Wed. Jun 3rd, 2020


Electronic Music Blog

NI + Ableton – ModWheel Effects

2 min read

As I’m an Ableton user, I’ve come to rely mostly on products built for Ableton. However, I couldn’t deny the quality of Native Instrument’s packages, such as their awesome Discovery Series of world instruments.

After purchasing the package I soon realized that some effects are built off the modwheel and pedal of a physical synth. Surprisingly Ableton doesn’t have any such virtual modwheel in place.

Frustratingly, NI Discovery Series’ effects built on the modwheel are not configurable in the Ableton automation. As an example, see the image below:

On the left is a slider for “Ornaments,” that adjusts from “slow” to “fast.” This is based on a physical ModWheel.

Attempting to configure the plugin through Ableton gave me no joy either. I could add specific buttons, but that slider, when clicked or used, wouldn’t grant automated features. Grr…

Doing a bit of minor discovery, I came across a Free Plugin for Max 4 Live called PBMX (pitch bend mod wheel). You can download this from Max4Live’s site [link].

Once downloaded, you can drag this Max plugin to your User Library / Presets / Audio Effects / Max Audio Effect section. Or any section, but that’s where I dragged mine.

Once you have it in your Ableton library, you can now use it on your tracks that have devices which make use of Pitch Bend or Mod Wheel effects.

When it sits on a track, it will render like so:

While you can adjust it manually here, you can also set up automation points on the timeline, like so:

A virtual ModWheel to the rescue.

Unfortunately this solution requires one to have the Suite level of Ableton Live. Max 4 Live only is available in the Suite. If you don’t have access to Max, I don’t know of another alternative for automating the Pitch Bend and/or Mod Wheel.

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