Which Elektron box am I looking for?

Hello! New user here but longtime lurker!
I make experimental electronic music since 12 years, and I’ve primarily used software to do my thing, and over the past 2 years, also with more funds available to me, I’ve been trying to explore the hardware world a bit more. Not necessarily because I want to switch or go dawless, but looking for things to invigorate my excitement and trying to get away from screens, which have become so associated not only with music-making but also just working, checking emails, social media, etc.

I wanted to ask for your advice because I want to expand my Elektron arsenal, I have the Machinedrum since about 7 years and occasionally use it. I work a lot with samples/sample mangling and have tried out the Octatrack, but wasn’t really for me, cause it seemed like i could get the same things done in ableton way quicker - no doubt if you’re really a master of this machine the workflow really makes a difference. But is there any Elektron machine that you would think excels at sound design and synthesis, rather than just its “grooveboxiness”? I’m looking for something where I can sketch ideas and create new (unexpected?) weird sounds but also something that I could use to make for example some mad bass-scape, and of course benefitting from all the Elektron sequencing goodness

I thought about the analog four but am a bit thrown off that its just an analog synth with not a lot of digital options available, although I think it has FM capabilities. I’m also not really a fan of the new Mk2 form factor and have heard that the MK2 A4 is quite a big improvement sound-wise, though.

The monomachine on paper sounds quite good, but also sounds a bit outdated, and doesnt have a lot of the newer elektron features like Overbridge.
Is the Digitone something worth considering? Or maybe something like the Syntakt?

Would love to hear your thoughts!

I’d go for Syntakt.
The bass are crazy, and it’s IMO the best all-in-one Elektron.
No sample though, but you’ll have fun nonetheless.


Oh yes.


And yes.
@ayaya you also have a bit of FM on ST. And a large choice of other synthesis engines.
What kind of music do you like to play?

I would suggest the DN, if you’re worried that the A4 might be too confined. That said, the A4 can do things that few analogs can, because it has so many cross-modulation options, and ultimately is a very deep sound engine. It can do simple subtractive synthesis pretty well, but it excels when you pit its oscillators against each other. But the DN for sure gets wild very quickly while still being easy to dial into sweet spots.

The ST is wonderful, and its machines are very well crafted, but ultimately it may not have quite the same sound design depth as either the DN or the A4.

Really all depends on what you want to accomplish.

Welcome @ayaya.

I sold my DN for ST and its versality, immediacy, grooveboxiness, but DN goes deeper indeed. (I prefer Hydrasynth for deep synthesis, but it doesn’t have a proper sequencer and things like plocks, sound locks, Multi Map, 4 multitimbral channels…)

And when I hear @Jeanne, I regret DN…

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4 polyphonic synth tracks.
FM, wave folding, and subtractive synthesis.
Tied to the elektron sequencer. Bonza.


Digitone rules. From your description of what you’re looking for, it seems like a great choice. Syntakt may be equally good – I don’t have one but there are lots of good examples here of what it could do.

But I wouldn’t discount the A4 – yes, it is analog, but it doesn’t sound like any other analog synth I’ve ever used (if you’re interested in crazy/intense sounds, look for examples of the feedback and neighbor oscillator options – it gets wild). The form factor is obviously different, but part of what you’re getting with that larger size is 10 knobs for performance controls, plus two additional sets via expression pedals/CV. That’s another consideration – you didn’t mention any other gear besides your Machinedrum, but if you have anything that takes in control voltages or are considering getting any in the future, the A4 MKII has four CV outs. It’s a killer instrument.

The good news is that it would be hard to go wrong with any of the aforementioned boxes. They all have enormous potential.

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A4 goes well with MD! You can get a mark 1 real cheap and same form factor as MD too.

Did you install the x0.8 firmware?

Syntakt uses the Machinedrum “machine” concept whereas the Digitone offers you different FM algo to play with and more controls over the sound creation. Syntakt has the Analog Rytm main analog machines, the Model:Cycles digital machines and some new digital machines. With 12 tracks and so many analog/digital machines, there’s a lot to do! No polyphony, no arpeggiator though.

If you’re used to the 16 tracks of the MD, the 4 tracks of the Digitone might be limiting but the Digitone is an 8-voice polyphonic synth and you can layer 2 patches a la Rev2 to get a 4-voice polyphonic monster patch too! Creating evolving patches is really easy and rewarding.

The A4mk1 is really cheap to get on the second hand market. I will never sell mine. It’s a sound design power-house. I don’t think you need to get the mk2. The mk1 is really good.

If you don’t feel limited by the “machine” paradigm, don’t need polyphony or an arpeggiator, I would go with the Syntakt.


Im going to be honest, if you get say the syntakt (which is excellent), you will wind up with all 3. You will think to yourself, this things so cool, everyone loves a digitakt, so you add that, but then you just know you are missing out on the digitones fm goodness, so you’l get the digitone aswell. I did the same, then i realised one day shortly afterwards i was clearly missing an octatrack, which i had to add aswell.

Buy them all, you will love them.

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Another vote for the Digitone here. The more you use it, the deeper it gets. And because it also has filters and whatnot, and the FM part can be used to make all kinds of sounds, it’s also a subtractive synth.

You can even do wavefolding.

Ok, thank you for your feedback and suggestions :grinning: seems to be a very welcoming forum!

Seems to be like syntakt could be worth a try, and most seem to be suggesting Digitone as well!

I would like something that is good to make like bass sounds and basslines, basically good for making interesting fundaments in a song, thinking something that could be good to make a simple, heavy sine-y footwork style bass but also make more out there and textured (and not only bass sounds, but also pads etc) but I think all of the machines should fit my bill here in different ways. I read that the A4 Mk1 has “brittle low end” but I also read that its just a matter of turning up the low end on the EQ.

@blakewalt I didnt try out any of the new MD firmware but I heard good things about it.

Actually good to hear that the Mk2 isnt an essential upgrade - I don’t know why but i just love the aesthetics of the older Elektron boxes so much. The MK2 seems so huge and clunky to me, even though the tilted design is probably more ergonomical etc. And yes the Mk1 on second hand is surprisingly cheap!

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It took me time, but I know like this form factor. The shortcuts such as the quick Perf are really welcome, and I prefer the sound of the overdrive…
A black A4 mk2 is really a beauty.

Yeah maybe “huge and clunky” was an exaggeration lol. They still look beautiful all things considered. The old form factor just makes me feel cozy

Elektron gear is heavily slanted towards grooveboxiness, above sound design aspects. Not sure why people recommend a syntakt which to me has rather shallow sound design capabilities (I own one). I’d agree more with those who recommend a digitone, which has a deeper synthesis structure.

So, in comparison, a syntakt has wider/more shallow sound design, and the digitone is the opposite: a more narrow focus on FM (you can do a bit of wavetable/subtractive stuff too), but with a lot of depth within that realm.

However, if you’re used to the sound design capabilities of software, there’s a risk you’ll be underwhelmed. I’d be happy to be proven wrong, but in terms of sound design muscle I don’t think elektron offers anything that software can’t do better. There are other perks when choosing hardware.

You should give it a try. The tonal feature alone is worth it as it allows to create bass line and melodies. The new machines are awesome too.

as for the mk1 vs mk2 dilemma, I feel you, I really like the mk1 design and form factor. the mk2 are just too huge. I really wish they would release the A4/AR as a Special Edition with the OTmk2 form factor (I guess the old design will never come back though)