I’ve been impressed by Rax, the virtual effects and instrument rig for Mac, for some time. I marveled at its musician-friendly fullscreen interface and live visualizations in Rax 2.0, lamented its lack of popularity and eventual demise at developer Plasq, breathed a sigh of relief as it found a new home at Audiofile Engineering, and noted the unmistakable similarity of Apple’s MainStage. (MainStage, for the record, still doesn’t do a lot of what Rax 2 does.)

Now, Rax is due for a major update, and it’s getting one, in the form of a new UI, powerful routing, and clever MIDI mapping capabilities. It’s still not for everyone — there are other instrument/effects hosts, there are features in DAWs like Ableton Live’s Racks, and of course Kore. But it could be a worthy addition to your Mac arsenal, and it promises to fit certain production and performance jobs very, very well. Beyond Rax, the whole category, including those other tools, could use more attention and more active musicians. I hope the developers of those other tools have a good look at Rax 3, while they’re at it (or second look, in the case of Apple). More on this soon; in the meantime, here’s a preview video:

Rax 3 Sneak Peek from Audiofile Engineering on Vimeo.

Via primasluta on Twitter.

  • amoeba

    i haven't looked at rax since it first came out.

    this is looking really good… i'm wondering if there is a way of generating and/or using time code (midi) – if so, this looks like a dirt-simple way of setting up a live performance system! which i AM looking for.

  • We're really happy to see Audiofile Engineering give Rax a total makeover and fresh flexibility. It's so important to have reliable tools which are built for the stage. 🙂



  • It appears that they have changed the licensing policy though. When you add Rax 3 to your cart, it says only 1 install. I believe Rax 3 was 2 installs per license.

  • Michael Pearson

    If Rax had been available for WinXP I wouldn't have bought a second-hand copy of Kore.

    Good thing NI fixed Kore in the end, really.

  • Kore is quite different in some ways, not least being the macro approach and hardware control, and of course the preset management stuff. But I really like the way Rax accomplishes other things. As I said, I hope we're seeing onstage hosts as a real category. There have been a number of great Windows-only tools for some years, in particular (like Brainspawn Forte) but it's been difficult on either platform to get the attention I think these tools deserve. With live-ready machines starting at about $400, though, that can't last long.

  • Thanks for the post and comments. FYI, the licensing policy hasn't changed. You still get a gratis install.

    1 license > 2 installs

    2 licenses > 3 installs

    3 licenses > 4 installs

    5 and over is considered a site license.

    As always, you can contact us at support@audiofile-engineering.com if you have questions. Thanks!

  • I love Rax. I've been a user for years now, and I will happily buy this upgrade. Big packages like Live, Logic, and Max/MSP are great, but sometimes you want a streamlined tool that does exactly what you need and little else.

    I'm really happy to see that this version will have support for the Monome along with what will hopefully be a long list of alternative controllers. What would make this perfect would be a similar amount of support for controlling more things on the output side – I'm thinking interfaces to Processing, Max/MSP and Pd, and other stuff that could benefit from a richer interface than MIDI provides. That would make this a *perfect* central hub for connecting and routing all your controllers, instruments, visual effects, and other devices that make computer music cool.

  • Agreed. We are working on tons of output control ideas. Also, were taking a different approach (than Rax 2) with visual media. Looking at supporting vvvv. Regarding devices for input, we can pretty much support anything that anyone requests provided the vendor has specs or an accessible SDK.

  • To clarify (as it was noted that vvvv is Win), Rax 3 is designed to not only be able to interact with software and hardware locally on your computer, but with other computers across a network (for example). We've envisioned all sorts of ways Rax can interact with other devices, computers, platforms, the iPhone, etc.

  • Fabricio

    Download link?

  • Red

    Looks like there's some great potential.

    I recently considered purchasing Rax to use for live keyboard performance with an ensemble. Ultimately, I went with Logic's Mainstage, largely because of the included sampler and sample library, both of which I would have needed to buy seperately anyways if I were to have gone the Rax route.

    I'll be following Rax's development.

  • Thomas Cermak

    I'm a happy AFE customer and look forward to what other improvements are under development for RAX. I love Ableton Live but the latency just kills so many possibilities, and that's why I use an MPC for so much now a days – even though the processor in it is so unbelievably outdated. I'd love to combine RAX 3, and the right plugins, with say the Linndrum 2. I'd totally forget Ableton Live for at least performances.

  • There's no download link for Rax 3, but we are collecting names of anyone who wants to be considered for the beta release. Please send an email to support@audiofile-engineering.com and let us know you're interested. We'll tell you how to sign up. Thanks! ••• Anton Torres • Support Manager • Audiofile Engineering

  • Very neat. It took me some time to learn how to use racks in Ableton Live and I'm quite positive I don't use them as creatively as I should.

    The Rax 3 interface just looks so much more intuitive and explorable. A great benefit for those of us who aren't exactly audio engineers!

  • I would really love to get away from using ableton live, since i only really use it as an effects box for channels coming from mlr…

    Thus, it's not worth it for me to buy Live for just this use…

    Rax though looks really interesting! All I really need, plus interfacing with my monome – that's an extra plus…

    Can't wait for this to be released!

  • tomax

    REWIRE please. IAC is useless for beat-synched and song position pointer instruments and fx. mangle the GUI all you want… 😛 DAW users want a V-inst/fx rack that they can rely on, not sends that they can construct in their DAW.

  • tomax, your wish is our command. Rax 3 new features are as follows:

    Complete GUI redesign (completely configurable console, variable number of channels & modules, configurable output routing for each channel, accurate metering & faders, separate Master Channel, animations) / Many new channel input sources (live audio inputs, ReWire, Network using AUNetSend/AUNetReceive, Audio File for large file playback, Sample for small, sliced file playback via MIDI, Sends from other channels) / iTunes-like repertoire control / native VST effect support / effect and sends for both pre- and post- fader positions (up to 8 sends and inserts) / Exhaustive remote control capability (MIDI, Apple Remote IR, Frontier Designs' AlphaTrack & TranzPort, Monome 40h, m64, m128, m256) / Keyboard utility / 8 (instead of 4) virtual MIDI inputs / configurable console headroom

  • macpapa

    Will Rax 3 be able to load and manage virtual racks of VST plug-ins as well as AU ones?

  • Hi macpapa,

    Yes, Rax 3 now natively supports both AU and VST instrument and effect plug-ins.

  • macpapa

    Thanks for the reply. I'm very much looking forward to Rax's release.

  • macpapa

    One more question (for now): do you have any ETA on when Rax 3 might be released?


  • SteveP

    Yes, very sad it appears to have died.