Push 2 Pads and First Impressions

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rikrak
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Push 2 Pads and First Impressions

Post by rikrak » Wed Nov 04, 2015 6:23 pm

Background info: I've been using Live since version 3. I have used a dozen or so different controllers over the years and 20 or so keyboards. I did not buy the Push 1 because of negative reports regarding the quality of the pads.

My main setup these days consists of Elektron Octatrack and Monomachine, two Korg padKontrols, Ableton Live running a bunch of the usual soft synths. I have an M-Audio Delta 1010 running into a Steinberg UR28M monitor controller. Midi is handled by an M-audio Midisport 4x4. Usually the Octatrack runs the clock and everything is synced and I have had no problems whatsoever. I'm running Live on a self-built i7 PC.


I received my Push 2 this afternoon and have been playing with it for about 3.5 hours now.

Firstly, I had problems getting it to be detected by the PC. It lit up first time and displayed a Firmware message, then said it had successfully updated. However, none of the buttons lit. Live was showing it in the controller section of preferences but the Input and Output were greyed out.

After re-starting Live multiple times, rebooting the PC and trying several USB ports, it suddenly lit up and showed the active Session. At this point I turned it off again so that I could re-arrange my desk and get it into a permanent position. On turning it back on, the PC showed the Device Not Recognised message again and I was back to square one. Without a driver to point the device at, it seemed to be hit and miss whether it was detected.

Eventually, it came to life again and I have not switched it off for a few hours so that I can at least try it out!

First impressions then...

It is heavy and sturdy. The encoders feel very high-quality and they are very responsive with no dead-areas and they respond to touch so you don't need to turn them to activate the parameter (unlike the Elektron encoders).

The screen is very nice. The resolution is not as high as I expected from the videos but the smallest font is perfectly legible and the general iconography and design is well thought-out. The new detailed Waveforms of v9.5 are a huge improvement. I found the screen (and Pads) a little too bright for my studio and have turned them down to 75%.

Navigation around the menus is very intuitive. I have hardly had to look at the manual (which was difficult to find due to some links on the website pointing to Push 1 info).

The Buttons have a nice soft feel with good feedback.

I have to say I am not so impressed by the Pads though. The velocity sensitivity is very patchy. Regardless of the Sensitivity, Gain and Dynamics settings, it is impossible to achieve a wide-range of velocities. Hitting the pad harder (or faster) does not always result in a louder note and it isn't possible to get to maximum volume that way at all. Leaving my finger on the pad and then pushing firmly in the middle (as if I am playing full after-touch) is the only way to play a loud note - but this is irrespective of how fast or hard I initially hit the Pad.

The sensitivity seems inconsistent across Pads too. If I play a scale up the grid, most notes are played too low but then the odd Pad will play much louder and then several Pads after that will play louder until I hit a Pad that is quiet again and then even the Pads that were previously louder are too quiet.

It appears that, although every pad is extremely sensitive to touch - ie. a note is played if you give it the lightest possible touch, the area under each pad which is detecting the velocity is very small and inconsistently placed. Some Pads need to be pushed hard in the exact centre, others need to be pushed hard at the bottom of the centre (this is unworkable because that often means touching the pad below too).

Hitting the pads as hard as possible only seems to reach half-volume with the default Pad Setup settings. Setting Gain to max allows me to play full volume but then there is next to no range of velocity whichever way I play.

So, I'm very disappointed. My experience with the Pads so far seems to mirror the complaints people had with Push 1. I wonder whether I have a bad machine. The only reason I ordered without waiting for user reviews was that CDM reported that the Pads were the best they had used this side of a Linnstrument.

I plugged in one of the padKontrols to do a comparison and the difference is astounding. I tried to get actual readings using midi-ox but it refuses to work with the Push 2. (Can anyone recommend another PC midi stream tool?)

I don't know whether the Pad issues that can be fixed via a Firmware update but I have a 14-day window to return to the shop for a refund and at the moment I won't be keeping it. It's a shame because it is an incredible piece of kit otherwise.

rikrak

[jur]
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Re: Push 2 Pads and First Impressions

Post by [jur] » Wed Nov 04, 2015 7:16 pm

You need to fiddle around a bit with the Pad settings. It's not instant success but it actually is a very powerful setting system, and I'm pretty sure you'll find the right setting for you in a few days.
Note what settings works best with which type of instruments (drums, keys, pads..). At some point you'll find a balance.
8-6-9 is my personal favorite for the moment.
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rikrak
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Re: Push 2 Pads and First Impressions

Post by rikrak » Wed Nov 04, 2015 7:45 pm

[jur] wrote:You need to fiddle around a bit with the Pad settings. It's not instant success but it actually is a very powerful setting system, and I'm pretty sure you'll find the right setting for you in a few days.
Note what settings works best with which type of instruments (drums, keys, pads..). At some point you'll find a balance.
8-6-9 is my personal favorite for the moment.
Thanks for the reply but I have already tried many setting combinations. I'm not sure how any setting could make up for the inconsistencies between individual pads. That's what the issue is.

Maybe they need breaking-in? I'll bash them some more after dinner and see if they start to improve.

Has anyone else received their Push 2 and can confirm that the Pads are great/dodgy either way?
Win 7 64bit, Live9.6, M-Audio Delta1010, padKontrol x 2, Elektron OT, MD-UW, MNM
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zsklar
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Re: Push 2 Pads and First Impressions

Post by zsklar » Wed Nov 04, 2015 8:23 pm

Hey RikRak, I sure wish I was able to get Push 2 to work with my Windows 7 Pro desktop. Push 1 works fine. I have tried every USB on the desktop and whenever I turn on Push 2 it causes Live 9.5 to hang and the only way to get out of it is to close the program. I have been going back and forth with Ableton tech support for 3 days now. If you are having issues as well with it playing nice with Live 9.5, then something is definitely not right with the drivers. I am beyond frustrated at this point and am now thinking about just returning the damn thing and sticking with my Push 1.

For the record, the drivers installed successfully on my machine. I can see that in the device manager. I have PUSH 2 to choose from in the as a midi controller, but there is nothing in the input and output drop down box. That means something is not right between the drivers and Live I would think. I have plugged in my Push 2 to my Macbook Pro and it communicates perfectly. Live 9.5 automatically configured the Midi Controller and input and output. I didn't have to touch a thing.

I've tried pretty much everything to get this working....uninstalling the Push 2 USB drivers and reinstalling them. I've uninstalled Live 9.5 and reinstalled it. I've cleaned Live 9.5 and all other versions of Live from my system. I've unplugged all of the other controllers connected to the PC and just tried Push 2. No luck with anything. I'm literally going on my 3rd day with Ableton Tech support.

This makes no sense and I am thinking Ableton rushed this out and many Windows customers are going to run into these issues. Does anyone else have issues with Windows and Push 2??? I'm pretty certain it's an issue with the windows drivers.

If anyone can offer any insight or help I'd REALLY appreciate it!

- Zach

rikrak
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Re: Push 2 Pads and First Impressions

Post by rikrak » Wed Nov 04, 2015 8:49 pm

Hey Zach,

All I can say is that I kept changing the USB port, changing the USB lead, turning the Push 2 on and off and starting/restarting Live and it suddenly worked. One thing you might try if you haven't already is to remove any other controllers from the list in Prefs. I noticed that Push 2 was listed multiple times - presumably from each USB port. Set everything to None, None, None and reboot everything to see if the drivers are picked up and the Input and Output populated.
Win 7 64bit, Live9.6, M-Audio Delta1010, padKontrol x 2, Elektron OT, MD-UW, MNM
http://soundcloud.com/scatterbattery

lowshelf
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Re: Push 2 Pads and First Impressions

Post by lowshelf » Wed Nov 04, 2015 10:37 pm

rikrak, thanks for the review!

zsklar, rikrak's comments about Korg's padKONTROL reminded me that Korg provide a brilliant MIDI Driver cleanup tool with their MIDI controllers. It cleans up all the scattered MIDI device clutter (MIDI registry, USB device registry, class registries) which can get overpopulated. If you're desperate enough to try it, then:

- Download it from [ http://www.korg.com/us/products/controllers/padkontrol/ ], under Support & Downloads, it's the "USB-MIDI Driver" option. Don't worry if you haven't got any Korg kit.
- Install the software.
- Run "Uninstall KORG USB-MIDI Device".
- Click the Option button so you can delete non-Korg devices. Then carefully select any devices which you think might be an issue. Carefully.
- When you're all done, you can uninstall the driver tools. Reboot. Retry.

rikrak
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Re: Push 2 Pads and First Impressions

Post by rikrak » Wed Nov 04, 2015 11:59 pm

Update.

I spent a couple of hours tonight playing the pads methodically. I have probably hit each Pad a couple of hundred times at least by now. I recorded my playing so that I could examine the note velocities in the clip. At the beginning of the exercise, there was a lot of variance and some notes were sounding much louder or quieter despite every note being hit with (almost) the same force/speed.

Over time, the pads seemed to loosen up a little and the anomalous velocities became fewer and further apart. At the moment, I can play with pretty much consistent dynamics - much much better than out of the box. The Pads are still a way from being as playable as the padKontrol but at least they are performing consistently.

Using Push 2 to design sounds on Operator is a lot of fun, as is chopping up breaks on Simpler.

Some 3rd party synths and FX are easier to use than others because they have parameters set up already. I know it is possible to add parameters to the device and somehow save this as a default, but not sure how to do this. Do I save it as a preset?

The Step Sequencer seems a little awkward, but that may just be that I am used to the Elektrons. The layout seems a bit odd - with 16 pads being used just to set the length. (But the length isn't per instrument?). There may be a way to change that...I think I saw a different step sequencer layout at one point.

The Scales settings are useful but I would like more options with regards to how the octaves are laid out. Maybe an option for an octave per row, or an option for each note to be a 4th above the one below it. Again, maybe this can be changed in a config somewhere.

A PDF of the 9.5 manual with Push 2 instructions would be nice, I can only find a copy online here:
https://www.ableton.com/en/manual/using ... setup-menu

I look forward to reading other user's impressions.

rikrak
Win 7 64bit, Live9.6, M-Audio Delta1010, padKontrol x 2, Elektron OT, MD-UW, MNM
http://soundcloud.com/scatterbattery

login
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Re: Push 2 Pads and First Impressions

Post by login » Thu Nov 05, 2015 3:48 am

You can find the manual inside Live in the help menu. There is a section for push2.

For saving plug in configuration right click on the device and you will see the option in the context menu.

Tarekith
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Re: Push 2 Pads and First Impressions

Post by Tarekith » Thu Nov 05, 2015 7:18 am

The sequencer is definitely one of those things that people either instantly get, or feels a bit weird at first. I was an elektron guy too and it was sort odd for me, but it's really nice having everything right there on one "screen" so to speak now that I'm used to it. Don't forget you can do "Parameter Locks" on Push too :)

rikrak
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Re: Push 2 Pads and First Impressions

Post by rikrak » Thu Nov 05, 2015 12:53 pm

Tarekith wrote:The sequencer is definitely one of those things that people either instantly get, or feels a bit weird at first. I was an elektron guy too and it was sort odd for me, but it's really nice having everything right there on one "screen" so to speak now that I'm used to it. Don't forget you can do "Parameter Locks" on Push too :)
Thanks for your input Tarekith - I found your Elektron guides extremely helpful, back in the day. I'm going to spend some time with the Step Sequencer right now.

The pads feel much better today - I imagine they will continue to improve.

I did initially have a repeat of the Device Not Recognised problem , but this was instantly fixed by turning the PC off and on at the wall so that all USB ports lost power (I'm guessing that's what did it!).
Win 7 64bit, Live9.6, M-Audio Delta1010, padKontrol x 2, Elektron OT, MD-UW, MNM
http://soundcloud.com/scatterbattery

Shift Gorden
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Re: Push 2 Pads and First Impressions

Post by Shift Gorden » Thu Nov 05, 2015 8:37 pm

Great thread. I'm running Push 2 on a Mac, and I must say my initial impressions were very similar to the OP.

I still can't figure out how to switch the flipping thing on with any consistency. Ableton on, Push 2 on, Push 2 just sits there with the Push screen displayed. Push 2 on, Ableton on, Push 2 just sits there with Push screen displayed. Then, after opening/closing random tracks, Push comes alive. It's pretty dodgy - and frustrating.

The pads. Well, they definitely feel nicer than the Push 1 pads...but I had the same problem with erroneous volumes. I could tap lightly on a pad and it would play the sound at max volume, and then the harder presses resulted in lower volume. This wasn't consistent - it would sometimes do it and sometimes not.

And then there was this weird latency-type problem where I'd hold a chord down, but one of the notes would be delayed by a fraction. It wasn't my CPU or anything odd like that.

I will say, the pads have been behaving a little better today...but I'm kinda concerned at this point about the stability of this thing.

I'm gonna keep on messing with it - this weekend I should be able to log a bunch of hours with it, so fingers crossed.

rikrak
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Re: Push 2 Pads and First Impressions

Post by rikrak » Thu Nov 05, 2015 9:08 pm

I still can't figure out how to switch the flipping thing on with any consistency
Did you try turning your PC off and then turning the plug off at the wall so all USB ports lose power? I read about it in another thread and was sceptical, but it has totally fixed it for me. It doesn't matter what order I turn Push2 on now - as long as it is on and Live is running, it displays the project. I think I would have to re-do the Power Off routine if I moved it to another USB slot.

My pads are still occasionally a little 'off'. I only had time to give them another hour or so of play today. I think the way they read Aftertouch is a bit wonky - and I read that Push1 had an option to adjust the Aftertouch so maybe we will see a Firmware update that will address this. As it is, pushing firmly on the pad seems to trigger a maximum volume hit, as if Accent is on. I don't have any degree of subtle control over Aftertouch at all.
Win 7 64bit, Live9.6, M-Audio Delta1010, padKontrol x 2, Elektron OT, MD-UW, MNM
http://soundcloud.com/scatterbattery

Shift Gorden
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Re: Push 2 Pads and First Impressions

Post by Shift Gorden » Thu Nov 05, 2015 9:12 pm

rikrak wrote:
I still can't figure out how to switch the flipping thing on with any consistency
Did you try turning your PC off and then turning the plug off at the wall so all USB ports lose power? I read about it in another thread and was sceptical, but it has totally fixed it for me. It doesn't matter what order I turn Push2 on now - as long as it is on and Live is running, it displays the project. I think I would have to re-do the Power Off routine if I moved it to another USB slot.

My pads are still occasionally a little 'off'. I only had time to give them another hour or so of play today. I think the way they read Aftertouch is a bit wonky - and I read that Push1 had an option to adjust the Aftertouch so maybe we will see a Firmware update that will address this. As it is, pushing firmly on the pad seems to trigger a maximum volume hit, as if Accent is on. I don't have any degree of subtle control over Aftertouch at all.
I'll try the power trick, mate - thanks for the suggestion.

Okay, I'll keep hammering away at the pads!

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Re: Push 2 Pads and First Impressions

Post by Tarekith » Fri Nov 06, 2015 7:22 am

Take a microfibre cloth or a t-shirt or some other soft clean cloth and rub the top of each pad until you create a bit of friction heat. I know it sounds dumb, but most pad controllers come with this weird waxy substance on them, and once you rub it off it's amazing how much softer and more responsive they are. I've done this on all my pad gear, Maschine Studio, Electribe, etc.

I'm guessing it's just a left over from the manufacturign process, or maybe something applied to keep the rubber from breaking down in long term storage before they get bought.

Anyway, makes a big difference!

Shift Gorden
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Re: Push 2 Pads and First Impressions

Post by Shift Gorden » Fri Nov 06, 2015 3:23 pm

Thanks for the pro-tip, mate!

I must say, after a quick 30 min session turned into a 3 hour session and several beers later...I pretty much fell in love with Push 2.

The pads definitely were working a lot better after bashing around on them for a while (maybe I bashed off the waxy layer)...although I still had an odd 30 seconds playing Let's Get Push 2 To Work (tried the power cord thing, too).

I started a song from scratch, and tried to do everything from the Push. Messing around with samples is so much fun now, the Push really gets you hands-on, and there is a lot to be said for using a lovely, tactile interface to manipulate samples. Oh boy, I can't wait to get home and play some more! Oh, dem filters. I may never use the clean setting again. ;)

I also had fun messing around with various synths, although I don't think the NI stuff quite works yet. But many other plugs do. Oh - I used the Ableton compressor and did a little sidechaining. All worked incredibly well with the Push, apart from I couldn't figure out how to tell Push which signal to use fro trigger the compressor - I had to go to the computer for that.

The only other "problem" I had (and this I'll probably figure out eventually) was when working with layered sounds in the drum rack. I can edit each of my layers perfectly - I just couldn't figure out how to switch layers within my chain. Again, I found myself having to click on the relevant layer on my Mac and then edit it with Push. I'm sure I need to hold something and something to switch....

Anyway, I'm excited about Push 2 and the new opportunities is opens up for me...I can see myself using a lot more samples in future. In fact, I'm going to resample some of my stuff later and mash it up. Man, I've got a whole work day ahead of me....arghhh!

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