I appreciate this is a very general question as people have differing needs from equipment.
My query is based on the fact that I use a Push 1 heavily with Ableton + M4L. I often ponder a Push 2 but I’m wondering what could a Monome offer that the Push wouldn’t.
I’m not a modular person but do use quite a few hardware boxes + an Octatrack synced up. Both OT and Ableton/M4L work really well for me. I’ve used a Monome briefly a loooong time ago but any insight would be really appreciated.
Yup. I knew the thread existed but it took me a minute - the ? at the end threw the search results off a little!
I think the answer to this is “it depends.” If you are happy with your current setup and it works for you there may be no reason to change it. I imagine a monome might offer more overall flexibility in terms of integrating with other software/hardware given that you define exactly what it does.
One thing in the Live universe which you might find interesting are a number of M4L devices which use a monome as their controller.
This is one but there seem to be a few others around ( searching M4L on the forum brings up some relevant threads).
I have owned 2 grids kit 64 and grey scale 128, and moved to push (1). For my particular workflow in Ableton push integration was easy and suits me.
Now that I have started tinkered in modular realm the benefits of the grid seem more apparent, lots of hands on control. I will keep push as my computer compositions are way different to my OTB noodles with modular.
Ok, I see. So the visual feedback within the the pads which relate to the M4L app running could be interesting — in the way Numerology and Launchpad work. I’m aware there’s things in Push’s ‘user mode’ but it’s the tight integration with the software that works well for me.
They’re not really comparable, as others have said. The grid of lights is a red-herring.
So: Push is a controller tightly coupled to Live; the visual feedback and interactions are massively designed around how Live operates; the pads on a Push are very much designed around either a) the drum racks and sequencers; b) the isomorphic melodic layout; c) session mode; or d) whatever you’ve done in User Mode.
Programming them to be useful in User Mode - especially with visual feedback - is fiddly and not a key operation of usage.
The Monome grid (henceforth ‘grid’) is… not designed for any one piece of software or tool. It’s not velocity sensitive. It’s just a grid of buttons and lights. It’s very small and light. It’s not a MIDI controller (it uses an osc-over-serial protocol); if you just plug it into your laptop and fire up Ableton, it won’t do anything immediately.
But: it forms part of an instrument with the software it’s connected to. Hook it up to mlrv or The Party Van and you’ll have a live sampler/slicer with tight visual feedback. Hook it up to flin and you’ll have a weird sequencer. Fire up Max or Pd and code your own thing for it.
What it offers is, effectively, both less, and more. Less, in that it does almost nothing out of the box til you find a Max patch or other piece of software designed to connect to a Grid. More, because it’s more open-ended and designed to be coded against. (You don’t have to code to use them - lots of people are happy just firing up mlrv or MarkEats and going from there, and the Eurorack modules are now one of the easiest ways to go straight to a functional, instrument experience).
The matrix of buttons is a similar aesthetic, but it’s put to completely different users.
Thanks, that really sums it up in a succinct way. I get it now, in fact there’s not really much cross-over at all. I’m not interested in coding things up (been there spent way too much time…and there’s lots of people way better and motivated than me) so for me it would be based on how relevant the available apps are.
About Ableton live integration I’m just gonna say something really stupid but to me it matters A LOT:
Since monome grids moved to 128, it means 128 GRID BUTTONS over the 64 Grid Buttons of the Push, and really it seems silly, it’s just numbers, but I found dozens of use case where what I had to do to work involved the whole grid of 128, EVEN to work on stuff as simple and push-esque as launching clips. So that’s simple but that’s a huge difference (and I think there’s a reason monome settled with the 128 format, and this makes it quite unique on the grid market, the only two controllers close to it interface-wise being also super boutique stuff like deluge and polyend seq, which are very different tools)
I’ve been playing with it a bunch lately and it’s amazing. Beyond even the Monome/Arc stuff, just the ability to to use the Push as a customizable standalone MIDI controller opens up a lot of doors for using it both within Live and outside of it. I’m currently building a set in Live that uses both Push’s Ableton integration and custom MIDI mapping in User mode.
I own both a Push 1 and a Grid 128 now. I’m going to end up being a little preachy so I apologize in advance.
The push changed the way I produce in Live. I couldn’t imagine making the kind of music I do without it now (I make a lot of footwork and bass music) because of how I don’t have to look at Live too much while I write and the velocity sensitivity/sequencer options just make writing drum parts easy. I actually enjoy playing chords and melodic lines on it too with the scale-mapping.
I used to “perform” with the push, and by that I mean I would make a DJ set full of clips I’d mix together. Nothing wrong with that, but I always felt bummed when I wanted to change it up and was basically stuck performing whatever I put together.
The grid, although a bit unruly, fixes that problem. The way MLRV is designed, I can actually “perform” because there’s enough freedom to change around my set, react to the audience, and “jam” out my samples in a way that a beat repeat effect or something in live just doesn’t replicate.
I haven’t really written anything using polygome or flin with the monome yet, but I am attending grad school for interactive media soon and will likely use the grid for a lot of my more academic music projects.
So yeah, if you’re strictly talking production, the grid will never compare to what a push can do. If you want to perform or experiment, if you want the freedom to design your own workflow for performances, you want a grid. Nothing will come close, however, you need to also accept like a real instrument, the grid can be finicky. Like how when playing a guitar, sometimes your finger moves and a string will buzz. You’ll have to accept it’s unlikely your performances will be error-free unless you practice it.
Launchd on terms. It’s the best at the moment I think although what I trully feel it lacks is copy/paste/delete option (with a function key, it could be easily implemented but I don’t know if it’s doable regarding how live functions with M4L) Other than that it works really well for me. I know some prefer the older monobright clip launcher because it has mutes and solos but I do all that elsewhere and I’d rather have lots of clips to mix up live than waste grid surface with solo / mutes.
I bought the full version. It worked out to be around $50, but that’s still less than buying yet another piece of hardware ha.
And I felt a little less guilty when I emailed Lee (Sigabort) asking for his help getting it up and running. I won’t lie, it was a little tricky getting it up and running smooth, but Lee was incredibly generous and patient. My setup is pretty much settled for now. His videos on configuration will get you most of the way, but there were little things I found that helped that I’d be happy to share if you dive in again.
I took a quick peek at the Monome capabilities, but there was an issue with the Arc functionality that Lee eventually solved, but I had already moved on to the standard custom MIDI mapping action of Gridlock. I’m building a live set for a specific performance I have coming up and the Monome stuff in general seems a lil unstable, so I just stuck with MIDI for now as I need something rock solid for this specific project. But I’m excited to go back and play with it again, so many great Monome apps out there. And the using the 8 encoders is basically like having two Arcs, ha!
I think its important to mention (even 5 years later(I’ve just gotten into the world of digital music after years of playing rock)) the Push was based on and inspired by the success of the Grid. Akai and Ableton have stated so themselves. Grid is an innovative design by an artisan tech builder and gear nerd and another person, a musician and artist, first probably built as a hobby project and then sold as a way of paying the bills. We should be thankful to Brian Crabtree and Kelli Cain for bringing this sort of thing. Push on the other hand, is a specialized piece of equipment built by a significant company that had the benefit of hindsight and of knowledge that only existed through monome’s experiments and community feedback.
Having a big company behind you means there is already a significant customer base, there is capital to get started, a product will be designed to be mass-produced, there may already be a factory ready to start production etc.
This means that the Push is simply a superior piece of tech.
The specific pairing with Ableton will be a great drawcard for Ableton users and probably a massive pain in the butt for non-ableton users but each of the pads light up in many different colours, they are pressure sensitive, there are touch sensitive knobs that also work as buttons, there is a ribbon controller, a screen AND the whole thing is only slightly more expensive than a Grid 128 and cheaper than a Grid 256.
You still have user mode so you can still make apps for it with Max/MSP, PD or even JS or Python (though its certainly not as easy or pleasant to do as withh the Grid) Except you have to use MIDI instead of OSC.
There are still things that differentiate them and reasons that the Grid may be more suitable.
I settled on a Grid largely because it communicates in OSC which is such a pleasant protocol to develop with (I’m studying software engineering and the Grid is the perfect product to exercise my combined interests.)
Also like other have said, Grid as more buttons and is a bit lighter.
Grid’s MAIN advantage at this is that it interfaces with modular stuff better, but I don’t even have any modular gear.
I’m very happy with my Grid but may get a Push in the future to leave in the studio when I’m mixing or producing with Ableton, IF Ableton enable better bussing and sub-grouping of channels, otherwise I will continue to mix in Protools or Logic that are superior for mixing for that reason.
superior is a tricky word because everyone’s needs and goals are different. ableton is certainly superior at advertising. monome superior at openness. but what “superior tech” means is unclear-- i don’t want colors and i don’t want knobs, and some people don’t want eurorack connectivity.