MIDI might be a little long in the tooth as protocols go, but it's been the prevailing standard for getting music hardware and software to play nice pretty much since its inception. As such, the MIDI controller is a fairly established staple in professional and bedroom studios alike. The problem is they're generic by nature. They come in all shapes and sizes, but to be profitable, they need to appeal to a broad range of applications. Ableton clearly didn't think this arrangement was up to snuff, though, so it created Push -- a software controller built entirely for its popular Live production software. While there have been Live-specific controllers before -- some even officially endorsed by Ableton -- Push is a whole new beast. It's one that hopes to unite hardware and software in a way that an all-purpose controller never could.
Ableton also has lofty musical ambitions for Push: it claims it designed the hardware as an instrument in and of itself; something that lets you close the lid of the laptop and use to make music with, while not looking like you are checking your email. And, given that Ableton makes the software that it's building Push for, integration is understandably expected to be airtight. But how well does it work? Is it an instrument? Will it replace all your other controllers? Do you want one? Is it worth the $599 pre-order price? Will it blend? We've pushed ourselves to explore the device fully in an effort to find out (apart from that last question, of course).Gallery: Ableton Push review