Syntakt as a midi brain

I dunno. I use the analog drum channels and 2 others for weird sounds and so have another 5 or so for midi sequencing other gear. Seems great to me for that.

I’m considering a Syntakt for this use case:

I had big plans for using a Circuit Tracks as a MIDI brain and controlling (among other things) a M:C, but ended up kind of disappointed. The Circuit’s combination of 32-step mode and chaining was unexpectedly cumbersome for the long patterns I tend to make, plus constantly jumping back between Novation’s and Elektron’s very different sequencer approaches felt like unnecessary cognitive overhead.

ST always looked interesting to me, but I couldn’t justify it… until I started considering it as an option to replace both of the above. The ease of setting up 64-step sequences on Elektron gear, plus having only one sequencer instead of two, is pretty appealing.

That said: is ST overkill for my needs? I could, after all, just give up two tracks on the M:C (I never use all six when paired with other gear) for the two main synths I’d be controlling. And yet, all the additional tracks and machines on ST (plus song mode now) would open up a lot of possibilities.

Nah, I wouldn’t say swapping your M:C & Circuit Tracks for an ST is overkill. It’s probably going to be a more efficient workflow. The extra voices are more of a bonus than anything.

But like a few folks said above, the DN or DT might be a better option with the dedicated midi tracks. Advantages of the ST include the modifier buttons & analogue FX path. That might not seem like much, but they’re quickly become go-to features when a little spice is needed.

So I’ve pulled my set up apart & swapped to the ST as a midi brain/centrepiece. Of course it didn’t work the way I imagined, but that’s OK. Here’s how it went:

  • The ST can’t receive & send midi from the same instrument. I wanted to use my Hydrasynth to play notes into the ST & have the ST pick where those notes were sent (including back to the Hydra), but I just couldn’t get it working. Brought back an old Launchpad to play notes in, which is probably better as it has more pads to play than the Hydra desktop & I can bounce between ST tracks using the Launchpad’s interface.
  • Unlike other ST machines, the midi tracks can’t be saved. The workaround is to set up everything I’ll use in each midi track (CC values etc) then save the program as a template. Easy.
  • I chose to use the 404mk2’s pad banks A & B with the ST’s midi tracks, so I’ve given up 5 digital voices tracks for midi outs. Which feels like a fair bit of a hit, as much as I want to sequence my KP3 with the ST, I can’t bring myself to lose another voice.

Overall I’m liking how easy the modifiers, ratchet, off-grid & chance per step are quicker to dial in than on the Squarp Pyramid. Is it a better centrepiece than the Pyramid? Probably not. Is it a more convenient workflow with a song mode that’s easier to parse? Yep. Will I keep this set going for a while or will I return to the old set up soon? Reckon it’s here to stay for at least a few more months, I like where this set up’s leaning.

Oh wow, thanks for calling that out! I guess that’s actually a dealbreaker for me, as I currently have a Blokas MidiHub set up with the Circuit Tracks specifically for the purpose of playing an Opsix and Monologue from their respective keyboards into sequences. Good to know.

I should look into the DN some more. In addition to the dedicated midi tracks, the lack of overlap with M:C might mean keeping the latter in the setup rather than replacing it. I’d imagine jumping between a Digi and a Model would be less context switching than a Circuit and a Model, too.

This does not match my experience.

I currently have my Syntakt set up to send and receive from my Juno 106. I have the Juno set to a known MIDI channel (I chose 6). I have the ST’s Auto Channel set to the same channel. ST Tracks 7 and 8 have MIDI Machines, both on MIDI Ch 6. Picking tracks 1-6 or 9-12 on the ST means I can play those tracks from the Juno. Picking tracks 7 and 8 lets me play the Juno, and record its MIDI (and do p-locked notes).

In the past, I have used MIDI loopback from the ST to the ST, allowing one MIDI Machine to control more than one synth Machine. This is another flavour of “send and receive at the same time”.


Not true. Just tested with my Hydrasynth Explorer in Local off mode. No problem with midi track channel nor with Auto Channel.

If you want to continue to control your synth and change active track, you have to send the midi track channel set in MIDI CONFIG > CHANNELS. The midi track sends the channel set in TRIG page

No because it is not true.


So, not a dealbreaker then (unless I plan on using vintage Roland gear, I guess?).

I did however start looking into the DN again. I’d been somewhat put off by the eight-voice limitation before, but thinking about it now as a master control for my Korgs + keeping the M:C around for drum duties starts to sound like it might be a good setup. 8 poly voices split across 4 parts may also be a better fit for my style of music than 12 monosynths.

Looks like I have more tweaking to do tonight.

Good to know. Are you only using a single synth in your set up? In mine I’m looking to use the Hydra to play in notes that are intended for a different instrument.

Thanks for mentioning the auto channel, that’s probably where I went wrong.

Sure, I was also setting the Hydra’s local mode to off. Thought it was the ST’s settings that may be the catch. Mind sending screenshots of your midi settings I can copy?

:man_facepalming: Uhhh, I’ve just ruined any chance of having midi-king-credibility around here, so don’t treat my posts as a sales guide. Can the MidiHub take the spot of Max For Live as described in old mate’s video? If so, the ST’s still a good option.

Your intended set up is pretty similar to mine & it just GASSED me, because our aims are similar that MidiHub looks close to perfect.

Everything set to 1 !

HS TX have to correspond to the target midi track channel, and ST midi channel set in TRIG page have to correspond to HS RX.

TX and RX can be different.

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WOW, that was quick. Thanks!

Your settings are pretty much the same as mine. What’s your auto channel set to?

Now I’m wondering if I did something really dumb like have a synth muted in the mixer…

I’m only using the MidiHub to roundtrip split and merge the two Korgs through the Circuit, but my understanding is that the MidiHub will do polychaining if that’s your goal. You can download the editor and see if you can build the pipe you want before buying one!


Yes. There’s an Elektronaut user…

PolySyntakt (video using Midihub)

I used RK002 with midi loopback.

Other solutions in that thread :

Polyphonic? - #15 by sezare56


I just saw HS O’Scope, didn’t have to hear it. :content:

Auto Ch set to 14 (default maybe).
But it is not related.

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So @Unfolding and @presteign I made some recordings yesterday and I confirm ST midi tracks can receive, send, record with an external synth.


@Octagonist & @sezare56 THANK YOU SO MUCH.

I couldn’t figure this routing out, but now it seems so simple. I’ve been haphazardly trying to do this with my ST and either Opsix or JU-06A.

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Happy to help :+1:t2:

The set-up I mentioned is just Syntakt and Juno. I have more gear than I need and also not enough time or focus to work with a single large set-up. I tried working with lots of gear through a mixer, but was overwhelmed so now I make small set-ups, sometimes in parallel. I change them fairly often. You can definitely use the auto-channel and track selection method to pipe MIDI out to multiple synths. I did that via the Octatrack rather than the Syntakt, but the principle’s the same. You have options for routing, but the one I liked was this:

Main keyboard OUT -> MIDI brain IN (Syntakt, Digitakt, Octatrack, etc)
MIDI brain OUT -> Main keyboard IN
Main keyboard THRU -> other synths or drum machines, set them all to listen on different MIDI channels

Convention suggests you don’t chain more than 3 instruments with THRU. The Juno 106 manual even says this explicitly so I wonder if that’s where the idea entered the public mind. I’ve gone to five or six including having a drum machine at the end of the chain, and felt timing was close enough. It’s easy to imagine older gear might slow the “signal” more, but I’ve not tested it properly.

I hope so! I bought one in their sale at the end of the summer for just this purpose. I haven’t made time to try it out yet.


Midi Brain


For real. This is great with Opsix too. Holy moly.

I set my Syntakt’s auto channel to 16, and my Opsix’s to 16. Local control is off. Now I can make whatever track on the ST into a MIDI track on channel 16 to play the Opsix and the velocity sensitive keys on the Opsix can play whatever track I touch on the ST!
This is exactly what I was hoping!

Next I’ll apply the pitch and mod wheels…


Got it all working the way I wanted now. Thanks for the help, sezare56 & Octagonist! Sometimes its good to be wrong.

Where I went wrong was ignoring the the ST’s Auto Channel & not setting the Hydra’s Midi-TX to match the ST’s default Auto Channel.

ST settings:

  • Auto Channel: 14
  • Thru port function: midi

Hydra’s settings are:

  • local:off
  • midi-TX:14
  • midi-RX:3

Now swapping to a midi machine assigned to a different synth (the JU06A on channel 4) means I can play notes in from the Hydra in real time & have the ST record my (sloppy) playing.

Midi out A & Midi thru B are going to separate quadra thrus. A for synths & sampler, B for midi sync’d FX.

That large set up issue is super relatable, I’m in much the same situation with gear way less cool than yours (Roland boutiques, not OGs / Korg ESX, not Octatrack). I’ve really pared mine back since getting the ST seeing it covers so many bases so well. When I get around to properly setting up a music room I’ll probably try your parallel small set up idea.

Is that thru convention ‘device A thru to device B thru to device C thru to device D gives device D audible latency’? Surely processors in synths & sequencers have sped up since 1984… But as a reformed bass player, having something lag in a performance helps make the song more interesting. Gotta say I really appreciate Elektron givinng us the micro timing shifts for that push-pull.

You’ve seen those YouTube tutorials to use an external synth/controller’s mod & pitch to control a macro in the ST, right? If not, It’s genius. Jump to 9:03 for an explanation & demo:


Nacro ?