So last weekend I decided to "re-invest" heavily in my synth gear (= Live, Reason & Max) and update everything to the latest versions. I went from Live 8 (oops ): 9 to 10, Max 5 (stand alone) to 8 and Reason 6(.5) to 10 (and it turns out I also get a free pass to upgrade to Reason 11 when it comes out). I also decided to invest a bit more and looked into "expanding" my setup a bit. For Reason this meant buying into some official (= developed by the Propellerheads) "rack extensions" (and I nabbed 2 complete 'rigs' as well), for Live (which has always been my primary DAW) I decided that I should take things to the next level and get myself a Push
Well... I got it, set it up and I'm flabbergasted when looking at all the things I can do with it. Because of that I wanted to vent a little and well, I figured this was as good a place as any...
At first the Push made me worry a little (despite the videos I've seen already) because it's basically a black box, with a lot of black buttons on top, would I be able to see what I'm doing here?
Well, yes, and a whole lot more too
This thing is truly amazing.
What makes the Push so awesome for me is its setup. I've seen plenty of Youtube videos, even official ones, and honestly? I think many of them don't do the Push credit. Don't get me wrong: sure they give you a good demonstration of what the Push can do (which is quite a lot), no arguments there. But the problem, for me, is that many videos left me worrying: do I need a manual to operate all this? How the heck am I going to remember all those key presses? Are we sure that using Push is going to be easier than just using the mouse (+ Info view) in Live?
So far I haven't bothered to read up on Push, nor to try and find any official tutorial videos. Yet I managed to load an Operator onto a track, play with it, and create a wobbly grinding sound out of the blue. The wobbly part is important here See, what I mean to say is that I loaded Operator, I changed the settings for oscillators A & B (turned off C & D) but I also managed to gain access to the other sections such as the LFO, this isn't obvious at first because only a few sections (and options) are shown as available.
I also managed to turn off the preview sounds, change the brightness of the Push display and its leds, select other tracks, load the glue compressor onto the master track, I discovered pitch warping using the touch pad, I changed the volume for my tracks, I loaded the Saturator onto Send-A, and also managed to route audio into that (mixer button for the win) after which I fine tuned the Saturator some more. The display button actually tells you what you're working on... with the APC40 you really had to either look at the screen or be familiar enough to know what each knob would control (which became tricky with bank switching).
This thing is a beast, seriously. But in the good sense of the word
It sounds all too easy right? But that's just the thing which I find so impressive... without having read any manuals and only gotten some vague impressions by looking at Youtube videos which I often couldn't even follow I still managed to "Push" a ton out of Live Just by messing around and looking at the buttons to get an idea what it might do, and usually it did what I thought it would do
Oh, and those black buttons on that black box? Yah....
Ok, this picture doesn't clearly showcase it but those buttons are illuminated. So you can easily see what each button does. Of course this is hoping that the leds below those buttons are sturdy because if those fail then you got yourself a problem. But I don't see that happening anytime soon. And this is another interesting pro... if I am panned at the upper left corner then the keys to move up and left are turned off. In other words: "disabled". It makes working with this thing so easy because you get to clearly see what buttons are 'enabled' and thus usable in your current setup.
Push is a great replacement for the APC40!
Funny story: originally I planned to keep my APC40 around and replace my Akai MPD24 drumpad with the Push. This got met with some opposition from my gf who actually enjoys playing around with the MPD from time to time (when she's over for the weekend), so she was rather disappointed that I was planning on replacing it. "Are you sure you still need that APC around?", she asked me and well.. I'm happy that I listened and followed her advice!
As much as I love(d) the APC40... the Push really pushes it away. Sure, some things take getting used to... where is my "stop all clips button?" for example: it used to be below all the scene launch buttons. But ye gods.. those colored leds. See the screenshot above... the display is also plain out impressive: I can actually see what tracks I have, I see their names, the amount of clips (in the right colors!), I see the names of all the device parameters, stuff like that. And if I then select a clip... Well, above you see my ever on-going 'Gadget project' which consists of a ton of samples ripped from the 'Inspector Gadget' cartoons. So if I select such an audio clip I actually see the audio on my Push display. And I can also 'do' stuff with it.
And since I'm "APC comparing" anyway... It's also very helpful that I don't have a ton of knobs which can somewhat hinder the access to my pads. The Push is pretty flattened out, only at the top do you have knobs to turn, and that makes this much more accessible than the APC to me. Don't get me wrong: this is definitely not your classic "So I got something new and now all my old stuff sucks", because it doesn't. The APC40 is great for what it can do and I had a ton of fun with it. Add Max for Live into the mix and you can really take things to the next level (I still love my APCP4d patch (= patch which made the APC pad light up depending on the keys played in a drumrack)). Of course feedback like that comes standard now with the Push...
I don't think the Push necessarily obsoletes the APC40, they can definitely co-exist. For example: use the Push as in instrument and the APC for session control. But in a smaller setup like mine it honestly makes more sense to replace the APC40 with the Push. Simply because the Push can pretty much do everything that the APC can and so much more.
It's a session controller, instrument (for playing), drum pad, sequencer, and it can easily become a sound designers best friend too because you get easy access to all your device controls... AND your "keyboard". I don't have to use the mouse anymore to turn a knob on my screen and then try to play something on my keyboard (which is located on my right, and that's not an ideal position for this) while also trying to listen to what I got. With Push I turn some knobs on top with one hand and play the pads with my other.
Speaking of which...
Did you know that the pads react differently when you use them in session mode or "note mode"? They do... While having a midi track selected and having your Push in "note mode" (= push the note button) you can play it. Just laying your hand on the pads will trigger some, it's that sensitive. Playing drums has never been easier! But once you switch to session mode (= press the session button) you'll need a little more force to start a clip. And I love it! It really makes sense and it feels natural too. In fact.. it reminds me a bit of the APC40 (which pads which quite sturdy and hard to press, it was definitely never meant to be in instrument).
So is it all perfect?
Ehm, no... But it's darn close.
Push does have some small annoyances which you need to get used to. For example; if you switch to session view you'll see a column of buttons light up which act as scene launch buttons. Just too bad that they got tempo labels (1/4, 1/4t, 1/8, 1/8t, etc) which can be confusing at first. Is this a scene launcher or a tempo changer?
But those are just minor annoyances (at first anyway) which you'll soon get used to. Push does a lot right, and it can surprise too!
Fun story: I keep "Select on launch" turned off (Live settings -> "Record Warp Launch" tab) simply because it bothers me whenever I want to launch a clip and watch what my M4l scope tells me (I usually keep this on the master track), or maybe I want to tweak the glue compressor on my master channel. Problem: Push only shows selected clips on its display. So if you want some visual feedback you need to select the clip. So maybe we should turn select on launch on anyway?
Surprise: you don't have to! While in session mode just keep 'Select' pressed and then push on a pad. Now you selected that clip, and your Push screen will show you as much. Easy Best of both worlds, and really something the guys at Ableton thought about IMO, I love this!
But there are more bad things to share about the Push! (pls no kill me Mr. Behles (ok, ok, sorry for the bad pun ))
Push will push you to get some work done!
See.. you can also load in VST's quite easily, so I loaded Absynth 5... holy moly what an awesome combo that is. I played & experimented for 5 minutes straight and I had FUN.
The only problem... not every VST will "propagate" its settings back onto the Live VST device. Meaning? Well, Push won't be able to access the VST controls without 'm, ergo: you can't control it from Push unless you set up some connections yourself. So get to work ya lazy Pusher
Push = amazing!
Honestly, despite my bad puns I can only conclude that Push is really the pinnacle device for Ableton Live right now. I also want to share that Push 2 feels a lot more solid than the first Maschine did. I owned a Machine for a few days and I was definitely not impressed with the hardware quality, it felt plain out cheap to me. The pads were amazing, no arguments there, but the device itself? Blech. I even had a bad rotary and ended up returning the device & getting myself a refund because of that. I never had any interest in getting NI hardware from there on.
But Push? The top is made from sturdy metal, the box itself feels like solid plastic. The buttons are made of firm rubber (they also have a very good feel) and the pads.. well, plastic of course but they too feel very good to the touch. And they respond very good too. I actually played some percussion this evening, even one handed, and yah.. My Push responds a lot better than my MPD24, that's for sure!
I upgraded my Live 9 Suite version (god, I love the OIC (this was the primary reason I upgraded to Live 9 in the first place!)).. to Suite 10 + Push, and it was like buying Live suite all over again, this thing isn't cheap.
Yes, it feels like you're buying Live all over again, but honestly? You are! No bias or fanboy'ism here... (well, not much ) But Push can honestly make you re-discover the things you can do with Live all over again. It truly feels like a whole new setup, especially since you can do so much right from behind the controller itself, you don't even have to look at your computer screen at. all. to create a new track (audio, midi, sends...), add an instrument (operator, analog, vst?) and then set up all of its parameters as you want them to be. No mouse required!
The Push has become the synth, and everything else too!
I'm going to mess around a bit more this evening and get some early night sleep, but later this weekend I am definitely going to check up on my "Reasonable" M4l project (work in progress): controlling Reason devices from Live over ReWire. And maybe... maybe I don't have to next month if Reason 11 hits with their "Reason rack VST" (but that's being hopeful).
And there you have it.... I has Push, I am seriously enthusiastic. So if you'll excuse me, I'm now going to try to check out the Wavetable synth using my Push
Thanks for reading!
It would seem that not replacing the MPD24 was a good idea indeed. Thing is... When it comes to percussion I always turn to Reason ever since their v6. Drum racks are awesome, don't get me wrong here, and especially with Push. But... the Kong drum designer is hard to ignore. IMO it beats the drum rack head on ( ).
So yah, I can't play the Kong on Push too well. I want Push to switch to the drum rack control and sent that into Reason but its automated AI won't let me. SO... MPD24 it is right now, but a new M4l project idea has surfaced
Getting Push to push drum rack midi into Kong
Come here to discuss Push with other users.
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