Ableton Push – Is this the future of music controllers?

tour push story intro 300x243 Ableton Push   Is this the future of music controllers?

Catching all by surprise this week music production innovators Ableton announced the launch of their first hardware controller – Push.Blending touch sensitive pads, encoder, and succinct workflow layout typical of Ableton Live, this controller looks to be the next evolution. Matching the benefits of software with tactile human interface for both composing and performing. What does it bring to the game and when will it land?

Commenting on the launch, Ableton says: “Push provides direct, hands-on control of melody and harmony, beats, sounds and structure, powered by Ableton Live running on your computer.”

“High-quality, dynamic pads, buttons, encoders and a display combined with an innovative workflow allow you to play and compose musical ideas without the need to look at or touch your computer, and more importantly, without interrupting the musical flow.”

 Check the video below for an overview of the features in action.


Having just returned from ADE conference which was awash with Native Instruments gear i found myself thinking they had the options sown up. Maschine plus Komplete is a mighty formidable unit. However, for me a Maschine user for nearly 2 years, as much as I absolutely love the sound quality and samples the interface and workflow has a couple of big flaws. Namely lack of MIDI import options, nasty for importing old songs into a performance, and only one parameter per encoder under mackro control, MIDI programming could be improved too. So as great as it is, it is essentially an MPC update.

The Ableton Push looks like a future interface. Fusing the lessons Akai learnt from the APC40 controllers, and the Ableton workflow jazz.



One of the Maschine’s strengths is the large display allows you to work remote from a laptop; especially great in the club performance area. The Push looks to take this concept further and via the various DAW controls allow the user real on the fly composing control. Check the video below for how the 64 pad layout of the Push looks to allow some really unique melody and chord options. Including effortless switching between musical key. The option to condense the pad to control only the keys in the chosen music key is an mega tool for DJ’s and those of us not quite at the Herbie Hancock skill stage.

Will DJ’s now all start riffing along with tracks as they play out, as Matt Playford and Carl Craig do? All one needs is a sweet little app built in ‘Max for Live’ to safely identify the key, then select that one in ‘Push’ and bing bang bosh. Rachmaninoff away.

Priced at about £399 in the UK, Ableton are targeting the Maschine price point from the off. However, check the deals on Ableton Live and Push – £620 – Insane. Any new producer/DJ looking to really step up their game; this is a mega deal. The size of a ‘Push’ will allow it to neatly fit into a laptop rucksack for easy transport to gig at home and abroad.

The Ableton Push release has not exact date as yet but is slated for sometime in the first quarter of 2013. Along with Ableton 9. Can we expect to see a series of these controller interfaces at NAMM ? quite possibly.

For those producers out there yet to get on the Ableton wagon but tempted by the Push controller. Check out deals for the Novation Launchpad which includes Ableton ‘lite’ and can be upgraded on the cheap to the full version… don’t say we don’t tell you any secrets

Those keen for the detailed Ableton Push specification can click here.

What would be in your own dream music controller and how does this controller compare? share your thoughts via the comments below…


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  1. #1 by Kenny on November 1, 2012 - 2:38 am

    As a music producer:

    My take on Live 9 is that offers great upgrades for production.
    Same with Push: a fun and creative tool for the studio, esp. for the keyboard phobic. Push is on the expensive side but it seems like it’s well designed and constructed.

    As a full time DJ for many years:

    Live 9 has added virtually *nothing* for DJing. Ableton are backing up their previous statements that they’re not interested in making a DJing product and it’s clear that DJs are on their own with Live.

    I’ve made it usable as a DJ tool with a lot of extra work and hacking but it’s a shame that Ableton aren’t willing to add just a few, relatively easy things in the UI realm that would put the great audio engine at the fingertips of many DJs.

    Push seems a good tool for production also and it might be flexible enough to be a good DJ controller for Live. However, without faders, it’s already at a huge disadvantage for my personal preference and with only 8 knobs, using Push for DJing will mean very frequent bank switching, something that I find to be a PITA when DJing.

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  3. #3 by DJ Krusher on November 13, 2013 - 4:59 pm

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