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5 Free Max for Live Objects For Ableton DJs and Producers

One of the things that really sets Ableton Live 8 in a league of its own is the ability to create your own effects, instruments, and MIDI functionality using the extremely versatile object based programming environment, MAX/MSP. Suffice to say it has a notably steep learning curve, but never fear – there is an awesome community of programmers on the internet who build M4L patches and give them away for free. I’ve sorted through the archives and picked out five basic, but totally awesome M4L patches that I simply can’t live without.


Probably my favorite thing about Max4Live patches is that they run natively in Live. For me, that’s a really big deal because I never use any third plug-ins when I perform live. Call me crazy, but with an older Macbook, CPU optimization is crucial. Plus, when performing, I can’t afford to sacrifice even 2 milliseconds of latency-  I need my samples to launch exactly when I hit the button. So, discovering all these super low profile FX and functionality add-ons has been quite exciting. One final thing that makes these patches great is the open arms community around them that thrives on feedback, collaboration, and modification.

And, without further ado, here we go!

REVERSE (aka JC Reversr b004)

This neat little effect slaps right on any audio or MIDI track with audio output. It’s basically like a simplified beat repeat, but the great thing about it is that you can set it to “reversed” mode which makes it activate “reverse” repeat. When you hit the aptly named “woop” button, it snags a chunk of sound, reverses, and repeats it at the rate specified. You can also just use it as a regular repeat by toggling between “straight” and “reversed.” Not to say there aren’t a bunch of pre-existing plug-ins that don’t create similar reverse effects (such as Turnado, Stutter Edit, and DBlue Glitch), but as mentioned previously, the joy of these effects are in their simplicity, the fact that they run natively in Live, and their negligible CPU usage.

Cost: FREE.
What’s best:
Easy to use, sounds great, trippy, and really functional.
What’s missing :
 I’d love to see some filtering and pitch modulation parameters in the next version.
Download Link


Although Ableton does have a midi record function (edit –> record quantization) its a bit limited and you can’t access its parameters using midi, nor does it have a shuffle function for those among us who like to get funky. Pretty straightforward, just quantizes incoming notes to 1-1/64 based on the master tempo. There’s also a shuffle amount, as well as triplet mode for more advanced quantization modes.

Tips and Quirks:
Something I discovered is that since this effect is applied post incoming MIDI, if you record a MIDI loop with this effect ON, it won’t record as quantized, but it will quantize post-clip. An easy work around is to create a blank MIDI track, put the quantize object on it, then send the quantized MIDI to the MIDI track you want to play. This way the MIDI incoming to your track will record as quantized.

Cost: FREE.
What’s best
: Makes live looping a breeze and totally satisfying, get it right the first time.
What’s missing: I would like the MIDI to quantize pre clip, so that you wouldn’t have to do this little double track trick.
Download Link


The LFO-One is a fun and flexible tool for production or performance, again just a nice little simple object that does exactly what it says. Allows you to apply 1-3 LFO’s (low frequency oscillators) to any parameter in Ableton. Renders some tasty results especially when applied to FX parameters that did not previously have modulation possibilities.

Cost: FREE.
What’s best:
Enables modulation possibilites that were not feasible before. Also by combining the different LFO’s you can get some really interesting movement.
What’s missing: 
It would be cool if you could map the LFO’s to multiple parameters simultaneously.
Download Link

Already Played

“Ever had the problem remembering which tracks you already had played after several hours of DJing?

We all like to party, but sometimes when you’re a few deep, Ableton’s grid of clips can quickly melt into an incomprehensible mash of color and confusion. Protect yourself from the ultimate party taboo – don’t play conga line twice! In all seriousness, even the most sober and astute DJ is not immune to this ultimate foul. In the days of records (or even CDs) you could literally put already played songs in a pile or separate area, thus ensuring that you wouldn’t pick them back up and play them again. With Ableton it’s all up to you, your memory, and any kind of organization you may or may not have set up.

This extremely useful object changes the color of a playing clip and adds a prefix / suffix to the clip name after a predefined period of time, so you can easily recognize which clips have already been played. This makes navigating a complicated grid of stems, clips, and tracks significantly more manageable. As a DJ, it’s your job to monitor the dancefloor and provide clean mixes and entertaining track selections- so spend more time mixing and less time remembering everything you’ve played. Additionally Already Played keeps track of all played clips in a playlist (which you can export as a textfile). This is a great resource for those who want to share playlists with their fans for promotion.

Tips and Quirks
You have to put a separate instance of it on every track that you’re playing clips on.

Cost: FREE.
What’s best: Color marking makes it easy to see at a glance which tracks you’ve already played, without even having to read track names!
What’s missing: It’s a bit counter-intuitive to have to put a separate instance of AP on every track. In the next version, I’d like to be able to just slap it on the master and have it apply to all clips.
Download Link

Smaller M4L Patches To Also Check Out

Pitch Drop
This one delivers a simple but entertaining vinyl style break, as though you had just put your hand on the record and brought it to a standstill. You can adjust the time, but that’s it. (Download Link)

Visual Metronome
Super convenient for when you want to keep time but don’t want to listen to Ableton’s annoying click tone. Especially useful for performing live, when a click track would totally ruin the vibe. (Download Link)

Had some difficulty getting this one to work but it seems awesome! Developed by Richie Hawtin, this allows you to save and recall all parameters of your Live set as a preset. I can’t elaborate much because as I mentioned it did not work for me, but I’m sure if I messed around with it for longer I could get it running. Give it a whirl and try your luck. (Download Link)

Of course, had to mention this one. A powerful envelope tool developed by DJTT’s own, Bento! This effect allows you to add dynamic motion to your controls by letting you draw multipoint envelopes. (Download Link)

Motion Mod
A bit of a gimmick if you ask me, but… nonetheless still pretty fun to tool around with. Uses the built in camera on your laptop to track motion and control parameters by bobbing your head, wiggling your finger, etc. (Download Link)

Installation Notes

In order to use these objects, download the file from the provided link. The file will have an extension of “.amxd”. For organizational purposes, I keep all my “.amxd” files in a folder labeled “Max 4 Live patches” but you can call it whatever you like. To bring the object into Live, open Live, then open the finder, locate the file, and click/drag the .amxd file from the finder directly into Live (and onto a track). It’s important to note that some of these go on audio tracks and some go on MIDI tracks depending on what kind of effect they are. If you like the effect, you can save it within Live by clicking the save icon on the effect. Once you’ve saved it in this fashion you’ll be able to pull it up from within Live at any time by going into your presets for “Max MIDI Effect,” “Max Audio Effect,” or “Max Instrument.” If you still need help installing them, post your question in the comments or do a google search on how to install M4L objects.

Maxed Out

It might not be breaking news, but Max4Live has democratized the world of Ableton Live like never before. Tons of people are making awesome M4L objects all the time and putting them out for free. They download fast, work efficiently, and run natively in Live. Often the people who make them are responsive to feedback and love to try new things – who could ask for more in a community?

Make sure to stay up to date on more awesome patches and M4L info at

Know of any more M4L patches we’ve got to check out? Let us know in the comments!

Mad Zach - Author

Mad Zach is a maverick controllerist and producer, focused on bridging the gap between production and performance.

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  • Mjelly99

    do you need max for live for the downloads to work? it wont drag in from my finder into ableton

  • Doranbrown88

    When i do a direct drag…it says …

    “Max is either not installed or is installed to a non-default location.
    Download Max from ‘’
    Configure the Max Path in the prefrences”


      you should probably download it or configure the path then……

  • Marktakeshi

    ” It’s a bit counter-intuitive to have to put a separate instance of AP
    on every track. In the next version, I’d like to be able to just slap it
    on the master and have it apply to all clips.”
    –> The reason why I implemented it this way was that many DJs use several tracks for one-shots and other stuff that shouldn’t be affected by the color change or appear on the playlist. But if I ever bring out v1.1 I’ll add a “One patch to rule them all” button.

    • Mad Zach

      hey, you read the article! thanks for the great object man super cool work

  • BIG THANKS! For LFO’s waited such a plugin my whole life.

  • Laxplayer

    I only have max runtime, can I still use these? If so, how do I install them because I tried the above method and it wont work.

    • No you cant sorry, there is no max4live runtime, try the demo instead…


  • DeMeneer

    The midi quantize device is possible without the max for live device. Open the “16 Quantize.agr” groove in the groove pool and then set the quantize amount to the desired value. The global groove amount is midi mappable, ergo you can adjust the quantization amount on ALL clips with the “16 Quantize.agr” selected as groove. You can get even more complex with this (especially in combination with the brilliant Clyphx remote script), but I won’t go in full detail about that over here. 

    • Nonagon

      Sounds intriguing, but I don’t totally understand the process. Any chance you’d be willing to write up a more in-depth description somewhere? I wrote the MIDI Quantize patch to solve some workflow issues, but if I can handle it natively in Live that’d be great.

      An important component of the patch for me is the ability to selectively quantize MIDI from different hardware controllers in realtime, e.g. to quantize incoming MIDI from my padKontrol to 16ths without affecting clip quantization, quantization from my MIDI keyboard, etc.

      • Mad Zach

        that’s an interesting point Nonagon, its really useful to be able to have different degrees of quantization for different tracks. I definitely wouldn’t want 1/16 quantization on all my clips but it might be nice for a drum rack I’m using to play alongside the clips

        • The Groove Pool method will work on a per Clip basis (even more potential flexibility that per MIDI input or Track). You just need to create the Clips in advance and set up the Groove Pool settings, then overdub record into the clip. If you want to record for an indeterminate period of time in Session Clips simply create an extra long midi clip. When you’ve recorded for as long as you want hit the Length “Set” button in the Loop window of the Clip View, and the clip will loop back from the beginning starting at the next Global Quantization time point. This button can be mapped but be aware it will apply to whichever Clip is currently selected. The “Select on Launch” settings in Record/Warp/Launch Preferences is something you’ll want to consider in this case. After recording you can mess with the settings of the individual Grooves, reassign Clips to different Grooves, even “Commit” the current groove and then apply another to the results. All in realtime, though aside from affecting the Global Groove amount of all loaded Grooves, which as previously mentioned is mappable, you’ll need to use the mouse or some scripting to get at the settings of the individual Grooves. Real powerful stuff. I use the Pool for pretty much all my quantization needs.

  • Stan Tropic

    Nothing fancy but I created a M4L Device to “nudge” individual clips, similar to nudging a deck.  You can set a time in msec to nudge by.  Useful for flamming beats,  simple but effective.

  • Kclarkmusic

    “What’s missing: It would be cool if you could map the LFO’s to multiple parameters simultaneously”

    You can do this via the Macros of an FX/Inst rack. Simply map all of the parameters that you’d like to move simultaneously to a Macro, and point the LFO to that macro. 

    The Drawback is that you wouldn’t be able to use this method to modulate multiple parameters of FX that live on different / multiple tracks. But you can do i for any number of FX that exist on the same track / rack.

    • DeMeneer

      This is possible if you map the lfo to a omni-mappable parameter in the ‘Sixteen macros’ device from the covert operators. This device enables you to map anything, on any track to any parameter. 

      • Mad Zach

        @DeMeneer, is that a m4L object as well? I’ve never heard of the “sixteen macros” device but it sounds awesome

        • DeMeneer

          Yes it is, search for the covert operators on google.

  • prema
    • Darrenecowley

      Ha, thank you…. Wasn’t going to sulk for not making it not the list lol…


    • Theo Void

      Do i need m4L to use this?

      • Lover

        What he said. Do you need

        • Darrenecowley

          Yes, It is an article about m4l after all…


  • About midi quantize. Ableton live CAN quantize midi incoming notes.

    To do it go to “Edit”->”Record Quantization” and select the grid you want.

    Great article! =)

    • Mad Zach

      thats a good point, but the midi quantize object still adds some cool extra control and dimension. You can control its value with a button or knob for on the fly changes without looking at the screen, and it also has a cool shuffle function

      • DeMeneer

        See my post on this subject

        • Mad Zach

          @79b6a4da454e3589bbae1d0687afc568:disqus hit me up if you ever have some cool Ableton ideas you’d like to write an article about

    • Nonagon

      Almost- Ableton’s built in “Record Quantization” feature only quantizes MIDI notes _after_ they’ve been recorded into a MIDI clip. The notes will still sound at the instant you play them, but will then be bumped to the quantization interval in the recorded clip, so next time they play back they’ll be in time. The Real Time MIDI Quantize patch delays incoming MIDI notes until the selected quantization interval, so live incoming MIDI can be time corrected.

      • Cool distinction but then if a note is slightly behind it’s going to be even further behind. But then again what else can you do till we crack that pesky time travel issue. Once we’ve got that little issue licked we can do reverse reverb in real time and scratch midi with The Bridge too ;o>

  • Tom

    The link to M4L down at the end of the article is broken – someone forgot to put ‘http://’  in front ;). Also, Max/M4L, AFAIK is running in a VM, so it’s apps are not really native to the Live API – good question, if VSTs are actually native apps on a VST host 🙂 Running the VM, however, will definitely have some impact on latency, though it should be highly minimized, as M4L is a specially optimized and integrated version. VST apps might perform better or they might cause all sorts of trouble, depends on each apps indiviual quality. Problem is that you can’t look what’s inside a VST plugin.
    In principle the same applies to Max objects. I am fairly sure. one could easily come up with one that performs plain awfully – all it takes is a simple JS or Processing script, blocking some I/Os while doing expensive and pointless calculations.  🙂

    • Mad Zach

      thanks for the feedback Tom, good points, link fixed

  • dB

    The Schwarzonator looks useful, if you don’t have a classical musical background.
    It automatically transposes notes to a pre-selected musical scale. 

    • M4lol

      that looks way way more helpful then most of the stuff featured. djtechfools swing and a miss.

  • awesome article. by the way, has anyone here ever had problems with M4L devices not recalling their settings within a project?

    • Darrenecowley

      It depends on how the live GUI objects have been configured, they should save if they have automated and stored selected, no live GUI elements need a patter attached (sorry to be technical)


  • Theo Void

    “I wish they would come out w/ a Max4Live” player that could just “play” devices minus the ability to build your own. And make it free or really cheap!!! Sorta like the Reaktor player from NI. That would be awesome!!!  I love Ableton and I spend 80% of my life using it but I have ZERO interest in programming and building devices in Max, but I’d love to be able to use the sweet devices that people make. I would even pay the programmers for their devices if I had the player. 
    What do you think the chances are that the boys in Berlin make this available? 

    • Tom

       There is a free runtime version (say: “player”) of Max 6. It actually should work within Live as well as standalone. There is a link somewhere on the cycling74 website

      • Darrenecowley

        No this is a max runtime, there is a demo version of max4live if you want to try before you buy…


        • Tom

          Hmm. According to the FAQ, objects within Live can be run from plain Max5, just the other way (running Max5 standalone objects in M4L) doesn’t work. So do I understand right, that you can’t register the runtime with Live? I can’t try, because I got M4L and don’t want to uninstall.

          • The runtime is a Max runtime that sits outside of Ableton, you can run that and use Live.objects within it, they just wont communicate with live so are pointless…


          • Tom

             Ah. Now that’s just silly. I wonder how many ‘normal’ users will actually be willing to pay for Live + M4L. I doubt I would if I were not as nuts with Processing and Arduino as I am. But that certainly does not apply to a lot of musicians or DJs, I guess.

  • Max for live runtime

    hopefully we will see a free maxforlive runtime in Live 9 or better yet a Free Maxforlive to compete with bitwig’s (if it’s not vaporware 😉 ) native modular setup in version 2

    • Theo Void

      Vaporware!!! I love it!!

  • Guest

    Nice. It would be nice to make a series of articles with the build up of your template from scratch, including your effects etc… and where these objects are included/used. Noobies like me would appreciate 😉

    • Mad Zach

      good idea, will do!

  • RockingClub

    Nice. Makes me think about buying Max4Live 😀