SysEx support

  • Live Versions: 10, 11
  • Operating System: All

Live 10 and 11 support the transfer of SysEx messages through Max for Live.

Note: Max for Live is included in Live Suite or can be purchased as an add-on for Live Standard.

What is SysEx?

SysEx (short for System Exclusive) messages expand the functionality of MIDI beyond standard MIDI messages. These messages are exclusive to each system - a SysEx message used for a Roland synth won't work with any other device. Even devices from the same manufacturer may have unique SysEx messages for each device.

What is SysEx used for?

SysEx can be used to back up presets from a hardware device to a computer (known as a SysEx dump or patch dump). Some synths can also be used with a SysEx-enabled controller, which is especially helpful for devices that don't include their own onboard controls.

Do all hardware devices support SysEx?

No. Some may support MIDI CC (control change) messages in addition to, or instead of SysEx. Some may support neither of the above and only support standard MIDI note data. Check your device's manual to see if it supports SysEx.

My device supports both SysEx and MIDI CC messages, which should I use?

If SysEx and MIDI CC both control the same parameters, it's easier to use MIDI CC messages, as these can be accessed using MIDI Ctrl clip envelopes in Live and you don't need to use Max for Live. However, there may be specific functions that can only be performed using SysEx (like a patch dump). 

Do I need Max for Live to use SysEx in Live?

Yes. Starting with Live 10, Live supports SysEx messages through suitable Max for Live devices only.

How do I create a Max for Live device which uses SysEx?

The sysexin object and the sxformat object are specific SysEx-enabled objects which you can use in your Max for Live devices. In addition, the included MIDI monitor can monitor SysEx messages.

Can I send and receive SysEx messages from the same track?

No. If you require bi-directional SysEx flow, you need to use two separate Max for Live devices on different tracks.

How do I determine which SysEx messages to use?

The device's manual should include a SysEx implementation chart.

Where can I get further help with my Max for Live device?

Unfortunately Ableton Support are not able to debug or assist with creating custom built Max for Live devices. But you can contact Cycling '74 directly or post on the Cycling '74 forums for help with those questions.

Where can I find some pre-made Max for Live devices which use SysEx?

Check out - a third party resource where Max for Live users upload their own devices.

Ableton offers these in-depth help and learning resources: