Time to Let Go of the A4?

In a bit of a quandary.

My A4 has sat on a shelf for months now and it’s starting to bug me a bit. Pulled it out on Friday and built some nice enough patterns (I’m no power user…) but last night I sat with the laptop and was off flying using Repro/Diva/etc.

I know there is value in having something tactile to play with but when I’m sitting with a Komplete Kontrol 49 and controlling/automating parameters that starts to lose significance quickly.

I’m not needing the cash but what’s the point of it sitting on the shelf? Ebay has £1 selling fees until midnight tomorrow so nows as good a time as any to chuck it up there if time to let it go.

So… anything to try over next evening or two to persuade me to keep hold? Maybe try it with these ITB synths via OB? Or some other alternative? My head says sell but I’d regret it if I didn’t try a few things first.

Sit on the couch with the A4 and only the A4 (maybe + headphones and a controller kb if you need it), ensure you are in a good frame of mind for some composition, and for an hour or more aim to develop 4 useful pieces (not full compositions, but project backbones that you can develop full compositions from).

The next day, sit down at your laptop/Repro/Diva and for an hour or more aim to do the same thing again, creating roughly the same quantity of fresh ideas.

Which set of tracks has more mojo…? Which is more fun…? During what process did the better ideas and originality burst through more easily, quickly?

If the A4 come second, then you can sell it comfortable in your mind that you are… more of a laptop person.


Great advice, thanks.

It’s basically how I approached Friday night and Saturday. Friday was an A4 only session. I do love the FX on this thing and how easy it is to make practically anything sound good with the FX. Saturday just seemed to get a little further. But, and a. big but, I’ll give it a go some more tonight.

I think 2 things bother me with the A4. 1. The sequencer. I love the sequencer when using the OT but find it a little restrictive on the A4. Probably due to… 2. Polyphony. To be fair, this has always been my main bugbear with the A4/Ak.

It is a little bizarre that I get plenty of mojo on the OT but struggle on the A4. I know I could use them together but I think I start to lose the OT magic when I do and fall into a trap of just using it as a fancy drum machine.

I’ve always been more of an ITB chap but life would be boring if I stuck to that!

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If you enjoy using the computer vsts with your controller then its the right decision. For noodling around on the sofa it could be useful for you. But it comes down to how many hours a day you want to put into writing music.


Sofa noodling is probably covered by the OPZ and my time for music isn’t what it used to be.

But, like I say, I’ll give it another go tonight. For the current second hand going rate, the A4 is a wonderful machine. Probably one of the best bargains going at the moment. If only it had 8 voices like the Digitone!

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Buy a 2nd one! :pl:
Btw it can be 8 paraphonic voices with midi processing trickery.


Seeing that they seem to sell for around £500 secondhand currently I think you won’t get any other 4 part analog synth with great fx, etc and a kick arse CV/Gate sequencer for anywhere near that, I think they will probably appreciate in value eventually but right now they seem too cheap to me.


don’t forget how useful it is as an FX input box … and wonderful analog partner to digital elektrons


that’s interesting - if anything my OT work sounds like it was made on the OT and a bit mechanical, my A4 /AR both provide more fluidity in the end product; which ultimately sounds a bit more polished and integrated to me. It’s the FX wash, the analogness and the filters that take it up a level.


Also soundlocks, phenomenal and quite unprecedented in an analog synth.


I know that feeling. But it changes for me all the time. There are periods where I write more inspiring stuff on the computer and I want to sell things like the A4 but then suddenly a period comes where I create pattern after pattern on the A4. Or sometimes I turn it on after a long time and I‘m suddenly totally impressed by the sound of old patterns I‘ve done months before
Same thing with the OT.
I would keep it if you don‘t need the money urgently. Second hand prices are crazy low.

Thing with Diva and Repro is they just sound phenomenal and are very sweet spotty.
I guess soundwise, for many hardware synths it is questionable if they are worth the extra money compared to U-he synths.
All about the interface and your workflow


Drop it. Reclaim the headspace it occupies. Kontrol’s a great keybed. How’s that not tactile? It is. Keeping it is only an idea but selling it is real.


Well, if some synth gains dust I’ll grab it and make at least 3 complete tracks with it - and I try to use the most features of it that make sense to me.

If it’s a) not fun or b) i can’t finish it because reasons or c) it does not sound right I let it go.


I probably wasn’t clear. What I mean is that I am getting hands on with Kontrol so that typical OTB argument falls flat in this case.

I bought it second hand at a crazy low price so would expect to recoup most/all I paid. Will think it over though


Sell it and move on before the price drops even more.

If any instrument is sitting on a shelf for months you’ll not be able to learn it in an evening, you have to view the A4 as what it is best at (part of that is the CV side, but that can be put aside)

To get the benefit of what it can/should be you have to put in the hours to develop the muscle memory and learn its nuances. Do your own sound design, find your own workflow, see where the flight envelope is and how that relates to your ideas.

Comparing the A4 to a controller plus this or that is imho a bit off the mark - I think if you only look at the destination (some sound ?!) and not the journey (expression/musicality/dexterity) and how you’d do that in the way any instrument is utilised then for me all the fun is missing - the A4 is highly tailored for improvisation and building ideas on the fly and it’s a standalone thing that’ll work for eternity - turn it on, there’s four voices which is way plenty if you know how to get the most from it and it’s there, it’s all there, add in a cv side partner and it’s even better

Getting the best from it takes time, especially sound-wise, but it’s in there and it has its own vibe which I must admit I do like, it’s great for drums sounds (Daren’s Druma proves that) - it can do all sorts too - it may make more sense to someone weaving mono lines than some chord wizard keys dude (who wants that, polyphony is over-rated)

Ultimately, if you don’t put the time in, you only see part of its whole and compare it to comparable products, not vsts - it’s also absolutely not for everyone, but imho it’s probably Elektron’s best instrument although the AR sounds fantastic - ultimately the A4 is self contained and does a bit of everything, needs no samples, it’s all in the black/grey box complete with tidy fx and it can do your bidding if you get to know it well enough, but you need to want to - it takes effort to get the best from it, there’s no short cuts

That’s not to say it’s perfect, I’m ok with the one octave keys, it’s a pity they didn’t add velocity at least to the Mk2 but honestly if you add up all the ways that it can be harnessed to make sound there is nothing like it - look at the way the poly is handled and the neighbour oscillator stuff and so on, it’s a mini modular and way deep - you probably have to enjoy sound design and exploring - sure, turn on a sweetspot synth and you’re there - it’s not the best synth voice I own, it has good flexible and gnarly filters though, but it’s easily the best single package, easily

edit : sorry, an essay wasn’t my intention, just sharing my (A4 fan) perspective on what I believe the A4 is intended to be and is therefore best at being


nice essay :slight_smile: I agree on everything


No need to apologise!

Having owned A4/AKs several times over the years, I think the muscle memory is half way there but it’s probably my sound design and pull towards presets that’s one of the things that dooms me. I wish Elektron had managed a randomise function on the A4!

Im in no rush I guess. There will be other £1 fee days on Ebay (every couple of weeks it seems!). Maybe I just need to find my own sweet spot with it. Whether that’s using it on it’s own and getting clever with the voices or integrating it in some with with my OT or ITB side of things. Who knows at this point!

If I do decide to hold on to it for now, I think I’m going to try to keep the A4 as a four track mono (though using trickery for a drum track) and force myself into that mindset. I can have all the polyphony in the world ITB and that is great but maybe I should force myself into some limitations.

To be honest, for slow arp like synth patterns with a dollop of A4 FX on it, the thing really does sound quite exceptional at times. The only other piece of hardware that turns my head is probably the Digitone but if struggling to commit to one piece of Elektron synth magic then I don’t really think it’d be any different long term with another.

Cheers though! Plenty of food for thought.


Do you know about @guga’s A4 randomiser?


I found that about ten minutes after posting that comment :joy: will def check it out