RNBO just made it ten times easier for Max users to build plugins, guitar pedals and DIY hardware

Cycling '74 have announced the release of RNBO. Pronounced 'rainbow', it's a new patching environment and visual editor that enables users to build audio patches that can be exported to Raspberry Pi, Web Export, VST/AU plugins and more. 

RNBO is an add-on to Max, Cycling '74's long-established visual programming environment. The manufacturer claims that the idea behind RNBO is to give users the best of Max - "rapid iteration and creative exploration" - along with the freedom to take their work and use it outside of Max, quickly and easily, without writing any code.

This means patches created in RNBO can be turned into VST3/AU plugins, exported to DIY hardware devices, and built into websites with relative ease. (Cycling '74 point to Ableton's Learning Synths tutorial website as an example of a browser-based project developed in RNBO.) Patches can also be compiled into self-contained Max objects or exported as raw C++ source code. Essentially, RNBO is an absolute game-changer for DIY music-makers, making it far easier to share tools, ideas and sounds they've created in Max with others, and utilise them in new musical contexts.


In a video shared alongside RNBO's release announcement, audiovisual artist Tom Hall demonstrates the software's capabilities. In the first example, he loads up a RNBO patch to a Raspberry Pi and heads to the National Forest to improvise with chopped-up breaks outside. In the second, Hall exports a RNBO-made plugin that's able to be used on the lowest-spec laptop he could find in his local Costco.

Though it's been described as an add-on to Max, RNBO has its own distinct visual editor and is based on a new engine that's been built from the ground up to enable its increased flexibility. However, RNBO's patching environment should be familiar to Max users, and makes use of many objects from the Max library. The sound users will hear while patching in RNBO is generated and compiled code that updates in real time. This means the results will sound identical, no matter how they're exported.

RNBO is available to Max users now as a subscription, for either $10/mo or $100 a year. Alternatively, you're able to purchase it outright for $299. 

Find out more on Cycling '74's website.

Matt Mullen
Tech Editor

I'm the Tech Editor for MusicRadar, working across everything from artist interviews to product news to tech tutorials. I love electronic music and I'm endlessly fascinated by the tools we use to make it. When I'm not behind my laptop keyboard, you'll find me behind a MIDI keyboard, carefully crafting the beginnings of another project that I'll ultimately abandon to the creative graveyard that is my overstuffed hard drive.

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