The Best Max for Live Devices, Part 3

Continuing this series exploring some of the best devices available for Ableton Live 9's Max for Live, Ableton Certified Trainer, Noah Pred, puts Dopplerama and Reverse-esreveR under the microscope.  

In our third installation of this M4L series, we'll take a peek at a pair of simple yet very handy free audio effects built for Max for Live.


First up is one of Robert Henke's free creations. Perhaps better known as one half of Monolake, the man has been programming in Max/MSP for literally decades, and aside from his founding influence at Ableton, he has also been a marquee device contributor to the Max for Live community. Among his offerings is a Circular Doppler audio effect, which is free to download for all M4L users here:

Anyone who's heard a sports car whizz past on the motorway knows the famous pitch effect, and not only does this effect replicate it on any input source you might want, but it does so while panning in a (potentially twisted) circular pattern to maximize spatial displacement.

The effect works by modelling a path for both the left and right channels of an incoming signal, represented by the yellow and pink dots swimming around in the graphic display.

Pic 1

The default Ratio setting of 100 has them going—as the title would suggest—in a circular fashion, but altering this parameter changes the shape of the path the sound is perceived to take, ranging from rapid bouncing motions, to inverted toroids, pretzel-like curlicues and more.

We can control how far apart the stereo signals are from one another by changing the L-R separation value, with 0 effectively being flattened down to mono; the default setting of 10 has one just chasing the other, while the maximum value has them dancing on complete opposite sides of the transit cycle.

Still on the left side of the interface, we now have access to our LFO settings, which determine the cycle and relative positioning of our doppler shape. Phase offsets the placement of the left signal path from the right, while Shift allows us to move the starting point of the cycle, with the result seeming to alter the rotational degree position of the listener. Below these, we can easily specify the period of the LFO in host-tempo-sync'd Bars, Beats, 16ths, and Ticks.

To the right of the central real-time display, we can adjust the Effect amount; I found somewhere between 50-100 yielded the most traditional doppler-type effects, while pushing it towards the maximum of 200 got us into some rather odd sound-design territory. Below this are four controls that allow us to determine the extent to which Pitch, Volume, Filter and Z-Axis positioning are controlled by the effect; for example, if all you're after is crazy panning patterns, you can turn the Pitch amount off and adjust the filter to taste.

By default, the listener's perspective—represented by the blue dot in our visual feedback—is located on the edge of the circular doppler path radius. We can change this placement via the Position dial, with lower settings moving the locus well outside the circle, and higher settings pushing it all the way to the circle's center; a Gain control does the obvious.

Finally, we have a second LFO, which allows us to control the movement of the listening position over time, again in host-tempo-sync'd Bars, Beats, 16th notes, and Ticks, with the Shift control altering the cyclically-relative start position.

Whether you're looking to achieve a traditional doppler effect, generate dynamic stereo movement in your mix, or do some powerful stereo sound design, the ml.circular.doppler is a tool your device library needs.


Have you ever wanted to use a beat-repeat effect, preferably in real-time—but have the beats play back reversed? In that case, look no further than Reverser 3.1, available for free download here:

A simple interface encourages us to “Woop”—which triggers beat repetitions in real time, but can also be automated. The Free/Slaved button beneath that determines whether the repetitions will start immediately from hitting the “Woop” button, or whether they'll engage with the next quantized interval. The Straight/Reversed button determines the playback direction of our repeated audio.

Pic 2

Up top, the Pitch dial seems to be, perhaps counter-intuitively, set to the default pitch at both 0 and 127, while a center-tuned dial seems to be an octave below—which allows for some neat dips down and back up again all with one swift motion. Our gain dial adjusts the volume of our repetitions.

Beneath the Gain dial, a ducking percentage helps smooth clicks out of the audio by applying a subtle volume envelope, while the time value beneath the Pitch dial adjusts the smoothness of the Pitch adjustments—which can be mapped to a MIDI controller for turntable scratch-like effects.

Finally, we have a quantization field where we can specify the duration of our repeated audio intervals, from 1-bar all the way down to 1/64th notes, MIDI-mappable for on-the-fly timing changes, and automate-able to boot. If you're experiencing any timing issues, the LB button should correct them, and the circle in the bottom right silences the repetition audio until you've exited the Swooped mode via the big main button—which is more useful than you might think, especially in Slaved quantization mode where you can repeat a sound, go to silence, and then slam back right on beat by de-Wooping. 

Reverser is a great toolfor injecting dynamic on the fly-edits to your drums and other parts live on stage, and it's well equipped to make itself handy in the studio as well—whether recording results to audio in FSU fashion, or by intricately automating the parameters on hand. Just another example of the abundant fruits of the Max for Live programming community.

The Best Max For Live Devices in Live 9, Part 1

The Best Max For Live Devices in Live 9, Part 2

The Best Max For Live Devices, Part 4: Four More Cool Devices

Noah Pred is a Canadian record producer, sound designer, technologist, DJ, and Ableton Certified Trainer living in Berlin, Germany. Releasing dozens of records and touring extensively since the '90s, he currently teaches a wide variety of techniques for stage and studio at the BIMM Institute. For more information, please visit: http://... Read More


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