Digitone vs Keystep Pro or both?

Considering a Digitone or keystep pro as a starter brain for a new DAWless setup.

1 Can anyone elaborate on any noteworthy differences between the two sequencers?
I would imagine the sequencer on the Digitone is specifically designed to work with the Digitone, and would have features that the keystep pro doesn’t have or cannot have?
I already have a suspicion that the Digitone doesn’t have a chord repeater mode in its arp, like the keystep pro.

2 how would a setup of the keystep pro sequencing the Digitone even work? Wouldn’t that make the sequencer in the Digitone redundant or would there be an interesting way to use both sequencers at the same time, offering something quite creative and powerful? I can’t get my head around that one!


This will not answer your question, but my first thought was, what would be your complete setup, and what kind of music are you up to create?

Simple fact: If you get a DN you have a sequencer and an instrument. If you get the Keystep you get a keyboard with a sequencer, but no sound :wink:

The Elektron sequencers are very deep. Above many other features Elektron sequencers provide a couple of CC parameters, which can be defined and assigned as needed. If I read the manual correctly, the DN provides 8 CCs per track. That’s quite a lot and very useful in synthesis. There is also “probability” included and “LFOs” as well.

I would suggest to compare section 12 of the DN manual with the description of the Keystep to get more information about the features and what is different. At the end you have to decide, what you need for your music and performance.

The only advantage of the Keysteps (I’ve got the ordinary non-pro only) is to have a very good and compact keyboard.

I was considering a keystep pro before getting a digitakt for my main sequencer for modular gear, and recently got a digitone. I think the keystep might be more immediate, especially for polyphony, but the digi series are hugely deep, especially with trig conditions. They can also sequence midi cc’s, and live record those parameter changes into the track, which is great fun.

I chose a digitakt because it can do most of the things the keystep pro does, at least when it comes to sequencing, and a few the keystep can’t, paired with the fact I found my modular drums to be a bit lacking and wanting to sample my patches.

I think the Digitone would be great if you need an instrument as well as a sequencer. If you love tweaking sound the digitone is truly incredible. Purely as a sequencer, cost not taken into account, the digi series is a bit more of a programming type interface. It can do incredible things but you have to wade in a bit with trig conditions and setting up fill trigs and things but it can be very performable, you just have to set it up initially. The keystep on the other hand, if it is like the beat step pro which I have had for a while, has some immediate performance controls that can be used to mangle your sequence very quickly, but has less in depth conditional stuff.

I’m not sure yet what my complete set up would be, but the kind of music I’d like to make is a hybrid of experimental, rhythmic (perhaps polyrhythmic), arps, ambience, textures. Very Jarre inspired, but very organic and simple.

I want to take my time with each component and not get too much stuff. I’m really drawn to simple set ups that are used in really inventive and creative ways. I’m currently being drawn to the idea of the Digitone, because even if I get another sequencer, it’s still an amazing instrument.

I wonder - how would someone use the sequencer on the Digitone with the sequencer on the key step?

This is exactly the realm for Elektron instruments, welcome to the club :smiley:

IMO to check out some deep analogue gear as well, would be a good idea. I would also recommend to check out some modular and semi-modular gear.

AFAIK Jarre didn’t use FM in his early work, but he used often the EMS Synthi AKS, which today would be one of the Synthi clones or the Syntrx by Erica Synths. Synthi and Syntrx are outstanding for “organic-experimental” sounds and textures.

If we talk about pure sound it’s open to debate, wheter a DN would fit to a “Jarre inspired” equation. IMO FM sounds - even analogue created FM sounds - don’t compare much with “analogue” sounds, as we create them with typical subtractive synths.

If I combine my Keystep with some other instrument, which has a sequencer by itself, I either only use they keys to play the instrument, or create a combination of sequencing the sequencer, if this makes sense. In case of the Elektrons I prefer to use the Elektron sequencers, because they are very versatile, easy to use, and give us so many and deep options at our fingertips.

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I had a Beatstep Pro controlling other synths a while back, but as soon as I got a DN it went straight up for sale and I’ve never looked back.

I would say it depends on what you’re looking to do though:
Keystep Pro will be great for controlling other synths and building songs live on the fly, BUT, it’s just a controller/sequencer.
DN will also do this but you’ll probably want an external keyboard controlling it. However, the DN has fantastic synth capabilities built in, and four of them too. The only thing the DN lacks vs the Keystep is actual keys (the buttons do form a one-octave keyboard, but it’s fairly restrictive for playing properly).

My DN is currently the centre of my setup, and also controls other synths using the midi sequencer tracks. I did think about getting a keystep to control it, but now I just have another synth (with keyboard) routed back into the DN so that I can control any synth within it via midi.


Digitone keys.

You’re welcome


I’m using digitakt as main sequencer for samples and synths via midi out (dn will do that job too) an old velocity sensitive 88 keys keyboard to record in DT midi in. I use the thru port from DT as 24ppt sync to beatstep pro. I use the BS pro as sequencer for CV gear and midi drum machine. Just got a mail from Arturia that the keystep 49 keys is out, i’ll think i replace my excisting keyboard for that (arp/chord/chord scaling🤪)

I have an Arturia minicab Mk2 which I’ve been using for my iPad. I love Arturia. And I will continue to use this with the Digitone when I need to. Or I might sell and get a keystep pro.

I guess I’m just trying to decide whether or not I need to make a choice between the Digitone and the key step, in terms of the sequencer. I’m probably being distracted by the sequencer though, seeing as the Digitone is so much more than this.

I just love the look of the key step pro! Maybe one day I’ll have both. If so - I wonder about a sequencer controlling a sequencer. Anyone tried this? Interested in what this could allow, creatively.

Post traumatic sequencer syndrome

I think I actually just worked it out - I think I just cracked the answer for myself.

I’ve been reading about Digitone’s lack of song mode, and no way of saving chains. But this means it’s a performance machine, correct? I assume you can switch patterns on the fly, and ‘perform’ the song??

This is exactly what I want to get away from DAWs for, to perform, rather than program.

I can see that the Keystep Pro offers ‘scene’ mode (Ableton style), but Digitone offers this too?

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I wouldn’t have mentioned it … if not done already.

Precondition is that at least the second sequencer in the chain accepts external control and more than clocking only :wink:

A sequencer may allow to be controlled by:

  • MIDI note events (example transpose the pattern to another key)
  • MIDI CC events (for whatever is feasable)
  • MIDI PGM Changes (like PGM Change changes pattern, the Elektrons support this)
  • Gate and/or CV in the analogue modular world (good example the “Komplex Sequencer” by KOMA

There are some posts in this forum discussing how to use the MIDI sequencer of an Elektron device to control the sequencer of the same device, which is sequencing the audio engine. IIRC it’s often about the Octatrack controlled by its own MIDI sequencer.

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Seriously it opens possibilities like peope using midi loopback in DT/DN. But finding a workflow without is the basic challenge, after that experimenting is fun and leads to many happy accidents

Exactly :smiley:

Just buy the bloody Digitone mate.
Worst case scenario you sell it for a small loss (like 50 quid) or buy second hand and lose nothing if you sell it on.

I don’t completely understand… are you after a synthesizer or just something to control other synthesizers? that should answer your question. if it’s both - or you just really want the KSP - get the Digitone now (non key version) and the KSP later.

I would not recommend using the KSP to sequence the Digitone. if you’ve ever used an Elektron machine before, you’ll understand that the internal sequencer is half the allure. bypassing it kinda defeats the point.

get a Digitone and a Keylab essential.

I have a minilab mk2. But yeah, I think we’re on the same page.

Ha! I don’t have that kind of money. Just trying to canvas as much opinion as I can, but yeah - I know at some point I’ll just have to take the plunge.

I’m pretty convinced the Digitone is for me, but it’s great to discuss all this in the meantime, while I ‘save up’ :slight_smile:

I recently bought a Digitone Keys to be my synth sequencer. My setup is Analog Rytm MKII as the clock brain which sends clock to my DN keys and MD, and then I send out midi from the DN Keys to my Prophet Rev-2 and MS-20 Mini. I was also considering the KSP but the Digitone Keys has everything you could ask for with a synth and the powerful Elektron sequencer (with 4 midi tracks, which is amazing!) in one box. I would definitely recommend getting the Digitone Keys!

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