My Analog Four is on its way right now. I, like others, opted for the A4 because of its small size. I have slowly been phasing out keyboard synths from my studio due to their cumbersome size and redundancy. Lately I’ve been going for a “lean and mean” setup of small, desktop-sized powerhouses. The A4 will join my AR and MM (and a handful of other similar-sized devices).
I’ve already been using a Korg MicroKontrol with my Monomachine and it works great. It has pads, encoders, and faders and everything is assignable, with multiple user-created templates (saved to internal flash memory), so you can set it up for various devices. Straight away, the faders on mine were already set up to control the mix levels of the six MM tracks, which is awesome in and of itself.
The joystick in particular can be set up to behave like the stock SFX-6 joystick (and I’m guessing that of the Analog Keys, as well), and the action is very nice.
Finally, a couple of its biggest benefits are its size and portability: the MicroKontrol is very light and its footprint is small; it can be moved around a studio easily or carried to and from live gigs with no hassle. It also supports battery power (6 AA-size cells) so it’s a nice option for live use or even moving from one room of your house to another, with one less cable waggling around. Remember that having a detached controller keyboard means you can arrange it wherever you like, as well. Put it side-by-side with the A4, on a different shelf, on a computer desk’s hideaway keyboard shelf, etc… very convenient!
The downsides to this option are that, of course, you’d still lack multiple outputs, and it has mini keys (like a MicroKorg). For me, that second part isn’t really a downside since I’m not much of a player and the mini keys still let me play chords and multiple octaves, quickly and easily. For its size, I think one can still play quite expressively, when compared to the trigs and clicky keys of the Elektron machines.
I figured I’d mention the MicroKontrol as an option to anyone trying to split the difference between an AK or A4, and where portability and convenience were concerned. You’d still lack multiple outputs, the lights above the keys, and a few other bonuses, but I think you get a lot of value with the MK and it should help bridge the gap for some folks. It’s no longer being produced, but from what I’ve seen of the online used market, they’re still reasonably-priced and availability looks pretty good.