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Ableton Live Tip: Making Multiknobs Out of Macros

August 19, 2009
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This Ableton Live tip covers a feature that many Live users have already implemented to fantastic results but many others, especially new users, haven't experimented with at all: multiassigned Macros.

With Ableton Live, it's incredibly easy to make one knob do a multitude of things all at the same time, from simple tasks like turning one thing up while another goes down to hypercomplicated parameter mayhem stemming from a single knob-turn. Here, you'll learn how to do a basic multiassignment:

To start, drop a blank Audio Effect Rack onto an Audio Track.

Ableton Live screenshot

If you can't see the Macro knobs, click on the circular button just below the On/Off button.

Ableton Live screenshot

Next, drop in a Compressor and a Filter Delay.

Ableton Live screenshot

Then, choose a few assignments by simply right-clicking on a parameter and choosing a Macro to assign it to. For this example, assign Comp Threshold to Macro 1.

Ableton Live screenshot

Moving along, map the Delay Wet/Dry to Macro 1, as well. Notice that Macro 1 is now called Threshold because a Macro adopts the name of the first parameter you assign to it.

Ableton Live screenshot

To rename the Macro, simply click to select it and type Command-R to rename it—for example, Multi1.

Ableton Live screenshot

Clicking on the Map Mode button on the Effect Rack brings out the Macro Mapping window, where you can adjust Minimum and Maximum values for each assignment.

Ableton Live screenshot

In this example, reverse the Min/Max on the Threshold assignment so that as you turn up the knob, the Threshold will drop while the Delay Wet/Dry increases.

Ableton Live screenshot

This tip works for buttons, too. Try assigning the On/Off for the Delay to Macro 1 and set its Minimum value to 1. Now, when you turn the Macro all the way to the left, the device will remain deactivated. Turn the knob even a little to the right, and the Delay flips on.

Ableton Live screenshot

You can make these Macros as complicated and with as many specific values as you like. When you combine that with embedded racks-inside-racks, your assignment schemes can get unimaginably complex. Happy twiddling!

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