Ableton has unveiled two versions of its latest Push instrument, with one of the third-generation devices being a truly standalone instrument which can be used to record and perform with Live 11 instruments and effects. The other needs connecting to a Live-enabled computer at all times to function.
Both Push 3 versions have been built with expandability and future proofing in mind, with the ability to install and/or upgrade processor, battery and hard drive as technology improves and evolves in the future.
Pads Where the Action Is
The instrument being standalone is great, but surely the best part is the massive jump in expression and creativity afforded by the new 8×8 grid of performance pads, offering so many possibilities.
The MPE-enabled pads have XY-sensitive detection for subtle shifts in finger placement and pressure, allowing for sounds to be shaped and crafted in real time without having to reach for other controllers.
Ideas for use include per note bends and slides, chord shifting, string bowing, effects on individual notes, filter parameter changes, sound morphing, finger drumming with variations based on velocity and position, and multi-articulated acoustic instruments, ensembles, synths and more.
Comparison to Push 2
Just perusing the specifications shows that the Push 3 is leaps and bounds ahead of the Push 2 (which is no longer being produced but would still be available second hand).
At the heart of the device is the 8×8 grid of pads used for the majority of performance and sound manipulation. The Push 2 features 64 soft silicone pads with polyphonic aftertouch and RGB backlighting, whereas the Push 3 features 64 RGB-backlit MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) pads which have an XY sensor that can detect movement across the surface of the pad. This means a massive increase in flexibility of expression and dynamic control, as the demos suggest.
Additionally, the standalone Push 3 features an Intel 11th generation Core i3-1115G4 processor with 8GB of onboard RAM, plus 256GB built-in SSD storage, Wi-Fi, and a rechargeable battery for up to 2½ hours of usage when not connected to a power source.
The regular Push 3, as per the Push 2, needs to be connected via USB to a computer running Live 11, and has no wireless capability.
Both Push 3 versions include a built-in audio interface, while the Push 2 required an external audio interface for recording other instruments and hardware.
The Push 3 interface features two inputs switchable between line (balanced) or instrument (unbalanced), two balanced outputs and a headphone jack. The standalone Push 3 lets you record directly to the device, while both Push 3 versions can record into Ableton Live on a connected computer.
Push 3 now allows USB MIDI connections which the Push 2 didn’t allow by default.
Ableton Live Integration
Push 3 devices require Live 11.3.2 or later to operate. The standalone Push 3 can access all the instruments, devices and effects included in the Live edition the user owns, or alternatively new Live users can purchase a licence along with Push 3.
In Standalone Mode, use instruments and effects from Live 11 (minimum Live 11 Intro). In Control Mode, Push gives you detailed control over Live running on your computer.
The Push 3 is slightly bigger and heavier than the Push 2, as you’d expect.
Push 2: (WxDxH) 378mm x 304mm x 26mm (14.88in x 11.96in x 1.02in) 2.71kg/6lbs
Push 3 (standalone): (WxDxH) 380mm x 318mm x 29mm (14.96in x 12.52in x 1.14in) 3.95kg/8.7lbs
Push 3: (WxDxH) 380mm x 318mm x 29mm (14.96in x 12.52in x 1.14in) 3.1kg/6.8lbs
The Push 3 standalone is available for $1999 while the standard Push 3 is $999. Upgrade kits are available to turn the Push 3 into a standalone version at a later date if the user so wishes.