OT & MD (non-UW)

I’ve been planning on getting a Rytm, but I am still drawn to the MD, and lately I’ve seen several SPS-1 mk1 units at quite attractive prices. I have an OT and A4 (and other gear but that’s beside the point). I wonder how well the MD fits with OT, especially for things like bank/patch changes and so on, since the sequencer changed from the OT onwards.

I’m not worried about the UW aspect - it’s nice, but I don’t think I really want to pay for it, I’m more interested in pure synthesis and the OT takes care of my sampling needs in spades. The ROM & RAM machines on the MD didn’t really appeal to me workflow-wise.

What did (and does) appeal to me on the MD is the large selection of machines, many of whose sounds I like (especially the FM models) and the very flexible routing of LFOs etc. etc., plus the fact that it has the largest # of tracks/polyphony of any Elektron device. I admit I’m also a big fan of Extrawelt, and I notice it’s a fixture in their live rig!

What are your experiences about pairing them up, good or bad? Also, how would you say the MD filter compared to the filter effect on the OT, because I’m inordinately fond of that sound. I like my machines highly programmable and while I like a great deal of what I hear on the Rytm the MD seems like a much deeper instrument.

I had a MD for a month or two before selling, and have had my Rytm for about the same time. I think you’re right about the MD being a deeper machine than the Rytm currently is in terms of synthesis. But on every other level, I’m preferring the Rytm.


  • most importantly, I like the overall sound better. This is obviously subjective, but out of the box it’s nearer to what I want in my drums.
  • I like the compressor, built-in effects, filters (so much range just using basic sounds and p-locking filters!), overdrive, etc.
  • microtiming. Very important to me in a drum machine. As someone who started on Octatrack, the MD’s lack of it always bugged me
  • I really like the way samples are mixed into a voice. You can even do some basic sample cycling. For example, load in three similar snares, have a voice playing the middle one, then set a LFO with a depth of 1 to modulate sample slot. Layering that with a sympathetic synth snare can get you a really vibrant sound.
  • If you use it live, the performance aspect is better on the AR. I’ve just started to explore it - really great. On a similar note, the jumping between patterns is nice too

Granted, there’s crazy stuff you can do on MD. A friend showed me how crazy you can get with the control all machines. But overall the AR is the clear choice for me.

Interesting information, thanks. I am interested in the crazy stuff, specifically. Also, still interested in how it integrates with the OT.

If you get the MD you could always sequence it with the OT to get the micro timing. I have both the AR and MD and love both.

I’v had the OT for about 2-3 years and it’s been my only Elektron device ever so I have no real reference to other devices. I was looking for a drum machine to free up some track on my OT so I bought a MD SPS-1 MKII and have been loving it. The almost 600$ price tag difference between the MD and Rytm was a big deal breaker for me. I also prefer the retro look :dizzy_face:

I had the feeling that sampling overlap between the Rytm and OT was not necessary. Also I kind of prefer the cold digital sounds the MD offers.

Also, as you said, it has 16 tracks, and that’s great considering it’s the least expensive of the bunch.

Comparing the manuals, I thinks the MD goes deeper synthesis wise and effect wise than the Rytm. But as Jamrod said, I imagine the sampling layer can add infinite possibilities to the Rytm sounds.

Also, the CTL-ALL machine is just awesome for releasing hellish variations. Followed up by the a nice kit reload trick to fall back to your original sound.
(Funny cause the MD helped me understand the OT parts and it’s reload trick)

Who knows, I think it’s possible that micro-timing could be added to the MD on upcoming updates???

I prefer the tone of the machine drum to the AR… AR is too bright and warm or something… the MD is punchy and cold and has so many different ways to mangle the sounds.

I want to pick up another MK1 sometime.

All elektron machines integrate very well, in that they can be midi synced and thus change bank and pattern together
i have the md mk II, the main thing that bugs me, is not having the + drive,
meaning you have to fart around with C6 and tm1 via midi if you want to change project

Also be aware that the mkI is limited to 2 bars, 32 steps, whereas the mkII is 4 bars, 64 steps

The micro timing can be an issue, and i dont think it will ever be implemented, but as stated you can sequence from the OT via midi and use MT from there…

I lust for the AR, but the MD is very good
Also i have the MD running into the OT’s inputs, so im able to add extra fx lo fi, freeze delay, or even chop up the pattern and re slice it,
For me good combination, and second hand deals could well be worth it

My sentiments exactly: the crazy stuff. That, and the MD for me is just so. . . immediate.

My first elektron instrument was the OT, and I finally started to feel really comfortable with it around the time I added the A4. Somehow, I always itched for a MD, but I really didn’t want to deal with the sampling aspect, as I’d really gelled with the way sampling worked in the OT.

Our drummer acquired a RYTM, and it is wonderful sounding, but even though I’m a huge fan of what he can do with it, here I was still hungry for that quirky something the MD offered.

I finally picked up a barely used MD MKII for a great price (non-UW, non-plusDrive.) I’m am thrilled that I did; the machine just gets to me for some reason.

As for micro-timing, I’m going to experiment with the Swing patterns per track, to see what kind of “organic” feel I can inject that way. Undoubtedly the micro-timing on the OT / A4 is musically useful, and I’m curious to see what messing with the particular swung trigs on the MD might achieve.

I’m not so exercised about the micro-timing because.er…I mostly do really straight 4/4 or with a very simple swing :imp:

I don’t mind using the OT for a few parts if they need to sit ‘just right’ in the groove. I would miss ht eindividual pattern lengths/multipliers much more, as I really like doing that on the OT, but OTOH things like the 16 LFOs and the CTL-All machine will make up for it. I have worried a bit about the 2 bar aptterns on the Mk1, but after digging through the manual and looking at things like note triggering for different patterns and so on I don’t expect that to be such a big deal It will mean some workflow changes, but mostly positive rather than annoying ones.

I do like what I hear of the Rytm, but my impression is that it still has some ‘growing pains’ and some restrictions like a single LFO per part, which make me think it would be worth waiting through some OS updates. Also, I went through a few other drum machines in the last year, like a Tempest and a Vermona DRM1, and came to realize that workflow and smooth programmability are too important to compromise. I like all these other machines too, but I have limited space/money/mental energy.

By contrast, when I was playing on a borrowed MD for a few hours last year I loved it - the conventional sounds were excellent but could move towards strange/experimental textures in ways that felt extremely natural to me (in same way I found the OT extremely intuitive while a lot of other people did not). I wouold probably have gone looking for one earlier if it wasn’t for the news about the Rytm…

I think you have answered your own question , get one !
I think my MD mk II (non uw) is my favourite gear . I’m happy not having UW as I have an OT but the sounds you can get out of the md you wouldn’t of sampled anyway (non drum sounds).
What I’m trying to say is you can get some unusual sounds OTB and still be able to tweak them to taste.

Yeah I think you’re right :wink:

they’re my 2 favorite, but imo the UW is so worth it, well the sampling bit, i don’t load sounds so much.

sampling back and forth really works well with the octatrack. you can think of it as a super delay effect if you want. :slight_smile:

if you make some nice percussion sounds on the octatrack there are times it’s nice just to quickly sample those into the md without setting up resampling on the octatrack. and then resample that into the octatrack. lol

i dunno i guess it depends how you use the octatrack, but i found the machinedrum’s sampling really freed up a lot of flex machines for me and i hardly had to stop the octatrack and bounce the internal tracks any more. granted the drum synthesis in general frees stuff up too. :wink:

standalone, if you layer a bunch of sounds on the md to make one sound it lets you “bounce”. the live re-sampling also lets you play chromatically in some interesting ways.