Ableton Live’s Session view is a powerful interface for Musicians and DJs who want to perform in a live way and many plugins for fx come with elements that can be triggered using MiDi signals.
In this video, I’ll show you a creative way of doing this in Ableton Live using ShaperBox 2 by Cableguys. This method can be used with other Fx plugins that have built-in MiDi controls too.

I like to separate certain channels of my Ableton live set (like the percussion or main melody channels) and route them into another audio track.
This audio track acts as a group and lets us set up chains of fx that only affect the parts we want. I normally use this technique in Session view but it doesn’t matter.

In this example, I used ShaperBox 2 by Cableguys which is fantastic for this kind of thing. There’s lots of presets and easy to define user shapes that can be assigned to your MiDi controller.

There are plenty more plugins that can be set up like this, so get experimenting.

Check out the video below. There is a written guide to go with the video underneath if that helps.

Loopcloud Music App from

Setting up your Ableton Live Set to trigger plugin fx

Selecting your channels

First, let’s switch to Ableton Live’s session view and decide what channels we want to apply the Midi triggered fx.

Then we create a new audio track (7-audio in our example).
And make sure this track is armed and set to ‘Auto’.

On each channel we want to use the effects on, we have to change the output routing. Currently, it will be set to go to Ableton’s ‘Master’ channel.

Change this routing from ‘Master’ to the audio track you’ve created, ‘7-Audio’ in our example.

Send the routing from all the channels you want to be affected into this audio track.

On this track is where you will put the effects that you wish to trigger. (We use ShaperBox 2 by Cableguys in our example).

Setup the controller

To be able to get our controller (a Novation Launchpad) to send MiDi signals to the plugin we will also need to create a MiDi track in Ableton.

On the Input routing for this track, we will receive the MiDi signal from the controller we are using.

On the Output routing we will send the signal into the Audio track we created (7-Audio). This will send the MiDi signals from the controller into the plugin. Of course, make sure both this MiDi Channel and the Audio track need to be armed. You might have to hold cmd/ctrl to do this.

Start jamming

When my controller is used to send MiDi notes like c, c#, d, etc. it will trigger things within the plugin. In our example, the notes change the user ‘shapes’ that we have saved and already set-up in the plugin, ShaperBox 2.

This allows us to set up some one button Fx that can be instantly triggered with one press.

To do this with a Novation Launchpad you will need to change to ‘user mode 1’ with most plugins.

Setting up Ableton Live with a Midi controller to trigger Fx is great fun and leads to some creative results.

Please note that software and controllers vary.
Not all Vsts/plugins have MiDi functionality and not all controllers will be compatible or as easy to set up as a launchpad or general MiDi keyboard.

As always, make use of those free trial periods and get familiar with the equipment you use.

If you would like to know more about ShaperBox 2 you can check our review here: ShaperBox 2 by Cableguys

If you are tempted to buy ShaperBox 2 or any other plugin please consider using our link below to help support me, Producer Life 🙂

Cableguys ShaperBox 2 in Ableton Live as an FX plugin

Luke de Loop

"Luke Collins is a music producer and Controllerist from the U.K. who loves mixing up genres. Fusing together the harder side of house and techno with Dubstep, DnB, Breaks and more modern sounds like complextro and Bass music. Both an avid music producer & songwriter, and live electronic act, Luke really shows his desire for music and interest in making his live performances as organic as possible..."

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