Max for Live Device Roundup: Dub Machines, NES4L, Key Launch, Sting!

Dubspot blogger Josh Spoon introduces four useful Max for Live devices including Dub Machines, NES4L, Key Launch, and Sting!

Dub Machines

Dub Machines is the first release by Surreal Machines and boy did they come out the gate strong with two analog-inspired Max for Live effects: Magnetic and Diffuse.

Magnetic is a digital recreation of analog delay/reverb that sounds a bit like the Roland Space Echo. You get the wow and flutter, multiple tape heads and dub stylings, and you can reverse the tape heads as well. There’s also a great set of reverbs including convolution, spring, plate, and halls variations with parallel, post and pre-processing routing.

Diffuse is a brilliant sound design tool that uses a digital feedback network to affect sound. You can create wild build up effects similar to Pink Floyd’s intro to “Breath”, buzzy long tailed Transformer (Movie) sound effects and even Dark Knight-like brass tones.

Through the internal sends you can create great feedback loops while changing different modes to change the internal workings of Diffuse with the Rectify slider, and push the Regen knob (feedback) to self-oscillation and back with the twist of a knob. Surreal Machines also gives you low and high frequency dampeners to treat your diffusion to your personal taste.

These units can add shimmering tones, raw out of control delays, and add character to your tracks if used either sparingly or freely. In the Live Pack you get the two devices, Demo Sets, Samples and dozens of Insert and Send presets. Dub Machines is well worth the $39 and is available on the Ableton site.


NES4L by Will Bedford is a Max for Live device that emulates the sounds of the original NES (Nintendo Entertainment System). The device has multiple tools to create and manipulate sound including: duty cycle, custom wave editor and a sampler to play samples as 1-bit DPCM sounds. It has everything you need to chiptune your heart out. I’m not a NES emulator aficionado, but I’m an 80s kid and this sounds legit to me. Download it free here.


Sting! is an acid style music generator by Skinnerbox. It works by simply pressing on the happy face to start a pattern and then pressing again to start another. It’s that simple and fun.

You get a few parameters to spice up patterns. Density is used to affect the note length, Length to set the patterns loop length, Low Vel for setting the lowest volume, Swing and Transpose. This gives you a variety of patterns to work with. Partner with Instant Haus and you can have some nice generative electronic music. This device is great for novice and pros alike.

Sting! is available as a free download on the Skinnerbox site.

Key Launch

Key Launch by Mark Towers is simple but efficient; it turns your QWERTY keyboard in to a clip launcher with an interface that is floatable none the less. You get access to up to 10 tracks (1-0) and 9 clips (W-P) at a time as well as easily scroll through your clips using your bracket keys ([ and ]) .

Single clips or even scenes can be toggled  right from Key Launch. There is also a key to disable for using the QWERTY keyboard as a MIDI keyboard. Ableton gives you the ability to set up clip launching through keyboard mappings but not as quick and dynamic as Key Launch. Save yourself some time get it free here.


Steps is the latest release in developer Yehezkel Raz‘s 2 years of free effects and Max for Live devices. Steps is actually four Max for Live devices (StepsBPM, StepsParameters, StepsTracks, and Steps Transport) that allows you to change Live parameters by small increments, all by mapping up and down arrows to your computer keyboard or MIDI controller.

StepsBPM gives you the ability to increase or decrease at increments of .1-10 BPM. Great for subtle to drastic BPM changes in live performances.

StepsParameter and StepsParameterMIDI gives you step by step parameter changes to any mappable parameters in Live. You also can set a min/max to hone in on the sweet spot of your parameters.

StepsTracks is a great device for those who don’t have easy access to selecting their tracks from a MIDI controller. StepsTracks lets you select left and right through your tracks with the option arm, auto arm and keep armed as you tab through your tracks.

StepsTransport lets you jump back and forth by one beat or bar. You can definitely get some great rhythmic sample chopping going with this device.

Steps puts the power of some of the most used features of Live within the reach of 2 fingers. Get Steps free on the website.

Dubspot blogger Josh Spoon is an Ableton Live veteran, blogger, drummer, music producer and live performer. Josh has a residency with the eclectic Los Angeles electronic music collective Space Circus, performing every third Friday of the month, and just released his first concept EP of grooving low-end originals entitled Man on Mars.

Ableton Live Producer Certificate Program

Upcoming Course Start Dates. Register today!
6/16, 7/21, 8/4 (NYC) 

6/16, 6/21, 6/22, 9/22, 10/5 (LA)
6/6 (Dubspot Online, Space still available!)

The flagship of our music training, with every Ableton Live course offered at the school. After completing this program, you will leave with a portfolio of original tracks, a remix entered in an active contest, a scored commercial to widen your scope, and the Dubspot Producer’s Certificate in Ableton Live.

What’s Included:

  • Ableton Live Level 1: Beats, Sketches, and Ideas
  • Ableton Live Level 2: Analyze, Deconstruct, Recompose, and Assemble
  • Ableton Live Level 3: Synthesis and Original Sound Creation
  • Ableton Live Level 4: Advanced Sound Creation
  • Ableton Live Level 5: Advanced Effect Processing
  • Ableton Live Level 6: Going Global with your Music

This program is about learning Ableton Live by going through the entire process of being an artist, by developing your own sound through a series of sketches and experimentation. You will also learn the ins and outs of this powerful software through a series of exercises designed to help you master the steps involved in producing your own music. After a level of getting familiar with the tools that Ableton has to offer, you will then develop your sonic ideas into full-length tracks. You will be exposed to a variety of approaches to arrangement and composition, storytelling techniques, ways of creating tension and drama in your music. At the end of the day, it is the sum total of your choices as an artist that define your sound, and levels 2 – 6 will give you the experience of actually completing tracks to add to your portfolio.

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

Dubspot NYC Open House: Sundays 11:00am and 12:00pm

Ask questions. Watch demos. Test drive workstations.

Anyone who comes by will have the opportunity to ask our instructors in-depth questions about our programs, curriculum and philosophy, and watch live music production and DJ demos. You can even sit down at one of our workstations and take it for a test drive. If you are still trying to decide what you are looking for, we suggest you stop by one of our Open Houses to learn more about the school, understand what the learning process at Dubspot entails and help you decide what is best for you. We can also help with scheduling details and payment options.