Ms. Pinky Revised from Mastah Lee on Vimeo.

What should DJing in Ableton Live look like? How could conventional vinyl cueing and scratching be integrated with the Live environment? Serato and Ableton gave us one possible answer to that question last week with The Bridge. Their solution: use your Serato DJ set normally, and simply sync the transport of Ableton Live when the two run simultaneously.

That solution could be ideal for some users, but it falls short of what many expected, which was the ability to scratch audio elements from Live as though they were on vinyl. Scratching Live clips would seem to be the best of both worlds: you get all the live sequencing features of Live, but you can still manipulate sound as you would on a turntable.

Enter Ms. Pinky. The vinyl control system has long been a highly-precise, solid-performing alternative to better-known names. Its ace in the hole has long been open control from your own custom patches, via an external object for the graphical programming language Max/MSP. The results have ranged from custom visual performance to a vibrating chaise lounge controlled by a turntable. With Max patches now able to interact more deeply with Live through Max for Live, that opens up the chance to build your own DJ-Ableton integration.

Ms. Pinky and Max for Live user Lee Goodrich has just done that. We saw an early version of the patch last month, but a new version irons vastly expands on the integration with Live, making this a truly complete solution for digital DJing.
Post on the patch with download
Information on the update

Some of the tasty features you get:

  • Set Ms. Pinky to any track and use clips in that track
  • Trigger a clip as you would normally, and it cues right into Ms. Pinky for scratching (see Lee in comments for more, but do note that the catch is that Ms Pinky actually loads the original file, because clips in Live don’t yet provide access to their playhead)
  • Trigger different sequences of audio clips using a pattern contained in a MIDI clip (essentially automated cueing)
  • Record clips using Live’s recording facility
  • Scratch away with control vinyl

In relative mode, you can proceed directly to the beginning of the next clip without back-cueing.

The net result of all of this: Ms. Pinky acts like a scratch-anything device you can drop right into your existing Live set. With clever use of sampling and re-sampling, that opens up integration with any synths or external audio sources, not just audio clips.

Ironically, this is much closer to what I had predicted the Serato – Ableton collaboration would resemble.

Lee shares some comments about his experience:

I understand the concern people have about the one big caveat of Max For Live programming (You gotta pay to play, and no free runtime limits potential casual users), but honestly I think Max for Live is a slick enough product to overcome this. Making Max For Live patches has been the most fun programming I’ve ever had, and it is amazing how much you can do and how easy it is to do it. If other programmers are having as much fun as I am, then the bevy of awesome patches that come out of this product will end up being worth paying $300 at the door.

Perhaps the only other thing I’d like to say is that I’m not actually affiliated with Ms. Pinky at all, just another customer who wanted some functionality and due to the versatility of the software was able to extend it. So big thanks to Down Low Pinkstah and whoever else has worked on Ms. Pinky to make it so easily extensible.

Thanks, Lee! It’ll be interesting to see where else this may lead.

If you start using this in your sets, let us know – and get some photos / videos / mixes / whatever.

Oh, yeah, and I want to see a vibrating chaise lounge interface inside Ableton, too.

Another essential feature of Ms. Pinky: it’s just extra awesome having pink control vinyl. Photo (CC-BY-SA) ghostdad.
  • dtr

    grrr this makes me wanna get into ms pinky and turntablism more than ever! time to shell out on a ms pinky/technics set…? so much to do, so little time n cash…

  • Heh, yeah, I have no more time / money / scratch skills / space for decks. 😉

  • JP

    This looks like a single turntable setup would still have huge value – that is a huge plus point, both from size and rig and cost.

    If that's the case, I'd be curious to see what the minimum setup would be for this, turntable, phono to computer, ms pinky vinyl, ms pinky app, max4l, ableton. I have 80% of those, so barrier to entry is low.

    Way more exciting that starting a serato setup from scratch (pun intended)

  • Not surprised Ms Pinky behind this…looks better for production re: less noise maybe than your classic analog rig.

  • matt

    I forget. Can I use any timecode vinyl for this? Or does it have to be Ms. Pinky vinyl?

  • AWESOME!! I just bought Ms. Pinky last night…… This is gonna be so fun. And BTW you can use Torq vinyl, or any Ms. Pinky vinyl…. from what I understand, Serato vinyl doesn't work here.

  • Yeah, a one-deck rig would actually work nicely for this.

    This patch is set up to work with Ms. Pinky, but if you can make a Max patch read timecode, anything will work.

  • matt

    so can anyone confirm if Traktor timecode will work? just trying to save myself some time before pulling out all the old dj gear from the closet : )

  • No, important — Ms. Pinky has a special object that allows this, with code specific to their timecode that makes it all work. One of the things that's special about Ms. Pinky is that they do this.

    That said, Pinky vinyl is really cheap. There's really no reason not to just buy one of their records. Seriously.

  • s ford

    I wonder if USB decks could have any potential…..

  • Check out the store here:

    You have to buy the software, too, in order to get the patches, but the vinyl AND the patches are $100. 😉

  • wallace winfrey

    I wonder if USB decks could have any potential

    So the idea is to bypass the requirement of an interface with phono ins? I've never used a USB TT, but I suppose if you get a deck that was designed to go both forward and backward, AND it had audio drivers with decent latency and an audio out, you could probably make do with it. I suspect it would only make you drool for the real thing, and I've also never seen a USB turntable that didn't look cheap.

  • s

    this is awesome.. I can't believe the bridge isn't beginning with these same features.

  • Cool Mastahee!

    I will upload some pics and do my own video with some cool technics ASAP!

    If you have any question?


  • Mastah Lee

    Hey, this is Lee. I'd like to clear up some points about how this patch works:

    1) This patch relies on the Ms. Pinky max external. The only way to get this is to shell out the $100 for 4 pieces of Ms. Pinky vinyl and software. It is totally worth it, though, as you get free updates for life and the ability use the Ms. Pinky external as the basis for anything you create in Max / M4L.

    2) I think I need to clear up what is actually going on with the clip scratching. As of right now, the Live API does NOT give you access to the playhead within a session clip. So instead, whenever you play a clip in a track, the Ms. Pinky patch looks up the path to the source audio file, and then reads that into its scratch buffer. Essentially, you could create clips with just the names of audio clips within the search path and it would do the same thing. In order for this to work, you need to add audio clips you want to scratch to be within the Max 5 search path. This is easy though, something you do once and then forget about it. Instructions on how to do this are included in the patch.

    3) This all means, of course, that you cannot scratch warped material. Sorry. Ableton is apparently working on adding these things to the Live API, however, and you better believe that once this stuff is available that I'll be adding it to this patch.

    4) This isn't as limiting as it sounds. If you want to scratch a Live instrument or a sample that is warped, just simply pipe its output to another track, record, and then scratch the recording. You really get about 90% of the desired functionality here.

    Hope this clears things up. I'll try to answer any other questions that come up. Appreciate the interest!

  • @Mastah Lee Instead of resampling the clip, you could also just copy-paste to arrangement, then Command-J to consolidate and then copy-paste back into session. I actually set up MIDI Stroke to do this with the push of button

    On another note, I know this sounds bizarro, but does anyone have a M4L patch that is just a virtual deck? My problem is that there is nothing in Ableton between totally synced and unwarped. What if you just want to speed the clip up a little bit without futzing with all the warp markers, or–gasp–you don't want everything to be in sync. It would be really awesome if you could make this Ms. Pinky patch so that it can be controlled without the vinyl, I am especially thinking of the file-path functionality so that I can drop clips right into tracks without and have the patch find the original that way.

  • s ford

    I found this, which doesn't look cheap and flimsy

    It'd be great if a USB deck could used. It'd shorten down the process in some ways….

  • myfriendtheZebra

    This is the Serato + Ableton I wanted. Too bad it's wayyy more expensive because you need M4L.

    Something I'll think about.

    P.S. Ratatat <3

  • Mastah Lee


    The patch can be used without vinyl, and in fact the speed of the track can be changed by the "rate" parameter when vinyl mode is unchecked to do exactly what you described. You still have to buy the Ms. Pinky vinyl and software to get access to the external, but if you want to use the patch without vinyl control that is completely doable.

  • Mastah Lee

    @s ford

    The problem with USB/MIDI controllers as scratch controllers is that standard midi does not have enough points of resolution to do an adequate job. As far as I can tell, all high-resolution jog wheels and platters on the market use a proprietary interconnect with specific software (think ITCH), and therefore limits their potential. This bugs me to no end, as if there was a generic high resolution motorized platter that could use OSC I'd be all over it like gangbusters. Seriously, want to make the next monome? Create a big, motorized knob that you can use to control one parameter with incredibly precise resolution over OSC and you got an instant hit, I promise.

  • It is done: Numark V7.

    I'm working on ghetto solution, of course…


  • any manufacturers looking to get in, but don't want to invent their own standard?

    H.I.D. – it's there, it's ancient, and it's awesome – I believe it supports up to 12-bit resolution.

  • @mastah lee — what is "the external" that you have to buy the records to get access too? Is there an external sound card or box that comes with the software? As I understood it, you could use ms. pinky with any sound card?

  • Mastah Lee

    @dj professor ben

    The external I'm referring to is the Max/MSP Ms. Pinky object. Its basically a module within the Max programming environment that takes the vinyl timecode as input and spits out a bunch of useful stuff, like the sound data from an audio file. Yes, it'll work with any appropriate sound card, just look at the info at, it explains the whole setup and recommended hardware. Technical details aside, it just boils down to, if you want to use this patch, you need Ableton Live, Max For Live, and the Ms. Pinky software.

  • FYI, Andreas, you can also do OSC over HID. Just as compatible as HID, theoretically, and has some technical advantages. But HID does do some things well.

    I was actually just looking at HID DIY projects, such as:

    –which has apparently been supplanted with:

    DIY game controller:

    DIY accelerometer gamepad:

    DIY joystick:

    And yes, this is all relevant, as you could use ANY of these with Max for Live… or Max. Or SuperCollider. Or a game. Or any number of things.

    (any thoughts on any of these, folks?)

  • Cinsan

    @Mastah Lee

    Couldn't the Jazzmutant Lemur be the controller of choice as it sends out OSC natively?

    … but Pinky talks timecode or do I miss something …?

  • s ford

    When it comes to djing, I'm a caveman! I always take a box of vinyl, as far as I am concerned records are much easier to play when drunk than p*ssing about with computers!

    I'm not even that old (27) but IMO I think it is incredible how technology has really changed the world of djing since I first started which was decks and a mixer. It seems that the advent of technology has almost rendered the humble turntable into little more than a glorified midi controller.

    Not that I have a problem with it in the slightest bit, it's just an observation from my eyes. I was lucky enough to see Amon Tobin play live and he really uses the technology of digital djing well, and he was f*cking incredible.

    IMO, I'd f*cking love to see turntablists take on Serato/Ms Pinky/M4L etc etc. It could have a great impact for the dj in live hiphop and stuff.

    I wish I still had my decks though! Ah the lack of space in inner city London apartments….

    @Master Lee

    Some interesting points raised! TBH I don't think I understand entirely where you're coming from but the gist is that USB/Midi systems for djing are not quite ready yet.

  • senorakubra

    so…can i use my serato box as a phono pre-amp to run this thing?

  • casiustonen

    oh yeah, ms. pinky walk over the bridge…ms. pinky rules!

  • Adam

    The Ms. Pinky implementation was more like what I had in mind when I heard about the Serato/Ableton partnership too. Pinky seems like the way to go to me.

  • @ mastah lee: do you have any tips on how I can rework this patch so that I don't need to buy the external? Since I don't want to use the vinyl at all (I don't even own a turntable) I don't see the value of buying the whole shebang. Is this possible? Or is the whole speeding-up, slowing-down thing impossible w/o the ms pinky external?

  • Rick Thompson


    Put the sample you want to speed up / slow down into simpler, create a clip with a long note and adjust the fine pitch.

    You neither need m4l nor mrs pinky to do that.

  • @Rick that is what I have been doing, but it is difficult to scrub/start the clip at different points.

  • Mckenic




    Time to dig out my registration email from Ms Pinky and test this out with my (VERY Cheap) American Audio Direct Drive USB TT.

    I believe the driver sets the TT up as a soundcard so I'll report back with my findings…

    Thanks Mastah Lee and Peter – Ive not been this excited since Absynth 1.5!

  • 😀

  • JustOutOfTime

    Good innovation but this setup is too costly

    Ableton live 8 500$

    Max4Live 300$

    Ms. pinky vinyl and patch 100$

    Total 900$

  • lematt

    i think i'd just prefer to have ms pinky… that would allow me to simply dj: there's already a lot of possibilities with two turntables !

  • Screw The Bridge, THIS is what I wanted! Can't wait for teh aforementioned API issues to be resolved so we can get even more awesomeness.

    Now I just have to save up for Ms. Pinky, M4L, and a better firewire audio interface for all the ins and outs I'm going to need… (for that matter, a full version of Max5 + Jitter would be nice too. Man, I need a patron.)

  • @mastah lee nice work. Would it not be to use the chucker object? That way you could scratch any (ie warped) audio that was playing in a track without having to know the path. You could also scratch more than one track at a time. This is

    Can't remember how the pinky external works though – does it require a file path? Probably. Might be a good feature request to the pinkstah though!

    Also you mentioned the API does not give access to the playhead but you can actually read clip position and move it (relatively). Not sure it would be possible to do scratching like this though.

  • Sorry for the illiteracy. not sure if I meant the chucker anyway but just basically the idea of playing into a buffer and then using that to scratch with.

  • s ford

    you don't need to have ableton/m4l to run ms pinky itself…

    to run ms pinky alone all you need to do is buy the $100 pack of vinyls and software….

  • There is a vst version for those who want to scratch and mix inside ableton (not access to clips but inside almost…) for 100$


  • Josh

    Has anyone tested the latency of the various ways of doing digital vinyl? I've played a bit with the Ms. Pinky VST and this M4L patch, and I've always found latency to be a bit of an issue. Latency seems a little better with the VST, maybe just because there isn't the extra layer of Max involved… ? Or is that not true? Any CS people out there who can comment on the efficiency of different plug-in architectures?

    Maybe a better question is: what tips can people give me for reducing the latency of my system? I've got the TTs running into an edirol firewire audio interface, and a 2007 macbook pro. general tips would be appreciated…



  • Mastah Lee


    Yeah, the chucker~ object is the basis of the how the Buffer Shuffler works. I'm going to try and play around with that and see what I can get out of it for my next version.

    As for trying to manipulate the clip playing_position and move_playing_pos properties, I might try and whip up a proof-of-concept but my experience of dealing with those things in the past hasn't proved fruitful.


    My Ms Pinky M4L patch is essentially a big UI wrapper around the Ms. Pinky external object, so it wouldn't be possible to separate that out without serious refactoring. However, if you have Max For Live you could build your own patch that does what you want, I'd look up the "reading files into Max" tutorial and the sfplay~ helpfile. That should point you in the right direction.

  • @ Mastah Lee Thanks a lot! I have M4L and am having a great time breaking myself in. I figured that this functionality must be possible in the normal M4L. The thinkg that I am really jazzed on is the possibility of having the patch pick up the file path from any clip dragged into the session view.

  • I have not latency issues.

    macbook 2.16, 2gb ram, live 8.1.1b maxforlve latest, motu ultralite, numark hdx.

  • Some month ago two friends and I implemented a hardware vinyl tracking system (only personal/academic, no intentions of releasing it). I sketched the tracking algorithm in max/msp (with the dsp stuff done in javascript) before the implementation on the DSP was done. It is basically a lowpass filter followed by a zero-crossing counting algorithm for the left and the right channel. The pdf on
    describes the theory behind. The system works quite well with all kind of systems (traktor, serato, ms pinky). The backdraws of this method: Works only in relative mode. And some slight drifting occurs, when (baby)scratching for some time. A better method would be to apply a fast fourier transform to the signal and estimating the spin speed in the frequency domain. The book to read, if you are interested in this:

    BUT besides the decoding of the control signal, one also needs a (Max/MSP) player to play back wav, mp3s and alike (with a playback speed input). The easiest way to do this is buying the ms pinky package, since it includes a (Max/MSP) external to do exactly this. Otherwise mp3 support in Max/MSP is quite bad.

    Oh, my above mentioned Max/MSP patch is really only an experimental playground, nothing I can release. But maybe this insights are useful for some of you max patchers.

  • MaxForLive is really a big deal. Think of Stretta's work for the monome too! And now we have also MLR style clip chopping inside Live:

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  • Soon we'll be scratching Live clips like they were vinyl from our Apple tablets, which will double as controllers.. and everything else.

  • Just realized that this guy has µTorrent on his dock… FAIL.

  • @Mark

    Vinyls are not like touchscreens.

  • hi all,

    this is great great news. regarding M4L, first all the monome stuff, now MsPinky integration .. finally it's about time for me to spend the bucks on it !!

  • Live 8 + The bridge + numark V7 + launchpad (or apc20)


    Live 8 + maxforlive + Ms. Pinky + monome.

    Close vs Open.

  • isn't it possible to use a stanton scs1d when speaking of high resolution midi turntables..

  • yes Dennis but its crappy vinyl mode make it useless for scratching but… it is possible to make a maxforlive translator for mixing!


  • qfik

    <blockquote cite="Live 8 + The bridge + numark V7 + launchpad (or apc20)


    Live 8 + maxforlive + Ms. Pinky + monome.

    Close vs Open."> <cite>

    Amen. Vote with your dollars.

  • @ Mudo

    even thought Ms. Pinky gives you an external for the commercial MaxMSP and even an SDK, it's not open. In fact (GPL) opensource projects like and can only be controlled by Finalscratch-, Traktor- and Serato-Timecodediscs, but not with Ms. Pinky because of a patent (I think. Please prove me wrong):

    Nevertheless: I have worked with Ms. Pinky, MaxMSP and Live for the last 6 years and this was and still is the most flexible system out there. I love it. But (sadly) it is not an open toolchain.

  • janosch

    hey cody, torrenting isn't necessarily illegal. more a fail for you then.

    interesting possibilities with pinky n live!

  • as i see it, ableton and serato will not anytime soon go for the 'vinyl ontrol in ableton' option. the simple reason for this is that serato is tied to the rane hardware.

    being able to control clips with vinyl in ableton would probably mean you could use any soundcard you want for the output. so you could just get an sl-1 and vinyl-control 2 clips at a time. you could add as many autosynced loops as you like. make some custom effect racks, add your preferred midicontroller and voila: a wildly customizable dj setup. (you would miss the serato crates, though.)

    but that would probably make the sl-3 and the rane 68 a lot less attractive. only people who need to mix with 3 or 4 hardware decks would need those. so either serato and ableton will come up with a seriously crippled 'ableton live-serato edition' or they will simply not implement this feature and keep telling everybody how revolutionary the bridge and mixtape functions are. and the serato fanboys will sheepishly sing along.

  • @Samuel

    I know and I'm working on it (talking with DL Pinkstah porting the SDK to pure data and so on)


  • jprime

    The article reads: "That solution could be ideal for some users, but it falls short of what many expected, which was the ability to scratch audio elements from Live as though they were on vinyl."

    Yet, I saw videos from NAMM where that is EXACTLY what they are doing in serato, scratching clips in the ableton interface.


  • @jprime: I'm not sure what you saw, but that's not a capability of The Bridge. I fact-checked the following Q&A with Ableton:

    You can't "scratch" clips in Live because Live itself lacks that capability, and The Bridge doesn't route audio from Live into Serato, so that won't work, either.

  • minz, regarding the usage of the rane hardware opposed to using any audio interface you like, what you are saying makes absolutely sense for me.

  • @Peter:

    With the bridge you can't scratch clips individually. But you will be able to scratch a whole ableton set (the timeline of it). Maybe jprime is referring to this. Check the demo-video over at skratchworx:

  • Right, you can control the Live transport. But that's quite a different matter.

  • jprime

    Gotcha – Scratching one clip on one deck, and another clip on another deck – not possible.

    But I could 'Solo' the channel in Ableton with the clip I wanna scratch, and I am scratching a clip…this is very do-able it seems…

  • A bit limiting scenario seems… with Ms. Pinky you could load one deck instance for channel and control them with one turntable for deck (with any multichannel soundcard like motu ultralite…) and scratch any clip without muting nothing.

    The issue is about warping (in two cases) and not feedback in the screen (in Ms. Pinky) due to channel selection and non-float window but in the other hand you could navigate trought clips, use Ableton FX, automatizate clip scratching (it remembers ammoboxx) and use your own soundcard and regular mixer (if you have midi one, you could do "mixtape" with a lot of decks…)


  • Spreading the world…


  • Mike

    I can honestly say that I have never had the desire to own a turntable (I'm a digital junkie with analog mistresses) but this integration with Live and M4L makes me want to go out and purchase just a single 1200 and phono preamp to jack with clips and other parameters in my Ableton projects. The only problem is coughing up the money for a 1200 and the Ms. Pinky package when I just dropped $4K on properly treating my room and a CV edition Phatty not to mention the fact that I've been infected by the modular bug recently and am about to start building a small 5U FX box….. Anyone have a winning lottery ticket they want to sell me? I'm pretty sure I can dig some change out of the couches around my house! Anyone need any blood? I'm type O so, you know, you could probably resell it if it came down to that!

  • KQ

    awesome. ms pinky ordered 🙂

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  • Go-Go Gadget

    Can the Lemur be integrated with this Pinky set-up?

    Can I trigger a clip on my lemur in live, then scratch the clip with the pinky setup talked about here?

  • Mudo

    @Go-go Gadget

    Of course…

  • lucky17

    i m found of sexy girls

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  • three years later, and STILL the only solution to realtime scratching within ableton. Go team pinky.

  • three years later, and STILL the only solution to realtime scratching within ableton. Go team pinky.