Finally! Now you don’t have to wait for your computer to start glitching out – you can make it happen yourself, with this inexpensive Max for Live device.
Okay, so technically what we’re talking about is a “stockastic sample freezing effect.” Since it’s a Max for Live Device, you can drop its audio-munching powers on any track you want, making for glitched out percussion, vocals, or whatever you like. But if you’ve ever watched a computer melt down and listened to the resulting sounds and thought, “hey, actually, I could use that” – this is for you.
The reason it matches a BSOD is, computer stability issues cause the digital audio buffer to “freeze” on particular sounds rather than continue to process buffered audio normally. (Digital audio systems give the illusion of running in real time, without losing a continuous stream of audio, by dividing digital audio into chunks and feeding those chunks in sequence to the audio card… so that if the machine falls behind a few samples, you won’t notice.)
This creation is the second Max for Live invention from Isotonik Studios today – happy Valentine’s Day, y’all – and carries the price of €9.52. For that, you get some control over the effect – especially since it isn’t actually crashing your machine. The developers describe the parameters as follows:
Freeze: control the gate frequency in time signatures
Width: make the gating wider or tighter
Dry/Wet: master dry/wet control
And all of this is MIDI-controllable.
If you want to live more dangerously, the classic Smart Electronix effect Buffer Override actually does screw around with your machine. The work of developer Sophia Poirier, this is the opposite of what would normally constitute a stable plug-in. The idea: it “overcomes your host app’s audio processing buffer size and then (unsuccessfully) overrides that new buffer size to be a smaller buffer size.”
Beware, as that will actually cause some hosts to, you know, crash. But Buffer Override is free. (Well, it’d be a bit strange to charge for that!)
The big Max for Live news in Live 10 isn’t actually “integration.” It’s finally having multichannel audio support. Here’s a free tool to get you started.
“Wait, wait… weren’t we supposed to be excited about Max for Live integration in Live 10?” Well, yes… kinda sorta. Basically, if you’ve got Live 10 Suite, you get a single installer, less version confusion, and you don’t see that silly Max splash screen the first time you launch a Device.
That’s all well and good, but it’s not a reason to upgrade to Live 10, or even something you’ll really notice in day to day use.
Now, multichannel support, on the other hand – that’s a big deal. And it’ll be a big deal even if you never touch Max yourself, because suddenly the little Max for Live toys you grab will get a whole lot more interesting.
What Live 10 adds to Max for Live is the ability to route any audio inputs you want into a Device, and to any outputs, including to arbitrary tracks. The implications for that are varied: wild sidechaining, panners, spatial audio, multichannel effects – think basically anything that goes beyond just having stereo inserts and sends from a single track. It’s something that really ought to have been in the first release of Max for Live, but now that it’s there, it opens the floodgates to neat new patches.
That also Live up to some of the original promise of Max for Live, which is finding creative applications beyond what’s covered by the usual plug-ins.
But to get us started, here’s a more utilitarian application – and a cool one.
The fine folks at Isotonik Studios have whipped up a “Multi Analyzer” – a spectral analyzer that lets you compare tracks and view them at once. And that, of course, is actually what you’d want to do with such a tool, when finding mixing issues and the like. (Hey, Ableton – take note. This should be built in.)
You can route in up to four tracks and view their spectrum visually.
Clever stuff, and the price is free. I got it up and running in about a minute with a track I was looking at today, and it’s really handy for mixing.
Now, if you’ve been paying attention, it should go without saying that you’re going to need a copy of Max for Live (that is, Live 10 Suite edition) and Live 10 as a minimum version, since Live 9 doesn’t have this feature.
I’m very interested in the applications of this for Live users. And multichannel diffusion and spatial audio remain interesting, not only in Live but across electronic music. Hopefully more on all of this soon.
FeelYourSound has released version 3.2.0 of its Sundog Song Studio electronic song-writing solution for Windows and Mac. With Sundog it is possible to develop new chord progressions, melodies, basslines, and arpeggios within minutes. The standalone composition software connects to any DAW via MIDI. The latest version introduces the possibility to switch between different user interface […]
You’ve got your synth sounds. You’ve got your orchestral sample libraries. And they’ve always been separate – until now.
Output, the California-based sound design shop, have already built a reputation around sound libraries that mix this with that and bank on novel and on-trend sound design concepts. And roughly this time last year, they took this approach to combining string orchestras and synth strings.
But bringing the analog + acoustic blend to wind and brass may be even more vital because, well, brass and winds are a fairly particular thing to have to design… I mean, let’s be honest, how many people really look forward to brass and winds?
So, what you get are sounds that will genuinely get you excited instead of make you cringe. And oddly, combining in tape loops and vintage instruments makes this category sounds more contemporary.
As per usual, the Output experience isn’t just about calling up a preset you like, but being able to easily dial in exactly the blend and flavor you want.
Let’s break down that interface. Even from the overview screen and macro controls, you get a view to the layered sample-based sound engine beneath (plus some pretty abstracted brass wind bodies):
As in past Output products, once you get into Sources, you see the core of the sounds. Output’s products start with a wide arsenal of sounds that feel a bit like getting to steal a top producer’s hard drive. (Please don’t do that. But you get the idea.) Here, this includes one-shots, more continuous textures (“pads”), and crunchy tape loops, which basically involve the acoustic sources, the vintage synth sources, and then “everything else” / more off-the-wall bits (categorized as “creative”). That’s what gives the resulting stew a forward-thinking sound.
“Rhythm” is where invariably you can go from “oh, isn’t this sound cool” to “oh, I can actually finish this entire track with this plug-in.” Note that you have both synchronized and free (“flux”) modes, and the ability to layer modulations atop your modulated sounds.
This is, again, why Output stuff so nicely merges between preset-dialing and creative sound design – just changing an individual element can have an enormous impact, if you like.
There’s also the usual, tasty-sounding effects section.
If there’s any criticism here, it’s that Output have stuck with their existing sample-based architecture, rather than open up the possibility of, say, some physical modeling. (Underneath the hood here, it’s all the Kontakt sampler.) On the other hand, those models can be processor-intensive and unpredictable, whereas you can dump all of Output’s products on a quick external drive (which is inexpensive these days) and be assured of reliable sound results. I am curious what Output may have next, though, whether they’ve got more ideas for this approach or something else altogether.
Oh, one more thing – this all supports Native Instruments’ NKS, which means I’ll give it a try with the likes of Maschine and the new Komplete Kontrol keyboards, as there’s some interesting potential for live performance with the snapshots and such. Stay tuned for that!
Cost: US$199. But betcha earn that back on a good commission with it.
Mabelton Audio has announced the release of a new Integration pack for Omnisphere 2 and Ableton’s Push 1 or 2 controller. The software allows you to browse, load and control over 7,000 factory presets from the Omnisphere, Atmosphere and Spotlight EDM libraries using Ableton Push 1 or 2. Mabelton/Omnisphere VST Plug In Pack features Find […]
Ableton has announced the release of Ableton 10, the latest version of its music production software for Windows and Mac. Today’s the day! Live 10 is here – with new devices, improved workflows, a redesigned sound library, expanded Push features, Max for Live integrated in Suite, and much more. As previously announced, version 10 comes […]
After weeks of watching Ableton’s trainers and testers have the fun, Live 10 is now the current version. Here’s what that means for you.
Live 10 is now the official release version of Ableton Live. If you didn’t jump on the discounted upgrade or preorder pricing, that’s done. Live reverts to its original pricing and retains the same editions Live 9 had (Suite, Standard, Intro).
What you get with Live 10: lots of new Devices including the Wavetable synth and Echo multi-engine delay, automatic Capture of your ideas before you hit record, improved editing of MIDI and audio especially in the Arrange view, lots of additional sounds, more Push integration, and a faster, more integrated Max for Live. It’s also much easier on the eyes, certainly on Retina displays, but across the board.
Now, in those intervening weeks, a lot of people have gotten their hands on the software. I’ve been using Live 10 betas since early fall. Here’s what I’ve found, comparing my own personal experience with other Live users, both advanced and novice.
Live 10’s highlights
Arrangement view finally feels fleshed out. Editing multiple MIDI clips in Arrange, being able to directly manipulate audio, and navigating Arrange more quickly is really essential. I really hope Ableton continue to develop this area – and that some day we even see the sort of hardware integration with Arrange that we do with Push and Session view.
You’re going to use Drum Buss a whole lot. Drum Buss sounds like a specific drum compressor. That’s even how Ableton markets it. In practice, its combination of dynamics processing and “crunch” turn out to be pretty useful all over the place, especially since its simplified controls can be used in a variety of ways to dial in very different results.
Echo and Wavetable are really beautiful. Do you need another delay and another synth? Well, maybe not. Do these add character to the release? Absolutely. Look, lots of DAWs use pack-in instruments and effects to try to earn your loyalty and upgrades. Ableton is arguably a little different in that some of these designs are so specific to the software maker as to make little sense elsewhere – think Operator or Simpler. For me, though – and your experience may be different – the new devices were an easy test. I had Live 9 on my MacBook and Live 10 on my Razer for quite a while. I was comfortable enough switching back to 9 to work on lots of projects. But it was the devices that often made me migrate over to 10 again.
Push is more useful for editing. The addition of the melodic step sequencing layout (which combines real-time entry and sequencing), the ability to work on MIDI patterns on Push, and new device support continue to make Push feel essential.
Groups inside Groups. There are a lot of usability improvements, but I think you could say this is the most important one. I can’t tell you why exactly subgroups make the whole use of groups more useful, but they do. I find myself using groups a lot more – and I know of all the usability improvements people asked for that appeared in Live 10, this was the most significant.
There are a lot of other improvement here that may require adapting a bit. Capture is something found in DAWs like Cubase, but oddly it’s easy to forget that you don’t have to hit record to grab ideas. The Arrange view’s new features require some investment of time learning shortcuts and the like – and that pays off. And you should invest some time in organizing your Library to exploit that nice new browser, for sure.
We’ve been talking to Ableton now for years about their ideas for better integrating the ideas of Cycling ’74, who make Max/MSP, and Ableton themselves, even before Ableton bought Cycling.
The big thing you’ll notice right away is that Max for Live is integrated with Live – that is, you won’t see a separate load screen. It’s “built in.”
But there’s more to it than just that, which CDM has confirmed with Ableton:
Max is better, faster, stronger, etc. Max itself has been optimized, improving device load time and CPU load, plus a lot of bug fixes.
Versions are in lockstep. Since Live and Max are integrated, you can’t accidentally run the “wrong” version of Max. This also means that a sound pack that supports a particular version of Live won’t run into a compatibility problem with an out-of-sync version of Max.
The future is surround. One easy-to-miss improvement is really an important one: Max for Live support for multichannel audio mixing opens up new possibilities for multichannel setups.
Max 8 is coming! When Max 8 ships, it’ll include the internal improvements found now in Max for Live, plus new Max 8 features for people making their own patches.
So, that’s the good news. Now, the bad news: while we’ve been promised more integration of Max and Live, they remain separate products. Standalone Max licenses may have features that don’t become available in Max for Live. And while eventually Max 8 features will come to Live 10, it sounds like there will be a lag while Ableton tests those features.
Ableton describe this as “lockstep” versions of Max and Live, but – if the versions come out at different times with different features and there’s a lag as they test integration, that’s obviously not lockstep in regards to Max. At least you have one installer and one version as far as Live and Max for Live.
We’ll keep talking to Ableton and Cycling as the Max 8 release gets closer to fully grasp how this is working, and how the closer partnership of the two companies would shape this over time. The reality here still seems to lag what we’ve been promised in terms of Max and Live being integrated and the two developers acting as one.
What might hold you back?
Live 10 doesn’t make any advances in allowing you to integrate custom hardware. As other software has added support for OSC and other protocols, or integrated native scripting, Ableton mostly keeps that kind of integration accessible to hardware vendors. (Hopefully with official support for polyphonic MIDI expression announced, Ableton will follow soon. That may be an edge case, but it’s an edge case that tends to use Live!)
That said, some quiet improvements to Max for Live regarding System Exclusive data support and custom control surface creation now became a lot more useful. MIDI-CI, a new technique for automatically configuring hardware, could combine with Max for Live in interesting ways. (My only concern there: native support would be better.)
Live is also at the pricier end of DAWs available today, for both new and existing users. Users are of course also weighing the price of this as they budget, and I know that’s been a disincentive for some of you for whom money is tight. I can’t personally say what software should cost, as unlike hardware, you can’t calculate what it costs to make. But if you don’t have the money for this, I feel your pain – been there.
By the way, if you preordered Live, you aren’t automatically charged. So you can still back out if you’re not in the financial state you thought you might be – check refund/return pricing and contact support if you need.
But I do think that Live 10 is among a handful of Live upgrades over the years that seem to make everyone happy once they take the plunge. If Live is what you use most of the time, if you’re productive in the Live workflow more than other DAWs, should you get the Live 10 upgrade? Yes. That’s an easy answer.
We’ll look a bit more at some of the devices in future and can discuss that – plus the state of other software. Stay tuned.
Magix has launched a limited time promotion on the Sound Forge Pro advanced audio recording and editing software. A purchase of Sound Forge 11 comes with a $50 USD discount and a free upgrade to Sound Forge Pro 12 upon release. SOUND FORGE Pro is the application of choice for a generation of creative and […]
FeelYourSound has released version 2.7.1 of XotoPad, a bugfix release of the MIDI multi-touch software for Windows. XotoPad turns any Windows tablet into a flexible MIDI instrument controller and MIDI drum kit. It can be used to replace a MIDI keyboard during travel. XotoPad is especially useful for sketching chord progressions, writing melodies, or to […]