As of Ableton Live Suite version 9, Cycling 74’s incredible Max for Live is included for free. This gives Suite 9 users access to a massive library of user-created M4L Devices, and the ability to create and modify Devices to their heart’s content.
Below is a list of of my top 5 favorite no-cost M4L devices for use with Ableton Live 9. I’m confident that most any Ableton Live producer will find them a ridiculously useful addition to their music tech toolbox.
1. Grainfreeze 2.0 – Robert Henke
An update to an already useful sound design tool, GrainFreeze 2.0 allows you to capture audio in real time and scrub through the audio to create entirely new textures. Once audio has been captured with the “Ready” button, you can change what portion of the audio is repeated with the Position knob, change the size of the “Grains” (think little pieces of audio), and cause other forms of evolution and movement with ease. Route the track that Grainfreeze lives on to another audio track to record limitless tweaks and variations.
2. IRCAMAX Free – IRCAM
A suite of free M4L devices including IM-MultiFX, a rich-sounding and easy-to-program combination of delay, reverb, auto-pan, and chorus effects, and IM-ChordSeq which is a simple but powerful arpeggiator device. Used together, these two M4L devices can breath new life into boring synth patches.
3. Granulator II – Robert Henke
It is theoretically possible that Ableton 9 Suite owners are not aware of this fantastic Max for Live Device. It is an incredibly robust sound design tool, so any owner of M4L without it should download the Device ASAP! Granulator II takes the concept of Grainfreeze 2.0 and expands it into a full-fledged sampler instrument with robust synthesizer controls. The addition of the “Granulator Slave” Device allows you to control one instance of Granulator II from multiple tracks, allowing for vastly different versions of the same sound with minimal effort. Think of this Device as a method to turn any sound into a pad instantly.
4. Convolution Reverb – Alex Harker/Ableton
Included in the Max for Live Essentials pack, Convolution Reverb is an excellent way to add a multitude of reverb flavors to your production arsenal. (For those unfamiliar with the concept of convolution reverb, check out this article and video courtesy of Ableton). The sonic quality is objectively superior to the standard Ableton Reverb Device, and the ability to use hundreds of included IR (Impulse Response) files to drastically change the behavior of Convolution Reverb, this Device may well be the last reverb you ever need!
5. Keyboard Control – PatrickDSP
Made specifically for Ableton Push users who use external synthesizers (such as myself), this Device allows you to have access to commonly needed controls such as Modulation, Program Changes, and various other functions directly from Push, eliminating the need for a second keyboard MIDI controller.