I think I really am done with Elektron. I can’t believe I’m saying it, but yeah.
The core of my studio is my DAW, and how my other gear integrates with that is important to me. I’ve spent the past two years really loving the OT and AR. But when it comes time to integrate them back into my songwriting workflow, it’s a pain. Neither the OT nor AR will output midi, so I can’t quickly dump tracks into the DAW. Hell the OT won’t receive midi if I wanted to sequence it. Sure, you can sample loops of your work into the DAW, but through the process of writing a song, I always need to go back to the source, to delete a snare, to tweak a sound. Overbridge is a type of integration, but not the type I need.
What eventually wore me down, was a lack of basics, and limitations that don’t exist in software or modern hardware. How to backup my AR? Export midi from OT or AR? nope. Only 8 songs in song-mode on the OT? I was putting two songs into one, with space between to get around that limitation. When I had to go back and edit those songs, I immediately blew my alcohol budget ; -)
I have an MPC Live, and hadn’t given it the same amount of attention I had my Elektron gear, because quite frankly, it’s not as fun to use. There is no doubt, the XoX button row of the Elektron stuff is immediately gratifying to me. P-Locks do in fact rule. But once I decided to rebuild my projects in the MPC, it was like a thick fog was lifted. You don’t think about how many tracks, how much memory, how many samples in a kit. These are all absurdly abundant in the MPC. In fact I put my 8 favourite kits into one MPC kit (8 pages of 16 samples per kit). When I want to write a song, I don’t have to think about what kit to load, it’s all there in one giant kit! Such a simple thing makes a bigger difference than I had expected. Will it be 606 or 808 hats? Try both, figure it out later, no commitments.
The plug-in software for the MPC makes it work like NI Maschine, except that you can unplug it and use it live without a computer. You can sequence it from within the plug-in, or sequence in the DAW which I do, so I can cut and paste chunks around while arranging. That is important to me. Slice a chorus and take all of it’s relevant tracks in one chunk. But if I have beats in the machine I want to try in a song, I can use the sequencer in the plug-in. I can also easily export that midi to my DAW as well.
No more converting to 48K for the AR. No more p-locking a new sample on every new pattern of the OT because you can only use the same slot across all 16 patterns in a bank. No more convoluted file system issues. No more workarounds.
Saving a song in my DAW saves the state of the MPC - so I don’t have to coordinate backups. I don’t have to figure out what to load into the hardware in order to have it match the song in the DAW. I go back to songs that are years old on a fairly regular basis. I work on multiple projects at once, so coordinating my Elektron hardware with the songs they match, is not an insignificant task.
Don’t get me wrong. No regrets here. I’ve really enjoyed using the Elektron gear. I love spending time with hardware away from my computer, but I eventually need to reconnect that work to my DAW. I will be honest, I don’t find the MPC Live as fun to use. But I get more work done, and I get it done faster. It’s very utilitarian!
The MPC does have it’s limitations too. In standalone mode you can only use the Akai plug-ins and they suck. Hard. The reverb is atrocious. So I will probably use one pair of stereo outputs to go to a reverb when using it live. In the DAW, I can use my Lexicon reverbs in ways you can’t with the Elektron stuff, at the sample level, kit level, sub-mix, etc. etc. Lots of options there. There are a few other issues, but midi modulation is handled like it would be in a DAW, and that is a clunky substitute for P-Locks.
I still have the Analog Heat, and have no intention of selling it. It doesn’t slow my workflow in any way.
Just my two cents.
(I suspect more than two, if you did a word count of this post!)