Digitone & Digitakt question


#1

Hello,

It’s been years since I created any music, I use to play with those Roland Groovebox’s about 15-20 years which I no longer have which I was very fond of and liked the fact I had 1 device I could create tunes with. The tunes were just for me as they weren’t very good :slight_smile: but it was more about moment spent on it relaxing from a hard day at work etc.

I am now looking for something similar where I can create some ambient tunes ( love Proem, BoC, Aphex Twin) and on my research I have been drawn to Elekronaout and the Digitone and Digitakt.

From what I can see is one is a Synth and the other a drum machine/Sample. However when I have watched many YouTube videos it seems they are both great and I have no idea which one to get to start my journey once more.

Any advice would be most appreciated.

Thanks


#2

I would start with the Digitakt, the easiest Elektron groovebox. Already a lot to chew with this, and you can definitely make whole songs with it.


#3

Both are excellent devices and in most circumstances I would recommend the Digitakt first. However, there is one question I would ask and that is whether your preference is for beats or chords? It may seem strange as both can do each however if you would favour chords then the Digitone is a little more straight-forward for that, or if your preference is for beats then the Digitakt is more straight forward for that.


#4

That question is the one I’m stuck on :slight_smile: I just don’t want to make the wrong choice first time round. I guess many get both after some time I have no idea how you would link them together.

I use to love playing with arpeggiators and adding simple beats and blend and drift sounds in and out.

Do both allow you to connect midi keyboards or connect to PCs etc to manage and record to mp3 etc?


#5

Do you want to use sampled sounds or do you want to synthesize your own sounds? That’s the first question you need to ask. Keep in mind that the Digitakt is ONLY a sampler (no synthesis at all) and can only use MONO samples.

If you want to synthesize your own sounds without a computer, get the Digitone. If you want to use samples, get the Digitakt.


#6

I jumped into the electron world the very very hard way. I first got an octatrack. Oh yeah, what a beast, it’s sometimes a pain in the sitting parts to learn. But I did it the hard way, because I wanted the features it offers (its a sampler, mixer, effect pedal, sequencer for external synths, all in one music workstation, it looks fabulous). Anyway, I think the digitakt is a capable box, and perfectly fine, or not? Best way to decide if you want or not is watching some tutorials on youtube. I started with the ones from Cuckoo, he is a very good musician and teacher too.
@slicetwo: you can use the digitakt as synth aswell - it’s some trickery, but it looks funny: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFQv6bW_40c


#7

Thanks. Yeah I’ve seen that Octatrack and it looks stunning, but yes that would be too much for me. Funnily enough I’ve been watching Cuckoo and Bobeats and both seem to love these 2 devices.

I’ve never used a sampler before, so I guess you can upload some recorded sounds you like (drums, chords) and clip, copy and paste and added effects to create an ambient tune? with the Digitone I assume you come up with the chords and beats. I guess you could also take some sounds from tunes you like and put on the Digitakt and edit etc?

I guess your Octatrack is like have the DT and DN in one?


#8

The Octatrack is more like the digitakt on steroids.
I often pair it with my digitone and 1-2 monosynths. I use it as mixer and arranger too.


#9

Both the DN and DT are really flexible groove boxes, and you would almost certainly get a lot of pleasure out of both. I might suggest for you the DN first, because for ambient music it has polyphonic capability out of the box, and is more versatile for synthesis. The DT is still a capable synthesizer: even though it “only” uses samples, you can load single-cycle wave forms and have their playback be continuous, so for sure you can create all kinds of great sounds, though they are generally more like a mono-synth (there are of course tricks to get around that). Both the DN and DT have that terrific Elektron sequencer, with conditional trigs and parameter locks (which are super flexible, especially when it comes to locking sounds or samples, so you can get a ton of variety in each track…the DN has four tracks, the DT eight). This lets you make evolving/organic sounding patterns. They are both missing song mode, which is annoying, but you can get around it if you’re willing to chain patterns together on the fly. The two boxes have a lot of similarities, but are also very complementary to each other.


#10

It should be noted that none of them has classic song mode, something that is present on the family of Roland boxes you are coming from.

Otherwise - you will end up with both anyways. I would try first with the DT - just more of an all-rounder IMO.


#11

Unfortunately neither of these is an all in one groovebox like the old Rolands. As mentioned above the DIgitakt has no actual synthesis capabilities and you would need to fake chords using more than one track (of 8). OTOH the digitone you would have to actually synthesize your own drums, for example, and it is FM and may not make some classic analog style sounds, if that’s what you’re looking for.

Also each has good midi programming capabilities you may or may not need down the line if you were to expand.

So you should decide if you’d like to start from samples or synthesis and go from there.


#12

Oh but of course if you buy sample packs for the digitone you would not have to synthesize your own stuff. And both come with factory sounds to use.


#13

Thanks all this is really helpful. Sorry I have some more questions, I’m starting at the bottom with all this.

Can I ask what classic song mode means that the groovebox’s had? (sorry I’ve been out of know far too long).

With the DN or DT how do you record to mp3?

Having these 2 together would be amazing, not bad for just over £1k, I just want to take it slowly and learn one at a time I think. What are the best online shops to get kit from?

I always hear ambient tunes and think I’d love to grab that sound/melody/synth and change it and add to a tune, I guess that’s were the DT would come into it’s own with the sampler? Like remixing a tune someone has already made.

Thanks


#14

Both the DT and DN let you create patterns of up to 64 steps, basically a four bar loop split into 16th notes. For the DT at least, you can have 128 “projects”, each of which has 8 banks of up to 16 patterns. So you can create a ton of these 64-step loops, and group them together in convenient ways. This is more or less the same as how most grooveboxes work. However, many other sequencers also allow for you to use a “song mode” (or some equivalent terminology) that lets you combine patterns together. So, say for example, you create a 64-step pattern that you want to play 4 times in a row as a “A” section to a song, and then another one you want to play 2 times in a row as a “B” section, many sequencers let you do that…you can usually save these specifications somewhere, and quickly recall “songs” this way. The DT doesn’t let you do that. You either have to “manually” change patterns while playing (which, tbh is quite easy), or you can use a feature called a pattern “chain” where you can specify the patterns you want to play and in what order. However, this feature is limited in that you can’t save these chains from session to session, and even within a session, they’re pretty easy to lose. So while both the DT and DN are super capable sequencers within a given pattern, they’re limited compared to many others in your ability to make longer compositions.

This limitation for both the DT and DN is source of great frustration and hand-wringing for many Elektron users. Most think that Elektron is withholding this capability principally because they don’t want to give these relatively “budget” models feature equivalency to their more premium boxes (the Ocatrack and Analog series).


#15

A rumor officially demented more than once.

Hardware is the result of choices. Maybe song mode has been considered as too convoluted to fit the relatively simple UX design of the Digiboxes…

An example that goes against the plot theory’s: the way DN records arp is more advanced than A4.

Song mode is not a feature I use, so it’s not essential to my workflow.
But I can understand that if you rely on this it can be a bit frustrating…
With MIDI loops (or Digiboxes controlling each other) you can find ways to approach song mode, using MIDI tracks. That should be findable somewhere in this forum…


#16

I didn’t say that I subscribe to that opinion. :slight_smile: And for sure, I think each Elektron box offers at least some functionality or enhanced workflow that the others don’t…like the DN’s arp as you suggest. I’m also perfectly happy changing patterns on the fly. Or if I really want to do more advanced sequences, I’ll send pattern changes from Ableton.

That said, with regular firmware updates - and I could be mistaken - unlike other features that people ask for (stereo samples, etc.) having the ability to save pattern chains within a project should be pretty trivial from a development point of view.


#17

From what you’ve describe I’d say you’d have loads of fun with the Digitone, or even the digitakt, but if you like making arps and pads and just want a few minimal sounds for drums, then the digitone does these things perfectly and is all self contained no need to add anything (like samples) to it… Grab a couple of soundpacks from elektron and sit back and create.


#18

Admitted that I do not own a DN, but given the complex beats those bands produce, I doubt that the DN alone would be a good starting point. On the DT you’ll get some synth capabilities that might be sufficient to be explored for a quite some time.


#19

I think it would be remiss of elektron not to include a song mode in a future update.

For me it would make the box complete.

The octatrack is more geared towards deeper sample mangling and live performance, the analog series more sound design.

A song mode coupled with overbridge that is working and stable takes the digitakt into “classic” territory.

Look at what novation have done with the circuit… and they show no signs of stopping.


#20

It’s funny, we all know how great the DT is, but it seems like with a just a few more additions it could become an all-time classic, defining an era… or something