Not A Push 2 Review

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I thought long and hard about doing a proper review of Push 2, either written or video. But given how many other reviews there are out there, and how busy I am with other things (more on that below), I decided it wasn’t worth the time to do something too detailed. I did want to take the time to give my general impression, and talk about how Push 2 has come at the right time for me however.

Like a lot of people, I was really happy to see Ableton release the first Push. It had character, it was different, and it was really well made. After only a few weeks of use, I knew that I’d probably use it anytime I fired up Live.

Unfortunately, I also found it a little cumbersome to use, it was hard to always find what I was looking for when I had an idea. As a result, Push didn’t really drive me to use Live more, in fact for a long time I probably used it less. It happens when you’ve used a tool for over a decade I guess. No matter how good it is, sometimes you just want to use something different for awhile. This is largely what I did, exploring other DAWs, hardware workflows, and other controller/software combos like the Maschine Studio. It’s good to check out the alternatives sometimes, learn some new workflow ideas and just expand your horizons a bit I guess.

Then came Push 2.

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The seas parted, angels blared their horns, and unicorns shot rainbows from their asses. Not really. But it did make using Live properly FUN again, in ways I never expected.

Part of my reason for not really bonding with Push 1, was that I mostly work with audio and not MIDI when I write. And really, audio support on Push 1 and earlier versions of Live just wasn’t there. A simple numeric display of your clip and loop length, but that’s about it. Now that we can not only see our audio files on Push 2’s display, but also drop them into a revised Simpler for further mangling…. well, now we’re talking! At last, I can finally mangle audio, and in ways more fluid than what I had settled on with Maschine Studio too.

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The other big change that I find most helpful, is how Ableton re-ordered all the device parameters, and used subtle graphics here and there too. It gives each device a bit more uniqueness when you control it from the hardware, and makes finding what you want to adjust MUCH easier I find. Where as the Push 1 workflow felt kind of clunky to me, on Push 2 I can get my ideas down very fast I find. Not only that, it’s fun to use too.

One of the big take-away I got from Ableton’s Loop event, was just how much they really do think of this as an instrument. Something you can spend the time learning to play, perform your ideas, and capture them easily to expand on later. It’s not a DAW controller. Once you stop expecting it to be one and get comfortable using the mouse for the things it excels at, you end up with a very powerful and fluid workflow. It helps that the instrument side of Push 2 also received attention, the pads are much more consistent in sensitivity, feel, and color. The new buttons and lighting just make it ten times easier to find your way around while playing your ideas.

The timing of this release couldn’t be better for me either. I’ve been struggling with writers block for a few months now, so I could feel my creative energy building. Then the Loop conference happened last week, and suddenly I had a ton of inspiration and ideas. Take all those things and put a little bit of “my wife is away on a business trip for two weeks” and suddenly I have a lot of time and a lot of ideas on my hands. 🙂

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So, rather than just noodle about, I decided to really push myself (no pun intended) to record an albums worth of material in two weeks. The goal is to release 74 minutes of new music before the end of the year, so I want to dive in and force myself to write as much as I can these first two weeks. Knowing Ableton Live and having a controller that finally resonates with me it helping to no end I’m finding. It’s day 3 and I already have 5 songs written, arranged, and mixed. Like I said, there’s a fast work flow with this set up. 🙂

So, as you can see, I’m a big fan of the new Push, I think Ableton really hit the mark with this one. The first one had a lot of great ideas and really paved the way, but this one has the refinements that were needed to make it not only easier to use, but more fun as well. If you use Live and Push a lot, I think it’s definitely worth the price to upgrade (and please donate your old one too). Even if you don’t upgrade, it’s nice to know that Ableton are supporting the Push 1 as much as possible, they clearly see this as a long term instrument, and not something to be obsoleted.

Good thing too, I think I’m going to be using mine for awhile to come.

More on the new album later!

(Ok, I lied and did a video review too)

Peace and beats,
Tarekith

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