Ableton launched the Push controller in collaboration with AKAI back in 2013. Designed to function inside Ableton Live software, it was an innovative device meant to be treated like an instrument rather than an average MIDI controller. The company soon followed up with the Ableton Push 2 at the end of 2015, and it’s been in play ever since.
What Is Ableton Push?
Push is a 64-pad grid control surface. It can trigger samples and clips as well as Drum Rack beats with seamless Live integration. Players can record live or use the built-in step sequencer. Push also lets you skim through all of your plugins, devices, and samples for implementation in Live. From there, you can use eight rotary knobs to adjust mapped parameters and even get some rudimentary mixing done with the tactile surface.
Ultimately, Ableton designed Push to give artists/producers everything they need to make music right at their fingertips. It helps keep technology “out of the way,” so you can stay locked in the creative flow, minus fussing with the computer/DAW. One of its fantastic features for electronic production is the ability to manipulate samples in a variety of useful ways, right inside the controller.
Ableton Push 2 Expands on the Functionality of Its Predecessor
Not only is Ableton Push 2 functionally superior to 1, but even its design and construction is better. Consider how impressed people were with Push 1, which AKAI helped execute, and imagine everything turned up to 11 on the Push 2—strictly an Ableton device.
Push 2 keeps a lower profile than the original, but gets longer and wider for a larger playable surface. The aluminum faceplate is also a welcomed improvement over the plastic of the Push 1. The LCD display is a massive leap from Push 1’s dated looking interface, and even the new pads alone are worth the upgrade for many users.
Simply put, Push 2 is everything that a new-and-improved release should be and then some. It’s so good that it’s been in version 2 since 2015!
Keep Organized with Color Coding
While working with drums, one of the cool features is being able to individually color code each pad. Simply hold shift and tap the pad you want to change. This can help keep your one-shots visually organized so you always know exactly where you are.
Streamlined Design to Improve Workflow
Everything about Push keeps you focused on the tactile device in front of you and away from the computer screen. As we touched on above, you can cycle through all of your third-party plugins, Ableton plugins, instruments, and more—without ever needing to grab a mouse or swipe a touchpad. Push 2 has its own “touchstrip,” though, which can be used for pitch-bending and creative effects.
Top-of-the-Line Pads that Play with Ease
The buttons and pads have been wonderfully reinvented to play elegantly and musically. They’re nearly flush with the instrument’s top panel for a slick feel. As far as the pads go, they’re made from soft silicone and are diligently calibrated to capture and send signal at any velocity. The RGB back lighting is the icing on top.
Ableton Push Drawbacks and Limitations
One of the biggest limitations is not having support for the Arrangement View in Ableton Live. That means you’ll still have to pull up to computer to finalize arranging and sequencing your work. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it does indicate that Push 2 isn’t a be-all-end-all tactile control surface for Live.
Another potential drawback is the fact that Push 2 is basically Ableton Live exclusive. It performs optimally in Live, and to make the absolute most of it, you wouldn’t want to use it in other DAWs. There are far less expensive alternatives if you don’t use Live. However, buyers should know that going in.
Will There Be an Ableton Push 3?
In September 2020, the Push 3 rumor mill started doing what it does. Forums across the web suggested that Ableton would drop a new Push sometime in 2021, which, of course, was not the case. Unfortunately there are no definitive plans for a Push 3 release; however, it seems safe to assume Ableton is developing some sort of new hardware to stand alongside Live. Whether that’s a Push 3, or something new altogether, remains to be seen.
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