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Ableton Push is another Ableton/Akai collaboration, but it isn't an update to their previous APC. This is a different animal altogether, with an LCD display, velocity and pressure-sensitive pads and a sleeker, minimal, and ahem, less plasticky, design. So can it compete with the Launchpads, APCs, and Lemurs of the world?
Push looks good - low profile and like it means business. It's got a solid feel to it, weighing in at 2990g/6lbs, but stowed away in a backpack it feels fine and just within the limits of being an acceptable carry-round device.
At the heart of the unit are 64 pads. There are banks of buttons on three sides, a large LCD display at the top and nine knobs rounding things off. The text on the buttons is mostly unreadable in daylight, which is peculiar.
Press the Session button on Push and the pads light to show the colours and positions of clips in the set. Press the pads to launch clips and use the buttons at the right to launch Scenes - it's what you'd expect if you've come from using other controllers.
All very nice so far. Open a new Live set, however, and things get really interesting. It's possible to add tracks, as well as browse and load devices of all types, from Push. You can add Audio, MIDI, and return tracks although, as far as Push is concerned, audio tracks aren't that important; this is a programming machine.
Push bridges the gap between MIDI hardware sequencing of the past and modern music software while staying mobile and flexible.
This controller offers an intuitive workflow within sleek, minimal looks - plus an impressive depth of control over Live.