Elektron’s Analog series are getting the OLED screen, updated pads, and new aluminum enclosure design that the Octatrack MKII and Digitakt did. Bonus: new Analog Four synth circuitry, and Analog Rytm for the first time does sampling.

Both Analog models get the higher-quality OLED display and new pad and encoder design that first debuted on the Digitakt. But it seems Elektron are also giving the Analog models a style all their own. The aluminum chassis is in a distinctive gray color and tilts up.

In fact, it’s really increasingly feeling like the Octatrack got the short end of the stick. And given the passion of fans of that model – particularly because it’s uniquely suited to going all-hardware live and replacing a laptop – I think the existing disappointment from fans is likely to grow louder. The Octatrack MKII doesn’t have this nice new case design. And there are no software updates or new features. And there’s no Overbridge support (for integration with a computer) – or even something as simple as USB MIDI support. (Now, I’m not negging you, Elektron – an OS update would make that same crowd happy campers, I suspect.)

That said, there’s not much to complain about on the Analog Four and Analog Rytm side – and indeed, here there may be pretty good reason for existing users to update, particularly with sampling on the Rytm.

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Analog Four

The analog synth in Elektron’s lineup gets the physical updates just as everything else, including more quick-access performance controls.

Most of the rest is about sound:

Elektron promises “reworked” circuitry for the bass, plus “enhanced” overdrive. Deeper? More defined? More bite and growl? Uh, well, something. We’ll have to hear these in person to judge.

You also get more I/O – stereo audio outputs for each voice, expression and CV inputs for external control, and even higher-bandwidth Overbridge.

All of this would seem to come together in a nice package, one that should look and feel and sound at least a little better than the original. Now, whether that means you should upgrade or not depends on how much better it sounds, and what difference you can get between selling your used model and buying the new one.

1449 EUR / 1349 USD, available September.

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Analog Rytm

Sampling.

That’s probably going to outweigh anything else we could say about the Analog Rytm. So, all the MKII stuff is true here, too – better encoders, better display, more performance controls (less menu diving/shifting, that is).

And you get Expression/CV inputs as on the Analog Four and higher-bandwidth Overbridge.

But the big breakthrough has to be sampling. You have balanced sampling inputs on the device and can sample directly on the hardware. That would open up lots of new creative ways of working – grabbing an idea off a synth, for instance, without the usual chore of going via the computer.

There’s not a lot of information here and Elektron haven’t yet posted a manual, but this sounds promising.

A word from Troberg

Daniel Troberg, US CEO of Elektron, waxed poetic in a public post on Facebook:

As a product developing company, you always have to keep on pushing forward. You can never stop or rest or think that things are pretty good as they are or that you should keep it lagom (Swedish expression). If you do any of this, you go backwards and then the risk is that there will be no more company. I’m super proud to be a part of this and I’m counting my 18th anniversary of being involved with Elektron this year. Creating, realizing and bringing forth creative musical instruments into this shaky and fragile world is the best thing ever. These two new updated products announced today, MKII versions of our hugely acclaimed analog synth and drum machine, represents a pinnacle in modern analog and digital hybrid design in musical synthesizers. Nothing beats this.

I wouldn’t normally post something like that, but it’s interesting to hear an employee talk personally, outside of the usual PR speak. Now, that’s some proper bragging, so let’s see if the MKIIs live up to that!

  • “Stereo audio outputs for each voice”.. what does this mean? will effects be per voice? (as opposed to master effects)

    • Toby

      I was hoping that too!

    • enparticular

      a4 mk1 has only stereo outputs for all the voices. this one has 2 more stereo outputs when you can split and get the 4 voices separated (like in the analog keys)
      pretty sure that the effects will be as a master and only recordable if you record the master channel (like in the analog keys, and all the other elektron boxes)

      • it says stereo outputs for each voice. there are 4 voices. which means there are 4 ¼” stereo outputs. (similar to the RYTM’s ¼” stereo input). “y” cables will be needed. if effects are on master, than it’s for panning/modulation only i suspect.

  • Yermom

    Anyone who just bought an Analog Heat, which hit shelves less than a year ago with a shitty LCD screen that goes out if left turned on too long is going to be pissed. Why even the Octatrack, which probably came out around the same time as the OP-1 and definitely long after color screens started to get affordable, had such a piece of shit screen is beyond me.

    • I was unaware of this quality failure on the Heat’s display. Was Elektron able to get you a repair?

      • Yermom

        Repairing anything that involves shipping something off, I’ve held off. People act like it’s as simple as dropping something off and picking it up an hour later.

        I’m honestly quite pissed with the notion that shipping something off should be treated as a trivial task.

        If I buy a piece of gear, I want to use it. I have limited time. Any time it spends away from me should not be considered anything less than an inconvenience by the manufacturer, however that is not something a profit first industry concerns itself with. It assumes that if you are relying on their gear that much, you can just afford two so that you can have a spare!

        It’a huge pain in the ass to coordinate an RMA of any kind. This is not a direct swap for a working unit and then shipping the old one back in the carton the replacement came in, either, which would be the best solution for everyone’s problems, but again, the customer is secondary.

        My OP-1 speaker went out 3 months in. It still doesn’t work and I haven’t replaced it. People need to stop accepting a level of service that takes a product you paid for out of your hands for weeks at a time, invites a world of other side-quest inconveniences re: shipping, and smiles at you as if you should be thankful that you get such shitty service.

        If Elektron authorizes local dealers to replace my gear in days, and not ship it, or cross ships units to avoid this problem, I’ll count them as having exceptional service. It’s certainly not the norm. My experience is that customer service in general is shit and I don’t want to deal with it, even at some other inconvenience unless my gear is flat-out unusable.

        Half-assing it and then expecting the user to deal with a half-assed repair with a half-assed replacement part and wait weeks each time is not an acceptable outcome that will result in me not bitching about it.

        • Devon Hughes

          So, where did you buy it from and why did they say you couldn’t swap it out? Did the local dealer have stock?

          • Yermom

            In the case of the OP-1, I bought it direct from Teenage Engineering and in the case of Elektron, I bought it from a dealer but the problem didn’t show up until a couple of months later. It’s not like THEY are the warranty providers. Most places only have a 30 day return/exchange policy.

          • Devon Hughes

            Elektron machines, when bought new, have a warranty of 3 years. Within the North American market, your local retailer can act as the intermediary and ship the product to Elektron’s official repair center in California. If the retailer has stock, they can work with Elektron to offer you a temporary or in some cases permanent replacement. Would you mind sharing the name of the retailer you bought your Heat at?

        • R__W

          Teenage Engineering has pretty bad support. If you need a fix you have to ship to Sweden at your expense where they decide if they should fix your machine. However if you bought it from a retail store you have to send it to them first, and they ship it to sweden for you. After sending to sweden, once they determine that yes, it is broken, they ship it to some guy in Georgia for the repair. If they happen to be at NAMM or a festival or whatever you have to wait until they get back. They are also total nerds and try to hide from you at every step of the way. It took about 3 months to get my speaker repaired.

          That said, they now will sell you parts and there is a howto at ifixit on how to fix the speaker, keyboard, logic board and a few other things. If you’re out of warranty this is the best repair option IMO.

          Anyway I would like an Elektron box or two, and a Nord Stage, but my experience with OP-1 suggests I should not buy any more expensive products from Sweden.

  • Tony Scharf

    Elektron has adopted the Korg/Roland/Yamaha 3 year cycle of incremental workstation improvements. Just with Elektron, you need to buy 3 devices to get the full function instead of one. Erm…..brilliant?

    • I don’t think that’s necessarily so. The Octatrack in particular is a pretty full functioning box.

      On the other hand, if you want a lot of functionality in one piece of gear … well, there’s a reason the laptop endures.

      • Tony Scharf

        It was more a hit to their minimal increment strategy than the functionality. I have an OT and it’s a great piece…but I wouldn’t call it completely. Elektron wants you to use their gear as a system – that’s how they explain gaps in one pieces function over anothers.

        With the exception of the OT, their workflow doesn’t match with my own at all, so I usually end up getting one second hand and flipping it when I get bored. This new range doesn’t have enough to make me want to do even that (maybe the DigiTact…maybe…).

        • I think you’re going to see more aggressive (deeper and quicker) updates from rivals depending on the underlying platform. That is, machines based on ARM for instance can be updated in a way that’s not dissimilar from what you can do with an iOS app. (Firmware on ARM really *is* equivalent to an app running on an iPad, after all.)

          Of course, there could be another extreme… some users might not want updates to go too far / too fast.

    • Nagasaki Nightrider

      To me, the most egregious example of Elektron withholding basic functionality is that only the dedicated samplers offer MIDI sequencing. Given how loudly they shout about how great their sequencer design is, it’s ridiculous that the A4 and Rytm can’t be used to sequence other gear, apart from the A4’s CV outputs. We get DIN sync on the off chance that we have a 30 year old 606 or something lying around, but there’s no way to send notes to the thousands of other synths with MIDI.

    • Markus Girrulat

      Dont think so. Maybe the flexibility of a labtop makes some of us think one device should do all the jobs.. i dont think so.. would be like a workstation from korg compared to a dedicated synth like a DSI or Moog.. i prefer Moog. And i love to find workarounds for things that don not happen directly in a submenu 🙂

      • Tony Scharf

        The three device bit isn’t really a problem. I’m more annoyed by the upgrade treadmill they are pushing out there. There really isn’t much value added in these updates, and they are going to hurt the second hand market value for current users (elektron stuff gets turned over a lot because the workflow doesn’t work for people).

        • Markus Girrulat

          Yes, the updating nowadays is a little confusing and there is always a chance some of your older stuff is not usable anymore… i am more confused by software updates because of new OS-versions. A AR stays as great as it is (beside OB maybe) and the newer onces are evolving. Well… at some point they have to move on, otherwise users will tell them, their gear is fully outdated… and ok, prices are falling… not as bad as a car today… anyway: they stay in my studio, so i dont care so much about the second hand prices :-))

    • Polite Society

      I think it makes sense. I suspect if had added midi seq on A4/RYTM, it probably wouldn’t have felt right/been limited, or made the main functionality more clunky. I’ve never used the 6 midi out channels on my Monomachine, for example, because the internal machine is so good, and the access to parameters so immediate.

  • enparticular

    one interesting thing that easy to miss is that these boxes are kind of bigger than the mk1 counterparts. this is not like the octatrack mk2 / machinedrum mk2 / monomachine mk2. these guys are bigger.

    • Nagasaki Nightrider

      Yeah, roomier front panels with more dedicated controls, bigger pads on the Rytm, slightly larger keyboard on the A4. The front panels will be 5U when racked instead of 4U, and it also looks like the wedge shape will allow them to be mounted flush with one another since the cable clearance will be angled in that configuration. Unless they decide not to offer rack ears.

  • DJ Malala

    fanboys mad as hell because they will have the old black boxes and will have to face their fears of seeming uncool against the young kids with the grey-slanties. certain other websites are full of folks complaining that they MUST upgrade, otherwise their egos will collapse. if you read between the lines, obvs.
    rtym looks decent.

    • Polite Society

      Always some people that get upset. Buy people free cake, and someone will be upset it’s not their favorite flavour, or that they just bought some cake that morning.
      Judging the forums, most people are pretty positive about it, except the paid per machine overbridge.

  • Markus Girrulat

    I really love to see Elektron going forward. And as i feel about Elektron devices, their “small” updates in practice are always well thought optimizations that really make the deal.
    Still, i own the OT and AR (and i am not going to update to MKii in the next years, i think), it will be really interesting to see, if the MKi-Version will profit from coming updates… or if Elektron has some kind of “MK-i-compatible” new thing under the hood, that will outdate the MKi (like with sampling on AR, maybe even with finer increments for dialing in encoderstuff)…

  • FS

    funny the CEO talks about pushing forward, they haven’t really pushed anything forward here. new form factor, a tiny list of hardware additions. these are not things that i think any Elektron user would see as a reason to update. and now their aesthetic consistency is out the window which is a major value kill, i say this because using these boxes, having them sitting on your desk in the studio, live on stage all have to do with aesthetic value, because laptops can do infinitely more but maybe don’t look / feel as cool. now all of boxes in their ‘new’ line look different.

    • Nagasaki Nightrider

      What? They haven’t really pushed anything forward except for the long list of hardware and improvements and, apparently, upgraded circuitry. The original designs were already well conceived. Soon, they should be even better.

      You seem really caught up in how the originals look. Aesthetics are nice, but isn’t the reason we buy these things usability, connectivity, and the sound? Personally, I never liked the round buttons, and the paint on my A4 and Rytm has chipped and flaked off revealing rusty metal underneath from day one. The matte black looks great in photos, but they cut corners and sacrificed durability while charging premium prices. I hope they sort that shit out with the MKIIs. This isn’t a hard problem to solve. The MD and Monomachine had proper paint jobs on the lower portion of the case, and I can buy any random $99 guitar pedal that is virtually impossible to scratch.

  • kobamoto rin

    In my personal opinion the current and future standards should be a minimum of a 5 hour battery in every beatmachine that comes out. Since experiencing the MPC Live I wouldn’t want to go back to instruments like these without having the portability option. Going out on the balcony, early morning coffee house stints, parks, waiting for relatives at the hospital, long commutes, going shopping with you know who and sitting in that damn chair for 3 hours listening to that awful elevator music, and even at home over at the kitchen table, or the back yard, in bed, and of course when the homie says lets go over to so and so’s and record some shit without a hassle….. Elektron should have made the Digitakt portable, and should make the Rytm and the OT portable as well and their power out put is no excuse as the mpc Live takes more power than all of them. I hope next year they will revamp them all with battery power and I will have them all. It’s better for gigs too, it should be the standard.

  • marco satiwan

    Digging the new look. Looks like the Korg Electribe 2 now, which isn’t a bad thing at all. That small lcd screen made it look like a raspberry pi project when it shouldn’t have been. Aesthetics aside, I’m curious about the new sampling feature though. I doubt it will do time stretching or slicing though it probably could if they wanted it to.