Isotonik Showcase – Part ONE from Isotonik Studios on Vimeo.

Music software can treat devices as melodic instruments, as percussion, as audio effects… so why not visuals, too? Of course, there’s no substitute for a dedicated visual artist / VJ in a set, but Brainwash HD at least gives you the tools to integrate performance visuals as an element of a set in Ableton Live. It’s the visual equivalent of the sound modules we’ve been looking at lately.

And Brainwash is just one of a number of clever little Max for Live modules from Isotonik Studios, as seen in the video at top. CDM has gotten an exclusive first look at what they’ve been building.

Before we get to those acid-watched visuals, this showcase also shows Max for Live tools you might use for any number of tasks. Follow and Return allow you to trigger actions based on clips. Follow expands on the built-in Follow Actions in Live by setting up any action you want when a clip finishes playing. I’ve long felt that Follow Actions were needlessly neglected by Ableton since their introduction; I’d still love to see more internal, integrated behavior, but for making your own custom performance rigs, this looks terrific.

And yes, this performs something Live itself ought to do, but doesn’t – it lets you set Scenes as Follow Actions.

The Return device is a hub for adding modulation, also triggered by clips (and Session Automation, which means you can draw in envelopes for extra precision and control).

You’ll find those devices – and others – in what Isotonik calls the “Modular Series.” This is modular not in the sense of sound modules – more like utilities that listen in on activities in Session View and respond accordingly.


But let’s talk about this visualizer tool. It’s intriguing stuff – a bit like having an analog video synth built into Ableton Live – and I know it’s something many of you have been looking for. The tool, just updated as “Brainwash HD,” is the work of Ned Rush. If it reminds you of VIZZable, a similar series of modular video plug-ins for Ableton Live, that’s no accident – VIZZable actually assisted on this project to improve output.

Here’s Brainwash in action, combining audio modular with its visual capabilities:

As described by user SunFallsMusic:

Here, Brainwash is loaded in Ableton Live 9, with my eurorack modular being the audio source.
Thonk Expanded Turing Machine is the complete brains behind this session driving all the percussion via the Steady State Fate Propagate. & the SynthTech Modular e355 providing the all the background texture thru the Make Noise Erbe-Verb.

And an earlier video. I like the desription “hipster’s psychedelic dream tube” – sounds about right.


  • Live audio input from wherever the Device is inserted
  • represent sound with waves or bars
  • Feedback, rotate, and zoom are where this gets interesting
  • Freeze, color, tone
  • Live parameter control – so mapping to MIDI is a good idea
  • High-resolution output
  • 64-bit support
  • Syphon support on Mac
  • Spout support on Windows

Syphon and Spout support in particular I think will interest you, as it of course means you can capture this as a video – ideal for uploading.


I’ve been playing around with it a bit, and I’m impressed. Performance for me is pretty lightweight, adding very little overhead on my 13″ MacBook Pro Retina. It’s possible to go more minimal and less psychedelic, too, if you want – that’s all down to the controls.

Seems interesting. With this and VIZZable out now, you have some real options for adding visual output to Live sets. If you make anything cool, do send it our way!

Check out the device:

For Brainwash HD: