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Cycling '74's Max 8 is the newest iteration of Max/MSP/Jitter, a visual programming environment geared toward musicians and artists who want to dive into the world of interactive software design music, video art, installations, and more. A patcher language, Max primarily foregoes abstract text-based code in favor of a patching-style environment that makes visualizing signal flow simple. Max 8 offers the option for more advanced sound design than ever before, all the while offering improved performance and a variety of workflows for artists of any style.
Before getting into technical details about what makes Max 8 different from previous versions, it is worth discussing what makes Max so special. We at Perfect Circuit are beyond excited to be able to offer Max 8 to our customers as a means of expanding their artmaking into completely new territory. Max is a completely open framework for building a ton of different types of programs, but it is perhaps best-known for its capabilities in the audio realm. Newcomers can think of Max as something like an infinitely vast modular synthesizer: it contains objects that get patched together to form complex chains of behavior suited to the artist's intentions. Some of these objects will be conceptually familiar to any electronic musician: oscillators, filters, envelopes, delays, reverbs; some might be a bit more esoteric: modulo operators, FFT operations, dictionaries, etc. The important thing is that Max is extremely open-ended, and provides a visual workflow that often suits people used to working with hardware. Modular synthesists will be quite comfortable with the clutter of patch cables in their workspace, and moreover, Max is easy to learn: built in documentation and example patches for every object, modular synth-like tools like BEAP and Vizzie, and a rich online community make it simple to get started making the interactive software of one's dreams. And of course, Max communicates with every type of audio gear: just add the right interfaces, and Max can generate and receive MIDI, control voltages, audio, and much more.
Now for particulars: Max 8 offers a variety of new features and improvements. Perhaps most notable of Max 8's new offerings is the MC Wrapper, which Cycling '74 describes as a gateway to "sonic complexity." In essence, MC allows for the creation of complex behaviors and textures by enabling easy use of multichannel audio. Ever wonder what a patch would sound like with 100 simultaneous saw waves? Or 43 of the same sample played back at slightly different, randomized speeds? There are some of the opportunities provided by MC, which allows a single object to generate huge numbers of varying signals, making it quick and easy to create systems that could have taken hours in prior versions. MC is amazing.
Max 8 also features new functionalities like Mappings, making it easier than ever to map hardware controls (from HIDs or MIDI controllers) to objects, much like MIDI Learn behavior in Ableton and other programs. Hardware control is accessible with no patching required!
Video processing performance is more powerful than ever before in Max 7. With Vizzie 2, Max's built-in, easy to use modular video processing platform, OpenGL functions are given a simple user interface, making live video manipulation simple and easy on the CPU.
And of course, Max 8 has a variety of other functional improvements: new shortcuts for easier patching, VST3 support, event probing for easy signal monitoring, and overall much faster performance (among so many other improvements). Max 8 is no doubt the best version of Max to date, making patching easier and lowering the barrier into complex programming even farther than before. Max 8 is for anyone who wants to make something that has never existed.