5 Reasons To Avoid Max For Live

We’ve devoted a lot of coverage to Max For Live since its introduction at the 2009 Winter NAMM Show, because it’s one of the most interesting music software releases of the year, and it opens up a wealth of options for Ableton Live users.

While Live users are already embracing Max For Live, CDM’s Peter Kirn raises some interesting issues with the idea of developing for the platform:

  1. Max for Live doesn’t have a free run-time, which means it’s not your best option if you want to reach a wide audience with your creations.
  2. Max is no longer an option for people wanting to develop plug-ins for multiple hosts, a change that didn’t go over well with all developers partly because it was only revealed after Max 5 and Max for Live.
  3. Jitter output is crippled in Max for Live if you don’t also own Jitter.
  4. Max isn’t an open source tool, which has practical implications, including –
  5. You’ll want to choose something else if you’re interested in mobile music making.

These are valid issues – but the reality is that Ableton and Cycling ’74 would sell a lot fewer copies of Max For Live if they treated it as a app development tool.

Instead, they are using the same approach that soft synth developers do – you can share patches, but not the synth engine. If someone else wants to use the cool Max For Live widget you make, they’re going to have to buy Ableton Live 8 and Max For Live – a pricey proposition.

It would be fantastic to see free open source tools as sophisticated as Live and Max For Live – but we’re probably going to have to wait at least five years for that.

Instead, Ableton and Cycling ’74 offer the same value proposition that Apple does with the Mac and the iPhone: they create tools that make power accessible.

Is this a devil’s bargain?

Is it worth accepting limitations on what you can do in order to get a computer that just works, a phone that gives you access to 100,000 applications or a music environment that unleashes your imagination?

It’s worth considering.

Let me know what you think!

39 thoughts on “5 Reasons To Avoid Max For Live

  1. I can't understand your points…Aren't Max4Live patches compatible with everyone who use Live and Max 4 Live? Its supposed to be a Max/MSP designed as a plugin for Live…not a Max/MSP which can make plugins for live…

    I think that people who want Max/MSP for generally making plugins, they can "push" Cycling 74 to put a VST export in the original Max/MSP. For years i was wondering why they haven't done it. Synthmaker and Synthedit work this way and they don't need a specialized program for this like former Pluggo…

  2. Hmmm…. do we really have to wait 5 years for a robust open-source alternative that could let our creations reach wider audiences?

    What about pure-data (Pd) ??

  3. It's all about the money. The quality of the output rises protional to the amouth of money you earn with the output. Our sociaty is driven by that, at least at the moment.
    I don't think we'll come near Live4Max with open source applications. Coming near in terms of user friendly eviroment. An easy to use application for those who don't want/can code or hack.

  4. It's all about the money. The quality of the output rises protional to the amouth of money you earn with the output. Our sociaty is driven by that, at least at the moment.
    I don't think we'll come near Live4Max with open source applications. Coming near in terms of user friendly eviroment. An easy to use application for those who don't want/can code or hack.

  5. I can't understand your points…Aren't Max4Live patches compatible with everyone who use Live and Max 4 Live? Its supposed to be a Max/MSP designed as a plugin for Live…not a Max/MSP which can make plugins for live…

    I think that people who want Max/MSP for generally making plugins, they can "push" Cycling 74 to put a VST export in the original Max/MSP. For years i was wondering why they haven't done it. Synthmaker and Synthedit work this way and they don't need a specialized program for this like former Pluggo…

  6. I can't understand your points…Aren't Max4Live patches compatible with everyone who use Live and Max 4 Live? Its supposed to be a Max/MSP designed as a plugin for Live…not a Max/MSP which can make plugins for live…

    I think that people who want Max/MSP for generally making plugins, they can "push" Cycling 74 to put a VST export in the original Max/MSP. For years i was wondering why they haven't done it. Synthmaker and Synthedit work this way and they don't need a specialized program for this like former Pluggo…

  7. yeah, well. You get a lot of stuff for that money, still I think a lot of ppl will do as me, and wait until there are a few great patches also.

    I was thinking of giving up programming VST's altogether, but I'm not as sure now.

    There is also a difference between the iPhone and the max4live offer that I think is important.
    The development (xcode) tools are free from Apple. It's the run on device and sell that cost's money. And that could be viewed as an investment. From Ableton and Cycling '74 you pay for the environment and you (as far as I've understood it) cant recuperate that if you would like to sell your creation?

  8. yeah, well. You get a lot of stuff for that money, still I think a lot of ppl will do as me, and wait until there are a few great patches also.

    I was thinking of giving up programming VST's altogether, but I'm not as sure now.

    There is also a difference between the iPhone and the max4live offer that I think is important.
    The development (xcode) tools are free from Apple. It's the run on device and sell that cost's money. And that could be viewed as an investment. From Ableton and Cycling '74 you pay for the environment and you (as far as I've understood it) cant recuperate that if you would like to sell your creation?

  9. "Is it worth accepting limitations on what you can do in order to get a computer that just works"

    As long as it does what it's supposed to, and that is what you need, where's the trouble?

    If you need something else, you are looking/moaning at the wrong product, business and open source are not the same thing no matter how hard we wish. 😉

  10. "Is it worth accepting limitations on what you can do in order to get a computer that just works"

    As long as it does what it's supposed to, and that is what you need, where's the trouble?

    If you need something else, you are looking/moaning at the wrong product, business and open source are not the same thing no matter how hard we wish. 😉

  11. It does seem like a useless way to spend money until you actually get it which is in itself a catch 22. Max for Live is really interesting to use, swap and 'develop' for. I see it as money well spent if it is going to be used.

  12. It does seem like a useless way to spend money until you actually get it which is in itself a catch 22. Max for Live is really interesting to use, swap and 'develop' for. I see it as money well spent if it is going to be used.

  13. it appears you were right ableton live 8.1.1 plus mfl is already out there for the pirates.They shouldve seen it coming.Justice will always win in the end.

  14. I think it's funny how Ableton adds a feature that could be appealing to some and you all want it free. It's a business they are running. Use pure date with jack audio connection kit if you don't want to pay. But it is no ones right to get free software. Especially something as well implemented as MAX for Live. People worked on this software. People with salaries. Would anyone here like to do thier job and not get paid? I personally only see potential here…

  15. I think it's funny how Ableton adds a feature that could be appealing to some and you all want it free. It's a business they are running. Use pure date with jack audio connection kit if you don't want to pay. But it is no ones right to get free software. Especially something as well implemented as MAX for Live. People worked on this software. People with salaries. Would anyone here like to do thier job and not get paid? I personally only see potential here…

  16. how can you call this justice? everything should be free? so if you work your ass off to create something everyone should get it for free? Oh I f*cking hate so much this stae of mind. I use my softwares , I pay my softwares… You don't steal cars when you want to drive do you? well, a car is expensive too…

  17. how can you call this justice? everything should be free? so if you work your ass off to create something everyone should get it for free? Oh I f*cking hate so much this stae of mind. I use my softwares , I pay my softwares… You don't steal cars when you want to drive do you? well, a car is expensive too…

  18. The article is so idealistic. For-profit business make better products. They are motivated by profit. Open source projects have no motivation other than prestige (questionable) and experience earned while working on the project. There are few open source projects that last more than a couple of years. Meanwhile, Ableton is working on Live 9 at this very moment, because they can keep making money if they keep making better software. Open source only works in a socialist world where everyone's needs are taken care of and nobody has a motivation other than helping others. Such a world does not exist, not even in the former Soviet Union or China. People are in it for the money. If you don't like it, don't buy it, and write your own software in your so-called free time (because I know that, just like everyone else, you have to work to make a living).

  19. the ableton forum is full of ableton nutholders….same all over the web i guessu
    too many people writing comments on this post must own some stock in ableton and max..
    the shit should be pirated because ableton is falling off…ableton 7 was really cool but ableton 8 is no real improvement and max sucks…what a gay idea
    the max patches out suck and max4live patches suck also…having to install max on your system along with ableton is stupid

    the fuckfaces robert and gerhard need to bring ableton back to being more performance style less bullshit adding

  20. serato +live+ max+shared+ ++++++++++ = gayass trendy bullshit.
    like having every fucking thing use facebook+twitter
    oh and apps for cellphones is fucking annoying and stupid. fucking cell phone commercials with new gay phones and apps.. what a waste of time and resources… that could be better used improving shitty phones and services.

    like i really need an app to tell me to massage my balls

  21. the other shit thing is how hundreds of assholes all over the web are now "ableton certified" so tutorials and bullshit how fucking lame

    robert needs his ass beat up bloody

  22. i have been spending some time learning max for live using the free 30 day trial period. it’s really exciting to use, but at this point i feel i will most likely NOT buy it. the reason for this is that someone can’t use one of my creations without also owning max for live. this is wrong, in my opinion. it is based on the following assumption: if you could give your max for live creation to someone else, the best way for them to make more money is for them to also charge those other people to use max patches as well. the logic is that people will buy the program just to use patches that other people create and do no actual development themselves. however, this undoubtedly turns many developers off from the product (such as myself).

    this would perhaps be one thing if buying the full version of max (not just max for live) enabled you to do this. however, it doesn’t, as i understand. i can almost understand paying $187 for max for live. but buying the full version for $400 and NOT having an export to vst function is inexcusable. if you buy photoshop, you can do whatever you want with the pictures you create. likewise with ableton live or most other programs. someone doesn’t have to buy photoshop to look at your pictures. a company selling you a development environment that doesn’t even allow you to truly develop anything is ridiculous.

  23. Interesting angle. I always thought the end-product of working with these tools was the music we produce with it — not the patches, soft synths, and various project settings.

    Joe Meek vehemently defended his secret home-made studio equipment.

  24. 5 reasons why you should use MAX4LIVE :
    1) You can now expand your Ableton Live to the fullest,
    everything you want to do inside Ableton Live is now possible.
    2) MAX4Live communicates with Albeton Live so you assing objects to your
    knobs, volume, channels ect…
    or you can get you can get info from your Ableton live knobs, volumes, channels, ect …
    3) You can share ALL your devices FREE and/or get them for free on website’s like maxforlive.com.
    4) Klik and drag you device into Ableton Live, and it will work. that easy.
    5) If you own Max/MSP you still can copy/paste, tweek, jadejaddejadde so it still is flexble for
    exporting stuff.
    Conclusion: Don’t avoid thing’s. Never say never.

  25. I still have no idea why the hell they picked ableton. They should have instead put all that time & effort into making max/msp work as a VST in any daw. I guess I’m just a bit annoyed though because I really dislike ableton haha 🙂

  26. I really dont understand why you guys complain about not having open source soft to create!!!

    most of this apps started as open source or for research and many are still free open source and most powerful than commercial software with exceptions like kyma that you have to pay for, but there are plenty of free weapons like c sound, pd, supercollider to name a few, now if you want to also make money and close code is another story but there are options for that too.

  27. I agree with author. Ableton Live and M4L both sucks!

    I am musician and software developer and have used those apps for more than 5 years. I’ve tried to implement patches in M4L. In my carrier I’ve programmed in many languages and know many programming techniques, patterns, principles and concepts. I must say that M4L environment is so fucking confused, unclear and sophisticated. Guys who invented Max for Live they are specializing in making simple concepts in the hardest possible way (and money of course)!

    Max4Live and Ableton Live are are fine if you don’t use advanced options. But if you try to change something more advanced, some extra customisation you will find how buggy and unpleasent software they are!

    Unfortunately there are no much options in sofware that allows play in real time 🙁 Are they?

  28. I really feel this entire post should be removed – Most of the issues brought up are no longer relevant to Max / Abelton. Max 4 Live is an absolutely essential tool for creating customized plugins and operations and no other DAW has anything even remotely close. The learning curve for Max is substantially easier than picking up C and programing your own vst’s, it allows you to quickly create devices and algo’s for your musical ideas that are immediately implementable. Once you know what you are doing the patches are extremely stable and I have had no problem with them – Why do you think Autechre uses it? At this point all this post does is dissuade people from trying a viable and useful tool as it comes up in the top search results for max 4 live.

  29. “and no other DAW has anything even remotely close”

    true, but pluggo was much better because it supported cubase logic protools performer and audiounits so you could use it outside live. live is not the world it is only a small part of it.

  30. Max for Live is buggy as hell and conflicts with various VST-s. I only wanted to use their LFO tool and the end result was a nightmare, nearly losing my project(s). Of course I thought LFO was fun and used it with several projects, but it was later when I found out that trying to slice or move tracks on arrangement view will bug the hell out of Ableton, and this was traced back to Max for Live. Even removing the plugin didn’t solve the issue.

    Ableton’s customer support let me go by pointing to these two (typical… they’ll do the same when a MIDI keyboard is fully supported by every other DAW except this one, and they’ll point fingers at the manufacturer instead of attempting to patch things up which would take them 5 minutes or less with just basic understanding of Python script, but that’s another story). Both M4L and the creators of the VST are at fault because neither want to fix the bug, but I had conflicts with even trying to LFO Ableton’s base samples that come with Suite. Never again!

Leave a Reply