How to Use NI MASCHINE Effects in Ableton Live

You may be familiar with MASCHINE’s extensive groove production capabilities, but did you know that it can also be used as a robust effects processor as well inside a DAW? In this tutorial, we will explore some options to integrate MASCHINE and Ableton Live to boost your sound creation possibilities.


Configuring MASCHINE

Typically, the MASCHINE software is used as a plug-in instrument for creating some serious beat-creations in most popular DAW’s. However, MACHINE’s flexible options and ability to add unlimited groups and insert effects to its already powerful feature set make it possible to use the software as an effects host as well. This capability allows you to take advantage of MACHINE’s powerful looping and automation capabilities in combination with its built-in effects or any third-party AU/VST plug-ins. Let’s look at how to set this up in Ableton Live so you can send any audio signal from Live through MASCHINE’s insert effects.

  • From Ableton Live’s Browser, load the MASCHINE software onto a MIDI track.
  • Once the MASCHINE interface opens, select ‘Sound 1′ on ‘Group A.’
  • Click the drop-arrow shown on the first ‘Module’ tab for ‘Sound 1,’ and select ‘Input.’
  • In the ‘Input Settings,’ you will see a Level knob as well as a Source selector. Select ‘Ext 1′ from the source menu.

With this setup, we now have access to all of the pattern-recording features in Maschine.  The patterns allow us to create loops of notes, or loops of automation. This means we can now create patterns without loading any sounds, so we can create loops consisting solely of effects automation. Let’s try this and see how it works by passing some audio from another track in Ableton through the Maschine effects.

To do this, first we need to create a new audio track in Ableton, drag an audio loop onto it that we can experiment with, then click in its Track Output to change the audio destination to the track hosting Maschine:

Now any audio we play from track “2  Audio” will be sent to the MIDI track hosting Maschine instead of going straight to the Master Output as it usually would.

Automating Effects in Maschine

Now let’s insert an effect in Maschine. In Sound 1, click on the drop-arrow on the Module 2 tab and  select “Grain Stretch.”

Now hit play on your loop to start Ableton’s transport moving and start the audio playing. You should be able to hear the effect of the Grain Stretch on the sound as you move the controls. To record effects automation as the audio passes through Maschine, hold the “Auto Write” button on the Maschine controller and turn the knobs on the “Grain Stretch” (or click and drag on the outer ring of any knob).  There should now be automation data recorded below the note matrix in the pattern section of Maschine (see image below). As the automated parameters change over time, you should hear the audio effects shift and loop as the pattern plays.

One of the best things about working this way in Maschine is that you can use all of Maschine’s pattern and note controls to trigger and shape the sounds. This means you can still Quantize, Nudge, Duplicate and Edit your FX patterns easily, as well as get more experimental with pattern and note lengths.  Just like any pattern in Maschine, your effects loops can be as long or as short as you prefer. This is a very interesting way to approach using Maschine and offers many new possibilities for performers and producers. Now try experimenting with this on your own a bit using various effects and plug-ins available in Maschine.

One important point to keep in mind here: you will see AU/VST effects and plug-ins appear in Maschine’s available plug-in list under two headings, “Plug-ins” (for instruments) and “FX” (for effects). Many Native Instruments plug-ins such as Massive or Reaktor will show up under both headings because they are available for use either as instruments or effects, but in this case we want to use them as effects specifically, so we need to make sure to select them from under the “FX” category; otherwise, they will not pass audio through the channel and you will get no output from Maschine.

With this setup, you can create amazing automated effects loops without permanently altering your original audio, and save the loops to reuse later.  Create delay buildups, automated drowning reverb effects, chains of plug-ins to morph your old loops into new sounds for your tracks, or bring a new level of dynamism to your live performances!

Also, now that Maschine has four individual audio inputs instead of just one, you can potentially have four independent effects chains set up at the same time, and follow the same steps above to set up different tracks in Ableton to go through each of the chains, quadrupling the possible combinations of different effects you can use at once.


Maschine Program

The future of production is here. Native Instruments’ Maschine redefines the intersection of hardware and software, performance and production. With Dubspot’s Maschine program for producers and performers, you’ll go from shaking hands with this cutting-edge music platform to making full tracks and performing your music live.

About This Program

At Dubspot, you’ll learn to produce and perform music with Maschine by becoming familiar with its hardware and software simultaneously. Maschine’s tactile controls map seamlessly to their software counterparts, unlocking an advanced production environment. The first level takes you step-by-step through producing an entire track, covering the essentials of sequencing, synthesis, and mixing along the way. We start making music from the beginning–even if you’re completely new to Maschine, you’ll be making your own beats and grooves within days.

You’ll learn sampling and recording techniques to add original material into your productions, use advanced automation features and cutting-edge effects for sound design, and explore Massive, a powerful synthesizer that’s included with Maschine. You’ll also discover how plug-in instruments and effects can expand your creative workflow, and how additional hardware instruments and controllers can be integrated into your setup. Finally, you will also learn how to integrate Maschine into a DAW as a plug-in effect or MIDI controller, with examples shown in Ableton Live and Logic Pro.

What’s Included

  • Maschine Level 1: Production Essentials
  • Maschine Level 2: Sampling, Recording, and Effects
  • Maschine Level 3: Advanced Techniques and DAW Integration

Additional Information

Visit the Maschine course page for detailed information on this program here.

If you have questions, please call 877.DUBSPOT or send us a message.