Integrate Ableton Live & Modular Synthesizers With CV Tools

Ableton today announced CV Tools, a free add-on for Live 10 Suite that lets you integrate the DAW with your modular synth gear.

CV Tools offers ten tools that allow tight communication between Live and your Modular or other Control Voltage based gear. You can send and receive Pitch, Control, Clock and Trigger CV with this set of creative Max for Live devices.

How to get started:

  • Install Ableton Live 10.1 (now available as a beta release).
  • Install the CV Tools pack.
  • Configure a DC-coupled soundcard, such as:
    • Expert Sleepers, eg. ES-3 and ES-8
    • Motu Ultralite, 248 or 240
    • RME Babyface (Headphone out)
    • UAD Apollo Series

Other audio interfaces may work. Make sure that yours is DC-coupled, which means that it’s designed to pass both audio rate AC signals and static or very slow moving DC signals.

CV Tools adds these features to Ableton Live:

  • Instruments
    • CV Instrument – Allows you to control your modular with MIDI, like a synth. Features flexible modulation and voicing options
    • CV Triggers – Send Triggers, Gates, and Pings from inside Live.
    • RRG – Create organic rhythms and experiment with modular style beat generation. Sends out MIDI, you can even use it with Drum Racks.
  • Syncronisation
    • Clock In – Control Live’s tempo and playing with your modular
    • Clock Out – Allows you to sync your modular to Live
  • Modulators
    • CV LFO – Add more LFOs to your modular system
    • CV Shaper – Create flexible modulation shapes
    • CV Envelope Follower – Allows you to control your modular with audio signals from inside Live

Video Introduction:

Pricing and Availability

CV Tools is expected to be available ‘soon’, and is available now as a public beta.

22 thoughts on “Integrate Ableton Live & Modular Synthesizers With CV Tools

    1. I want ARA, Comping and MPE… I think they haven’t even announced what version those additions will come in, if at all.

  1. Cool, cool…. Now we just need some interfaces with a lot of CV in and outs.. or DC coupled ports in audio talk, of which most could then be 3.5mm plugs. I mean something like 16 in, of which 8 are 3.5mm plugs and 8 are of the typical XLR/Tele with pre-amps on at least a few. And something like 32 outs, where 24 are 3.5mm outs, 4 are Tele/XLR balanced, monitor outs, and 4 are split on two headphone outs.

    Also a network (wifi?) controllable 3.5mm patchbay with lots of connections, could not hurt either… especially not if the control software allows for naming, perhaps even using pictures so that the CV outs and Ins can be routed easily from the computer…. No, I’m not talking a patchbay that covers all of the ports of a modular system, but something that offers good routing options so that one would not have to un-patch the audio interface as soon as one wishes to use a modular as the modulation source, Or a CV-equipped controller/sequencer for pitch and gate.

    (Network instead of USB, to allow it to connect to multiple device, so that it could either be controlled by the main computer, or perhaps an tablet, mobile, or touchscreen linux computer, so that one would not need to go to the computer to change routings, if the computer isn’t right next to the modular, which from studio pictures I’ve it often isn’t).

      1. Well that is still fewer channels than I suggested, and without the convenience of 3.5mm plugs. Also it doesn’t offer the typical pre-amped channels, that are useful for anyone also wanting to use it as a typical audio interface.
        But sure it is probably the best single unit interface for anyone mostly looking for CV compatible ports. And with separate pre-amp and Adat to CV (DC coupled port) from Expert sleepes, it would be possible to use it to the max.

        1. I use 2 “aggregated” Motu’s (an 828 and an ultralight). I use 1/4th to 1/8th cables, I boost any signal going out if need be inside Ableton or VCV rack. Its easy, no worries, no hassle

    1. Yes this. I would love something with 16in/16out and in eurorack format or not. Currently the closer i get is using two endorphin shuttle control.and 32 expert sleepers es3 combined with 2 es6 which is also close tu 600$ and you need two adat in/out.. ?

    2. MOTU interfaces have been DC coupled from time immemorial. You don’t even need something as fancy as the 16A. Just stock up on a bunch of old 828s with USB, create an aggregate audio device, and you’re off to the races. With $$$ to spare.

      1. Aggregated sound devices, is MacOS only. But it is possible to set up the devices by connecting them to a computer, so that they then will work as stand-alone, as ADAT in/out units, without having to connect to the computer (and they will keep the setting even when powered off).

        Like you say USB are the ones to get, but only the Mk3 828 is USB, so there aren’t a lot of old ones. A firewire version, if one has the computer to set it up, can be used as an ADAT converter, so they would work.

        I would just much rather see a product with Eurorack connectivity built in, but that is still a general interface, unlike the Expert Sleepers that aren’t that good for general use.

    3. Hello !
      I’m very interested in sending CV from my Motu Ultralite to my Eurorack modules (thanks to Ableton CV tools), but i can’t find any reliable information on how to do it… i don’t understand.
      You just plug a 6,5 jack in one of the MOTU output, to a 3,5 jack in one of the CV input of an Eurorack…?

  2. I just wonder about signal level issues there though. Audio interfaces would typically output line level signal which are way lower than the signals modular setups work at. How is that addressed?

  3. Free and commercial Max4Live devices offering CV control have been available for years, why is the community pretending its something new?

    1. I’m guess a lot haven’t realized this and Ableton is bundling some of those Max4Live devices into cleaner packaging. The same and more could also be done with Silent Way but a lot struggle with getting started with that plugin.

    1. Unless you already have an audio interface and are using Windows. Aggregate audio devices in Windows are a challenge.

      It really depends on the user. For me an ES-3/ES-5/ES-6 combination worked the best. Even though I was using a DC compatible audio interface I didn’t want all analog inputs and outputs committed to the modular. It was much easier using my unused ADAT.

  4. Same – Have an ES 3/5/6 combo looking forward to trying this as an alternative to silent way which isn’t the most intuitive from a ux perspective

  5. My RME interface is fully utilisied (and isnt DC coupled anyway to my knowledge). I have a MOTU knocking about. But can I use TWO interfaces, one for normal audio and one for CV stuff??

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