Using the chain selector in a Rack

In Ableton Live, a Rack is a flexible tool for working with effects, plug-ins and instruments in a track’s device chain. Racks can be used to build complex signal processors, dynamic performance instruments, stacked synthesizers and more. 

1. Load a blank rack to a track and show the chain list. In this example we will use an Instrument Rack, but you can do the same with a Drum, Audio or MIDI effect Rack.


2. Drop several devices onto separate chains.


3. Open the chain select editor, then separate the chains into different zones, so that each chain has its own zone. For ease of use, start at zone 1, then arrange them sequentially.


4. Right click on the chain selector, then map it to macro 1 and rename it (in this example let's call it Device Selector - we rename it so that it's easier to find in the automation list).


5. You could map that to a MIDI controller. Or, you can add automation to a MIDI clip which selects the required chain when that clip is launched. To do that, create a MIDI clip, open the clip envelope box then select Device Selector and add a breakpoint in the envelope at 1. When this clip is played, it will switch to the first chain.


6. Repeat with new clips for each chain, adjusting the breakpoint each time. You can rename the clips for ease of use. Now when you press play on those clips, they will switch instantly to the required device. These can also be dummy clips with no MIDI notes contained, in case you just want to load a new device and play it live with an attached keyboard controller.


7. Racks already conserve CPU in inactive chains, but you can also add device on/off automation using macro mapping. Press the Macro Map Mode switch. Then right click on chain 1's device power button and select Map to Device Selector.


8. Then in the Mapping Browser (open the Live Browser if this is hidden), change the range to min: 1, max: 1.


9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 for all other devices, but increase the range sequentially. Then exit Macro Map Mode.


10. Now when you select a chain using the Device Selector, only the selected chain will have an active device. All other devices on other chains will be deactivated.

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