Best Alternatives to Ableton Push For Producers

Last Updated on May 12, 2024 by IDS Team

Ableton Push is a spectacular and creative instrument, but it’s not for everyone. Due especially to the fact that it is only compatible with Ableton Live, many musicians seek alternative tabletop instruments or want to know what are the best midi pad controllers that can fill a similar role to Push in their studio. So whether you want an alternative so you can work across multiple DAWs, simply don’t like Push’s interface, or want something with a bit more versatility or different features, we’ve compiled the following list of great tabletop instruments that integrate with your DAW just like Push. Read on to take a look at these powerful ableton push alternatives. 

And, if you already have Ableton Live or are considering getting it as you evaluate whether or not you want to purchase Push, check out our take on Live here

Ableton Push VS Novation Launchpad: The Most Popular

The novation launchpad has less buttons than Push, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it has less potential. In a ableton push vs launchpad rundown, they could be seen as almost head to head. What’s more novation launchpad is a powerful tabletop instrument that will offer you more flexibility than push due to how it works with all DAWs. In fact, it’s one of the most popular ableton push alternatives, and for good reasons. 

One of the biggest limitations of push is that it only works with Ableton Live. However, launchpad will work with Logic, Reaper, Fruity Loops, and more. But what other features does novation launchpad have? 

What’s better? 

Integrates better with Live than most other ableton push alternatives, apart from maybe the Arturia Beatstep Pro. It’s also more versatile than most Akai controllers which have a focus on beatmaking, as well as the MK3, which works better with just Native Instruments technology. 

What’s worse? 

Unlike Push, which has a smooth and intuitive screen interface, novation launchpad has no screen and will require you to know your instrument inside and out. This is a big consideration if you really want to compare ableton push vs launchpad. Likewise, Push has much greater MPE capacity than Launchpad, especially when it comes to adjusting pad parameters. 

Check out the official Novation Launchpad page by clicking here. 

Best Software Specific Alternative: Ableton Push VS Maschine MK3 

Machine MK3 is another tabletop instrument with a built-in arpeggiator that offers one of the best and most powerful ableton push alternatives. But to compare ableton push vs maschine mk3, what actually are the differences? First and foremost, the MK3 comes from native instruments. It has a setup similar to the way Ableton Push is only able to work with Ableton Live – Maschine MK3 is likewise designed to primarily work with native instruments software. 

What’s better? 

Compatibility is a big one here, if you’re drawn to controllers that work smoothly with a specific set of software (either Ableton Live or Native Instruments Software) but don’t want the limitation of only being able to work with live, it’s great. It’s alo compatible with third party VSTs on top of this, too, which ableton push doesn’t offer. 

What’s worse? 

No USB option, and some may find it significantly less intuitive than other ableton push alternatives. Therefore to truly contrast ableton push vs maschine mk3, ask yourself how hands on and in depth you are willing to get. 

Check out the official NI Maschine page by clicking here

Best Complement To Ableton Push: Arturia Beatstep Pro

Arturia Beatstep pro is a tabletop sequencer, but it makes this list as it’s really complementary with ableton live. Therefore, if you’re looking for an instrument that works synergistically with Live like push does, but you want one of the best midi pad controllers for something a bit different, this could be for you. 

What’s better? 

One thing which makes the beatstep pro stand out head and shoulders over other push alternatives is how well it can integrate with not just your DAW but also with other hardware synths. It contains 2 melodic sequencers, 1 drum sequencer, 16 knobs, and 16 pads. You can hook these up to different channels in your Ableton Live DAW really easily and intuitively. 

Essentially, it has multiple means of connecting with a huge diversity of instruments, including anticipation for future releases. Basically a hybrid synth, it is as intuitive to synchronise with Live as Push is, but much more versatile beyond this and has some of the best extra features amongst tabletop ableton push alternatives. 

What’s worse? 

Like with other Push alternatives or complements, it doesn’t have as much control over sensitivity as push does. However, one other big plus of the beatstep pro is hypothetically you can also use it alongside, as opposed to instead of, Ableton Push. 

Check out the official Arturia Beatstep page by clicking here

Best Ableton Push Alternatives For The Studio: Akai MPD 218

The akai MPD 218 is a low price, affordable tabletop instrument with a focus on studio work. It’s not necessarily an instrument you want for performing live as it doesn’t have as much scope for this, but it’s a greta studio alternative to push. This is especially the case if you don’t want or need all the features push has. 

Like others in the range, the MPD 218 is ideal for ableton live but can integrate smoothly with other DAWs too, making it one of the best midi pad controllers if you want the versatility that Push does not offer. 

What’s better? 

It is USB powered and extremely portable, so you can take it to any studio. As a MIDI controller,the latest version also has enhanced compatibility, so it is simply plug and play wherever you may be.

It also contains unique feature slike a full level function which automatically adds maximum velocity to each note. 

What’s worse? 

The biggest drawback this has compared to both push and some of the other ableton push alternatives on this list is it’s not so great as a live instrument as it has a few less features. However, many musicians do make it work live and if you like working within limitations, it’s powerful, portable, and intuitive like all Akai instruments. 

Check out the official Akai MPD 218 page by clicking here

Another Choice From Akai: Akai MPD 226

The main difference between the mod 226 and the 218 is simply price. They have shy of the same features, and the functionality and quality levels are as professional as akai ever gets, too. What’s more, just like the 218, the 226 works primarily with ableton. Therefore, it replicates a lot of the features of Push but offers a different format. Like the 218, it’s also highly customisable. 

Like the 218, it also comes with ableton live lite, showing not all ableton push alternatives are strict competitors to the famous software sequencer and tabletop instrument combo. However, one of the benefits is that like the novation launchpad, you don’t have to use it just with Live. It’s not so intertwined that you can’t replicate what you normally do on a different DAW. For this flexibility, both the 226 and the 218 are well worth considering over Push, especially if you do a lot of collaborating with other producers who may not use live. 

Check out the official Akai MPD 226 page by clicking here. 

Most Creative Push Alternative: Akai Force 

Lastly, we finish with a bang by mentioning the Akai Force as one of the most exciting ableton push alternatives in terms of other features and best midi pad controllers overall, up there with the Beatstep Pro. The Force may be a bit more complex than some of the alternatives here. In fact, it’s a full standalone instrument that has features such as an amp simp. If we went by this criteria, we could rank almost any tabletop instrument as a push alternative. 

For the purposes of this article, we chose to stick just to those which are most often closely in comparison with push. However, with two similar Akai products on this list, we felt compelled to offer a third as the Force has modern and innovative features that bring the same kind of flair to your production as Ableton live and Push to by keeping up with the latest trends. 

What’s better? 

Aka Force stands out because, like no other tabletop instrument on this list, it has the Air Flavor effect. This powerful and creative effect allows you to manipulate the sound source so you can pay homage to a boom box, vinyl record player, or even a radio transistor. This is a fun, professional, and creative effect that shows limitless possibilities within some of the most populr current trends such as Lo Fi, or within the world of beatmaking. So we can’t necessarily say this feature is ‘better’ than anything else on this list, but it’s certainly the only instrument here that offers something so unique. And unlike when comparing ableton push vs launchpad, where Launchpad doesn’t have a screen, Force potentially has an even more intuitive interface than Push does. 

What’s worse? 

Like many of the other instruments on this list, it doesn’t necessarily score as highly as push in terms of sensitivity. Push still has the edge when it comes to features such as the ability to expand and compress note velocity, adjust the force needed to trigger a pad, and so on. 

Check out the official Akai Force page by clicking here

Final Thoughts 

The main things to consider with many ableton push alternatives is their features and flexibility. One of the biggest draws with any Push alternative, whether ableton push vs launchpad, or ableton push vs maschine mk3, is the fact you are not just limited to Ableton Live as they are not so closely integrated with it like push is. 

This means that – although it’s a very personal case – you may have more fluidity in working with other producers and across different daws. For this, we think some of the best midi pad controllers here are the Akai MPD 218 for its low price and versatility, as well as the launchpad – but all of these are worthy alternatives to push – and may help you discover ways of making music you didn’t realise. 
Love hardware reviews? We have a whole section here, including further MPE compatible hardware. And if you’re a fan of portable gear check out our article here.