Hey, this is a really lively & healthy debate. I've not made my mind up, not surprisingly, and probably won't until Push hits the shops and I can actually have some hands on experience.
If I were to buy Maschine I would be primarily using it as a plugin for Live. I realise that a lot of people love using it standalone as a groovebox sketchpad but it's not the reason I would be buying it so it will be, for me, an nice side effect. For the guys who have used Maschine in both standalone & plugin are there any differences in how it operates?
It seems to me that one of the Main advantages of using Maschine is that it will enable you to sample and slice to pads. This is the big one that will decide whether I go Maschine or Push tbh as I want to be able to easily sample (from any source) perform, re-sample/mangle and so on using only the controller. How extensively you'll be able to do your initial sound design from Push remains to be seen.
So if I went Push, what are the workarounds for this?
• Well for realtime sampling 'on-the-fly' you can of course just record an audio clip, set the markers and slice to new midi track. This method is super fast but doesn't initially give you the direct control that Maschine has over your slices. It's based on transients unless you manually set warp markers (which takes your hands off the controller) Until Ableton give us mapping control over the start/end points in Sampler this option will always be a bit limited.
• Build M4L devices that can sample/chop and dump to drum rack pads. I've actually started building this already as an exercise to learn Max for Live. I can see myself persevering with this in the long term and getting a lot of enjoyment from the process. This way I will be able to tailor the tool to my needs, even if it's in my own half-arsed way.
• Use a 3rd party sampler plugin. I know very little about this side of things and how useful it can be within Live.
As far as using plugins in Live with Push. I have no problem at all in setting up a rack and making smart knobs to control parameters, you only ever need to do this once. I love the way Camel Audio's Alchemy does it in the Perform tab. Morphing between the presets to control the 8 macro knobs is a genius method. I'd much prefer that performance way of controlling a vst than scrolling through pages and pages of parameters to tweak them individually.
I wonder if it's really that important to be able to do all of the precursory sound design from the controller (creating new samples aside) Are you able to set up complex chains and smart controls using the Maschine controller at all?
I've been modding my MPD32 setup recently using the AMAZING nativeKontrol MPDRx & Clyphx scripts and they're pretty darn impressive. I just hope that these 'heated' debates about which controller is better won't really be valid in the future. Then it will come down to how many colours your fat jelly pads have