Mike Slinn
Mike Slinn

Ableton Push 3 Standalone

Published 2023-12-03. Last modified 2024-01-12.
Time to read: 24 minutes.

This page is part of the av_studio collection.
Ableton Push 3 Standalone, tilted back on a folding guitar stand
Ableton Push 3 Standalone, tilted back on a folding guitar stand

Yesterday, my new Ableton Push 3 Standalone was delivered.

The Ableton Push 3 Standalone box is heavy (13.1 pounds / 6kg)
The Ableton Push 3 Standalone box is heavy (13.1 pounds / 6kg)

I purchased this device because it is the first of its kind–a standalone DAW realized in hardware. Just like the Arp 2600 I purchased in 1979, I think this device introduces a new form of musical expression.

Like the early versions of the Arp 2600, today’s Ableton Push 3 Standalone is quite heavy (3.95 kg / 8.7 lbs) – although it is only about a quarter as heavy as the early Arp 2600s, which were 43 pounds / 19 kg. Perhaps future versions will be lighter.

Top view of an Ableton Push 3 Standalone
Top view of an Ableton Push 3 Standalone

Ableton Push 3 Standlone supports ADAT I/O, which means it should plug right into my RME audio interfaces.

P3 and P3S

People often use the nickname P3 to refer to the Ableton Push 3, but the nickname does not specify whether the reference is to a standalone device or a standard device, which requires a computer. In this article, I use ‘P3S’ to mean the standalone variant.

P3S is a Live Subset

Since the P3S is essentially a subset of Ableton Live, packaged as a hardware product, it is essential to know how to use Ableton Live before attempting to learn how to use the P3S. One of the features of Ableton Live that P3S does not provide is Arrangement View, so you just need to know how Session View works in order to operate P3S.

A good hands-on resource for self-study or teacher-led classrooms is First Steps with Ableton Live – A classroom project by Matt Ridgway. The free learning resources are here.

Push 2 Successor

Currently there is not much documentation available for the P3S. However, it is an evolution of the Ableton Push 2 (P2), so if you cannot find information about how to do something, look for Push 2 instructions, and try take into account the physical differences.

This can be awkward, because if you have never used a P2, learning about an older device that you do not have can be frustrating.

The attempt to find information might be fruitless, because there are aspects of the P3S that have no analog in the P2 or P3.

Tough Love

The quality of this product is good. As is often the case when I write about a product, I made many statements in this article that sound critical, but every product has room for improvement. P3S is a terrific product, but new users are likely to experience a needlessly frustrating and confusing experience.

There are two types of products in this world:

  1. Products that people do not use
  2. Products that people complain about
 – From David Cooper (paraphrased)

This article will evolve as the product evolves, and I learn more. Hopefully, new users who read this article will have an ever-smoother experience with the product.

Tiny Printed Manual

A printed manual, 4.5" x 6" in size, was provided. I cannot read it without a magnifying glass because it is set in 4-point type. The quarter placed on the manual helps show the scale. Only seven pages of the manual are printed in English. Not much of a manual.

When I purchased Abletone Live 8.14 in June, 2010, it came with a 2" thick printed manual. I had no problem reading it, and it was well written. Times have changed! Now we pay more, but get less.

The manual can be viewed online here (it redirects to https://www.ableton.com/en/push/manual/ if your web browser's default language is English), and can be downloaded in PDF format here and here.

I purchased two 25-foot Toslink / SPDIF / ADAT cables. Although the specifications say 5 meters (16.4 feet) is the maximum length of this type of fiber-optic cable, much longer cables can be used. These cables do not carry electricity, they carry light generated by LEDs, so they do not need gold-plated connectors.

Toslink / SPDIF / ADAT cable<br>One end has a cap on; the other cap is shown in the foreground
Toslink / SPDIF / ADAT cable
One end has a cap on; the other cap is shown in the foreground

Toslink fiber-optic cables are used for SPDIF and ADAT. These cables are provided with protective covers over the ends. Often, you can kinda-sorta plug in these cables without removing the protective covers, and they kinda-sorta work. However, they will not click into place and will fall out easily with the protective covers on. Be sure to remove the covers before use!

When you have two 1/4" audio cables, one for output and one for input, you cannot tell them apart unless they are labeled. Because of the potential for confusion, you might plug the cables into the wrong jacks. This is not the case with fiber-optic cables; when plugged in, the end of the output cable glows red because of the LED in the sending device that provides the signal. This is the cable that should be plugged into the P3S ADAT In jack.

The red LEDs used in Toslink cables emit normal light; they are not lasers. If you accidently point the light into your eye there should be no damage.

Licensing

Ableton Live is available in three editions: Intro, Standard and Suite. This table shows the capabilities of each edition. As you can see, one of the differences is that Ableton Live Intro is limited to 16 Audio & MIDI tracks.

P3S requires an Ableton Live license, and a license for Ableton Live 11 Intro is included. MusicRadar published How many tracks can Ableton Push 3 Standalone actually run?, and they reported that P3S supported 40 tracks before encountering problems. I interpret this to mean that the limitations of Ableton Live Intro can be removed by purchasing a license for a more capable edition.

One Ableton Live license can be used to authorize two computers. I found that the authorization process for the P3S does not diminish the number of authorized computers for your Ableton Live license.

Getting Started

This morning, I received the following email:

Welcome to your new Push

Here’s some help getting started

Learn Push

Push’s built-in lessons will show on the screen the first time you turn Push on; they’ll take you through the essentials step by step. You can return to the lessons any time by pressing the lightbulb button on the top left of your Push.

You’ll also find lots of helpful video tutorials in our Learn Push series. These cover everything from setup and Session View to sound design tips. Check out the Learn Push videos >

More help when you need it

Our Help area is the place to go to answer your questions about Push. There you’ll find articles covering almost every aspect of Push and Ableton Live, plus further video tutorials, a dedicated Push section of Live’s user manual, and much more.

Happy music-making!

That email was properly thought out. Kudos, Ableton!

Power supply and Heat

The 65-watt custom power supply produces 3.5 amps at 20 volts, which is common for laptop power supplies. This means the power supply is readily replaceable.

The Push has no fan and no vents. It is essentially one large heat sink. Letting it rest on a blanket for 20 minutes while running did not cause overheating.

The small orange power button is located on the back of the unit, at the upper left when viewed from the normal orientation for usage.

After using the Push for a while on my lap, I noticed that the Push was warming my lap, much like a laptop would. Most of the heat comes from the right side of the Push. That area has a rubberized mat covering the underside, presumably for the comfort of a user who puts it on their lap.

Learning

Some articles about the P3 are available, including a few about P3S. None of the articles have datestamps, unfortunately. All of my articles have datestamps for when originally published, and when last updated. It would be helpful if Ableton did the same.

Unfortunately, most of what you need to learn about the P3S has not been published yet. Frequently you must learn find documentation for the P2, and try to adapt it to the P3S. For example, I could not figure out how to delete a clip that I had recorded. An internet search retreived dolltr!ck’s video entitled “Ableton Push: How to Delete Clips”. Her videos teach viewers about the P2. The location of the Delete button is in a different location for the P3S, however the information worked. All that is necessary to delete a clip is to hold down the Delete button and press the clip button.

The video My Ableton Push 3 Workflow. Interface, features and tips is the best way to learn about the P3S. It is made by Anna Fruit, not by Ableton. Once your P3S is authorized, learn by following along on your P3S as Anna goes through each step.

I discuss other learning resources in the rest of this article, but I recommend you start with this one.

The next video is a performance that Anna recorded using a P3S.

More videos are provided at the bottom of this article.

Tutorial

I plugged in my P3S, turned it on, and several minutes later, “Welcome to Push” appeared on the display. The tutorial then started.

The tutorial could be slightly improved. “To adjust the volume of an output, first press the volume encoder to select the correct one.” I found that the rotating knob must be pressed down before turning it. A better message would have been: “To adjust the volume of an output, first press the volume encoder down several times to select the correct one.”

The P3S was connected to a stereo system via two 1/4" TS monophonic plugs. I had no idea if I was supposed to hear sound at this point or not. After I fixed a cabling issue, sound could be heard when I pressed on a pad.

I found myself wishing I could touch a button or combination of buttons that would play a demo, so I could adjust sound levels. I eventually figured out how to do this.

One of the instructions was: “Turn the jog wheel to highlight an item, and press it to take action on an item.” Turning and pressing did nothing.

The next instruction was, “You can also nudge the jog wheel left or right”. Again, trying that did nothing. I suppose if the Push was in a certain state, those controls might do something. However, the tutorial failed to indicate how to achieve that.

Later, I learned that when you want to back up from a submenu to the previous menu, just nudge the jog wheel left. It would have been really helpful if the tutorial had mentioned that.

This tutorial was minimalist in the extreme. I had expected more. In particular, this ‘tutorial’ did not generate any sound. Considering that the purpose of this device is to make sound, a tutorial should have as one of its primary goals to show how to generate sound.

The following diagram, provided on the first page of the manual, would have been really helpful right from the time I took it out of the box.

Demo Set

P3S has a demonstration Ableton set, accessible at the end of the disastrous tutorial just mentioned by pressing the Demo Set option. You can restart the horrible tutorial at any time by pressing the Learn button, which has a lightbulb icon. Rapidly click through the tutorial until you see the Demo Set option, then push the lower display button under that menu item to load it.

Ableton Push 3 Standalone Demo Set
Ableton Push 3 Standalone Demo Set

Save The Demo Set

Press Save as soon as it loads so you can recall the original Demo Set at any time.

If you have Ableton Live connected, the demo set will load into it, and you can save the set on your computer. The track lanes are rather narrow; to make them wider, hold Alt when resizing a track lane, and all of the others will also resize. This is what you should see after resizing the track lanes:

The next few sections are a few things you might want to try using the demo set.

Play Scenes

The demo set has 8 scenes, laid out as horizontal rows. Each scene is shown twice: as a horizontal row in the display, and as a horizontal row in the 8x8 button matrix.

When the demo set loads, the topmost scene, labeled 1, is selected in the display; this scene is named Intro.

Scenes are comprised of clips, which might be audio samples or MIDI notes. Clips are arranged in vertical columns, called tracks. By default, all the clips in a track share the same audio settings.

Press the jog wheel down to play the all the clips in the selected scene (horizontal row). The scene will start to play at the beginning of the next bar.

Turn the jog wheel slightly to select another scene; scene 2 is named Verse A. Notice that the name of the selected scene is briefly displayed after you turn the jog wheel. Play it by pressing down on the jog wheel again.

Another way to play all the tracks in a scene is to press one of the scene buttons immediately to the right of the 8x8 button matrix. You can recognize a scene button because it has a green arrowhead on it that points to the right. Scene names and numbers are not shown on the scene buttons.

Scene buttons also double as repeat interval buttons, which is why you also see green fractions on the scene buttons. Don’t worry about repeat intervals just yet.

While a scene is playing, try pressing a lit button from another scene. That clip will start playing at the beginning of the next bar, and the clip on that track which was previously playing stops. This is because each track (vertical column) only plays one clip at a time.

To stop the set, press the Play button, which is the bottom-left button containing the green triangle. The triangle will change color to white when not playing a scene.

This UI Needs Work

Complex tasks are best performed when working with a user interface that presents context. Providing context, such as menu breadcrumbs, can be a big help for users.

The menuing system should always display breadcrumbs.

Updating

After the tutorial, the Push displayed “Update Push to use the latest features. To update, go to the Setup menu, connect to Wi-Fi and then navigate to the Software tab.”

Before I could follow those instructions, I had to find out how to reach the Setup menu. After looking around for a bit, I saw a gear icon on a button on the upper left of the Push.

When I pushed it, the display showed many things, but did not self-identify with the word ‘Setup’ anywhere on screen. I found myself wondering, once again, ‘What am I looking at?’ UI breadcrumbs would have helped in this regard.

Connecting to Wi-Fi

I found this procedure to be non-intuitive. The photo above is labeled with the step numbers to follow to connect to Wi-Fi.

The Wi-Fi menu item is only displayed when P3S is in standalone mode, which means if Ableton Live is controlling the P3S, this menu item will not be seen.

  1. Press the button under the label Wi-Fi.
  2. Press the button above Wi-Fi off to turn on Wi-Fi.
  3. Wait while the list of Wi-Fi networks populates, then turn the knob above the list of Wi-Fi networks to select the desired Wi-Fi SSID.
  4. Press the button over the Connect menu item.

Now an unlabeled list of the alphanumeric characters appears. You are expected to realize that this is where you enter the Wi-Fi password.

I connected an external USB keyboard, but the P3S did not recognize it. Keyboard support could easily be provided, and it should be.

The big round knob to the right of the display is used for that purpose. Turn it to select a character you want to enter, then press the round knob to enter it. There are buttons labeled Space and < Delete if you need them.

Press the button glowing green over the Done menu item when you have finished typing in the password.

If you typed in the password correctly, the SSID you attempted to connect to is shown at the top of the list of SSIDs in green.

Warning: Large DC Pulses

Now that my Push was connected to Wi-Fi, I pressed the button underneath the Software* menu item. The display looked like this:

I thought I should update the unit before authorizing it, in case the updated device might authorize more reliably. I pressed the Update button, and in a few minutes, the device updated.

The Push went completely dark for about 15 seconds after updating, then the message “Updating firmware, please wait” appeared. After about 3 seconds, the message “Update finished. Please turn Push off and on again.” appeared.

P3S emits large DC pulses through its two 1/4" TRS outputs whenever it is turned on and off. If you connect P3S audio via these outputs, be sure to turn down the audio system, before updating P3S, and before turning it on or off.

I had to hold the power button down for a few seconds before it asked me if I wanted to turn it off. When it turned off, the stereo speakers went “boom”, twice. The P3S emits large DC pulses through the 1/4" outputs each time it turns off.

When I turned it on, the speakers were silent. The message “Updating the firmware” appeared for about 10 seconds, and the speakers again went “boom”. The message “Updating the firmware” appeared again for several minutes, and the speakers went “boom” twice more. The message “The firmware update was successful” appeared, and the speakers went “boom” three more times.

The P3S emitted a total of eight large DC pulses during the update process.
Audio devices should not behave this way!
I expected better from Ableton.

I went back to the setup menu and saw the following versions:

  • Push was now v1.1.13
  • Firmware was now v1.0.71
  • Ableton Live Intro was v11.3.13

Serial was blank, and User was blank.

No DC pulses are emitted through ADAT, because that is a fiber optic medium.

Authorizing

I already had an Ableton Live Studio license installed on two computers.

I pressed the Authorize button on Push and saw this message:

Make sure Push is connected to the same Wi-Fi as your phone or computer, and visit this URL in your web browser: http://push.local/authorize

The P3S did not respond to the web browser.

Problem connecting to Push with a web browser
Problem connecting to Push with a web browser

I used Fing to learn more. Fing seems to believe that the P3S runs Microsoft Windows, but others report Linux. Fing showed me that my P3S was at the IP address 192.168.1.175 and had these open ports:

  • 22 - ssh
  • 80 - http

Pointing my web browser to 192.168.1.175 brought up a blank web page. When I looked at the source, I saw:

192.168.1.175
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
<head> <meta charset="utf-8"> <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=edge"> <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width,initial-scale=1.0"> <link rel="icon" href="<%= BASE_URL %>favicon.ico"> <script defer src="https://use.fontawesome.com/releases/v5.11.0/js/all.js"></script> <title>Ableton Push</title> </head>
<body> <noscript> <strong>We're sorry but the Ableton Push Manager doesn't work properly without JavaScript enabled. Please enable it to continue.</strong> </noscript> <div id="app"></div> <!-- built files will be auto injected --> </body>
</html>

I see from looking at the source code that the favicon had a templating expression, as if the HTML had not been properly processed: <%= BASE_URL %>favicon.ico">.

The developer windows for the Chrome and Firefox browsers showed that the only injected content came from browser plugins. Relying on injection is problematic; browsers often change their rules about injected content. Chrome is going through a rather traumatic time in that regard these days. This is proving to be a troublesome engineering decision by Ableton, and I expect that this will be found to be related to the problem I am experiencing.

Awaiting Support

P3S provided me with a bad first-time user experience. I see others have the same problem, while others have been able to get this working. Is it me or the unit?

I submitted a support request. The response was disheartening:

##- Please type your reply above this line -##

Hi there,

Your request (2844282) has been received by our Support team.

Please note, we are experiencing a very high number of support requests at the moment so likely won't be able to get back to you immediately.

Feel free to browse our Knowledge Base or explore our Learning content: https://www.ableton.com/en/help/

We'll do our best to get back to you soon. To add additional comments, just reply to this email.

All the best,
Ableton Support

The next day, I got the following response. I had sent a link to this article in my request. Clearly, it had not been read.

Thanks for contacting Ableton Tech Support.

We're sorry to hear you have encountered this Push 3 (standalone) issue and would like to help you resolve it!

  1. Please first make sure that the unit is set up properly:
  2. Then, please try the troubleshooting steps outlined in this article:
  3. If the problem is ongoing, please test using a Hotspot (if you have access to one using your phone) or set up an Ethernet connection with your Push 3, as explained here:

We hope this helps!

If the issue prevails despite the troubleshooting, please send us a short video that clearly demonstrates the behavior and a Push log or a Status Report.
  • To send files over 50 MB, use online storage (Google Drive, Dropbox) to generate a link, and paste the link into your reply.
As soon as we receive the items listed above, we will be happy to begin our investigation.

I noticed that the second, third, fourth and fifth links in the above message had tracking information appended to the URLs, which I removed when inserting them into this web page. This allows Ableton to detect if the user clicks on the link. The tracking is not disclosed.

I believe this is a violation of GDPR.

Better Support Needed

I expect better support than this from a hardware manufacturer at this price point.

To be specific, I expect that:

  • There should be a support phone number to call
  • The phone calls would be answered by a sufficient number of trained support personnel
  • Each support person would have their own P3S, and either a Mac or a Windows machine

This is what Japanese camera vendors at this price point provide, as well as computer manufacturers, computer equipment manufacturers at much lower price points, and mobile device manufacturers, etc.

2024-01-12 Ableton Reached Out to Me

I was contacted by Jesse Terry, Head of Hardware at Ableton.
Wow, I couldn’t agree more with many of your comments about usability. Your site is being digested by designers, developers and user researchers on the hardware team.

Microsoft Clarity showed me that this website received a lot of atttention from Berlin for a few days. An NDA has been signed. I look forward to whatever might happen next.

Trying Another Computer

I decided to try with another computer that had Ableton Live installed. This computer had a wired Ethernet connection. Using this computer, I was able to connect to http://push.local/authorize, whereupon I saw:

After entering the authorization code, the web browser displayed:

... and Push said, “You have succesfully authorized Live. Thank you, and have fun!’ I also received the following email from no-reply@ableton.com:

Demo

I needed a way to make the P3S continuously emit sound, so I could troubleshoot audio problems. I eventually figured out two ways of doing this, which I will share with you now.

  1. Play one of the two provided Ableton Live sets
  2. Continuously preview one of the many provided samples

There are probably easier ways of accomplishing this. If anyone would care to share with me quicker and easier ways of generating music from a P3S for debugging purposes, please tell me and I will update this page.

Play An Ableton Live Set

The P3S tutorial provides an Ableton Live demonstration set whose name is automatically generated once you use them. The lack of a standardized name makes it difficult to refer to when discussing with others, or finding a saved copy. The first time I saved the demonstration set its name was Secret Eclipse, and the second time it was called The Possessed Opulence.

Here are the P3S controls shown previously with red sequence numbers added.

Ableton Push 3 Controls For Playing An Ableton Live Set
Ableton Push 3 Controls For Playing An Ableton Live Set

The red sequence numbers in the above diagram correspond to the numbered steps below, so you can follow along.

  1. Press Sets. The Set Library is displayed, and the most recently used set is highlighted.
  2. You can either use the Jog Wheel or the Session D-Pad arrows to highlight the song you are interested in.
  3. Push down on the Jog Wheel to load the selected Ableton Live set.
  4. Press on one or more of the Upper display buttons to play a clip in the track underneath.
  5. The clip will continue playing until the Play button is pushed. The Play button is a toggle; it glows green while playing, and white when silent.

Continuous Preview

Here is a magnified portion of the P3S controls shown previously.

Portion of an Ableton Push 3, Showing Controls For Continuous Sound
Portion of an Ableton Push 3, Showing Controls For Continuous Sound

The following numbered instructions correspond to the red numbers in the above diagram.

  1. Press Sets. The Set Library is displayed, and the most recently used set is highlighted.
  2. Press the User display button over the + New Set menu item. A message saying "New set created" will briefly appear.
  3. Press Swap.
    • The menu item Preview should be brightly lit. Pressing the menu key over it toggles it on and off. You want Preview to remain brightly lit.
    • The Collections > menu item should be highlighted, which means it is selected.
  4. Press the upper display button at the far right, over the Load menu item. This should display a matrix of sound categories, including Ambient & Evolving, Mallets, Strings, etc.
  5. If you wish, use the arrow keys of the Session D-Pad to select a sound category. If you do not use the arrow keys, the selected category will be Ambient & Evolving.
  6. Once again, press the upper display button at the far right, over the Load menu item. You will now see a matrix of available sounds. Use the arrow keys of the Session D-Pad as before to make a selection if you desire. The selected sound will now be continuously generated.
  7. If you use the arrow keys of the Session D-Pad to make another selection, that sound will continuously be emitted.

Stand

I find working on devices with this form factor awkward unless they are tilted up. It seems I end up hunched over for hours, resulting in neck and shoulder pain.

The display would be easier to read if the unit could be slightly tilted up.

This device is quite heavy, and you might press its pads urgently, so it would need a sturdy stand. I found an inexpensive solution: an adjustable folding guitar stand.

The stand does not weigh much, even though it is quite sturdy, and it folds up nicely.

ADAT

I attended Ableton Sessions in Montreal on December 12, 2023. At the event Ben Casey, Local Brand Manager, Ableton, who is based in Brooklyn, New York, demonstrated the following facts about the P3S ADAT implementation to me:

  1. Out of the box, P3S has ADAT disabled.
  2. The UI does not make any mention of ADAT; however, inputs 9-16 and outputs 9-16 are ADAT.
  3. Enabling ADAT output disables the two 1/4" audio output jacks. That is unfortunate and unhelpful.
  4. Main output is configured per set; there is no way to globally configure the same main output for all sets. That means you should create a template set, with output configured to ADAT, otherwise every set you create will needs to be reconfigured to use ADAT. Also, if you prepare several sets in the studio, and then want to take the P3S on stage to perform, you must remember to modify each set that you intend to perform before they will play on the appropriate output. The sets can only be modified after you download them to the P3S, which is a massive PITA. This should be a global setting, like it is in Ableton Live.

Enabling ADAT For A Set

  1. Open the set that you want to play through ADAT.
  2. Press Mix to enter global mix mode.
    The <kbd>Mix</kbd> button
    The Mix button

    Global Mix mode
    Global Mix mode
  3. Press Mix a second time to enter track mix mode.
    Input settings in Track Mix mode
    Input settings in Track Mix mode

  4. Press the upper display button over the Input & Output menu item.
  5. Rotate the encoder over the upper display button that you just pressed, so the display under changes from Input to Output.
    Output settings in Track Mix mode
    Output settings in Track Mix mode
  6. Press the lower display button under 3-Audio so the Output Type choices are displayed.
  7. Turn the encoder over the button you just pushed until Ext. Out is displayed
  8. Turn the next encoder to the right so Output Channel changes from 1/2 to 9/10, which is actually ADAT 1/2.
  9. Press the Session button to return to your set.
    The <kbd>Session</kbd> button
    The Session button
  10. Play the set by pressing the Play button with the white right arrowhead, or by pressing down on the jog wheel.
  11. Input signal should now be present on your ADAT device.
  12. Save the set by pressing the Save button, or the next time you load the set it will not play through ADAT.

Connecting P3S to Live

The tutorial videos published by Ableton on YouTube do not properly explain how to connect P3S to Live. The first video is a feel-good overview that is rather vague and does not include many specifics. The second video dives straight into controlling Ableton Live on a Mac, without explaining the details of the connection. No mention of the Windows interface is made, even though it is quite different.

The Ableton Push manual has a section entitled Connecting Push to a Computer, but it does not actually tell you how to make the connection, and does not direct you to a page that explains the process.

Tha Ableton Live reference manual does not mention Push 3 at all. Instead, Section 31 is about Push 2, which caused me to wonder if this information was relevant for connecting a P3S to Ableton Live. After experimenting for a few hours, I discovered that there were more differences than similarities in this regard.

In a Nutshell

  • To co-operate with Ableton Live, to make music, P3S must be in control mode.
  • To transfer files between a computer and P3S, the P3S must be in standalone mode.

This means you cannot control Live with P3S and transfer files at the same time. This is another PITA. In my limited time with this device, I have wanted to transfer files many times while controlling Live from the P3S. This restriction should be removed.

There is an Ableton Live preferences setting that can prevent your computer from connecting with P3S.

Press Ctrl-, to bring up the Preferences dialog, then under Library ensure that Show Push is enabled.

For some reason, my laptop had this disabled.

Ableton tech support was unaware of this setting until I discovered it and told them about it.

When you first turn it on, P3S will be in standalone mode.

If you happen to look at the Push Control Panel when P3S is in standalone mode, it will tell you that the P3S is not connected to your computer, even if it is properly connected via a USB cable.

Control Mode

  1. Connect the computer running Live to the P3S via a USB cable. My laptop has USB-3 type A ports, so I use a USB A to USB C cable.
  2. If Live is already running before you decide you want to include P3S in your session, no worries. In fact, it is a good idea to start Ableton Live on your computer now if it is not already running, because Live takes a while to load, and the P3S also takes a while to change modes. Keep them both busy so you do not waste time.
  3. If you have speakers attached the the P3S’s 1/4" audio connectors, mute the audio or you will hear several loud booms in the following steps.
  4. You have two options to switch your P3S to control mode:
    1. Quicker Method
      1. On the P3S, hold the Shift button and press the User button.
    2. Slower Method
      1. On the P3S, press the Setup button.
      2. The upper left area of the display now should contain the phrase Push is Standalone.
      3. Press the lower display button under the Status menu item so the menu item highlights.
      4. Now press the upper display button immediately above, labeled Control Live.
  5. At this point, if you look at the P3S display you might not realize that you just need to wait 10 seconds or so. P3S does not suggest you wait, instead it presents two different options in a confusing way. However, if Live is already running, and connected via a USB cable to P3S, the following message will display for several seconds, just long enough to confuse you, and then it will load the Live project and be ready for use.

    The confusing display message has two parts:

    The upper left corner of the display will say Standalone. Do not press the menu button above this menu item now, because that will keep the P3S in standalone mode, or switch it to standalone mode. The P3S must be in control mode in order to make music with Live.

    The P3S display will also say "Connect Push to a computer and open Live to make music". This is supposed to inform you that all you need to do is start Ableton Live on your computer. However, if your computer is already running Live, just wait for the handshake between the P3S and Live to complete.
  6. During the Live startup sequence the Push Control Panel will change, so the displayed USB Audio Device changes to Ableton Push 3 Audio (xxxxxxxx), where xxxxxxxx is the Push serial number. Your audio speakers will also receive a large DC pulse, unless they are connected via ADAT.
  7. Restore the speaker volume.

User Mode

A third Push mode, user mode, appears to be a subset of Control mode. If you do not configure user mode, custom MIDI mapping on the P3S is impossible.

Live Audio Preferences

The following is not properly described in the P3S manual or the Live manual.

The P3S acts as an ASIO device, so select ASIO as the Driver Type.

Select Ableton Push as the Audio Device.

Pressing Input Config displays a window in which ADAT 1/2 inputs can be enabled; however, they are labeled as inputs 9 & 10.

Pressing Output Config displays a window in which ADAT 1/2 outputs can be enabled; however, they are labeled as outputs 9 & 10.

If you switch to another audio device, and then revert back to Ableton Push the previous settings are remembered.

Pressing Hardware Setup displays the Push 3 Control Panel.

Push 3 Control Panel

Here are the Push 3 Control Panel screens for Windows. I could not find any documentation on them.

The windows for configuring volume settings have no OK or Cancel buttons. To save changes, press Enter; to cancel, press Esc.

Transferring Files and Sets

It is conceptually easy to transfer files between a P3S and your computer. Ableton made a nice, succinct video on the subject.

😠 😠

Unfortunately, I found this kinda sorta worked on one computer, and not at all on another. Ableton tech support is not very responsive. Documentation is thin. There are few users so far, so the community is not very helpful.

NOT HAPPY!

Kit Maker published a short video on how to transfer drum kits.

Third-Party Videos

These worthy videos were not previously mentioned in this article.

Videos By Thavius Beck

I am not a fan of extreme piercing of body parts, but Mr. Beck is a great teacher who knows his subject well. This very short video is a good place to start.

The following continues the preceding video. It begins with an explanation of various controls, which is useful for all modes of operation of this device. Thavius then starts discussing material that requires Push to be connected to a computer that is running Ableton Live.

The following continues the preceding two videos. This well-thought-out video shows exactly how to use this device for percussion.

Seems like Mr. Beck might have a fourth video coming.

Disassembly

LNA Does Audio Stuff

Learning

The following video is helpful for learning what the buttons do. The author is trying to make sense of the device. Ableton could do a better job of providing this information.

This video starts with Ned Rush playing a cool demo, then he explains it. Ned often goes deep in his videos, and this is no exception:

Putting it all together:

References

CA2600, an ARP 2600 emulation.

Push 3 Standalone

Live

To Be Continued

I will update this article as I get to know this device better.



* indicates a required field.

Please select the following to receive Mike Slinn’s newsletter:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of emails.

Mike Slinn uses Mailchimp as his marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp’s privacy practices.