Running multiple Max applications on the same machine

Jul 28, 2013 at 8:54am

Running multiple Max applications on the same machine

Hi everyone

I use Max in a live setting running VST plugins on a Mac. The problem is that sometimes plugins will crash, which then crashes Max. I’m trying to get around this by running groups of plugins under completely separate Max applications which has helped (plugin crashes, only part of the system crashes, it auto restarts in 5-10 seconds). However Max sometimes doesn’t like being run more than once:
-Sometimes it will crash if I try to open the audio window
-If I change a setting in the audio window, it seems to change for all applications
-If I open 2 different max apps at the same time, one of them will crash, therefore I must wait a few seconds before launching each app

Does anybody have any experience of running more than 1 Max collective/application on the same computer at the same time? Perhaps this isn’t the best solution? Any advice would be really appreciated!

Jul 28, 2013 at 1:39pm

It should be doable, but there may be issues with how things are shared. Example: if you run two collectives or two .maxpats, any [send] and [receive] will crosstalk. If you run them as standalones, they won’t, which is usually what you want.

I believe the audio window changing for all applications is expected behavior if you just have one audio device (any changes will necessarily change for all applications). However, I don’t know if you can choose multiple different audio cards for different applications…?

Would probably be tough to track down the reasons for the crashes. Maybe try some dirt-simple patches and build up until crashes. Try some with no audio at all, then with simple audio, etc. and see what happens. Also, if it’s the actual audio window opening that’s causing the trouble, you can use [adstatus] to make changes from within the patch (go to Edit mode in the audio status window and all the commands will be there for you to explore, or check the help file). But, it might be changing the actual values which causes the crashes…in that case, [adstatus] wouldn’t help.

Quite possibly it’s due to interference of the VSTs as well. Not sure what to say for that one…are some more stable than others?

Jul 28, 2013 at 2:07pm

did you try the following command line :
open [YourMaxAppPath] -n
this -n option allows you to open several instances of a same application.
Otherwise I don’t seem to have problems running several Max, max applications, although i don’t do it extensively.

Jul 28, 2013 at 2:16pm

Adrian Freed (CNMAT) mentioned that he will run more than one instance of Max on the same machine to take advantage multicore processing. For example, it allows one instance of Max to handle the audio while another does the video.. with OSC handling communication between the two (if I understood him correctly). Not sure of the details but apparently (once you get it set up properly) it works quite well in terms of speed and performance.

Jul 28, 2013 at 2:18pm

This did it for me.. (given the default installation of the latest version of Max on OS X) Type the following command line into Terminal:

open -n /Applications/"max 6.1"/

Not sure what else would need to be done but it seems to work. I have one patch running with overdrive on and another patch running with overdrive off…

Jul 28, 2013 at 4:32pm

Wow.. this works really well. The option of having separate global settings is huge… like multiple worlds. OSC communication can be setup in just a minute. Combined with route and gated send/receive you can easily choose how much data flows between the two apps.

Jul 28, 2013 at 8:06pm

I, like Adrian, have run multiple instances of Max standalones quite a bit, as a way scaling up what can be done on one machine with Max. One important trick to be aware of is to name each preferences folder uniquely for each standalone (include [standalone object in your patch, and look in getinfo). If all applications are reading/writing from/to the same preferences files, that definitely can cause issues (including crashes).


Jul 28, 2013 at 9:05pm

OK.. I misread the original poster. I was talking about Max itself.. not just standalones.

Without hijacking the thread.. if I am using terminal to start another instance of Max, do I need to create a unique prefs file within terminal? If not, how can I specify that the second instance of Max uses a given prefs file?

Jul 29, 2013 at 1:52am

hmmm…. that, i don’t know… each max instance will look at the default preferences file, that’s nearly sure, but if you want to create a new one and set a second instance to use that new one, i have no idea how to do it….

Jul 29, 2013 at 4:49am

Hey thanks for all your help. I’ve actually compiled 4 separate stand alone applications:
-1 for NI Kontakt and Massive
-1 for 3 instances of Omnisphere
-1 for imposcar2 (this crashes most frequently!)
-1 for my MIDI routing (has never crashed)
I use the IAC bus to transfer the info between apps.

There’s no cross-talk between sends/receives
I’ve used adstatus to select certain audio options, this has worked well

The main problem is that if I try to open more than 1 app at the same time, the rest will crash. I’ve even compiled 2 empty patches to stand alone apps, if I launch both within a couple of seconds of each other, one will crash! hmmmm

Jul 29, 2013 at 5:34am

that’s some heavy setup ! ;)
…but, i don’t know. many possible origins of your problem. MIDI routes conflict ? plugins instability ? conflicting audio drivers setup ?

Jul 29, 2013 at 6:24am

@vichug You can use the project feature to have specific search path.

Jul 29, 2013 at 7:39am

@Emmanuel, ah but that works only if you have a compiled application out of a project, right ?

Jul 29, 2013 at 1:23pm

I am drooling at the possibility of running Max multiple times — I’d love to be able to separate my MIDI management from my audio stuff, the latter of which is still not reliable in Max 6.
Also, DDMF has an intriguing product called Metaplugin that will allow 32-bit VSTs to be loaded into a 64-bit space so that opens the doors a bit too.

Jul 29, 2013 at 1:36pm

@dhjdhjdhj – I know it is possible. I was just talking with some folks who know such things.. and they specifically do it to handle audio and video processing separately. I will get in touch with them again and find out more details. I suspect they may have either a) installed Max more than once on the same system but in different Applications folders and/or possibly under two two admin accounts with full access privileges (thereby creating a distinct set of global application files) and/or b) are using some sort of apple script or shell scripting when opening different instances of Max to create unique global files.

Jul 29, 2013 at 2:00pm

When I was originally making tests, I simply just went into the applications folder and copied and pasted the max app, this worked fine with my projects, however I still have this problem where several max apps can’t be opened at exactly the same time without one crashing, quite frustrating. I have to make an automator script to wait 10 seconds between each app loading which overall delays loading the full setup by about 1 minute.

p.s. here’s a photo of my setup, I had a Receptor VIP with SSD on test for a few weeks but finally Max running on a mac mini was more reliable and could handle a heavier load, I could also buy 2 mac minis for less than a VIP and run them in total redundancy

  1. gear-tests
Jul 29, 2013 at 2:32pm

Terrific — would love to hear what you find out —

Jul 29, 2013 at 11:52pm

@vichug Nope this should work in this scenario of launching multiple instance of Max.

Jul 30, 2013 at 4:07am

@emmanuel, can you expand on that just a bit? I know it’s possible to specify a search path in a project, but how does that affect how individual instances of Max still use the same maxpreferences.maxpref file?

Jul 30, 2013 at 6:16am

It doesn’t, it’s just that using project you have a lightweight way to have a custom search path for each project that you load in each instance of the Max application that you launch.


You must be logged in to reply to this topic.