Using Max For Live's LFO

Want to modulate your sounds or a particular control on a synth or plugin in Ableton Live 9? Max for Live's LFO is here for exactly that purpose and Gary Hiebner is here to show you how to it works!  

LFOs are great tools to use to create interest and movement in your tracks. They are most often found on synths and filter effects. But what if you want to apply some LFO modulation to a specific parameter? That's where Max For Live's LFO effect comes in handy. This tool allows you to modulate nearly any parameter in Live. Let's take a look at how this is done.

Adding the LFO

On the Max For Live tab navigate to the Max Audio Effect and add the LFO to audio track with some audio clips on it. You'll notice a sine wave on the graphic display of the plug-in. This is the waveform that will be modulating a parameter.

LFO Audio Effect

Mapping the LFO to a Parameter

Before the LFO, I have placed the Ping Pong Delay. I want to map the LFO to the Frequency on the Ping Pong Delay. To do this, click on Map on the LFO. It'll start flashing, then click on the Freq on the Delay effect. Now the LFO is mapped to this parameter. You'll notice the frequency moving around rapidly on the graphic display on the Ping Pong Delay. If you play back, you'll hear how the frequency is being bounced around. 

LFO Mapped to Freq

Choosing a Wave and Rate

On the LFO you have some parameters you can tweak to change how the LFO reacts. Slow down the Rate and see how this slows down the speed at which the Freq is modulated. You can also change the depth of the LFO wave and the Phase. Currently this LFO is being determined by its frequency. But you can also set it to sync to the project tempo by clicking on Freq next to the waveform choices. The name will change to Sync. The rate will not be measured in Hz but instead by derivatives of the project tempo (1/4, 1/16, and so on..)

LFO Sync

You also have a selection of different waveforms that you can use with the LFO. Try out a square wave, a triangle wave or even the random wave shape for some real interesting modulation results.

LFO Waveform choices

Working with Multiple LFOs

The beauty with these LFO effects is that you can chain them up in a signal chain so that you have multiple LFO modulating different parameters. 

Add another LFO after the first one and map it to the Filter Width parameter. Then add another LFO after this and map this to the Feedback parameter.

Multiple LFOs Mapped

You can go wild and add as many LFO as you want and map them to a multitude of parameters building up quite complex chain effects with differing LFO modulations.


The LFO tool in Max For Live is a great inclusion to Ableton. It allows you to manipulate your audio in ways you may not have thought of. So try it out in your next production, plus make use of more than one LFO in your signal chain for some extra craziness!

For some other tips and techniques with Ableton check out the following tutorials:

Gary Hiebner is an enthusiastic South African Sound Designer and Apple Tech Head! Gary has been involved in the South African music industry for the decade, and in this time has also been involved in the sound design and music production for many advertising agencies and media houses. Gary is a devoted Logic and Ableton user, but he al... Read More


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