines an impulse with several different pitched oscillator waveforms, allowing you to synthesize toms with various timbral qualities, from deep and thunderous to sharp and tappy.

You can use the Pitch slider to tune the tom in Hz. The Color parameter controls the filter gain and cutoff, while the Tone slider controls the level of resonant band-pass filters to mimic the tuning of the drum membrane.

The Bend parameter adjusts the pitch envelope. The Decay knob sets the length of the tom, while the Volume control adjusts the overall level of the instrument.

To preview the sound of the instrument with its current settings, click anywhere in the upper half of the display.

28.2 Max for Live Audio Effects

28.2.1 Envelope Follower

The Envelope Follower Effect.

(Note: the Envelope Follower effect is not available in the Intro, Lite and Standard Editions.)

Envelope Follower uses a well-known technique which involves capturing a signal, smoothing and reshaping its amplitude course in order to obtain a more or less continuous curve, and finally mapping the curve to one or more control parameters. The “auto-wah” effect is perhaps the most well-known application of the envelope following technique.

Activate the Map switch and click on a parameter in Live to assign that parameter as a mapping target. To assign an additional mapping target, click on the button at the top-right of the display, click any of the unassigned Map switches and click on another parameter in Live. A total of eight parameters can be assigned. To unassign a parameter, click on the button to the right of its Map switch. For each modulated parameter, the Min and Max sliders let you scale the resulting output range after the modulation is applied.

You can use the Gain knob to set the gain applied to the incoming signal.

The Rise parameter smooths the attack of the envelope, while the Fall control smooths the release of the envelope.

The Delay control sets the delay time of the envelope. The switches to the right of the Delay control toggle the delay mode between time-based and tempo-synced beat divisions.

28.2.2 LFO

The LFO Effect.

(Note: the LFO effect is not available in the Intro, Lite and Standard Editions.)

LFO is a parameter modulation LFO for Live-specific parameters and third party plug-in parameters.

Activate the Map switch and click on a parameter in Live to assign that parameter as a mapping target. To assign an additional mapping target, click on the button at the top-right of the display, click any of the unassigned Map switches and click on another parameter in Live. A total of eight parameters can be assigned. To unassign a parameter, click on the button to the right of its Map switch. For each modulated parameter, the Min and Max sliders let you scale the resulting output range after the modulation is applied.

You can choose from one of seven different waveforms: sine, sawtooth up, sawtooth down, triangle, rectangle, random and binary noise.

The Jitter slider adds randomness to the waveform, while the Smooth control smooths value changes.

The Rate control specifies the LFO speed. The switches to the right of the Rate control toggle between frequency in Hertz and tempo-synced beat divisions.

Depth sets the overall intensity of the LFO. Offset changes the starting point, or initial phase of an LFO, so that it begins at a different point in its cycle.

The phase of the oscillator can be shifted using the Phase control.

To hold the current output value, activate the Hold switch.

With the R (Retrigger) button enabled, the waveform restarts at the same position in its phase each time a note is triggered. With R disabled, the oscillator is free-running.

28.2.3 Shaper

The Shaper Effect.

(Note: the Shaper effect is not available in the Intro, Lite and Standard Editions.)

Shaper is a multi-breakpoint envelope which generates modulation data for musical expression.

Activate the Map switch and click on a parameter in Live to assign that parameter as a mapping target. To assign an additional mapping target, click on the button at the top-right of the display, click any of the unassigned Map switches and click on another parameter in Live. A total of eight parameters can be assigned. To unassign a parameter, click on the button to the right of its Map switch. For each modulated parameter, the Min and Max sliders let you scale the resulting output range after the modulation is applied.

You can create a breakpoint by clicking anywhere in the display. You can also delete a breakpoint by Shift-clicking on it. Hold down the ALT(PC) / ALT(Mac) key while dragging to create curved segments.

To clear the display, press the Clear button in the bottom left corner. To the right of the Clear button, you can choose from one of six breakpoint presets.

You can adjust the size of the grid via the Grid slider. When Snap is enabled, all breakpoints that you create or reposition will snap to grid lines.

The smaller display on the top right provides an oscilloscope-style view of the output signal. The Jitter slider adds randomness to the waveform, while the Smooth control smooths value changes.

The Rate control specifies the LFO speed. The switches to the right of the Rate control toggle between frequency in Hertz and tempo-synced beat divisions.

Depth sets the overall intensity of the LFO. The phase of the oscillator can be shifted using the Phase control.

With the R (Retrigger) button enabled, the waveform restarts at the same position in its phase each time a note is triggered. With R disabled, the oscillator is free-running.

Offset changes the starting point, or initial phase of an LFO, so that it begins at a different point in its cycle.

28.3 Max for Live MIDI Effects

28.3.1 Envelope

The Envelope Effect.

(Note: the Envelope effect is not available in the Intro, Lite and Standard Editions.)

Envelope is an ADSR device that you can control any Live parameter with.

Activate the Map switch and click on a parameter in Live to assign that parameter as a mapping target. To assign an additional mapping target, click on the button at the top-right of the display, click any of the unassigned Map switches and click on another parameter in Live. A total of eight parameters can be assigned. To unassign a parameter, click on the button to the right of its Map switch. For each modulated parameter, the Min and Max sliders let you scale the resulting output range after the modulation is applied.

The Loop Mode drop-down lets you choose from one of four loop modes:

  • Free: the trigger rate is unaffected.
  • Sync: the trigger rate is defined by the song tempo. When Sync mode is active, you can set the trigger rate via the Sync Rate drop-down.
  • Loop: the trigger rate is defined by the envelope time.
  • Echo: this creates repetitions of the original envelope. When Echo is active, you can adjust the Envelope Echo Time and amount of Envelope Echo Feedback.

The Time slider sets the global envelope time.

When the Velocity switch is enabled, the envelope is modulated by note velocity. The Amount control determines the intensity of the modulation.

The Attack control sets the attack time of the envelope. The Attack Slope slider adjusts the shape of the Attack envelope segment.

The Decay control sets the decay time of the envelope. The Decay Slope slider adjusts the shape of the Decay envelope segment.

The Sustain control sets the level reached at the end of the Decay stage. The Sustain Mode switch toggles the Sustain function on or off.

The Release control sets the release time of the envelope. The Release Slope slider adjusts the shape of the Release envelope segment.

You can adjust the Attack, Decay, Sustain and Release parameters by clicking and dragging the envelope display.

28.3.2 Expression Control

The Expression Control Effect.

(Note: the Expression Control effect is not available in the Intro, Lite and Standard Editions.)

Expression Control is a parameter modulation device that allows for a wide variety of internal MIDI mappings. The MIDI controller’s Velocity, Modulation Wheel, Pitch Bend, Aftertouch and Keytrack can each be mapped to one destination.

Activate a Map switch and click on a parameter in Live to assign that parameter as a mapping target.

You can set independent modulation intensities for each mapping via the Min and Max sliders.

The Log and Lin switches toggle between logarithmic and linear shapes.

The Rise slider smooths the attack of the envelope, while the Fall slider smooths the release of the envelope.

The Output displays show the output level for each mapping.

28.3.3 MPE Control

The MPE Control Effect.

MPE Control is a Max for Live MIDI effect that allows shaping and transforming incoming MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) modulation signals. The MPE signals can be transformed via two types of curves and smoothed for consistent rise and fall times. They can also be converted to global MIDI, so that non-MPE instruments can be modulated via an MPE controller as well.

One way to think of MPE is that certain MIDI Control Change (or MIDI CC) messages can be sent on a per-note basis. Without MPE, MIDI CC messages are sent globally, meaning that all notes are affected by the MIDI CC being used.

The Source drop-down chooser allows you to select one of three available MPE sources: Pressure, Slide, or Pitch. The selected MPE source’s curve is shown in the foreground of the display, making that curve and its respective controls available for editing. Note that all MPE sources are always active, even if they are not selected in the drop-down chooser.

The Pressure source controls polyphonic aftertouch, which enables individual MIDI notes to use the aftertouch MIDI control. This translates to the ability to assign per-note aftertouch to various parameters. Aftertouch is a MIDI control message found on certain MIDI keyboards and is accessed after initially pressing the key down.

The Slide source modifies MIDI CC 74, which often corresponds to the vertical position of the finger on the controller key or pad. Assign this to the parameter that you wish to control within an MPE-enabled instrument.

The Pitch source modifies the X-axis, which corresponds to pitch bend on a per-note basis (often called Note Pitch Bend). Pitch bend by definition only affects the pitch or pitches being produced.

For each MPE source, you can choose between two types of curve settings in the bottom left corner of the display: Linear or S-Shaped. The Linear curve has two points, while the S-Shaped curve has three points.

For each MPE source, choosing the Linear setting lets you adjust the curve in two ways. You can use either the Curve control or click and drag directly in the visualization. In addition to adjusting the curve, you can also modify the minimum and maximum values using the Min and Max slider boxes, or by dragging the breakpoints at the ends of the curve. Note that while Pressure and Slide offer integer values between 0 and 127, the Pitch curve allows for finer values, which can be attained by holding the Shift key and dragging the mouse within the slider box.

The Linear setting provides one curve, creating a smooth ramp for the chosen modulation source, either “compressing” the data, making it easier to stay in the lower range of values, or “expanding” it, making it easier to reach higher values with less input.

When choosing the S-Shaped curve, a third breakpoint is added to the middle of the curve’s line, separating the curve into two distinct segments. This breakpoint is movable, allowing complete control over the crossover point between the two segments, giving you the possibility to create much more radical curves. The two segments are linked together by default. Toggling the Curve Link button separates the segments from each other, so that they can be individually compressed or expanded using the two independent Curve dials.

Note that the breakpoint separating the two segments can be adjusted either by directly clicking and dragging the breakpoint, or by using the X-Y controls at the bottom of the display. This is possible only when using the S-Shaped curve.

Clicking on the triangular button in the bottom right of the visualization will unfold the Smooth and MPE to MIDI sections.

MPE Control’s Expanded View.

The Smooth section enables smoothing for the currently chosen modulation source. Specific Rise and Fall values for the various curves can be adjusted independently via the respective controls, and additional controls are available depending on if you are editing the Slide or Pitch curves.

Slide’s Smooth function is absolute by default; setting this to Rel switches from an absolute mode to a relative mode, and the Slide value will always start in the middle of the range, regardless of where the finger is on the key. This can then only be modified by further sweeping the finger up and down while holding a note.

The Smooth function for Pitch allows you to adjust the Pitch range, which is useful in cases where the hardware controller and the instrument’s Pitch Bend range do not match. For example, a setting of 2:1 allows mapping an MPE controller with a +/- 48 semitone pitch bend range to an instrument whose pitch bend range is +/- 24 semitones. (Tip: If the Note Pitch Bend MIDI CC is mapped to anything other than pitch, using higher values helps to cover a larger modulation range with a smaller movement.)

The MPE to MIDI section transforms MPE messages to standard MIDI CC messages, allowing MPE-enabled MIDI controllers to still send MIDI information to instruments that do not receive MPE messages.

Press > AT transforms Pressure messages into Aftertouch messages. Slide > Mod changes Slide messages into Modulation messages. Note PB > PB transforms Note Pitch Bend messages into Pitch Bend messages.

28.3.4 Note Echo

The Note Echo Effect.

(Note: the Note Echo effect is not available in the Intro, Lite and Standard Editions.)

Note Echo is an echo delay effect that creates additional MIDI notes at specific time intervals with decreasing velocity, depending on feedback setting.

Activate the Sync switch, which allows using the Delay Time beat division chooser. The numbered switches represent time delay in 16th notes. For example, selecting ”4” delays the signal by four 16th notes, which equals one beat (a quarter note) of delay.

Changing the Delay Time field percentage value shortens and extends delay times by fractional amounts, thus producing the ”swing” type of timing effect found in drum machines.

If the Sync switch is off, the delay time reverts to milliseconds. To edit the delay time, click and drag the Delay Time slider up or down, or click in the field and type in a value.

The Input switches lets you toggle between Thru/Mute playback modes. When Thru is active, both the MIDI note and echo are played back. When Mute is active, the MIDI note is muted and only the echo is audible.

Pitch sets the transposition amount applied to the note with each repeat of the echo.

Feed Delay sets the amount of velocity applied to the echo. The Feedback parameter defines how much of the channel’s output signal feeds back into the delay line’s input.

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