Ableton Push - User review - Gearspace.com
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Ableton Push
4.65 4.65 out of 5, based on 5 Reviews

Push brings hands on control over Ableton Live.

6th January 2015

Ableton Push 2 by login

  • Sound Quality N/A
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 3
Ableton Push

Ableton Push belongs to a new kind of controllers that have had a lot of success over the last few years: Maschine, Arturia Spark and MPC Ren, all offer an integrated experience between software and a hardware controller trying to bring the best of both world: the hands on experience from hardware and the power and flexibility of software and modern day computers.

While Maschine and Spark were designed as software/hardware products from the ground up, Push has to be designed for Ableton Live now in version 9, this for sure brings up some limitations and challenges for the design team since there are many things they surely couldn't broke or modify since they are so important or familiar to Live users.

Push has a very clear goal according to Ableton:

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.
First I think the "problem" Ableton states is only true for people working in a "DAW" or "ITB" set up, it didn't exist previously and is related mainly to the user interface: the computer keyboard and mouse weren’t designed for musical input.

So Push intends to overcome the limitation when inputting data into Live, mainly:

- Notes by using its keyboard and step sequencers,
- Adjusting values (instruments and effects) via its encoders (the screen really makes it easy).

You can easily sit on the couch or stand up away from the computer and make a whole composition with Push without looking at the computer screen: melody harmony and rhythm. It’s also good for some sound design (mainly effects and instruments to some extent).

It is also good for drawing automation either recording it in real time or adjusting per step automation.

The isomorphic keyboard and step sequencer also offer an "In scale mode" in which Push only shows the notes belonging to the selected scale, while this can be liberating for a while it's also a limitation when trying to use chords outside the scale, having to change the layout back and forth.

The drum sequencer is probably the best part of push with almost all functions you would need: per step automation, velocity and nudge adjustments. Swing is adjusted globally and it something that could be improved.

In those aspects in which it is focused it does a brilliant job. But then it has some shortcomings:

- Push browser (which mimics Live 9 browser) gives priority to the content included with Live; user content is also accessible but one more menu away.
- Can't set up a fixed length for recording clips.
- Can't load plug ins directly, and while you can rack effects and instrument plug in to load them it just doesn’t feel the same as native instruments, since once you load them you have to navigate inside the rack to access more parameters.
- Natively it can't browse Plug in presets.

This last limitation has two workarounds:

- Create one rack for each preset, this is of course slow and for some plug ins that take some time to load it can be really annoying. There are third party developers offering packs of racked presets of most popular plug ins.

- If the plug in supports MIDI program change it is possible to use a Max4live device to send this kind of midi message to change presets.

It is also important to state that Push is very limited for other tasks like:

- Mixing: you need to jump around many buttons to access volume and send levels, also no control over drum rack mixer.
- Almost no control over arrangement view.
- No Audio editing options.
- Performance options: for example it is unable to focus on controlling one instrument track while at the same time adjusting effects on a return channel.

Overall Push is a great controller for composing, making it more fun and fast. It has helped me greatly in finishing arrangements and making rhythm parts faster.

I think for those starting in to producing music ITB Push is a great way to make the process fun and avoid the chore of having to use the mouse for everything.

Some of its shortcomings can be complemented using third party scrip called PXT Live by nativeKONTROL.

But in conclusion if I had to start all over again in the electronic music world without synths or other controllers Push would be my first option since it does so much on its own, and for me what it does (making composition faster) no other controller can do it as well.

  • 1
29th March 2015

Ableton Push 2 by baskervils

  • Sound Quality N/A
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 3.75
Ableton Push

I was not planning on purchasing Push, because I didn't feel that I needed it for the type of music that I record. I was completely wrong.

A friend of mine had Maschine, and really wanted to use pads in an inspired way for our sessions, After struggling with Machine for 6 weeks and feeling frustrated with how badly it worked within the DAW, I purchased Ableton Push and I am thrilled. I am working with Ableton in ways that I had not considered with the standard MIDI keyboard and DAW setup.

It is not just a great controller for instruments (drums and keys) and the DAW, but the ease of use with effects simplifies a process that simply was not inspired in the box. The instrument keyboard is also inspired and almost works more like an iPad app, but has the benefit of velocity pads.

In short, I love this thing. It's pricey, but it's worth every dime.

12th June 2015

Ableton Push 2 by Deleted 60622ed

Ableton Push

Ive held off buying Push for a long time, I have Maschine, Spark, APC20, Touchable 2, Launchpad (with the launchpad 95 scripts), and an MPC Studio all capable of covering some of the ground push does...but none do it with such ease.

Im surprised how much I enjoy making music with what is no more than another controller, but it really does change the way you record music. I use mostly hardware, but this makes me use the software Ive bought too, which so often gets overlooked. Its never been the softwares sound thats put me of but the hands on control that hardware offer make it seem more fun. Push bridges this gap. I love the pads and the build quality, and you can expand its universe even further...

On its own Id not mark it so highly, and Suites instruments never appealed to me, but combined with PXT Live, PXT Live Plus, the Mableton and audiomodder racks, I can control anything/everything I own. Ive barely scratched the surface.

27th January 2016

Ableton Push 2 by J Kay

  • Sound Quality N/A
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 3.75
Ableton Push

Having been using logic for the past few years, I got fed up with th midi routing interface etc etc, so I moved to ableton and bought a push 2.

Having never used the first one, I was a bit apprehensive but as soon as I got it, I fell in live with it.

It's such a joy to use, the interface is extremely intuitive, everything is well laid out. I can go for hours without looking at the computer screen.

The best thing about it, is the way simpler is integrated into push, I can record my modular synth, records etc, all with the touch of a button

One if my best purchases, it makes me use live in a much different way and opens up a lot of sonic possibilities

28th February 2016

Ableton Push 2 by TheOmegaShadow

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Ableton Push


I've been using Cubase as my midi compositional tool and DAW for 15 years, all the rest I tried in those years felt so unintuitive to write and record sequences with (Reaper, Logic, Pro-Tools and Reason to a lesser extent).

I saw the step sequencing workflow for Drums, melody and the scale layout for midi notes as a useful way to change up my approach from playing on Keyboards, I decided to buy one but there some unanswered questions of automation and I personally wanted some sort of DAW equivalent of Elektron style Parameter Locking and saw that it could be done with VST and native Ableton devices.

Then I wanted to know i it was easy to do this with MIDI CC parameters with my hardware synths, apparently with Live Suite, there's max devices that allow this from the Push 2 hardware, and Automation data is easily copy/pasted in the clip editor window.


Initial learning curve for me, having never really used ableton live before was about 3 days to playing around, but now I can navigate tracks and the devices within them all from the hardware, it's logically laid out with good conventions, you'll learn all the functions fast, and there are youtube videos to teach you how to do anything the Push 2 can possibly do.

The session view and clip launching is great, dynamically arranging and experimenting with song structures is really rewarding. and throwing new little ideas into a new clip is so fast the playback does not even need to stop.

The assignment of VSTi parameters to the knobs is great, with 2 way communications and clear readouts thanks to the display make tweaking synth bits more like using my hardware synths, it feels more direct and less abstracted with un-labelled knobs accidentally changing parameters are a serious turn off.

I was finding it hard to choose between the Maschine Studio and the Push 2, Ultimately it came down to versatility, having more pads for more polyphonic compositional possibilities, more easily mappable VST parameters to the hardware with feedback that don't require the NI NKS format plugins and the ability to sequence my external synths in a more logical manner.


The hardware is well built, heavy, has a metal top and near flush set of control buttons which feel safe and not easily damaged by things getting caught when moving in close proximity, like sleeves etc.

The recessed USB port on the back adds a bit of confidence but the DC power socket does not share the same idea of safety and resistance to damage if the cable was ever to be accidentally pulled at a sharp angle, the male plug should break but the socket in the unit would likely suffer being ripped off it's solder points, or worse, crack the PCB.

The knobs feel luxurious and sturdy, they're touch sensitive and have a rubbery feel, they are smooth and not detented (the tempo knob is detented though, but expectedly). The knobs offer moderate resistance to rotation, slightly more than I'd like but I can certainly live with it, the trade-off is a more accurate knob for dialing in parameters very precisely, they don't fell prone to breaking like the NI Kore2 knobs do.

The pads are great, I'm told they're best, by some people, I'd have to agree my only referene is a crappy Korg nanopad which feels bad to play in comparison, I didn't like the slippery feel of the Maschine pads personally and the back lighting of the pads on the Push 2 is super clear and very obvious as to the current function.

The display is really nice, you'll come to learn how to navigate things pretty quickly, the colour coded nature of parameters and pads make it really easy to do the thing you intend to the correct track, minimal accidental edits etc. The illuminated buttons are super vibrant, the feel of the buttons is also quite good despite my first impressions of them needing more force than I expected to push them in, but after some time I got used to it, it's very unlikely you'll accidentally hit multiple buttons with a single press.

Functions, this thing is well though out, I would like to see a couple of operation functions added, like more modifier style operations but I can certainly live with it as it is, in my opinion, the best example of DAW controller software integration with hands down the best interface for composing electronic music.


It's given me a whole new method of composing music, I'll still take stems from Ableton live to do final mixes as a matter of preference, but there will be a lot less automation required inside of Cubase as a result of the push controller's superior integration with controlling plugins. The push saves me time, not having to stop and start tracks as often to re-arrange parts, no more mousing around to find a windows and a parameter on it to tweak and automate.

My Bang for Buck gripe is that able Ableton should just allow midi CC parameters to be assigned to the knobs for external stuff, I can work with it as it is but this would crown Live & Push as the ultimate midi pattern sequencer to surpass Cubase in that respect.

The unit IS expensive and it just makes me want the Suite upgrade for Live now...

It's worth it, I have no regrets, I'm excited to get to work with it because every time I sit in front of it and make some tunes, I get a big grin on my face at least once per session.

  • 3
11th July 2020

Ableton Push 2 by TheOmegaShadow

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Ableton Push

Updated review as of July 2020 - 4 years later

Workflow improvements

Since Ableton live 9.5, to now Ableton Live 10 there have been plenty of workflow improvements, mostly in the form of key combinations to better navigate, re-order rack devices, change track colors, delete automation, alter patterns visually on the push screen, being able to setup routing for audio and midi tracks from the push controller are excellent improvements among many more.

The amount of PC interaction is truly at a minimum now in Live with the Push 2 controller attached, the more of these key combos you know the better it is.

Hardware condition:

The longevity of the hardware in my experience better than expected, the buttons are holding up ok, they're developing a shiny texture now, I truly hope the rubber lasts for many years, when the time comes that they wear out I hope that ableton offers spare parts to replace to keep it going.

All LED lights are as bright as the day I bought it, the pads are still responsive and the knobs are noticeably looser to spin, the knobs are not wobbly, they're still firmly on axis and sturdy still.

I've been getting more use out of my push when using Reason and Cubase, I use Retouch Control with Reason which utilizes the Push2 display, for Cubase I'm using custom generic controller mappings for a variety of operations.

Room for improvements / Feature requests:

Ease of use and Bang for buck take a hit here, being that adding features to a device with a set amount of buttons requires those functions be hidden behind button combos that you need to remember which is the point against ease of use.

As for Bang for buck, once a user has become competent and grasps the full capabilities of a piece of hardware it's easier to see shortcomings in the implementation or areas where implementation could be better as I will now go on about for a few paragraphs-

Building drum racks from the Push2 is easy if you are only loading a bunch of samples and presets that already exist in your library, but if you want to sample into simplers then it becomes tedious. At present I am using Maschine as an FX plugin on a dedicated sampling track, trimming and truncating etc. in Maschine then saving the sample into my Live User Library then loading it into a drum rack.

The ability to add another device before simpler, to initially sample, trim, truncate, apply operations such as fade in/out, reverse, alter sample & bit rates etc needs to be simplified, maybe a dedicated sampling track or sampling browser option that immediately lets you select a hardware input/internal track/master etc, once sampled, trimmed and ready to save hit enter on push and then the push lets you save it where you want in your library, and invokes the below additional feature-

Another feature request would be to implement a keyboard mode on the Push2 controller so that we could then type in filenames for samples and presets when saving them. The ability to type alphanumeric keys with the push, say for example holding 'shift' + 'enter' then pressing 'layout' to make the 64 pads become a keyboard with lowercase and numbers, holding shift lets you access uppercase and symbols, then 'shift' + 'enter' then pressing 'layout' exits keyboard mode.

This would result in faster creation of user library materials, so on days where all your melodic ideas sound like trash at least you could make some sounds and save them for later, with minimal PC operation.

Other improvements I would request:

A more developed Arranger / Linear sequencer mode, perhaps a song section/marker track that shows up on the Push2 display making transport navigation better using the touch strip for scrubbing / shuttling

A chord scale change mode on the 64 pads, you can select a key with the top 2 rows + oct up & down, Select a mode with the next 2 rows, the bottom 4 rows to store 14 presets of key & modes selected from above, with one dedicated scale change pad to invoke the selected key & scale and the last one to return to the previous key/scale.


Ableton has done well with the Push2 and I truly hope they keep improving it, as it could one day be the perfect composition controller handling all navigation. As I see it, the Push 2 is the most integrated feeling controller for composition and navigation purposes.

Though the implementation of features and functions are not very obvious to the user initially, their key combos remind me of using Elektron Gear equipment, which is not a bad thing, Elektron are the masters of making as much use of minimal buttons to do the most things an any hardware I've ever used and they're interfaces are fast. Ableton taking the same approach only makes sense.

After purchasing the Push2, it will be immediately be usable for basic session control and clip creation but to dig into all the aspects you will need to spend the time to learn how to use it by watching the videos on ableton's youtube channel to learn all the functions, once you learn them and they become muscle memory you can move around really fast and not feel like your even using a computer to make music, it starts to feel like an instrument which I gather is the whole point of the Push hardware.

The Push2 is a very good buy now that it's slightly cheaper than when I initially purchased mine, it does more than it used to and enables a real alternative approach to composition if your coming from more linear DAWs like Cubase/Pro-Tools/Studio-One etc.

  • 1

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