Introducing Digitone


DT + DN.

The CTRL ALL trickery when on the DT sample page is just too handy.
Drop the length on everything, crank the reverb, change the pitch.
These are the breaks.


Sorry, having too much fun with FM examples.

Here’s a more practical example of why sweeping the modulator frequency freely is not immediately musically useful (ymmv). This is a very simple bassline, first with the envelope changing the modulation amount, followed by the same envelope changing the modulator frequency over a two-octave range:

Note that I’ve set the sustain level at 50% to get a 1:2 ratio during the sustain phase in the second example.


I’d very much prefer to be able to reach terrain where it “sounds as if there’s something slightly wrong with the tuning,” rather than having a series of predetermined ratios which prevent one from arriving at “undesirable” frequencies. I don’t understand, does it just snap into place (the stepping) ?

is it possible to make an analogy to micro-tuning vs. having ‘frets’ - or is this something entirely different / more complicated…?


This. Is good. Thumbs up!


I want one.


Woaw, thanks!


Another example (I promise to stop now). Here the carrier is fixed at 220Hz while the modulators steps through A to A over 3 octaves:

You should be able to clearly hear which steps sound “right” and how far between they are.


You made me decide to pre-order. Damn.


“right” = less beating / inharmonicity, yeah? the “wrong” points are still a legit part of the range / spectrum… does the Digitone skip those points?


I think it’s more complicated having to do with fm synthesis, and from watching Simon in the videos it seems this particular quantization is one of the main design points of the machine, not some sort of weak point but rather a very much intentional part of the design…

(I don’t know much about fm, so not getting to detailed here, just taliking in general from what it seemed from the videos)


There’s a detune parameter, though?


Exactly, I’m not sure where all the worry about the ratio’s is coming from. To get to impure ratios, use detune


I haven’t used a DN yet, so I can’t be sure, but I do think that the ratios it allows you to step through have been chosen to give you tonally pleasing results. You can then use the detune knob to detune the modulators to go from subtle beating to more inharmonic results.


The problem is that if you use a continues control, then the “wrong” would take up 99% of the parameter range under that control, making the “right” very hard to find and dial in.

Add to this that there’s very little variation in the “wrong” (at least in the perception of most people), and you’d end up in a situation where you have a knob that doesn’t do much useful for the majority of users. :slight_smile:


I used to make fm synths in Reaktor for a long time working entirely in the pitch space. I was never sure why my fm sounded so dirty. It wasn’t until I realized you had to use pitch->frequency conversion and use a constant to make the pitch as close to 0hz as possible. When you start working in frequency ratios, rather than equal temperament pitch offsets, everything came into focus and I started getting those dx style linear fm sounds. Having continuous control over operator frequency isn’t as useful for fm as having quick access to a list of ratios that have interesting mathematical relationships between each other. Which is why they prioritize the ratios but give you access to the “in between” frequencies via a detune parameter.


Powerful FM synths like the mighty Nord modular have a selection toggle available for its operator (or oscillator) frequencies. It’s awesome as it gives you the option of harmonic or inharmonic FM. You can toggle between:

Freq in Hz
Freq in semi tones
Freq in harmonic ratios

Don’t own Digitone but from what I can gather from the feedback here it’s only allowing the 3rd option above? If so Elektron should implement a similar feature


I don’t think they designed the Digitone as the most powerful FM synth possible. :slight_smile:




is the ‘purity’ of a ratio something you can qualify? or is it just less harmonic / consonant / mathematically ‘sound’ ?


Sure, by pure ratios I mean simple relationships like 1/2 or 3/1 and the like. Integer multiples of the base frequency (1) results in the harmonic series which is very useful for synthesis, especially when trying to create stable periodic waveforms. The harmonics that results from those ratios can nicely mimic the spectrum of natural instruments, which is why fm was so much better at emulating them than subtractive methods were.
This short interview talks a bit about the mathematics and the importance/usefulness of some of the ratios.
So the simple ratios are useful for harmonic spectra and increasing the complexity of that relationship results in increasingly inharmonic results.