The sound of the A4/AK... like or dislike?

I have never gotten a satisfactory bass sound out of a mk. 1 A4, nor have any of the presets I’ve downloaded really pleased me enough to be usable. In my opinion it’s safe to say that even if it’s possible to get bass out of the A4, it’s not good at it. There’s no shame in admitting it, most synths aren’t nearly as versatile as the A4 despite it’s shortcomings.


Sure, but Nigel is a pro


I am on my 2nd mk 1
I got rid of the first one after 6 years just found it a bit underwhelming compared to the monomachine.
It wasn’t long before I realised just how well it sat in a mix with the mono and md so swapped my Octa mk1 for a minty a4.
The mono is better by far being my favourite synth of all time but the a4s big bass and pad sounds plus the different track lengths makes it a keeper

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I think the A4 is possibly the best drum synth I’ve ever heard.


Pepe Mogt compared the A4 to an Oberheim 4 Voice. He is right there, I think.

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Start slow, peel as you go
Don’t unwrap, or it’s in your lap!

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That first vid is pretty good. Finally some bass patches that make sense to me. Not overly rich in character but I can see their usefulness in a mix.

I guess in general when tinkering with analog synths I‘m rarely looking for functional sounds but more like signature sounds that can carry a whole track. Think Stephan Bodzin and the way he celebrates the Moog sound. Very few synth layers but each one well crafted and huge sounding.

Moog Sub37 is Hard to tame. Not fun to make it sit well in a mix, because of it‘s richness, it sucks up all the energy of the frequencies. In a Live context, competing with electric guitars, that is fine. In the Studio, not easy.

I know what you mean, an analog synth needs character. Moogs are woody warm, the A4 is more melancholic, modern and Rolandish like Jupiter 6.
ARP Odyssey has a nice defined bass response that can be more aggressive than a Moog.


After Sonic Charge uTonic! :grimacing:

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Cool, I understand.

Just to chime in on the debate, because it seems endless indeed and so I’ll help it keep its momentum :stuck_out_tongue:

The A4 can do all sorts of stuff, including bass, and it sounds like no other synth while doing it.

Does that mean that it should or could please everyone? Nope, definitely not. A matter of taste it is always.

I for example am not big on Waldorf sounds, one guy I used to work with swears by Waldorf. Or when I had a Moog Voyager at home for a while, I sort of thought it was OK but it didn’t blow me away. I prefer my Erebus lol. Note, I’m not saying the Erebus is BETTER than the Voyager (double lol), I’m just saying I PREFER its sound.

So I think it is NOT accurate to claim the A4 cannot do bass. It definitely can, and can do it well within its own sound signature.

Now if that sound signature doesn’t sound good to somebody, there’s really no arguing that. They don’t like it, they don’t like it, done. At the same time though, if someone DOES like it, that needs to be respected too.

Accordingly, I couldn’t care less what the pros use. I use what I like. I trust myself enough to make my choices on the basis of what resonates with me. Most pros I know do the same. It may not make for quality music but it does make for quality living.

As I have mentioned before, me personally I love my A4 and its sound and sound signature. That said, I still don’t use it for bass (even though I could), because I love it for other things and don’t want to “steal” a voice from these other sounds (in my case I use the A4 for pads/soundscapes/SFX mainly) + I PREFER the bass out of my Erebus and its faster to dial in - and I try to use what I own :slight_smile: .

I’ve also mentioned in earlier posts that I too had to learn to love the A4 - at first I thought it sounded flat, but once I got to know how to work it more I understood what it takes to make it sound good to me (movement).

I think that’s what most of us who like its sound are saying here: don’t give up if at first you don’t like it. Learn to use it and it will open up beautifully. But if you then still don’t like it, well then you just don’t like it.

I don’t see anyone here saying “if it doesn’t sound good to you then you just don’t know how to use it” - I do see people saying “if you think it CANNOT do this or that, then you just don’t know how to use it.”

Obviously the lines blur if I would say stuff like “well can it sound like a Moog?!” , but then Jidduh Krishnamurthi said all suffering begins with comparison, so yeah.

I think the A4 is a future classic like some of the 80s synths I don’t like the sound of :slight_smile:


All fair and understood.

I did claim though that the A4 has flaws in its sound. That‘s something I think is not subject to taste (which this discussion did not exactly confirm so far :))

A bit above are some sound bites I uploaded to prove that the oscillators lack definition in the bass register. In my opinion that‘s a design flaw. Particularly as the A4 is the only synth I know showing this behaviour.

You could do the test yourself and report back. One request though, use studio cans or full range monitors. I do believe that most people claiming to be able to hear a clear difference were checking on systems that don‘t reproduce bass frequencies like laptop speakers. If only the upper harmonics go through mushy bass obviously cannot obscure the fundamental. I can hear the difference well on my phone speakers but almost not at all on my KH120s.

I dont know what problem ppl have with this thread. I could go on forever here :slight_smile:

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Would it possible for you to show it again, please? You were afair just comparing the A4 raw sound with a fully master engineered out produced track, that no synth ever could compete with.

I‘m not talking about the Moderat track

This is what I‘m refering to. But I apparently never uploaded that sound bite lol. Which also means that the theory about crappy speakers producing better results cant be true…

Let me see if I still have that file somewhere.

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Found it :slight_smile:

So I listen back to your file first (post 213 for those who wonder), I hear a CLEAR difference between the notes on my Kali Audio LP6s, JBL 305s, HiFi system and iPhone lol. I CAN ONLY BARELY hear the difference on my closed back Focal Spirit Professionals as well as on my AKG K702s.

When I reproduce your test on my A4 Mk1, again I CAN hear a clear difference between C and C# on my studio monitors. The difference definitely isn’t equally as clear on both my headphones, however it’s (somewhat) clearer than in your example (but that could also be psychoacoustics because I’m actually playing the notes)

Out of curiosity I did the same test with my Erebus V2 (tried both, OSC1 set to Saw as well as Square, lowest register, filter fully open, resonance fully turned down, attack at 0) and the behaviour replicates across all output systems (i.e I CAN hear the difference clearly on my monitors, I BARELY can hear a difference on my headphones).

Next up my Toraiz AS-1, exact same result. I can hear the difference clearly on my monitors, barely on my cans.

Finally my NYX v1, same thing. Monitors and Hifi System no problem. Cans barely / in this case even not at all able to differentiate.

So what I take away:

First Takeaway:
Curious that you get the same behaviour on your KH120s, that’s surprising. Otherwise I’d easily conclude that it’s the headphones, they probably don’t go low enough to represent that low pitch accurately (not specs wise, but in practice :slight_smile:).

Second Takeaway:
I had no discernible issues with muddiness on the A4, it’s the same degree of pitch separation as all other synths I tested (or lack thereof through my headphones). I’ll be happy to record these for you later on tonight if you like so you can try it out for yourself (but you said you have 5 synths that don’t show the same behaviour on your KH120s, so it just may be that your A4 does need calibration after all?)

Third Takeaway:
Damn those Dreadbox synths sound FAT! :grin:
EDIT: And yes, the A4’s oscillator sounds thin and flat at INIT in comparison to these other synths’ oscillators. :slight_smile: (oh boy, there comes the suffering… :grin:)


the Bass response of the A4/AK only defines itself best when turning down the track levels or playing it with a velocity sensitive keyboard.

also to mention that most fat Bass sounds in “subtractive” synthesis are coming from the filter department in combination with the oscillator, reducing the whole frequency range to a bass maximum.

the manual states that the full sound from the oscillators comes thru when setting the resonance to 24 I guess, it has to be slightly turned on.

all I can say is that the Bass on the AK is just like you would need it, it’s clear it’s oommphi and can bring up a natural level when playing with velocity and hitting that bass note a bit harder.

my subwoofer keeps shaking when playing the AK , on the A4 MK2 that I swapped with the AK it wasn’t, most due to same levels on tracks and no velocity when operating from the mini keys, just imagine when you have three moogs running at the same level you won’t notice the 4th one coming in on the same level.

let alone watching the VU meters on my mixer dancing to the great stereo spreading of the AK is such controllable, modulating pan on a precise level. :cowboy_hat_face:


Thanks for that great tip.
I played my A4 mk1 in a band with midi keyboard and always thought in rehearsal, that it sounds really nice in that context. I thought it was the different PA and room etc.
After reading your post I played it yesterday for a few hours with my Komplete Kontrol keyboard, and it’s true. Playing it with keyboard velocity instead of the A4’s mini keyboard or step sequencer only makes a huge difference.
It really seems the velocity and oscillator (and maybe amp) volume is too high by default. It sounds much nicer, and defined when playing from the keyboard…
Considered swapping it with an AK yesterday lol

Another great tip that changed a lot, was from another thread I believe. Making filter one neutral by opening the filter and turning resonance up to 64 by default, and using only the second lp filter for sound sculpting makes a lot of difference. Much more sweet spotty imo


…back to this again!


Volume doesn’t define fatness or richness or depth - I personally thought we were talking about qualities beyond how high you’ve dialled a sub

Again, this points more to issues with arrangement, sound choices, or mixing skills

Me too! Even if something ends up playing a background role, I search for character. With analogs I mostly tend towards richer sounds, something that makes you stop with a bit of a wow. But of course other people look for different things.

Thanks for posting these, I’ll take a read! Do you know if any of them specifically relate to bass use?

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For me this is the argument.
I’m sure that A4 it’s a great instrument.
I know that it can deliver juicy basses.
I know that it can produce a lot of amazing evolving sounds.


compared with other synths, A4’s vco at init sounds thin and flat.
One more opinion: it is weak without modulation of more parameters. It really shines if heavy modulated.

I agree: it’s a subjective matter, it’s only personal taste. This is the reason why we’ll be stuck on this topic for ever, talking about it for ever and ever… :joy:

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No!! I like it!!! You’re WRONG!!! EVERYBODY IS WRONG!!! :stuck_out_tongue: :joy: