Ableton Push Review

This video, via modul8tor, is a quick unboxing and review of the new Ableton Push controller for Live 9

Ableton Push looks a lot like existing Live controllers, like the LaunchPad or APC40, but it has some unique features:

  • The pads are velocity and pressure sensitive;
  • The encoders are touch-sensitive;
  • It includes a 4-line contextual alphanumeric display;
  • A touchstrip is included for expression and navigation; and
  • It includes 24 navigation LEDs

Push is priced at $599 USD/499 EUR.

34 thoughts on “Ableton Push Review

    1. Admin: Personal attack deleted. Please keep comments on topic and constructive.

      Also – posting comments from one IP address but with multiple names increases the likelihood that the comment system will flag your comment as spam.

    2. I’m just curious: if you think that “button pushing” does not qualify anyone as a musician, then what would YOU call someone who actually creates music this way?

      Music is a craft – nobody cares if a carpenter uses hammer and jigsaw or a automated machine to create his/her products. What counts is the result. I think the same applies to music. The result is important, not the tools.

      1. Playing an instrument offers unique options for inventing a song that I don’t get with instrument samples or, in the old days, from writing traits of playing an instrument into MIDI composition software. While I can get satisfying results without knowing technique or harmonics, I don’t kid myself that I have options for expression available to some blind bluesman. The tools for creating music are the artist’s ideas about music and the means acquired for realizing them. Success depends on the sophistication of these and not how well they imitate the previous medium, like when early films were shown on screens inside ornate frames for paintings. The sophistication is up to how high you set the bar.

  1. Wuuuuuaaah, wuuuuaaaah. If people do not need to spend years to learn an instrument anymore in order to express their musical creativity – how shall I continue to impress the ladies with my romantic piano routine? Not fair!!!

  2. Exactly! Music’s for everyone you didn’t invent it!
    The easier the better! I’ve worked with tons of special needs dudes who use to try and smash away on traditional (and not so Juno’s, tridents etc) instruments but when I brought along some of those little kaossilators dudes loved it, same when I’ve take my ‘push button’ gear to schools/Youth prisons/kindergartens to teach/show kids what else you can make music on.

    Heaven forbid they have a good time and enjoy their creative expressionism without having to spend years learning theory!

    Don’t be scared and judgemental because it’s different….. come down from that pedestal and hang out for awhile .. you might like it.

  3. Very nice but I am still getting a lot of usefulness out of my Launchpad and NativeKontrol LPC ->

    Track Mode – Provides control over the parameters of the selected Track (Volume, Pan, Sends x6) via Button Faders, Increase/Decrease and Reset switches.

    Device Mode – Provides control over the parameters of the selected Device via Button Faders, Increase/Decrease and Reset switches.

    Clip Mode – Allows you to chop up/rearrange Clips on-the-fly and/or play them Chromatically.

    Drum Mode – Provides Drum Machine-like functionality via 3 Sub-Modes; Default, 16 Levels and Sequence. Includes Note Mute, Erase and Delete functions as well as the ability to Step-Sequence directly into MIDI Clips in Live

    Scale Mode – Provide access to 40 Scale Types for any of the 12 Root Notes. Includes a variety of available Scale Types covering Common types as well as Exotic and Ethnic types.

    Learn Mode – This Mode allows you to learn Chords (up to 6 Notes each) and Notes to the 8 x 8 grid. You can learn the Chords/Notes by either playing them from another controller or by playing them back from a Clip in Live.

    MonoSeq Mode – This Mode allows you to monophonically Step-Sequence into MIDI Clips in Live. It provides control over the Pitch (quantized to a user-defined scale), Velocity and Length of the steps in the sequence via Button Faders and randomization.

    Global Controls – This Preset also includes Global Controls (accessible from any Mode) for navigating Live sets, adjusting Global/Record Quantization settings, controlling Transport, adjusting the current Clip’s Transpose/Detune/Loop settings and more.

  4. I really dont understand people who are trying to say this is not an actual musical instrument. Just because the chromatic layout is different? Its pretty sad if you feel threatened by something like this.

    also, rock and roll is the devil’s music

    !!ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!!

    1. CTHULHU!

      now seriously, its pretty and integrated. but, as someone said, you can get a lot of this from a cheap launchpad with LPC live. that’s what im doing

  5. Just the other day my girlfriend and i spilled a full cup of hot filter coffee all over my (plugged in and switched on) APC20..
    I haven’t put it back together yet, and it’ll probs be fine, but i’m sure that it’s a sign that i must *upgrade*!!

    And as far as folks whinging about button pushin (they gotta be joking, right?) , didn’t the same conversations happen 30+ years ago with the same electronic music tools that Push is an evolution of?

    Go play a piano, or build a theremin or something!


  6. I’m thrilled that this represents a return to the days of hardware sequencing as it were…remember days with an mc 500 mkii or an mmt8 at the center of the studio? It was so much more fun – Finally we have push which seems to bridge the gap between the power and flexibility of software with the workflow of hardware. I just made the switch from cubase and can’t wait to see how this thing works amidst a bunch of hardware.

    As for the haters who say now anyone can make music without talent…hasn’t garage band been a while for a few years? My 5 year old can make a track on that…how cool that he can gain interest in music at that age…but I’ve yet to see legions of untalented people playing out and making it big with an iPad and garage band. It is the invention of a song that impresses us not just playing it and that will always require talent.

  7. Exactly..
    Why should an interface be difficult to use?

    I mean, a ball is pretty straightforward, but we’re not all amazing footballers.

    It’s what you do with the tools and all that..

  8. Not to be a debbie downer, or to support a bunch of lame dudes saying this isn’t an instrument, but a paino isn’t “just pushing buttons.” I play organ and would consider an organ just pushing buttons a better analogy, but pianos are a bit too sensitive to be just a set of buttons.

    1. Ableton Push is velocity AND pressure sensitive, so it is actually allows for more expression options than a piano does.

      An organ has on/off keys, like a Novation Launchpad.

      A piano has velocity-sensitive keys, like an MPC.

      Push on-ups that, with pressure sensitivity.

      1. Well, you could be pressing the keys on a piano softly, you could be pressing them hard; pressing them with feeling. But at the end of the day, technically you’re just pressing the buttons. Maybe when the piano was invented there were people saying that it was too easy compared to say a string instrument, like a violin. On a violin you had to know exactly how to hold the string to get the right sound, while the piano did all the work for you, all you had to do was press the right button. This is the same kind of thinking that people have about new instruments now, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it had happened before…

  9. Push looks like a great concept… But it looks like there are some pretty big workflow issues.

    Ableton seems to have sandboxed the controller’s functionality so that it really only works as intended when using the ableton instruments and effects… Makes sense (time is money) but but doesn’t seem to offer as much to consumers using external gear or 3rd party plugs…

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like in order to load a 3rd party plug, you would first have to create and archive all of your plugins/presets/controller assignments as instrument racks first. Only then could you use the PUSH controller as a substitute for browsing sounds with a mouse and screen.

    I also have a ton of questions about what PUSH does… Can you access the groove pool? Can you chop or edit samples without looking at a computer screen? Can you change the order of effects in a chain? Can you quantize some but not all notes from the controller? With swing/groove? Can you program follow actions? Can you change the sampling engine from beats to complex etc. from the controller? Can you freeze tracks? How exactly is automation handled and displayed? Can you crop samples? Duplicate clips? How does it handle controlling audio tracks, when tracking or comping vocals? Does the step sequencer still apply when you have multiple tracks armed? What is the price/functionality benefit of PUSH for someone who, for example, owns NI maschine?

  10. I play both guitar and keyboards, and I love the idea of being able to think in patterns like I do on a guitar, but play in any key I want to while driving synth sounds. Push is bad-ass, and way more than a clip launcher.

  11. To everybody who things Push will make music too easy (and the creation process dumbed down) please try it before you jump to such conclusions. I think this controller will need quite a bit of practice and devotion if you want to really master it… as every other instrument.
    An instrument is just an instrument. That’s why it’s called instrument.
    Now if the software makes certain things less complex to master, that’s another discussion, but again, I don’t see the problem, you still need talent, passion and many hours of work to produce a great piece of music.
    One of my teachers once said: the digital revolution is producing tools for the people without talent, so they can prove their incompetence faster. If you don’t take music seriously you can buy all the gear and all the software in the world and you will still make shitty music.

  12. Awful. Push is clearly designed by Denis Desantis for him to make his bloody awful insipid “music”. Just so boring and rigid……please spare us yet ANOTHER controller.

  13. Can anyone make a compelling case for the Push if one already owns an APC-40 and a Maschine? I have the money to get one but I’m wondering the extent to which is does exactly what I’m already using my equipment for. Does it bring much new to the table for me?

    As far as using it as an instrument, I can do that a bit with Maschine but I’m typically playing on a piano keyboard for which I need no help playing progressions and whatever in 4 part harmony.

    I love flashy new gear that improves my workflow but I’m wondering if push is more of a consolidation of my APC & Maschine than it is something that gives me more option for creation or improves my workflow.

Leave a Reply