5 Innovative Max For Live Devices

Max For Live
In addition to all the native instruments and FX, purchasers of Ableton’s Live 9 Suite also get access to Max For Live. While some might be tempted to take the addition for granted, Max For Live is a powerful tool that gives you access to a community of users and developers making incredible programs that integrate seamlessly with Live. Today we’ve brought you a list of 5 really innovative Max For Live plugins that you can start using in your projects and live sets right away!

Schwarzonator II

The Schwarzonator was designed with all the non-musicians in mind. It adapts incoming MIDI notes to the selected musical scale automatically, just in case you hit a bad note. It was designed by Berlin Electronic/Jazz legend Henrik Schwarz (who is coming to Together 2016!) to help him stay in key when improvising since he isn’t a trained pianist. A simple but powerful tool, it can help even the least coordinated be more expressive with their playing.

The Schwarzonator II automatically fits notes to a selected musical scale by transposing any MIDI notes that you play, making it easier to play and improvise with other musicians. The latest update now allows users to easily create their own scales and chord progressions, and even upload them to the web.

The Schwarzonator II also comes with a companion device, called ‘Little Brother,’ which applies chord changes from the Schwarzonator II onto other tracks. Download them here.



Described as a “a modular euclidean rhythm builder”, Polyrhythmus is a little intimidating, but with fascinating results. The developer, Bennniii, made a long demonstration video to demonstrate what you can do with it, which you can watch below. Download Polyrhythmus here.


This device is designed to help with transitioning between BPMs, whether in a performance or in the arrangement of a track. It transitions from one tempo to another over a set time interval, either up to 20 seconds or 8 bars. Its creator, Yehezkel Raz, made a video explaining it:

Tempo is available for free download, just put “0” in the price field.


This device was made to emulate the bass drum synthesis of the classic TR-808, but with a few new additions like FM, Distortion, and the ability to adjust the tuning envelopes for a snappier attack. With the key-follow mode enabled, it can be used as a percussive FM synthesizer. You can watch Subtle Sonic’s demonstration video below, and download AnalogKick here.


Though it’s the only one on the list that will cost you money, MouthBreather is a one-stop-shop for adding warmth and grit. “Warm” Mode enables a lowpass filter, “Air” a highpass, while the “crunch” knob distorts the sound to hell. Mix in the result via the dry/wet knob to add more texture to your sounds. Check the video below for a demonstration, and purchase it here.

If you want to get the most out of Ableton Live, read about our music production program! Contact us to schedule a tour of the studio.

5 Amazing Musicians Using Ableton Live

Skrillex Diplo Bieber Where are u now
Technology has had a radical impact on the way we make music today, taking the focus away from big recording studios with hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment in favor of a 13-in Macbook Pro loaded with the right software. Rising hip-hop producer Mr. Carmack sums it up perfectly with this tweet:

Most recording studios today run a software called Pro Tools, a powerful program that is great for classic recording, mixing, and mastering jobs, but falls a little short when it comes to the demands of today’s musicians. Enter Ableton Live, one of the younger DAWs in the game, which has already garnered a huge following among musicians for its quick workflow, powerful features, and live performance mode. To help shed some more light on the Ableton-craze, we’ve picked out 5 amazing producers doing groundbreaking work


Diplo‘s work in the dance music world is all over the place, from his solo work, to collaborations with Skrillex as power-duo Jack Ü, and Switch as the group Major Lazer, not to mention heading up indie label Mad Decent. His productions first started gaining notoriety in 2007 after he produced “Paper Planes” for MIA, but since then he’s had numerous hits, most notably 2015’s “Where Are U Now“, a collaboration between Jack Ü and Justin Bieber, and “Lean On“, the lead single off of Major Lazer’s Peace is the Mission. Diplo Nytimes

It’s a real writer’s program. One good thing about not reading any manuals or anything is that you’ve gotta play all day with it. I just like to DJ and scratch shit up. I love making straight-up 8-bit, nasty Nintendo sounds.

Henrik Schwarz

Also a DJ, producer, and remixer, among a slew of other things, Henrik Schwarz has been making beats and rocking dance floors since 2002. He has also branched outside of the techno world to collaborate with famous pianist Bugge Wesseltoft for an album, Duo, and live performance that saw them grace the stage of Jazz Festivals and Concert Halls around the world.

Schwarz Wesseltoft
Henrik uses Ableton for both production and performance, though sometimes there is little difference between the two for him, and he relies heavily on software for all of his work. He’s even built a Max For Live plugin, the Schwarzonator, to help him stay in key. Be sure to catch him at this year’s Together Boston Festival!

Flying Lotus

A legend of the LA Beats scene, FlyLo might once have been seen as the second coming of Dilla, but his wild and exploratory concept albums have proven that he has his own unique character to bring to the jazz, hip-hop, and electronic music worlds. His genre-traversing music has earned him the praise of musicians like Herbie Hancock, and has helped to push the Low End Theory to international recognition. On the topic of Ableton he has this to say:

I’ve also just really fallen in love with making music again. It feels so new to me, especially because I switched to using Ableton. I feel like I’m finally in a position where I can make things almost as fast as I want to; I can move really quickly, and it’s really inspiring.

Flying Lotus Performing


Not too far from Flying Lotus, Giraffage grew up in the San Francisco Bay area making bootleg remixes in his bedroom, but his personal project blew up after two self-released albums. He now lives the bedroom producers dream, releasing music on Fool’s Gold and Dim Mak, and playing festivals worldwide (including this year’s Together!). He uses Ableton for both production and performance, as you can see in this video of him performing his track “Moments” while in the car:

I’d say probably 90% of the melodies that I do write have started out as just me jamming around, and then after the fact I go in and mess with the MIDI notes inside of Live. I sometimes spend way too much time just jamming out though.

Giraffage Live


Yes, the Almighty US Dubstep Titan uses Ableton exclusively. Skrillex grew up in Northeast LA and rose to fame as the lead singer for post-hardcore band From First To Last, before leaving to eventually drop his Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites EP that would kickstart his astronomical DJ career. He is known to use Operator, Ableton’s FM synth, for some of his characteristic monster bass sounds, as well as Native Instruments’ Massive and FM8.

Ableton's Operator Synth
Ableton Live’s Operator uses a combination of FM, Additive, and Subtractive synthesis

His setup consists of a Macbook Pro running Ableton Live and a few VSTs, two KRK monitors, a Focusrite Saffire interface, and an Alesis Midi controller. In addition to praising Live for its synths, he’s also said that its workflow is incredibly intuitive:

“I think, for laptop producers especially, it’s just so intuitive in the box. Everything is laid out and you don’t have to go searching for things like automation or plug-in parameters – in fact, all the things that are really hard to do in other DAWs. Ableton’s just very fluid and quick.”

And for anyone wondering how he does those incredible vocal chops…

I use Melodyne for formant stuff and basic pitch, but then I’ll print a whole line of audio. To be honest, for all my detailed cuts, chops and actual lines I’ll just basically take my vocal or someone else’s and process it through Melodyne in a certain way. All the stylistic treatments I do then all come from audio slicing and transposing in Live.


The reasons all these incredible musicians use Ableton, are the same reasons why we teach it in our music production program! Watch some of our tutorials made by our talented instructors on our Youtube channel, then come by the studio for a tour! Contact us to schedule an appointment.

Legowelt Releases Free Smackos Amiga 909 Drum Machine

Legowelt Drum Machine
Eclectic Dutch producer, and #MakeItNew Alumnus, Legowelt recently released a free drum machine for Ableton Live, based on samples from his old Amiga 909 sample floppy disk. In addition to sampling his old floppy disk, Legowelt included some hand-crafted goodies in the form of some included FX.

Introducing brand new technologies such as FLOCCULENCE, AMIGAnizer
and SKOOLY SPACE to give u a fresh spectaculair 909 experience u never had before!!!

Using and learning from the tools of producers like Legowelt is a good way to get inside their heads, and figure out their secrets. Just recently we also showed you the PX18 sequencer from Monolake, a tool they programmed for themselves back in 1995, and which became a major inspiration for the layout of Ableton live. The PX18 is also available as a free download, and is a good insight into the mind of two other techno and house veterans.

You can download the Smackos Amiga 909 from Legowelt’s website, as well as a ton of synthesizer and drum machine sample packs, and a clap generator synth for Ableton with parameters to control the “sogginess”, “wallop”, and “funk spicyness” of your clap. Look below for an audio sample of the new Drum Machine, and a video of Legowelt in the studio with Fact Magazine.

Want to learn more about producing with Ableton Live? Or even take it to the next level and produce live on hardware synths? Make sure to check out our music production and synthesis courses! Contact us for more info, or to schedule a free tour of the studio!

Little Drummer Toy: Ableton’s Holiday-Themed Sequencer

Little Drummer Toy Ableton

Did you miss out on the holiday spirit? Well, Ableton sure has! Some “rogue elves” at Ableton created a free stocking-stuffer sized gift for anyone to use. Little Drummer Toy pairs you with someone else in the world, and the two of you edit using the 6 sequencers available to you. There is a sequencer for horns, drums, bells, etc.

The possible combinations are endless. The best part is, it is all done in your web browser.

**You may need to update to the latest version of your browser to use it.

To play with Little Drummer Toy, click here.

Ableton Little Drummer Toy

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