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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.