BBoyTech’s Elektron Digitakt First Impressions
So, the Elektron Digitakt arrived yesterday (a couple of weeks ago as of the posting of this article). I was excited to finally have this joint in my possession. Shout out to my folks over at Elektron.
So, for those that are not familiar, the Elektron Digitakt is the latest Elektron creation. It is an 8 track digital drum machine and sampler. It has 8 audio tracks for samples and 8 midi tracks. In conjunction with Elektron’s powerful sequencer that allows for parameter locks and trigs with probability, Digitakt is little beast of a sampling drum machine.
Digitakt has midi in / out / thru. Midi out and thru also serve as Sync A and Sync B for legacy gear. It has a L/R input and L/R Output. Digitakt also has a USB connection on the back for host connection and Overbridge use. It has a 1/4 inch headphone connection on the back as well.
So, my first impressions… I immediately sat it next to the Analog Heat because they are the exact size and footprint. I believe they use the exact same casing. I dig this form factor for portability. Not to mention, Elektron boxes just look great sitting together on any desk or table. So, yeah I dig the look and form factor.
Everything about it felt very familiar to me. I own the Elektron Machinedrum, Elektron Analog Rytm, Elektron Analog. I’ve also owned the Elektron Analog Four as well. That said, it all felt very familiar from the navigation style to the knob operations and especially the sequencer. So, if you are partial to the Elektron aesthetic then this one will play well with you. Not so much if you aren’t a fan of Elektron’s style and functionality.
Prior to reading the manual, I was able to easily navigate thru and play patterns. I was even able to quickly tweak the patterns too. Digitakt was pretty seamless in terms of workflow across the board with other Elektron models.
The Digitakt instrument pads are not like pads at all. They are more akin to the Machinedrum pads or the Emu SP-1200 pads which are very much like buttons. They are not spongy and rubbery MPC-esque pads. The pads in this case are hard or firm plastic with a nice sort of rubbery, or perhaps, matte finish to touch.
The back-lit pads and absence of the ever-present LEDs above the pads is a nice touch. It makes the Digitakt look more clean.
The function button is orange. It makes it rather intuitive to know that this button will give you access to any parameter that is written in orange on the faceplate of the Digitakt.
Portability is a huge score for the Digitakt. I love that size for the portability. It easily fits into nearly any backpack. It’s just as comfortable in the studio as it will be on the couch or on the go. But given its size I totally wish it had a battery inside. But something like that is easily remedied with something like an Omnicharge | Omni 20.
I was also happy to see that Digitakt has swing globally as well as per track. It also has micro-timing, which is familiar. Tempo can be applied per pattern and globally as well.
Now on to the very important things about the Digitakt. It’s sounds great! There is an ample amount of play in the parameters to do a good deal of sound design and create very unique sounds. That is what I am most excited about here. Coming from an MPC background there are things about the Elektron sequencer that we will likely never see in the MPC and vice versa to be fair. But I am stoked, having never owned an Octatrak, to have the Elektron sequencer and sculpting parameters available to dig in on samples. Essentially I get synth like parameters to toy around with my samples and that’s dope.
Sampling is easy enough and the knobs allow for quick and easy zooming and editing loop, start, end points. One of my fave things to do with samples on Digitakt is to set the LFO to freak the filter frequency or start points of the sample.
The effects are dope. It has reverb, delay, bit reduction and a distortion. I far as I can tell thus far the delay and reverb are a bit different than what I’m used to on the Rytm.
From a high level I can already tell you that I dig the portability, improved screen, sample and drum editing. Not to mention the Digitakt just looks and sounds dope! Pair this with an iPad / iPhone (music apps and source for sampling) or something like an OP-1 and you’ve got yourself the ultimate mobile powerhouse beat making rig.
What would I want to see added? I’d love to see the master section fleshed out a bit more with a compressor filter maybe. I’d love to see some form of chopping for samples. Perhaps that a direct requirement of my MPC background but I’d love to see chopping functions that would allow auto chop to spread a sample across chromatic mode. I’d also love to see an additional LFO for way deep tweak-ability.
Peep the first impressions video.
Overall, it’s limitations are inspiring and it’s sequencer is powerful. Love trigs and p-locks and how they allow some out of the box thinking. So, that’s all for now. I will get to know the Digitakt and do a proper review here soon.
For more info on the Elektron Digitakt check out the Elektron site.