Want to discuss ALL possible and efficient methods to use Ableton with Maschine

Antarikhya Mohapatra
Antarikhya Mohapatra Member Posts: 6 Member

All youtube and online reading is not enough. This should be discussed and explained in detail. Looking for community members to start this discussion.


  • gummi
    gummi Member Posts: 17 Helper

    OK - this is going to be a longer effort to give overview of the options. :)

    I think the main thing here is to ask yourself what tool you are using for what purpose? Eg what is the purpose of the Maschine and what is the purpose of the Ableton in your setup? Once you get some idea to that question then you can start thinking about your options.

    Here is couple of different ways you can use these two together (most likely need further explanation later on):

    • use Maschine to arrange songs + use Live to extend routing/effect possibilities (route audio via multiple outs to Live using Maschine as plugin)
    • create loops with Maschine + use Live to arrange & mix the song (export audio loops from Maschine to Live)
    • use Maschine as MIDI controller to Ableton and create your music inside Ableton
  • Tom Mosler
    Tom Mosler Member Posts: 15 Advisor

    As @gummi said above, it all depends on purpose of use.

    I'm using Live to host Maschine for automation, mixing audio and mapping additional MIDI controllers.

    I have just one instance of Maschine loaded, with audio out from Groups A-H routed to Live audio tracks.

  • Matt_NI
    Matt_NI Administrator Posts: 1,128 admin

    @Antarikhya Mohapatra Please try to share a bit more details and context in your threads.

    Without much to go on, it would be hard for everyone to contribute meaningfully and if the start is too broad, then the discussion would go all kind of directions 😉

  • tetsuneko
    tetsuneko Member Posts: 642 Guru
    edited January 2022

    I am using Ableton for arranging my Maschine projects. I do this by MIDI mapping scene changes in Ableton, which then allows me to realtime record scene changes into a timeline (using MIDI clips in Ableton), which can then be edited and refined further. This also allows me to use plugins which introduce latency, because Ableton has PDC unlike Maschine. Best of both worlds!

  • loachm
    loachm Member Posts: 10 Member

    That is exactly the way I use Maschine with a DAW and, while being a minor workaround at first, I think, it's still the most efficient way to integrate the Maschine workflow into a DAW. Below is a post from 2016 I made in the old forum. Despite the recent additions to the Arranger since then (trimming Scenes/Sections, & the Clip concept) I think, it is still accurate, at least the concept remains the same. I'm using it in Cubase now and it can be applied to any other DAW. I've also included the demo project from back then to illustrate it. So for whom it is tldr, just have a look at the project and pick, what works for you. For anyone else, here's quite an elaborate explanation.

    From 2016 (continuation in the next post, as the new forum has a character limit - so much for the request of discussing something in detail 😎):

    I recreated that factory project as a Live arrangement to show how I would have done it in Live if it was my track. I usually start in Maschine and create some patterns. When I know that I'll turn it into a track, I take it to the DAW. What I'm doing there is that I basically group the parts of the projects into musically meaningful sections using multiple instances of Maschine. Usually I end up having a couple of instances and, like this demo project, it can happen that one Maschine instance can only contain one instrument (like the sub bass). So one Maschine instance may be for the drums, one for the basses, one for synths etc. (Note that I separated the staccato strings from the “pad” sounds – I would also devide instruments with regards to what they’re playing).

    In some cases doing this may seem like some sort of waste or ineffeciency, it requires a bit of work and a slightly heavier CPU load in the beginning (sometimes not – haven’t figured out the reason, yet), but having these sections help me to maintain control while I'm composing and they make things more efficient in the course of the production.

    Almost everything still happens in Maschine - midi sequencing and mixing, as I like to keep using Maschine's workflow. I only use Live for features, that Maschine doesn't have or where Maschine sucks, as I want to avoid any confusion about what I do with which application. And since I've drawn that line I'm not running into so many problems anymore. So Live is just doing the sequencing of Maschine scenes and provides the audio tracks and automation curves.

    But actually every major DAW can do this (maybe except for the scene jamming part) and maybe if NI would have communicated solutions like this, the whole argument about whether Maschine is or should be a DAW wouldn’t have happened. For me Maschine is an instrument with some sequencing features (just like Live had been advertised as a sequencing instrument prior to v4).

    Anyway, benefits for me using Live as an add-on are (and you don’t need the full version, the “free” bundled version Live Lite can do this, too):

    a) when I run into CPU trouble, I can freeze instances

    b) I can automate the things I like and don't have to perform several takes with the controller when I don't want to (but sometimes I want to perform)

    d) I can automate things beyond scene boarders, as I'm not tied to Maschine's paradigm anymore (that’s why I did the filter sweeps at the beginning)

    c) I can even jam with scenes, if I wanted to. Usually I know how I want to arrange things. (I’d recommend only using Live scenes, not Live clips, as there are some things to pay attention to)

    e) I can have audio tracks and a freeze function and I can use whichever I need in certain production situations

    f) because of having the instruments in meaningful sections I already have everything ready for creating stems

    g) I'm not a big user of Maschine kits, but since the main work stays inside of Maschine, working with the kits (switching them) still functions. I don't get why people send midi to Maschine and route the single audio streams back to the host and mix there. It makes things more complicated - Maschine already has mixer and a midi editor (the one in Live really isn't better) - so why double things. Doubles just the work.

    h) all of this also could be "future-proof", as I can port these Live projects back to a single Maschine project, if I want to or once Maschine is mature enough and has what I'm missing. For that reason I also use a Maschine FX instance as a master effect rack and try to stay with Maschine as long as possible (unless I decide using Live more again and the I probably don't care). Maschine has four audio inputs that can be addressed in Live – maybe that’ll offer interesting possibilities, too. Ever considered Maschine as a comprehensive effect rack that allows you to store (and thus reuse) parameter automations? Anyway, of course this porting back thing would also require a bit of work (e.g. recording the automation curves back into Maschine as midi data), but archiving projects always is.

  • loachm
    loachm Member Posts: 10 Member


    I know some may regard this as a huge work-around - I have been told so in the forum and I agree that all of this should be possible just in Maschine. But it isn't and I don't like hitting walls all the time, so I have to search for my own solutions. I'm trying to do this to stay independent of the developments and in order to be able writing music instead of feeling the only thing I can do is to complain (I'm not judging, I rather sympathise ). I just want to be able to do something and not feel like a turtle on the back, so I experimented with my workflow and adapted to this method – it takes a bit getting used to, but currently this method works and I hope it will continue to do so.

    Don't let the use of this project as a showcase give you a wrong impression. If your projects in general also use as little elements as this one, all of what I described may seem like overkill, so that's why I don't know if this workflow might be useful to you. And if you have fast computers, you probably don't have to care as much as I have to (old laptop). But I need to do that as I don't use one shots and loops a lot, but rather tend to layer a lot of instruments and effects to create my own sounds. I also always use Kontakt Instruments and Guitar Rig and using many instances of them can get very CPU-heavy. For me one Maschine plug-in instance in Live works more like an instrument rack with built-in midi sequences and I usually have groups with several instruments and routings in it. So, one Maschine instance can get quite big.

    Just a few remarks on the Live project - I have included the original Maschine project so that you can compare it with the recreation and the single Maschine instances in Live - take a look especially at the differences between the “arrangements” in the single instances and compare them with the original arrangement. It’s funny that it’s called “Arranger” in Maschine. It isn’t, nor it’s a sequencer. It’s actually just a scene list that is executed sequentially.

    Every scene is assigned to a midi note (or program change number) – I prefer midi notes, so that I can merge multiple Maschine scenes in one midi clip in Live (see, I don’t have to care about not being able to merge Maschine scenes anymore). The Maschine scenes are sequentially assigned to midi notes, starting from C-2. Pay attention to the position of you scene in Maschine – if you have, for instance, four scenes and the forth one is on position six, you won’t be able to trigger it with midi note D#-2, but rather with F-2 – this can be confusing at first. So don’t have empty Maschine scenes in between and you’ll be fine (or name your scene according to the corresponding midi note).

    I also recommend that the midi trigger clips have the same length like the Maschine scenes (i.e. the longest pattern of all of your Maschine instances) to avoid displacements between your patterns. That’s why I would avoid jamming with single Live clips (unless they have all the same length). But if you like polyrhythms or displacements, it might actually be quite interesting. However, don’t blame it on Maschine or Live, if things get out of hand. 

    To understand the concept – in order to sequence patterns in Live, the patterns have to be in the scene list in Maschine. So think of the Maschine “Arranger” just as a pattern container now, all the sequencing/arranging happens in Live. And you can also work non-linear if you jam with the scenes.

    You also have to have something to stop Maschine scenes. Once triggered Maschine scenes will loop continuously until they get a new trigger. That’s why I always have these empty patterns as silence scenes on scene 1 because I know I will always need them. I use this empty pattern, because Live might have a problem, if the scene is empty (I noticed it might lose sync after 32 bars, if the first scene is empty, but this only happens in Live, it didn’t happen in Cubase). I would use also use these silent patterns, as, although you could also work with switching off the plug-in via automation in Live, this wouldn’t work, if you’d want to jam with scenes, so I came up with these silence clips (clips with a Device off command wouldn’t also work well as they would kill of release phases or reverb tails).

  • endpop
    endpop Member Posts: 6 Newcomer
    edited August 2023

    Late to the party, but maybe someone will have a workflow similar to mine (with improvements). In my case, this is my preferred method(s)...

    Maschine is set to accept scene change via Program Changes. Every scene is assigned to an empty clip in Live, which sends a program number to switch scenes in Maschine. The max # of scenes is 128, but I have never used more than 16 if that. Very simple. Pick an empty clip, it plays the scene assigned in Maschine. Works flawlessly (almost). The advantage of this method is twofold. I jam on the scenes in Ableton and record that jam as an entire song on the fly. Then, in the Arrangement view in Live, I can freeze and render in place everything as audio. Each scene is made into its own segment, so if I want I can drag them up and down into other audio tracks.

    Downside? I cannot mute things or solo things in Maschine and have the commands playback in Ableton. If this were fixed? I'd never use any other method. To be honest? I don't think NI will ever do it.

    Using this method, there is a workaround to quickly get the parts I need, whether Maschine is in standalone mode or inside of Live. I can SOLO or mute parts (out of a drum kit for example) and drag the audio directly into an audio track in Live. Need the kick by itself? Solo and drag. Need just the tops and hats? Solo or mute, then drag. Dry without effects? Mute the effects, and drag. Using this method I get all the parts I will need to jam and arrange things in Ableton.

    Let's face it, there are FOUR basic things we should be able to automate INTO Ableton quickly besides scenes: Volume, Pan, Mute, and Solo. These could be easily added if NI would allow Maschine to respond to the Configure command.

    Using Configure, you then click on the things you need, like muting the kick, or muting an entire instrument, panning a percussion sound. Map it and say hell yeah. But nothing I've tried works. So for several years, Maschine is like a toy drum machine I break out once in a blue moon. I make a few beats and drag the parts out.

    Anyone get further???

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