Eletkron’s Digitakt II, leaked earlier today, is now official. This beefs up some of the specs under the hood to keep pace with features like expanded effects and modulation, 16 voices (up from 8), 20 GB internal storage, and stereo sampling, all with a more refined shell and display. It’s an incremental update, but it does sweeten the deal.


At least if you were on the fence about an Elektron purchase in the past, and said “I want Elektron workflows and I want it to sample,” Digitakt II becomes a more appealing value proposition. I remember how well-received Digitakt was at launch, and people still love this box – at least if they love Elektron workflows. That’s divisive in much the same way as Roland’s SP-404 line can be – as I covered recently. If you love it, you tend to love any update. If you don’t love it, you just… well, don’t love it. These are boxes that have very specific workflows, like an instrument; it’s almost like switching from bassoon to ‘cello. But in that space, adding some power under the hood – like the ability to finally grab samples in stereo – does make these machines keep up with modern contexts, especially with that, erm, computer sitting next to them.

You must want it (or Elektron just needs to hire a new sysadmin) – you’ve crashed the site.

This looks like a robust, versatile box getting even better – sequencer, sampler, sample player, drum machine, stereo effects, and all the usual Elektron power for modulation and pattern manipulation. It just now has the stereo sampling, storage, and voices to keep up with more demanding users.

Note that “MK II” is gone – this is just Digitakt II. Onboard:

  • Stereo sampling, stereo input onboard (OG Digitakt had stereo input and stereo effects processing, but not stereo sampling)
  • Way more sample memory – 20 GB, with 400 MB of sample memory usable per project
  • Swappable filters (multimode, lowpass 4, comb, EQ, legacy LP/HP)
  • Multiple effects per track (which I think also applies to external audio processing, making this a more powerful external FX box)
  • Three LFOs per track, up from 2
  • Slightly refined body, OLED display (as on Syntakt, rather than the yellow original)

Having all that additional storage and stereo sampling I’m sure really does change the identity of the whole box for a lot of folks. It means this can be a memory storage box you take with you and that accumulates ideas and materials, and that it’s more powerful when it comes to arrangement. Andreas Roman has written for CDM about how that kind of approach can be important in actual music making – with the Teenage Engineering TP-7, for one, and 1010music’s hardware, as well.

So even though going from mono sampling to stereo and adding internal storage are just “spec bumps,” they could genuinely change how people use the device. That combines with a design that works really well, and that doubles as effects processor and external sequencer – with dedicated MIDI tracks. I think there’s no question that for many people, Digitakt II will now be the sweet spot out of Elektron’s lineup (even if you might also look at Syntakt if you prefer synthesis to sampling).

That said, Elektron remains really conservative with what they do. At the risk of upsetting Elektron loyalists here, it’s a shame that there isn’t really a new idea for the sequel to Digitakt, or more of a visual indication that there’s more under the hood. This iterative spot we’re in industry-wide means it’s going to be a little tougher to drum up (sorry) enthusiasm. If you only had Syntakt and wanted to add sampling, this could be great. But it’s an expensive upgrade from a first-gen Digitakt for something that does more or less the same thing. There’s still the very affordable choice of Elektron’s model:samples if you’re on a budget, don’t forget. (And if it feels like I’m being unfair to Elektron over Roland, don’t forget Roland’s recent upgrade was a free firmware update. I hope the new specs from Elektron here open up some OS updates down the road – I’m sure hardware was the limitation!)

Oh yeah, also the fact that the aforementioned Roland update also pairs with a powerful iPad app to me is a winner, too.

Don’t get me wrong – this looks great. And it could be indicative of more to come. But there’s no question that Elektron is staking out the conservative end of the drum machine world for the time being.

Oh, and if that seems to be leading up to looking at some of their smaller-name competition – yup. Watch this space.