Ableton Live + Ableton Push, Maschine, or something else?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014

    Default Ableton Live + Ableton Push, Maschine, or something else?


    Forgive me for asking this question, as I know it is a question that has been asked repeatedly on many forums, this one not excluded. However, there are a few additional details I’d like to add to this frequently asked question. I've done extensive research on the matter, but I haven't been able to make a decision. If there is a thread that already exists with this particular question, then by all means, link it.

    As the title states, I'm looking to buy a pad controller for use with Ableton Live. I've settled upon either Ableton's Push, Native Instruments's Maschine, or a generic pad controller (e.g. Korg's padKONTROL). Whenever this question is asked, people usually ask about the controller’s functionality with its respective software (Ableton Push with Ableton Live, Maschine with Maschine 2.0). However, I’d like to know if buying Maschine and using it with Ableton Live would be a better choice than buying Ableton Push and using it with Ableton Live.

    I know that Ableton Push has really tight integration with Ableton Live. However, I’d like to learn how to finger drum, and I’m not so sure if Push will be especially suited for that, since the pads seem a bit small. Maschine comes with an Ableton Live script for use with Ableton Live. However, I’m not sure how seamless Maschine’s integration with Ableton Live is. NativeKONTROL has something called MXT-Live, which claims to turn Maschine into an “extremely powerful control surface for Ableton Live 9.” This added fact makes it even more difficult to make a decision. MXT-Live may turn Maschine into a controller that rivals Ableton Push’s functionality. Still, there's really no way for me to know for sure.

    Another thing I’d like to add is that I plan on buying Native Instruments’ Komplete. I’ve heard that Maschine is a great controller for use with Komplete’s instruments and effects. I’d also like to know if the Maschine can be “hacked”, as it were, to display waveforms when being used with Ableton Live. (Perhaps this functionality already exists – I’m not sure.)

    With all this in mind, should I pick Ableton Push or Maschine? Should I get both? Or would my needs be best served simply with a generic pad controller like Korg’s padKONTROL or Keith McMillen’s QuNeo?

    Again, I’m sorry for this overstated question. This question is probably asked daily on this and many other forums. There were just a few details I wanted to add to this question that I wasn’t able to find the answers to.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Tech Mentor
    Join Date
    Dec 2013


    I'm gonna try to anwser as many questions as possible below, but when reading your post it comes to my mind that you are stuck too much with comparing two different things only by the price/value rating. You should let us know and ask yourself, what you want to achieve with your new purchase. Trigger clips in Live? Create beats for Hip-Hop battles? Replace your MIDI-Keyboard in Ableton Live? Etc...?!?

    I have never tried the MXT thing and have only used a friends Maschine here and there, but I own a Push with the full Ableron 9 version. I have read in the MXT manual a bit and from what I saw I would say it is pretty much making the Maschine emulating Push. Anyways there is a reason, why Ablton chose a different layout for its controller. The integration is as tight as it can be - at least for session view. Push is pretty much useless for arrangement, but thats the same for Maschine. Next: there are some things that - without MXT - only Push can do. This is the note-mode for example. This is one of my favorite modes for push since it provides a great way for jamming and composing melodies. Also the melody-sequenzer is fun when playing minimal genres live.
    So for controlling Live Push is definitly the better unit. Even with MXT it would surprise me A LOT if Maschine would do a better job. For finger drumming you might want to have bigger pads, but that is definitly only a matter of personal preference. Both units hve great pads, push having smaller, but four times as many.

    The big question is not about the hardware, but the software. Maschine is not a DAW, Ableton Live is. Maschine offers a lot of cheap, but high quality sounds, which Live Intro doesnt.

    Maybe let us know what you do, will want to do etc first and than i can help more.

  3. #3
    Tech Wizard Pippo91's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010


    if you want start learning finger drum..... you need a Daw and a controller. I've both... Ableton Live and Maschine. Maschine is not a Daw... you cannot do a track from zero to the end with maschine. Maschine could help you to build the groove... stop... what i want explain is :
    firstly you should decide what software you are going to use and after choose the controller based on software choice... For me you should start with Ableton Live that is a great Daw.
    For the controller I'll take under consideration Akai MPD series, Midi-Fighter or if you have more budget Maschine/ M. Mikro that gives you a second Great software

    Sorry for my english I hope I haven't made ​​too many mistakes...

  4. #4
    Tech Mentor
    Join Date
    Jan 2012


    About the finger drumming: it definitely can be done with push, as proven here by Jeremy Ellis:

    When it comes to controlling Ableton, Maschine with MXT may be a good emulation of Push for some thing, but then again - why use an emulation when you can get the real thing? And I agree with tilldrop, the notes/scale mode is one of the key features of Push, and you should be absolutely sure you don't need it before you decide against Push.

    Regarding Komplete: Maschine is great to control Komplete Instruments/EFX as long as you are using them as plug-ins inside Maschine. In that case the most important controls get automapped to Maschines controls.
    However, if you are using Ableton this would mean you'd have to run an instance of Maschine as plug-in in Ableton to run an instance of a Komplete instrument as a plug-in in Maschine, which would basically turn your set-up into the music production version of "Inception" and probably draw a lot more of CPU power and RAM than necessary.

    It's much easier to just run the Komplete instruments in Ableton and map their controls to the macros in Ableton, which then in turn get automapped to Push's controls.

    The biggest advantages of Maschine over Push are the huge amount of content that's bundled with Maschine, and (imho) the more intuitive approach to working with samples (slicing, chopping, rearranging).

    You mentioned the possiblitly to get both, which is something you could consider of money isn't the issue, since there definitely are ways to combine both into a set-up that makes sense.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    NYC, New York


    Personally I own both Maschine and Ableton Push.
    I would say even though Ableton Push's functionality and integration are really good with Live, the pads are not really "drum machine" like.

    Maschine pads are much softer and better for drumming. If you get Maschine, you will get extra sounds as well! But playing melodies and sequencing with Ableton Live, Push is definitely better.

    However, alternatively you could go with ableton push with AKAI LPD8 (two of them if you want 16 pads, there are not that expensive either). That will solve your problem with you practicing with the drum machine pads.
    Or perhaps go with Maschine Mikro?

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