Ableton Push 2 or NI Maschine mk3- which should I buy?

There’s a plethora of fantastic MIDI controllers available on the market today, at all sorts of levels and prices – but when it comes to performance and popularity, two stand out among the rest: The Native Instruments Machine mk3, and the Ableton Push 2.

Maschine mk3 vs Push 2

Neither can be seen as ‘just’ MIDI controllers: both are designed to be compositional and performance tools. They speed up your workflow and keep you from looking at your computer, whilst being tough and road-ready too.

Maschine vs Push 2 – what sets them apart?

The Ableton Push 2 is a beautiful and well thought out controller, designed  to completely control Ableton Live from the Push, from selecting instruments and editing parameters to playing in entire parts.

It’s designed for Ableton Live, so you won’t get the most benefit from it if you use it with another DAW, but if you’re already an Ableton user or if you want to become one with the included Intro version, it’s a brilliant tool to add to your workflow.

Native Instruments Maschine mk3 on the other hand, is a controller designed to work with it’s own software, also called Maschine. The Maschine software can run in stand alone mode, but it can also be used as a plugin in any major DAW.

The software began life as primarily a tool for beatmaking, but has evolved to let you take control of your track’s melodic elements, build up loops, sequence entire tracks and mix.

Maschine mk3 vs Push 2 – in depth

The Ableton Push 2 features 64 touch sensitive pads, 10 assignable knobs, and 16 assignable buttons. There are also a ton of buttons with set commands for controlling Ableton Live, which can do anything from quantise to solo to creating a new item.

The screen at the top can display waveforms in detail, or can show all of the changeable parameters. Push 2 can play single notes, or it can play all sorts of full chords, depending on how you set it. There’s also an option to set it to a key, so you can’t play any non-diatonic notes – ideal for producers who don’t play keys.

It comes bundled with Ableton Live Intro – a slimmed-down version of Ableton Live, but there’s an option to purchase it with a Ableton Live or Suite discounted.

The Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 is a little smaller than the Push, and features 16 much larger pads, rather than 64, perfect for finger drumming. There are also 8 assignable knobs, and 8 buttons. Like the push, there are a number of buttons which control the Maschine software.

The Maschine mk3 comes with a full high resolution colour display, which can show you your instrument selection window, as well as details about what you’re doing, such as operating plugins or FX.

It also has a built in audio interface, which is capable of taking a mic directly into it via TRS jack, and also outputting to two speakers, making it an ideal centrepiece for the small studio setup.

The Maschine mk3 comes bundled with NI’s Maschine 2.0 software, as well as Komplete Select, which is a small selection of the Komplete software instruments package, but which can easily be upgraded to the full Komplete or Komplete Ultimate.

Native Instruments Maschine mk3 and Ableton Push 2 – Summing up

You can’t really make a bad decision when it comes to choosing between these two, but it’s important to remember that if you’re not a fan of Ableton – the Push probably isn’t for you. The Push and the Maschine are fantastic controllers – so maybe you should get both!

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Chris Milnes

Christopher Milnes is a Leeds-based musician and music producer. He’s received various awards and scholarships for his music production work, notably The David Thompson Scholarship, and the O2 Think Bigger award, as well as the conservatoire prize at Leeds College of Music. His work has been broadcast on BBC radio 1, BBC Radio 3, and many other radio and TV stations.

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