Introducing: Digitone Keys


Perhaps / perhaps not – My rule for myself is never buy into anything (or anyone for that matter) expecting some sort of change in the future. If you’re happy with the ways things are now, you’ll be more than happy if nice things happen later.

Something occurred to me as i read your post – one thing the Analog Keys doesn’t have is midi output from the sequencer. There is an Midi Ext button, just like on Digitone Keys that lets you flip the keyboard over to a midi controller, or back to internal control. But the Digitone Keys, like the Digitone lets you midi sequence external gear, and the Digitone Keys can also be switched between internal and external controller mode. This is something i always wanted with the Analog Keys.

Good to see OB 2 reach such a relatively stable place, though it’s still beta.


Indeed. I think with the update and the additional features and controls on the DNK it’s now a pretty full featured synth. I don’t really expect anything further to be honest, aside from bug or workflow tweaks.


My rule sounds quite similar with the “minor” addition of:

… even if promised by a company.

I’ll buy products when they are “there” where I want them. Any future changes are welcomed, but not expected in any way.


To make this perfect…an Apeggiator for each Miditrack too would be great and usefull to use it as a Master keyboard.


That would be great. Otherwise I’d honestly just love Random on the Arp, too.


I haven’t been involved in the design/dev of the Keys much at all actually, but the idea for it rose during the release at NAMM when it was seen how excited people were about the DN.

I believe that the “heritage design” simply came to be because of a love of the quirky and unique look of the SFX-6.

I think it’s obvious that the “white void photo booth” pictures doesn’t do it justice, and I think we should get some good music studio shots of it with other gear to kind of see it in context - where it makes a lot of sense.

Workflow wise I enjoy the Keys immensely, working with it for composing is really a joy.
During the Berlin opening I even performed the very first live debut of it - hahah! That was a bit daunting. However, the direct controls are smart too, could map stuff out in cool ways and perform with it in a pretty unique fashion.

I can definitely see how the monolithic design is seen as odd in a vacuum, but I think we really enjoy that it’s a bit different - after all, isn’t that really the Elektron way? :slight_smile:


Thanks @Ess! You guys are so effusive about the Keys that it’s nearly impossible not to want to jump on board and to get one! .

I’ve been following Elektron for 6 or 7 years now and the Keys is very much “the Elektron way”. If anything, the Analog Keys was the odd design decision for you historically speaking!

Hopefully the Digitone Keys finds a market and does well. I’m sure once the reviews start pouring through it’ll start to make more sense to a few people.


Haters are so conservative in what they wan and try to redesign, it’s quite the amusement.

Luckily for us, the creative people are the actual machine makers. I really like the quirky yet practical design, that’s definitely what I would expect from Elektron, I’m glad they went down this road with the Digitone key, I’d be a keyboard player I’d go for the “upgrade” . There 's been a great level up in the marketing art department lately, this short campaign is nothing but tasteful and beautiful.


I am a proud owner of an Analog Keys…superb synth…sometimes I found annoying having a 3 oct keyboard, thats why a 61notes controller is always connected when needed even if it’s just 4 notes polyphony. I guess that 3 oct for 8 notes polyphony isn’t the best option.


in elektron world, they call it analog rytm


How is it practical to have the desktop unit glued to the side of the keyboard? Wouldn’t it make more sense to have the display and sequencer in front of the keys so it could be easily used while playing the keys?


I would buy it in a heartbeat if the pads looked more playable, I used the mk1 and it’s clearly not exactly designed as a finger drumming unit, it’s a techno drum machine. People may stray from that but at its heart it is what it is. Plus I don’t really need the analog drum synth part of the…analog rytm. It is gorgeous though


Operating the sequencer and keyboard are 2 separate things, you dont need them layered, as you don’t focus on them at the same time. You have configurable knobs on top of the keys for the control you need. Done


Hello all!

We experimented with a lot of different designs for the Digitone Keys, including variants oriented towards more traditional layouts. They didn’t feel quite right though. One reason was that, as we wanted to keep pretty much all the aspects and features of the Digitone module intact, the traditional layouts came off as a bit fragmented. The current Takt/Ton layout works well in terms of focused workflow, and they’re familiar to a big portion of our userbase. Especially this first point came to serve as an influential guideline when designing the Digitone Keys.

Another reason was the legacy of the venerable Monomachine SFX6. That design might at first glance appear strange, but actually works pretty well from an Elektron workflow perspective. For example: this sort of layout makes it really easy to add notes/chords to the Digitone Keys sequencer, all while retaining the focused workflow of the modules. When in grid rec mode, hold a trig key + press a KB key = done. A side bonus of the SFX6 throwback: it makes the Digitone Keys appear and look quite alien. The weird retro-futuristic, Gibson-Ballardian, look suits the character of the sound engine quite well methinks.

Then you have all the other little tricks made possible by the monolithic form factor, such as being able to place other gear behind the Digitone Keys and still having those units within arm’s reach. Setups where such external units are being MIDI controlled by the Digitone Keys, and/or processing audio coming from its dedicated track outputs, can be rather compact and powerful.

Continuing the Elektron workflow excursion, this matter was of course a major consideration for the Digitone Keys. How to keep it, and how to expand it? Our take was to design the Digitone Keys so that it consisted of 2 main parts, the KB section and the module section.

The KB section is pretty much dedicated to playability/quick tweaking aspects. Use this section to experiment with melodic ideas or to quickly create the rough outline of a sound. For example, the group of 5 buttons are all controlling playability aspects in one way or another. Hold, portamento, arp, multimap, chord on/off toggle etc. The User button, located to the right of the aforementioned button group, offers quick sound design possibilities. Use it to toggle between the 2 parameter sets (where 1 is predefined, and 1 is user assignable) of the 8 encoders located above the keyboard to be able to quickly create a sound sketch you think sounds nice. These controls, in conjunction with the new OS 1.20 randomizer feature, form a great sound design starting point.

Once you’ve created something you like, move on to the module part and edit this raw sound in detail with the parameters found on the track pages. Then sequence it, warp it, transform it. I.e. the regular Elektron approach.

This KB section - module interaction flow is one of the strong points of the Digitone Keys. Starting out in the KB section, then moving on to the module section is a very rewarding little journey. It opens up new vistas so to speak.


Really? When I had Analog Keys, I used the keys to program the sequencer all the time while I was playing. I also manually adjusted various settings and at least with AK, you really needed the display to be able to navigate through the myriad of settings available. With Digitone Keys, this seems to be really cumbersome to do.


Can you share images of these experimentations of traditional layouts? Would be interesting to see.


Nothing to add after what Jon said. Interesting post, and yeah as always, any sneak peek on old discarded designs would be such a treat


Other than the missing song mode, I think it physically looks cool, and the new added features look cool too.

I bet it would look sweet to attach some aluminum side cheeks (JP8/JP6) onto the DigiKeys.


So everyone who dislike this design is automatically a hater and not creative, interesting.

To me, it looks like a keyboard was glued to the DN so Elektron saved a lot of costs because they didn’t have to redesign the faceplate (which makes sense from a company point of view).

That said, I liked the design of the Digitone, I sold it because of other reason. So your “hater” comment makes no sense to me.

I’m happy for all people who like this design and appreciate their opinion. Mine differ from theirs and is also valid.


??? The faceplate is completely new. Take a close Look. In fact its a much bigger faceplate now that is not cost saving at all. I am sure that is big part of the higher upgrade price. Full metal faceplates with color and printing are not cheap to manufacture. The Fatar Keyboard is not a cheap one either. So if Elektron would have gone the cost saving route, they would have chosen a total different Design and probably a mini sized China keybed. Instead they went for quality. I think when you See the Digitone Keys under the aspect as a pro performance Instruments, that decision is totally valid. Ppl May not like the Design, but at least they should give Elektron some respect for trying something different and with quality and professionalism. E.g. i really dislike the Volkswagen Design, but i must admit that their vehicles are of a ver, good quality and they put a lot of thought into their products. That Diesel scandal aside…