The different MachineDrums?

I did look into both these Elektron machines indeed, but it was the combination of a non-sampler basis with the possibilities to do samples that appealed to me. It is also my first drummachine so that would give me an insight into what works for me.

I will look into the Roland TR8S.

The sound we are going for is heavily influenced by EBM. The more oldschool acts like D.A.F. but also newer acts like Phase Fatale. That last artist explains his gear in this video How To Make A Track: Phase Fatale - YouTube and the Machinedrum that he uses here really struck with me.

I got a MK1 non UW for $500 in 2013.
Been using it almost daily ever since.
It’s easily the most intuitive interface Elektron ever came up with.
Don’t know how the confusing mess that is the Octatrack came AFTER?
I am still pulling new sounds out of it even without UW option. And the +Drive is not as necessary as you might think. I back it up about once a year. That’s how long it takes me to fill up all the pattern banks.
As far as noise, it’s not noticable unless I am zooming in on the waveforms.


I just came here looking for this exact info. The price of the MK1 certainly makes it a lot more appealing too.
Is there any reliability issue I should be worried about with the mk1 other than it’s age coming into play?

age, wear n tear, elektron don’t service mk1 MD’s any more, & power supplies can be hard to source (tho a guy in the UK makes em).

that’s it I think. might have missed somethin but.

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there is a battery in them that holds the memory when it’s not turned on.
That battery dies after 10-12 years or so.
Getting it upgraded to a coin cell battery and holder is pretty easy. Or if you aren’t good at soldering you should be able to find someone who can do it for relatively little.

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I would stick to getting MKII’s and passing on the MKI unless someone can has a reliable way to service and support them.

While I do agree that the Drive+ is not absolutely necessary, in my case, I wish that I had upgraded my MD to Drive+ when it became available. The way that I work is that I like to create as many patterns as possible for a single composition. A track could use more than 32 patterns, and more than one kit across these patterns. That ends up using a big chunk pattern space, so it would be so cool if I could save all these things in Drive+ snapshots that I could recall at will without having to transfer Sysex back and forth.

So I think that most people make a litter of patterns and rely on modulation and performance to capture their MD work, but if anyone who likes to compose and arrange can relate to what I described above, then it may be worth shooting for an MD MKII UW+.

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Thanks for the advice. There is also something that makes me uncomfortable about AC power going into the mk1 too, as opposed to DC on mk2 units.
I’m comfortable soldering and fixing, but it sounds like that will be easier to do on the mk2 as well.
mk2 it is.

Something about the purity of the non-UW units and the fact that they are less expensive really appeals to me. :sweat_smile:

It’s 6V AC at 2.5 amp IIRC. Not anything to worry about for a safety reason. Nor does it show up in the audio path. I’'ve recorded a lot of my MD with a ton of compression. It def gets noisy, but it’s more like bitcrushed static noise, not AC ripple.

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It always takes you on a journey of the unexpected, if you care to let it. Amazing - enjoy being lost for hours!

i see that the OG Machinedrum MK1 is usually much cheaper than the MKII/UW models. is the MK1 fine if i don’t care about sampling (i have a lot of samplers already)? i’ll also probably sequence with external gear so the 32 step limitation may not be an issue for me. i mainly just want the sound of the MD + all the sound sculpting goodness that it has, and i’m thinking maybe the MK1 is sufficient for my needs.

debating whether resampling + more storage is worth the extra thousands in price…

doesn’t the custom x.04 firmware override the 32 step limitation on mk1 units? can someone clarify that or did i get it wrong?

the X.0[X] Machinedrum Firmware alone does NOT increase the pattern length of the MK1 models, some of the documentation/guides can be a little convoluted to the uninitiated, I thought the same thing at first.

Only using the custom X.0[X] MD firmware (put together by @JustinValer & @v-yadli) in tandem with an external MegaCommand running the MegaCommand Live software opens up the MK1s to 64 step sequences & certain other features. The custom firmware alone does however offer new machines & a few OS tweaks with no external hardware.

For some extra history/info:

  • The MegaCommand is an external piece of hardware separate but linked to the X.0[X] MD firmware designed by @JustinValer & @v-yadli. It runs a piece of software usually called MCL (MegaCommand Live) also made by @JustinValer & @v-yadli. They are designed to work very uniquely together but are separate pieces of software for the Machinedrum & MegaCommand respectively.

  • The MegaCommand’s software (MCL) & hardware is based on another hardware box that looks & functions extremely similarly known as the MiniCommand designed & released by Ruin & Wesen starting in ~2009. The MiniCommand is now out of production since ~2014? and Ruin & Wesen as a company seems to be defunct. The MiniCommand is capable of running different & custom software but most notably the Ruin & Wesen designed MiniCommand Live, not to be confused with MegaCommand Live. Importantly, the two pieces of software are not cross compatible with the two pieces of hardware. MegaCommandLive is basically just a continuation of where Ruin & Wesen left off using newer & more accessible off the shelf hardware.

  • An easy way to tell the difference between a MiniCommand and a MegaCommand at a glance is the screen, with the MegaCommand using a black OLED panel & the MiniCommand using a green backlit LCD.

  • AFAIK there is no one producing the MegaCommand hardware as of writing this, so the only way you can get one preassembled right now is buying one used. Otherwise you can source the parts individually and build one yourself if you’ve got the right tools & knowledge.

Other relevant links:
GitHub Issue Thread Discussing Some of the Technical/Naming Differences

Internet Archive Page of Ruin & Wesen’s Website


I think the MK1 is enough. I upgraded my MKi to an MKII/UW when that was first made available centuries ago. I appreciate the upgrade a lot, and I also recognize that the amount of times I have used the UW features is small, especially after getting the OT which took over all UW trickery. The one feature I do rely on is the 64 step pattern length. This is especially useful when I chain it with the MM or the OT because all of these machines also have a length of 64 steps, and I don’t have to do math to figure out where in a 64 step pattern a 32 step pattern is, if that make sense.

I think it depends upon what you want to do with it. if you’re just using it as a sound source and don’t need sampling, the mk1 non-UW should be fine.

to me, the best part of any Elektron machine (and especially the MD) is how much range you can get out of a sound via parameter locking. so it’d be hard to give that up by sequencing externally. unless you’re really comfortable with how your sequencer handles CC’s. you might want to research that. the MD is midi channel and CC hungry. meaning you might lose an entire midi port from your sequencer just to sequence and control all 16 tracks. I don’t recall these details; should be in the manual. hopefully it doesn’t involve Sysex…

another thing to remember is that mk1’s are older. so all parts in them are closer to end-of-life. this could be as simple as a battery or button change, it could be as complicated as an encoder or screen change. and it could be in a month, could be in five years.

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