Max 6, showing the new Gen tools for low-level sound creation. Courtesy Cycling ’74.

Cycling ’74’s Max 6 is now available. See our previous previews:
For Home-brewing Music Tools Graphically, Perhaps the Biggest Single Update Yet [Create Digital Music]
In Max 6, Big Banner 3D + Animation Features for Jitter, Alongside Usability Improvements [Create Digital Motion]

Along with the release comes an updated site, which does a really nice job of presenting different applications, from sound to physical computing to visuals and show control:

Pricing details:
US$399 retail (Max 6, now includes Jitter at last)
US$199 Max 6 upgrade
US$249 discounted bundle of Max 6 upgrade + Gen
Academic discounts, including a new annual subscription plan for institutions

Those academic plans finally cover a year instead of 9 months, just in case you want to patch through your summer break.

Gen is the set of low-level objects that allow you to create more sophisticated tools from scratch without coding externals. I’m a little sad to see it priced separately, even if it makes sense from a business perspective, in that users of Gen won’t be able to easily distribute their work to the rest of the user base. Scratch that – yes, they will; they just won’t be able to edit them. So that’s a good compromise! See the upgrade FAQ.

That said, for anyone thinking gen~ is comparable to Reaktor’s Core, here’s a good explanation:
Comparing gen and Reaktor core level [Cycling ’74 forums]

(It certainly is in terms of goals, but the way it behaves is very different.)

Max for Live users…

So, what if you’re using Max for Live? Now that Max 6 is available, Max for Live incorporates the new release – if you have a separate license for Max 6. That should be especially useful to Jitter users, who will get all the new Max 6 stuff and a full-featured copy of Jitter that’s otherwise lacking in Max for Live alone.

If you have only Max for Live and not a separate copy of Max, for now, you’ll continue to use Max 5, until an updated Max for Live is available. (When that happens, we’ll be sure to carry the news.)

Of course, dropping in Max 6 may cause compatibility problems, so France-based Julien Bayle has a tip at top on how to switch between your licensed copies of Max 5 and Max 6:

Switching Max5/Max6 inside Ableton Live (max002) [Design the Media; see video, top]

Of course, the good news here is, if you want to use the new Max with Max for Live, you can.

  • Gen for editing is an add-on product, but the standard Max6 (and Max for Live) will be able to use Gen patchers. (See last item of

  • J

    Can you open a Max 6 project in Max 5?

  • Peter Kirn

    @Cassiel: Excellent! Thanks!

  • artsince

    do you recommend purchasing max for live now, or wait a little more for the fully max6 compatible version? what do you think ableton will do in the next couple of weeks/months? 

  • I believe a Max6 patcher will open in Max5 if you're not using any of the new objects or features (in other words, additional information like curved patch cord parameters are ignored by Max5).

  • @artsince I don't think there's anything about Max6-for-Live that's less compatible than Max5-for-Live, and the new Max6 features will work under Max for Live. (At the Expo Darwin Grosse demo'd the new physics model machinery for Jitter in a Max for Live patch.)

  • J



    I will stick to Max 5 for now because the upgrade – although substantive – is quite a lot of money for me at the moment.

  • Cory

    Lots of fantastic new features here. But it seems kind of lame that Jitter owners also have to pay $200 for the upgrade.

  • I don't understand.

    If I want to get into max, but most likely would use Live as my more-familiar pathway to patches and such, am I buying Max/MSP or Max for Live? Or is one update entitling me to the other? I'm a foreigner to both Max for Live and MaxMSP.

  • RichardL


    Max for Live and Max are two different retail products.

    Max for Live lets you use Max only within Live. All audio input and output must be routed through Live.

    Max lets you create programs (called patchers) that are stand-alone. They can function without any host program. You can even make patchers and distribute them to other people who don't have Max.

    If you have both products you get the superset of the functionality. And you can create Max patchers that can work both within Live and/or stand-alone.

  • Thanks Richard, that was helpful. Just seems that you could create an external routing in Live to Max/MSP, so what's the fuss about the Live version? Couldn't you get the superset of functionality with the full-blown Max/MSP?

    Furthermore, the live version is restricted in its functionality to work only with Live, yet the pricing is comparable to the stand-alone MAX/MSP price. In comparison, I have a mastering suite of plug-ins for which I bought only the license that works within garageband. It was a fraction of the price of the full-blown version, and as a compromise, I deal with the fact that its less flexible. Why then is Max for Live practically the same price, or am I not adding it up correctly?

    By virtue of using live as a container, so to speak, is the Ableton live version of MAX more stable? Live was designed for live performance, afterall. What's the chance of someone sending you a buggy patcher if you get the Live edition rather than the MSP?

  • Max for Live integrates Max within the Live environment, which gives you a few things:

    (i) Max patchers directly embedded into Live's device chains (which means they can, for example, be embedded within racks). While you could frig this in plain Max using Jack and External Devices, it would be horrifically messy (think about multiple instances of one device type, for instance).

    Max for Live Devices are saved and managed in the Live Set, and come under Live's preset and automation machinery.

    Max for Live Devices can control Live itself: you can access other devices, clips and track controls and manipulate them directly from a Max patcher.

    That having been said, if you want to do multichannel audio, or MIDI to arbitrary ports (or channels) from one patcher, or sysex, Max for Live won't let you and you'll need the full Max.

  • RichardL

    I'm not sure I know all the answers.

    Max 6 is $399.

    Max for Live is $249.

    If you have Max you can get Max for Live for an additional $99. 

    If you have Max for Live you can get Max 6 for $299. 

    The advantage of having Max for Live rather than just Max is that it makes Max patchers available as native Live objects and it manages patchers in your Live projects (to some degree). Max for Live patchers can have native Live UI with fully integrated controls. So anything that can be controlled by Max can be integrated into Live (with some caveats depending on whether you have both Max and Max for Live). 

    Without Max for Live you would have to use something like ReWire to allow Live to talk to a Max patcher as a separate program, and that would be nowhere near as fluid of a workflow, nor a well integrated.

    I think you can download 30-day trials of both Max and Max for Live and try it out.

  • experimentaldog

    Max For Live is working very well for me with MAX 6.  I've been using the Live.api and Live Object quite extensively.  I wish other DAW programs such as Logic etc. were as open to letting people access the inner workings.  I find that the Live transport is good with syncing multiple patches together.  I wish Live would go 64 bit soon, as I'm loading a lot of 3rd party RAM hungry plugins.  

  • I'm happy with Max 5 and Max4live.  I don't have any extra money laying around for an upgrade.  There's still plenty to explore with good old Max5.  Kinda stinks, because the new Max4Live devices will start turning up on the sight with new object that I won't be able to use, so I guess I'll shy away from the device website, until I upgrade.  So upgrade or be cast out!!!!!

  • This is what we need – an isinhgt to make everyone think

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