Instant gratification seems lacking on the AK

I view the AK/A4 as an encyclopedia synth with many, many volumes.
A wealth of the world’s synth information is contained inside, awaiting discovery and reference.

Presets aside, while programming the synth, the chances that you’re going to open up one of the 26 volumes (English alphabet in this analogy) and immediately turn to the Moog page, or the 70s synth prog page are slim to none.
No, you’re going to have to locate those general areas in the appropriate encyclopedic volume, turn through a big chunk of pages (dial in oscillators), maybe have to double back to a page or two (dial in the filters), and then understand the content (dial in the modulation).

Unfortunately, that means the A4/AK isn’t ever going to be AS immediate as a Moog or any other WYSIWYG synth.

But the benefit is you own an ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SYNTH!
And with a little time and practice, you can have the same skills as your local librarian or research professional that can instantly access that which they are searching for, in an environment that is dense with information and potential.


I would certainly like to and plan on doing so, just not in the first couple of hours. :slight_smile:

Walk before you run, right?


Not sure the A4 is any more ENCYCLOPEDIC than many other subtractive synths out there!

Presets arent so good in the Keys. I also, like some others, tend to use it as four mono synths and sequence them. I see the polyphony as a bonus. But rarely if ever use it. I have other gear for that. I wouldnt personally buy it as an only poly if i required one.
The most immediate fun i had at first with it was to sequence the most simple of sounds and plock them to death!!! It has a sound to it too that once you start having a muck around i think youll find pleasing. Its a deep synth but doesnt have to be. It is, as most things, dependant on needs and subjectivity.
Itll grow on ya believe me. I felt the same at first. I had very little to no experience with synthesis ( still dont haha! ) and i found it an intrigueing and extraordinary machine.
Just my tuppence worth.

I’m hoping to experience the same thing as I too have next to zero experience with synthesis. I’m just a ham-fisted drummer with melodies and songs that have been trapped in my coconut for too damn long! :laughing:

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If you are going to be relying on presets for a while, look into some of the more recent preset packs released by Elektron (there are audio previews)

Also: [ Definitive list ] Analog Four/Keys Sound Bank & more


Thank you, was going over that.

My original plan was: grab 4 Sounds I like, slap them in a Kit, and learn this powerhouse sequencer and then worry about sound design later on (I was going to actually watch the old New York School of Synthesis video series; heard good things about it).


Thats how i did it - and just simply tweaking simple things like filter cutoff and resonance to change the basic timbre of the sound. If its too bright or whatnot. Also amp release, amp attack and filter attack can do dramatic things to sounds just by changing values. Plock some of these changes to a nice sequence and it can sound awesome. Im a hamfisted guitarist who done exactly the same as you so welcome to a new world haha!! :slight_smile:

best synth ever.


The A4/Keys, while subtractive, isn’t a straightforward old school analog key board. Its a sound designer’s synth. And the sequencer is a major part of that sound design.


It screams at me to design with it. A designers playground, but for those not so much into design, not so immediate.


Give it time, as you’ve set yourself s bit of a challenge starting with the A4… I can’t imagine how I would have coped if I had bought the A4 without some synthesis knowledge as it’s got so many different parameters and options.

Maybe try reading up a bit on the fundamentals or try Syntorial software as that is a great tool.

Enjoy getting Used to A4. I’ve found it a great synth but it takes a while to reap the rewards!

Kind of had a hunch, but it ticked all the boxes for me: I wanted something with a multitrack, built-in sequencer, with keys, so I could have a self-contained unit behind my kit vs. a collection of desktop synths, laptop, etc.

Lugging the drums around for shows is bad enough!

Truth time!

The AK and other underrated synths out there get a bad wrap because the presets don’t have instant gratification. The key is to sit down and dedicate learning synthesis on a specific patch.

I have my physical notepad that I doodle with and write my findings. If you need to draw a weird comic strip while practicing on the AK you’re doing it right!


The AK has a sound on it’s own. It works great for layering sequenced percussive voices. And it can do distressed pads.
But it can’t do classic synth sounds like Roland or Moog.
It’s a lie to say that it can do all and it’s only about the right programming.

I think my recommendations should be :

Learn the basics :

  1. Syntorial



Then listen every PATCH-PRESETS from your favorite VST and Hardware

Reverse ENGINEERING your super-mega-favorite one and take notes organized by family, at the end you will have start-preset for Bass, subbass, drums, lead, pad, texture, pluck, stab, keys, organ, acoustic-mimic presets

Then TRY to recreate those on your analog four with A/B comparison, and try to get closer as you can. You will learn everything like that.

Now i will mention something, probably not so much people will say (i guess) Sound Synthesis is important if you want to have your sound signature, but there’s is a lot of other way to get it. There’s not only Sound Synthesis. Sound Synthesis is Science and Experimentation. It can be very time consuming, and very self rewarding at the end of course. But all the time you pass, to learn, to experiment build you. But along that time you actually not making music. So TRY TO KEEP A BALANCE and try to divided your Dedicated Time to learning, making music, mixing, experiment… on a day basis, or week basis… don’t put all your time by STEPS in the Curve Progression, but instead make small amount at every stage. If it sounding not as you dream (don’t be discouraged !!!), at some point you will reach it.

Are you using Overbridge at all? I’ve just tried to copy a classic prog lead patch from my vintage Minimoog over to the A4 and it sounds pretty darned convincing. Maybe it’s time to do the tutorial I’ve been pondering for so long.


Took me a year to feel like I really know this synth.
You’re not arrived yet, quite a journey ahead :smile:


Had mine about 12 months or a little longer and I totally agree. Not something most people are going to pick up on immediately. I owned a MnM and an MD before the A4 and while the workflow as familiar, really getting to know everything the A4//AK can do still took a long time. If one is also new to Elektron, you could effectively add some solid months on top just to learn the way they do things.

Though I’ve always felt, for myself, Elektron’s workflow has always made a ton of sense. Some people hate it. I struggle with anything that is disimilar from it (unless its one knob per function more or less)

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Its fine. OP should get an OB6.