SysEx support in Live 10

  • Live Versions: 10
  • Operating System: All

Live 10 supports the transfer of SysEx messages through the use of Max for Live. Max for Live is included in Live Suite. Max for Live can also be purchased as an add-on license for Live Standard.

What is SysEx?

SysEx (short for System Exclusive) messages expand the functionality of MIDI beyond standard MIDI messages. As the name suggests, these messages are exclusive to each system - a SysEx message used for a Roland synth won't work with a Yamaha synth, or any other device. In fact even devices from the same manufacturer may have SysEx messages which are unique to that device only.

What is SysEx used for?

The most common application of SysEx is in backing up presets from a hardware device to a computer (known as a SysEx dump, or patch dump). In addition certain devices may allow deeper control of their parameters through SysEx. For example, certain synths can be controlled with a suitable SysEx-enabled controller - especially helpful for devices which don't include their own onboard controls.

Do all hardware devices support SysEx?

No. Not every hardware device uses nor supports SysEx. Some may support MIDI CC (control change) messages in addition to, or instead of SysEx. Some may support neither of the above, and only respond to 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, then it's probably easier to use MIDI Ctrl messages, as these can accessed using MIDI Ctrl clip envelopes in Live and you don't necessarily need to use Max for Live. However if there are specific functions that can only be performed using SysEx (like a patch dump), then you'll need to use SysEx. 

Do I need Max for Live to use SysEx in Live 10?

Yes. Live 10 supports the flow of 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. For tips on how to build your own Max for Live devices, please see the "further reading" section at the bottom of this article.

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 usually 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 MaxforLive.com - a third party resource where Max for Live users have uploaded their own devices.

Further Reading