Ableton Push is a software controller that was designed by Ableton and built by Akai Professional, makers of the popular Akai APC40, the best selling Ableton controller on DJDeals.com. Push has 64 velocity- and pressure-sensitive pads that are backlit with multi-colored RGB LEDs. There are also 11 touch sensitive endless encoders and one large ribbon controller. The basic idea of this controller is not only to give you complete control over Session View, but to make the entire process of writing and performing easier, more focused on hardware and less focused on your computer’s monitor.
The main grid of glowing pads on Push can be used in many different ways. One of the templates for Ableton Push breaks the grid up by dedicating the 16 pads to the bottom left as traditional trigger pads, the 16 pads next to them on the right are used for navigating Live, and all of the pads above them are used for controlling a multi-layer step sequencer. The pads are also used to launch and control clips, and they’re used for playing melodic instruments—think of the large square grid of buttons as a 64-note piano keyboard that you might find onboard a UFO. The designers at Ableton have taken a decade to decide what the ultimate controller for Ableton Live would be and it appears that they finally made up their minds and had it built. As a Live user myself, I can’t wait to check this thing out.
Even though there are so many illuminated pads and buttons on Push, and it has a generously sized LCD screen, the device is bus powered from a single USB port. A universal AC adapter is included, and when used, the lights and the display get brighter. Push is only a controller, there is no soundcard. It cannot be used as an audio interface. That’s not an issue, however, because most Live users who need an audio interface likely already have one.
Commenting on the launch, Ableton says: “Ableton 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.”
Ableton Push was designed by Ableton and bears the company’s name, it was actually built by Akai, which already has a couple of Ableton-endorsed controllers in the shape of the APC40 and APC20 (Novation’s Launchpad also has Ableton backing). However, Push would seem to be a slightly different proposition: not just a controller, but a creative platform for writing songs. What’s more, with its ‘head down, don’t look at your monitor’ approach, comparisons will inevitably be made with Native Instruments Maschine.
Computer Music magazine editor Lee du-Caine, who was one of the first journalists to get hands-on with Push said: “Push looks like being an exceptionally well-rounded musical solution. Having had a go on Push at Ableton’s headquarters last week, I can tell you that it looks even better in the flesh, and it feels great too.The musicality of it is impressive – it’s more than just another beat machine.”
Push is a new instrument that solves an old problem: how to make a song from scratch. With hands-on control of melody and harmony, beats, sounds, and song structure, Push puts the fundamental elements of music making at your fingertips – and it fits in a backpack alongside your laptop.
Play and sequence beats. 64 pads give you multiple ways to make beats. Play, step sequence, and navigate your loop – all at the same time.
Play beats live with velocity-sensitive pads made by Akai Professional, and adjust sounds and kits while you play with eight touch-sensitive endless encoders. Hold a pad to repeat notes in time with your track while adjusting swing or the repeat divisions in real time.
Step sequence beats directly using the pads for precise control. Select any step and tweak timing and velocity individually for each cell. See velocity and accents for each step shown on the Push’s pads.
Select which bar of your loop you want to sequence or adjust the length of the loop.
A new way to play notes and chords. Play in every key using the same finger patterns. Move between keys at the touch of a button. Explore new harmonies and phrases across 64 velocity- and pressure-sensitive pads.
When playing instruments, Push’s pads “fold” a keyboard’s worth of notes to its 64 pads. Different pad colors show the key center, other notes that are in the key, and any notes you’ve already recorded. Push’s condensed pad layout means large intervals can be reached easily.
Preorder yours here, begins shipping early 2013: