My first steps with the Digitone and some thoughts

I now got my DN. To be honest I’m not quite satisfied with it right now but this is maybe based on my years of experience with subtractive synthesis only. So I’m a virgin in FM. The sound is different from everything I’ve done on other machines, even the Blofeld sounds different with it’s FM-implementation.

The layout of the user-interface: It’s different but not too different from other Elektrons i have. First i was overwhelmed by it’s more direct access to synthesis-parts - that sounds awkward but on the other machines A4,AR,OT,AH there is some certain logic in menu-diving given more space for the user-interface … this one is one level below or up - don’t know how to express myself better… it took me some time to figure it out - now it works

The sound-engine: once again I was overwhelmed by the very different approach to synthesis. The very first patches i created, based on the logic of subtractive synthesis and didn’t sound very well - as a mater of fact i was thinking about sending it back immediately. Then i listened to the demo-patterns, a behavior i usually don’t do on any machines, and I’ve learned that the DN sound quite well but also with heavy use of chorus, delay and specially the reverb!

The FX: i don’t know how to describe it but the FX sound quite different compared to the ones in the A4 - the chorus on the A4 seems to thicken up the sound, on the DN it sounds more lightweight but also more artificial - but not bad. The delay seems to be improved and far more powerfully, more dark - i would say it’s easily in the league with the plethora of mid-range pedalboards out there. The reverb seems to be also improved - well sounding. In my opinion the FX-section must be seen as integral part of synthesis here.

The sequencer: on a small box like the DN the 2x8 layout seems logical (keyboard! and steps in one) - it took me some time to get familiar with. The lights, the new buttons and everything - a different look

The filter-section: it’s interesting that the base-width-filter found it’s way to the DN - a useful tool for removing some characteristics from the oscillators! The other filter is quite nice for some kind of pronouncing certain frequencies … it sounds different from everything I’ve heard so far. Also the resonance is hardly self-oscillating when maximized - more on the LP2 than LP4. It seems, that the filters can be rather seen as a add-on sound-designertools for frequencies than for ‘coloring’ the sound of the oscillators like on subtractive synths

LFOs: nothing to say there, maybe an additional modulation-target per LFO would be nice

Overall: there are two path i could go - either i send it back or i put in some efforts in programming this synth. I’m not quite sure what the DN represents, a small groove-box or a synth-module. I think there is still place for improvements:

  • parameter-slide: i miss it and it is a must-have, but i could also imagine this will eat up a huge amount of DSP-power, specially when used on the fine ratios - i guess FM is very DSP-hungry

  • envelopes: as modulator, with targets - on the BW-filter-page there is still place for a simple AR-envelope with looping-functionality detached from the sequencer or step/trig-locked

  • and: some sort of striped down version of a song-mode which can be saved with the project

as i said, coming from a subtractive background i have to wrap my mind around this thing. In case i keep it, it could become a love-hate-relationship or a love


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LOL … that was hopefully the reason to get it, in the first place :wink:

Try this :+1: … FM is very different to subtractive synthesis and takes quite a different thinking and sound design approach.

could generate “horrible” sounds, if applied to the “wrong” parameters, it’s FM after all.

This said, I would like to recommend to try the DN as what it is, so for first steps …

  • Try to forget, what you know about subtractive synthesis, if you work on the DN
  • Do some research on frequency relationships and what kind of sounds are possible with the different frequency combinations
  • Start with one pair of operators and the most simple algorithm. Learning about the possibilities of one Carrier and one Modulator will teach you the most important things about FM.
  • Try to modulate the FM itself (example the depth of modulation of the modulator)
  • If you have access to some kind of oscilloscope (hardware or software) use it to get additional visual feedback about what’s going on inside FM
  • Try to understand that the DN filter is some kind of a nice to have add on for an FM synth. Using the filter from the beginning would keep you too much thinking in the realm of subtractive synthesis. Just try to forget about it for a while … :wink:
  • Keep out of the FX section to get a better understanding, what the pure synth engine can do.

The two filter layers is so good you’ll hate your other elektron boxes when you forget they don’t have it


I think of the Digitone as a synth module with a very good sequencer. Thinking of it as a groove box just makes you want a song mode.

I’ve had my Digitone nearly two years now and I’d say it was probably six months before I could say I fully understood every aspect of the synthesis engine. That being said, I don’t have a lot of time to play these days (my Digitone and son were deivered within a week of each other) so if you put the time into it you should be able to pick it up fairly quickly.
It never ceases to amaze me the range of sounds I can get out if it, considering the fairly “simplified” implementation of FM.


Digitone is amazing. When it clicks, you will be in ‘holy shit’ mode for quite some time.
I use it as a synth module, played with a keystep, sequenced from my Octatrack. That means 5 LFOs per track… and 2 more pages of p locks…
Full use of 4 modulation destinations for velocity, aftertouch and modwheel,
plus I can use the Digitone sequencer for yet another layer of automation, running at a different rate to the note data sent from OT…

It gets ridiculous fast.


Maybe Get some sound packs if they are still on sale so you can see the possibility of the synth?


Check out the user forums here for a lot of great tips. Also, YouTube has a plethora of digitone how to’s.

I was about to get the digitone, then they dropped the keys version. I would say having a digitone keys has made it crazy fun to play and get some awesome things going. Since you have the digitone already, I would suggest mating it up with a keystep. The only thing you would be missing really is the user assignable encoders above the kepbed. The arp with the sequencer is very fun.

Elektron has made fm enjoyable to create with. Read the manual through it’s entirety and practice what it teaches you. I would go chapter by chapter and perform what each says to get a grasp of how to understand it.

When it clicks, if you keep it, you’ll be amazed.


…hiho fm virgin…

ur already to deep in to send it back…let’s be honest…

and hey, whenever u stuck with programming new sounds…with the tone it’s even totally OK to dive through the presets!!!
i always hated preset sucking…but not on this machine…

so dare to download all presets for this machine available…with two twists u make them all ur own sounddesigns, fitting in perfectly…

and yesh…if u have’nt tried yet…connecting some keys to it, opens up a totally different instrument again…the sequencer becomes a truu tape machine…

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thank you all :thup:

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Don’t send it back. FM is so powerful and beautifully bizarre. Maybe avoid the filter and effects for a while. Better fokus on exploring the genuine fm parameters: Algorithms, modulator and carrier levels and ratios, the modulator envelopes. Don’t approach the digitone like a substractive synth.

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yes, just get a basic idea how these parameters interact. And then follow your ears. Fm is more about exploration than targeting a specific sound

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Or just download the demo versions of them for free. Not as many presets, but you pay nada


I just got mine recently, and I absolutely love it. But I’d been looking into it for some time before I had the budget for it. For starters I looked at a bunch of tutorials on YouTube. Cuckoo (@cuckoomusic), Ivar Tryti (@Eaves), and Oscillator Sink all have good videos with very different approaches to FM synthesis, specifically as it exists on the DN. I would say I got the most out of the ones by Red Means Recording…really straightforward and inspiring as well.

I’ve also now begun to analyze the factory sounds. It really has quite a few to start from, and looking at the synthesis parameters that go into the very different sounds has started building up some good intuitions about what it takes to build them up from scratch.

I certainly have a long way to go, but all of the happy accidents that happen along the way more than make up for what I don’t know. I do indeed love this synth. It’s already provided hours and hours of pleasure, especially when I have it side by side with my Digitakt. :smiley:


i guess i realized it, some parameters now make sense to me - like feedback - a very good replacement for a filter in conjunction with modulator envelopes


…ur journey has just begun… :wink: