Surprise: Elektron’s latest isn’t a drum machine or sampler or sequencer. Analog Heat is instead a box you use with other stuff. And it has two missions. Mission one: add character to other sounds, via distortion, EQ, a filter, and modulation. Mission two: work with your computer, as an audio interface and as a way of adding that same analog business to software signals.

Of course, the basic idea is nothing new – walk into any number of studios and you’ll see, say, a couple of Moog Minifoogers or some guitar pedals waiting alongside a computer, ready to do some damage. We’re lucky enough to be in the business of music and not, say, video or photography – our daily life involves adding as much dirt as possible while other fields are tasked with removing it. Guess which is more fun. Woe be to the beleaguered retouch artist working on fashion shoots. Wow… wouldn’t they love if their job were more like ours? Editing the Cosmopolitan cover would be like being a makeup artist for The Walking Dead. (More scattered brains, please!)

What’s interesting about this is, well, it’s all been Elektron-ified. So you have one box that combines what would otherwise be a series of pedals. That means changing distortion modes is as simple as turning a knob, and the filter has not just a resonance knob but seven different functions. And while the “heat” is analog, the control is digital – so you can store and recall presets. And it’s computer-friendly, complete with Overbridge support (meaning you can use it as a plug-in effect on your computer), a USB port, and 2-in / 2-out computer interface operation.

There’s also a CV analog input, even apart from MIDI and MIDI sync features.

That is:

8x analog distortion circuits, switchable
Multi-mode filter with seven types
2-band analog EQ
Assignable envelope generator/follower
Assignable LFO

analogheattop

Once you think of it that way, the US$749 price doesn’t seem so steep. Even with mid-range gear, if you did want all of this stuff, you could easily wind up spending the same sum. (That is, not – oh, $749 is cheap or oh, fortunately I have $749 here in my bank account waiting to be spent. But – it does sound like a price point with some logic behind it.) Of course, this assumes you want this particular bundle of functionality in a hardware box. Then again, “do you want all this stuff in a box” summarizes the Elektron value proposition.

It’s funny: all these products are coming just as computer modeling of these sorts of analog circuits is getting really, really good. But on the other hand, there’s a real advantage to gear that can stand on its own.

It’s not hard to imagine the use case here. As analog gear, even Eurorack, has gotten more pristine, adding dirt back to the equation actually becomes necessary. (Well, okay, that necessity never went away, did it?)

And the Analog Heat seems well equipped for the full range of modification from coloring to synced modulation effects to heavy demolition.

So many sound examples:

Making it do double-duty as an audio interface seems a natural. It’s then an all-in-one sound output and sound grunge gadget, one saving precious kilos off the carry-on weight limit dreaded by gigging electronic artists.

This went way up my list for things to test. And I have to say, it’s really nice to see both something marketed as a sound processor and in the desktop space, as well. We’ve got loads of synths and loads of Eurorack modules, but not so many things like this.

analogheat1

Stay tuned for when this arrives this fall. And assume that Sweden is now prepared to make really goth stuff during that bleak, bleak winter.

https://www.elektron.se/products/analog-heat/

I’m a little worried what would happen if we gave this to our MeeBlip triode. It might decide to forget the First Law of Robotics and come murder us in our sleep.

  • Aaron Zilch

    This looks and sounds amazing. I totally agree that we have finally hit a level of DSP sophistication to satisfactorily model these sorts of extreme analog behaviors, but the CPU hit for those plugs is fairly significant. Especially for the really, really good stuff. When you consider that, the price point is a steal for distortion and filter abuse addicts. Which most electronic musicians are on some level. My only minor gripe is I’d just happily pay a bit more for a couple of extra outputs.

  • Would love to see an instrument input on this unit! Did Elektron really forgot about us guitar players? With instrument input this would be super interesting for me…

    • enparticular

      nothing stoping you from using one of the two line inputs and plugging your directly into it. they are not hi-z but it should sound great anyway.

      • guest

        The input specs are weird. It’s like some kind of low-gain, high-impedance mic input. It’s not, like ‘high’ high-Z, but a soild ‘medium-z'(tm) 🙂

        I bet they’re playing some (hopefully, very elegant) games so you can plug just about anything in there with enough amp and drive. And here was me thinking they learned nothing from the Octatrack user feedback.

        • Realised there’s no mic-pre as well. So it’s not really a sound card. I misunderstood this device totally.

          • Yermom

            Not everyone needs a mic pre or instrument hi-z in their mobile rig. Then again, if I were using it for gigging, I doubt I’d use those effects live. They’d be baked into the track. I would be looking to use the least expensive/best results ratio I could for a live audio interface, just so that it’s somewhat expendable and easy to replace, and then again, it also depends what I’d be playing out with. If it was a DJ set and I was using an S4, that already has an audio interface. If I were using Push 2, I’d use the Komplete 6 or possibly find something even smaller, if playing out became a regular thing. If I had either the A4 or AR, they both already do audio interface duty. All that said, I do want it. Expanding my palette of distortion was definitely already on my personal gear roadmap and I already picked up the Dave Smith Character Module, but it’s a little limited in the variety of sound it can do. It does sound interesting though.

    • thie1210

      Any buffered pedal, like a Boss, in front would take care of the impedance mismatch.

  • My first thought was ‘I wonder what this would sound like on a guitar.’ But alas…

    • DOG

      on the elektron site there’s an interactive demo that has an upright bass loop which can give you an idea… completely crushes with the harder distortions.

  • James

    If going through the USB port, could it somehow be used as an insert while using a separate interface, or do you think you’d need to either make an aggregate device or use it as outboard gear in order to accomplish this?

    • James

      to answer my own question: what they’re announcing as Overbridge allows you to view the Heat as a plug-in. I’ve been on the sideline as generations of USB interfaces have swarmed the firewire options. This for me looks like the most justified application: something that serves a new niche/purpose

  • ernomnommus

    I like it alot, I will probably get it.