Elektron has been making some beautiful analog stuff with, well, “analog” in the name. But it seems the time has come to fill a glaring opening in the market – one left not just by Elektron, but by the industry in general.

Digitakt is dedicated drum machine hardware that’s also a sampler and also (at last) a powerful sequencer for external gear. In other words, it’s the box that does what the computer does as far as sampling, sound design, and gear control – but focused on just those tasks.

It’s also an answer to Elektron users shouting “why doesn’t the analog four let me sequence external gear” asking “huh, it looks like the Octatrack was just discontinued I wonder if that means something new is going to replace it.”

Oh, yeah. And it’s US$/€ 650. Whoa.

The Digitakt isn’t exactly an Octatrak II. The design philosophy is unlike anything we’ve seen from Elektron before, in fact. It’s uncommonly friendly. It’s got backlit buttons. It’s got an OLED screen. It seems to take some inspiration from Swedish neighbors (and Elektron vets) Teenage Engineering, as well as some of the other better examples of design today. It looks like Elektron thinking from the ground up.

But it also combines the stuff a lot of people so desperately wanted: sampling, audio tracks, versatile digital drum machine, effects, sequencing of external gear. Elektron also tease at asymmetrical beats and polyrhythms, which makes me hope there are some smart features in there.

Specs:
8 internal audio tracks
8 dedicated MIDI tracks
1 × Multi-mode filter per audio track
1 × Assignable LFO per track
Delay and Reverb send FX
Sampling capability
64 MB sample memory
1 GB +Drive storage
2 × ¼” input & 2 × ¼” balanced output
1 × High Speed USB 2.0 port
MIDI IN, OUT and THRU ports
Overbridge support

Coming in spring.

There are a lot of questions here. I think the most important one is what the audio and MIDI tracks actually do. Are those eight mono MIDI tracks? What sort of editing and arranging workflows are there? (At some point, I could imagine it being too complicated, with too much menu diving… but at the other extreme, it’s also possible to be too simple, easily.)

All of those questions will determine what this means as a live rig, and how much production you’d want to do.

But Elektron, you had me at “live-friendly sequencing.”

I’m very keen to see how that vision looks – and whether Elektron can establish a new generation of their hardware. Stay tuned for more details as we get them.

https://www.elektron.se/

This is really Sweden’s NAMM, folks. Y’all want to meet back in Scandinavia once the sun starts coming up again?

digitakt

  • Markus Girrulat

    I am totally suprised by the small form factor. just for the first look i can imagine it sitting between my OT and AR… Well they got me with the announcement of flexible digital engine controls… curious what that might be :-)) new DSI Rev, new elektron…. great day :-))

  • FS

    Elektron, please hear my plea, please incorperate real variable sample and bit rates, not just an effect that emulates it. this looks great, bravo Elektron.

  • R__W

    It looks good, but seems like it’s currently vaporware as the live stream had no demo of the product. The instagram announcement to watch the live video was a bit of a let down. Still it is cool to see new stuff coming out. Maybe someone at NAMM can confirm if it’s actually… playable?

    I wish (hope?) it had battery power… or USB power.

    The DSP chip in the Octarack was very old, about 10 years, but it was still quite a capable machine.

    I wonder what’s in this box? They could really leapfrog the capabilities they had in the past simply by using more current chips and architecture. Looking forward to it.

    • It’s not vaporware yet — we haven’t had even an hour since we knew this thing existed.

      And if they’re saying April launch, I expect they’re fairly far along.

      I agree with your questions, though! We’ll get more on this. I’ll fly up to Sweden if I have to. 🙂 Ski holiday?

      • R__W

        They got 2 spaces at Superbooth (i think). I guess thats in april though. Maybe that’s the launch?

        Since they are in Gothenburg you can never find a truly dirt cheap flight from Berlin. The cheapest I’ve seen is about $70 each way, last summer. IDK about Skiing over there I would guess it’s not amazing but maybe fun anyway. Better than in Berlin anyway. 😛

      • It seems weird to me that they’re so close to launch and weren’t able to/chose not to do any live demos. I hope they come out with some demos soon.

      • Robin Parmar

        “It’s not vaporware yet”… a classic line, Peter!

  • Cillian Warfield

    Elektron mentioned a price of 650€/$ on their facebook live vid

    • Cillian Warfield

      which is a great price point imo. Opens their machines up to a much wider audience.

  • Nnbveh Masala

    It seems to take some inspiration from Swedish neighbors (and Elektron vets) Teenage Engineering, as well as some of the other better examples of design today. It looks like Elektron thinking from the ground up.’ English is not my first language, but i thought ‘thinking from ground up’ means NT taking inspirations and making up something original?

  • papernoise

    So this is basically the new Machinedrum! Not bad! Grea to see that Elektron is also innovating it’s design. And if 650€ is really the target price (which has me a bit puzzled I’ll admit), then it might also be a sign that they’re trying to target a deifferent public… we’ll see.

    • Nagasaki Nightrider

      Yeah, since it’s a digital drum machine, the Machinedrum UW is the more obvious comparison instead of the Octatrack. I like the size, and sample management will probably be easier. Couldn’t be any more annoying that the UW method, anyway. I agree, too, about the target audience given the price point and more industry standard look of the labelled buttons.

  • Great coverage and prognosis, Pete.

    – 8×2 grid of pads for playing, controlling, and sequencing, and muting
    – sampling into internal memory,
    – MIDI sequencing,
    – single LFO per track,
    – individual track lengths (polyrhythms)
    – single stereo OUT and Stereo IN.
    – no (obvious) front-panel button to one-touch clear tracks (without having to realtime-erase (something Roland’s TR8 and Arturia’s DrumBrute embraced in their “live friendly sequencing”)

    From the feature-evidence so far, closest comparison/competitor, in terms of features/price/would b Korg’s Elektribe 2s
    It is interesting to see that the DigiTakt will compete with their price-point too.

    In the Elektron world, it looks like it might be serve as a 4 way (reductive) compromise between the OctaTrack, the Rytm, and the (discontinued) MonoMachine & MachineDrum, building a foundation on they all share (Parameters Locks, top-level control with lots of button-combo shortcuts), but lacking the specificity or unique depth of it’s ancestors, specifically, no (obvious) means of meta-expression (OT’s Scenes, RYTM’s Performances, or A4’s Performance Knob-set).
    This is not necessarily a bad thing. Elektron machines have a reputation for long, if not steep, learning curves. Making it simple and keeping it sexy for half the price will provide some interesting push in- and outside their market.

    I’m VERY interested to know more about:
    -what the menu-diving options are among Sound Browse for the SRC-layer of each track. Will it include the expressive variety of compete with the MachineDrum’s SP12, EFM, P-I and TRX machines ? Or will I just be able to select Factory and/or User samples.
    – what the sample playback involves. one-shots only? loops? ROM/RAM machine pairing such as on the MD ?
    – polyphony of Chromatic mode

    • Polite Society

      “no (obvious) front-panel button to one-touch clear tracks” I imagine it would be a case of selecting the track then func+clear (without rec) like the other boxes, or track+clear.

      Shame about the 1 LFO, i feel it’s the weakest part of both the Rytm and the MD.

      I am also curious if those pads are velocity sensitive or not.

      Pretty curious about it all, even though I feel my needs are probably met with my existing machines.

    • papernoise

      Looking at it again I agree, it does look like they took a bit of everything and made a new device out of it. Some things are clearly a heritage from the OT (8 tracks, standalone MIDI seq, sampling) others are obviously intended to replace the now discontinued Machinedrum. I don’t see a lot of Rytm in here… but it’s of course early to tell.
      The very limited RAM suggests this is probably more intended for one-shot samples (which makes sense since it’s mainly a drum machine I guess). It’s a bit puzzling that in 2016 a company like Elektron still works with such low RAM sizes, but I guess it’s more out of a design decision than just to keep cost down. It should be noted though that the Electribe 2 Sampler’s memory can only hold 270secs of mono audio (4.5minutes), which is a lot less than the OT can handle (you should get about 16 minutes of mono audio on the OT if you fill it completely).
      I still get the feeling that they are trying to create a new market for themselves. The overall impression (which of course might be wrong) is that this is a much simpler device than what we are used to getting from Elektron. Could be their attempt at creating an “entry drug” to the Elektron world 🙂
      Whatever… we’ll see when they are ready to disclose more details!

      • Another thing that’s important to remember with regards to the sample size is that the Octatrack is able to stream very large audio files directly from the memory card. So, for some use cases, you might not need to hold such long samples in memory.

  • Does “asymmetrical beats” mean fully asynchronous?

    • Mactley

      No, I think it just means microtiming and possible individual track length. Asynchronous tracks seems like a feature quite far removed from the ‘simple and immediate’ vibe of this thing.

  • NPeart

    Give me transposing for the sequencer!!!

  • Adam Jay

    Whether or not there is digital drum synthesis in there is still a bit vague.
    I hope there is, but it isn’t explicit. The phrasing is vague “digital sound engine”, and the word “Synthesis” is nowhere to be found.

    Still, if it is samples only, a very powerful machine for the price, surely, thanks to Analog series sequencing tricks and capabilities, Overbridge, and all those MIDI tracks

    • Tom Duncalf

      A member of the Elektron team has confirmed on their forum that this is sample only: https://www.elektronauts.com/t/introducing-digitakt/35326/150?u=tdmusic

      A bit of relief to me as I just bought a second hand MD 😉 and to be honest I would be very surprised if they had have fitted both synthesis and sampling in at this price as it would cannibalise the rest of the range,

      Still, interesting product, Elektron’s sequencers are awesome so could make a great “brain” for people’s setups at a not-stupid price

      • papernoise

        If this is sample only… then way have they labelled the pads “Kick”, “Snare”, “Tom”, etc.? But yeah, I guess it makes sense to just make this a sample-based drum machine.

  • Tony Scharf

    I said it on Twitter. Its dull as shit. Akia could have made this, and it’s got all the beauty of design of a BOSS DR660. Actually, looks a lot like a label maker we have at work. Such inspiration!

    Elektron is becoming the next clavia. They are going for safe. Safe and boring.

    • Richard Newman

      The DR660 has it’s charm though!

  • Tony Scharf
    • Robin Parmar

      Love my HP! Too bad no designer has actually used the sloped button idea, which allows each to control three parameters with clear labelling. That was a brilliant idea.

    • Derp Nerpson

      Maybe sample editing will be done reverse-Polish notation style.

    • R__W

      is this good or bad?

      srs question, the design of a project i’m working on is based on a calculator from the 1970s. if i’m headed the wrong direction plz let me know

      • Tony Scharf

        Are you designing a retro calculator? Then it’s probably cool.

  • kevin

    Is 64mb of sample memory not shockingly low for 2017? I am baffled by this…

    • Undothis

      Haha I agree what’s up with that?

  • Undothis

    My iPad has more sample memory. Welcome to 2017 Elektron! This machine is a chopped down version of their gear. The Octatrak is way more powerful. Looks like no polyphonic Octo. Not trying to be negative but this is really disappointing.

    • papernoise

      Well the Electribe 2 sampler has much less memory. It’s not so uncommon.
      It is weird that they didn’t put more on this thing, but probably it’s a design decision. I guess it’s just not intended to lazily play complete stems of computer-produced tracks..Its a drum machine, so the memory is intended to contain drum sounds, which tend to me rather short.
      Also… they just announced it and specs are still vague. So it’s really a bit early to be disappointed.

      • Undothis

        Hmmm lazy? If its a sampler then make it a sampler. Seems like nothing original. We are saturated with drum machines. I Don’t play to stems but I do use long samples. But yes you are right maybe these are the initial specs so I will hold off on my disappointment;)

        • papernoise

          If you want to play long samples, then you should look at the MPC live, or the Toraiz sampler, or just use an iPad or a computer… there’s plenty of options right now, we’re spoilt with options. The Digitakt is a sampler in the sense that it can sample… which is just a fact. I don’t see how that has anything to do with how much it can sample.

  • Joseph Guisti

    Given the rest of the great gear that’a come out in the last few months, notably the new MPCs, i’m curious as to what type of producer sees this machine as their perfect solution. I’m sure someone does, I just can’t imagine who.

    • Will

      Someone who just wants a kick as sampling drum machine, not a full on production workstation. Half the price don’t hurt either.

      • Joseph Guisti

        Fair enough. I suppose nothing currently samples up to a gig of memory–directly into the machine–at that price point.

    • Vecchiarelli

      I don’t see it as an all in one solution but it does look like an excellent addition for anyone running a heavily hardware driven studio. For percussion and hat duties it seems perfect.

  • John Gorton

    Sorry this is a joke though.

  • This is definitely what I am most interested in at NAMM this year! Can’t wait for release. Im all over this!

  • Jeff Bridges

    Is there any official information on the Octatrack being “maxed out / discontinued’ as people keep mentioning? I’m still hoping for another update as there’s still a few bugs and annoyances that could improve the machine even further.

    • papernoise

      I don’t think that there’s any official info on that. I also hope that they are able to fix some of the really annoying bugs that have been plaguing the OT for some time now. I’m pretty sure though that if they issue a new firmware update it’s only going to fix bugs. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything conditional trigs get added in future updates. I think Elektron has been pretty clear on that in the past… which is a pity. It’s also seems rather unlikely that anybody will ever make something like the OT in the future. We’ll have to live with its glitches and have to learn to love them 🙂

  • FS

    they’re marketing is really good, i’ve been thinking WAY too much about this little machine haha, but i am a sampler junkie. so i’m feeling like this could be the replacement for the Machinedrums and not the Octatrack, the reason being it’s limitations as a sampler, the low RAM is not an issue when sampling drums only. these were my thoughts on the Machinedrum UW, i was always asking myself if it could be utilized like an MPC. so we’ll keep wondering i guess till more info drops. funny it feels to me like Elektron’s version of an Akai S20 for those who remember that 1997 machine, which is pretty great.

    one thing i think Elektron does really well is they don’t seem to overlap their products too much, if one asks the question which Elektron box to get the answer would be that you need all of them. i think they are really all meant to work together, what one machines withholds, they other one gladly gives you.

    one question i have is there has been info stating it has 8 tracks, and other info saying 8 voices, those are two entirely different implications, 8 voices would be extremely limiting, 8 tracks not so much. oh the suspense and speculation. 🙂