Instant gratification seems lacking on the AK

Just cracked it open the other day, haven’t had a ton of time with it, but immediately I’m noticing that the
a) sound-surfing is a bit tedious and seems to lack order (i.e. skips from bass to FX to leads, etc.)
b) nothing feels really playable yet, as in, “wow, that sounds great, let’s sit down and play the keys!” but more “wow, what a strange and powerful synth this is… hopefully I find something playable soon!”.

I know this is a deep synth, I know the Elektron Way is not always clear for beginners – I watched enough YouTube videos before making my decision – however, I just kind of thought I’d find more usable, playable presets vs. “let me show off how weird and wonderful this thing is”.

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True. Sweet spots are narrow. But overall palette is wide. IMO it’s more of a sequence me than a play me. And going for that brand X sound will be frustrating.
That said, when you find your sounds, they will truly be yours. It happens.
Build a pool out of the plus drive and tweak or untweak those. find a preset you like and take some of the weird out. Back off the lfo and envelope and see what’s in there. Shorten it to a pluck maybe.
Use the unique wave form and wave mod for new timbres as well as the unique sync which goes well with lfo to the pitch. Noise… try the lfos as additional oscillators.
And if you look to my other thread rn, try the chorus! The effects are a big part of the sound and include powerful eq.
Download the free packs if you have not. Loading them is easy.
I think you can search the plus drive by category/tag.


Check out pg 22 of the PDF manual.
You can filter sounds by type/tags.

I recommend taking the time to read the entire manual.


I always use filters when searching for sounds. Hope that helps.

I felt the same as you said in point ‘B’ when it arrived and I sat there with headphones on in the evening waiting for a patch that would grab me but…no nothing really in there for me anyway.

However don’t get too put off by it. It can do nearly any sound you can think of. So, what synth do you like the sound of? Think of your favorite patch from your favorite synth and let us know. You can make the AK sound the way you want.

There are a lot of talented people here who can give you good advice to help you work with this awesome synth.


I wish I knew, but I really don’t have a lot of experience with synthesis.

I have a Minitaur, and do like the Moog sound for leads and bass. But outside of that, I like “organic,” classic synths vs. more modern digital sounds if that helps.

70s prog is what I’m drawn to, synth-wise, but modern ambient jams done on the AK is what sold me on what it could do.

Ideally there would be some Wurly-esque patches for just sitting down and playing, a Moog-flavoured bass (I found a few in there) and some solid pads/strings and poly-friendly

This is probably on old tired comment…

But why oh why do you try to get to know, or find appreciation for, a synth by browsing presets?

Instead of trying to find something playable (which surely must be subjective) - go ahead and create something playable from your needs and aesthetics. Incorporate modulation from the joystick. Use velocity modulation suited to your style of playing.

And in that process you might very well find that this synth isn’t for you. That you don’t like the physical UI or that you don’t connect with the Elektron design decisions and their particular “synthesizer logic”.

But you might also find a highly adaptable and versatile synth. One that has integrated synthesizing and sequencing into its sound design process. A synth that has its own sound - but can create a wide array of different timbres.

Go ahead. I dare you. :wink: Patch your own sound. Make it playable!

ps. I can enjoy playing a simple single oscillator, sine wave with a tad bit of velocity modulation for volume or env attack for hours. But no one in their right mind would put that patch in the preset bank showing of a synth’s possibilities.


I love simple single oscillator patches. I like chasing that Raymond Scott sound :slight_smile:


Ahhh, that is so true! Sometimes the simple sounds are the most enjoyable.

This comment is very interesting, most people should read that.


I sort of know where @gravyface is coming from. When I switch my AK on these days I let out a bit of a sad sigh after 10 minutes and just get pissed off with it. I know that’s just me though and I’ve been an incredibly lazy shit trying to learn this machine. For the record, first time round I owned an A4/AK I totally loved it! So I think it’s more me than a problem with the AK.

I was actually a lot more creative with the A4. Im a keyboard player at heart and I don’t think the AK excels as a polysynth - 4 voices rarely will. It can sound great but compared to other poly’s out there? Not so much. With the A4 I kind of stuck to the original ethos of 4 mono synth lines and I got some great stuff out of it.

Anyway, I’m not giving up on it though! Think I will scourge the net for some tutorials and walkthroughs and things. That often sorts me out! I was a MAschine wizz after watching all of NI’s videos!!!

:arrow_up: :arrow_up: :arrow_up: This…! :arrow_up: :arrow_up: :arrow_up:

If you’re expecting a polysynth that you can play like a piano (or Wurly, Rhodes, DX…) then you’d be let down. Of course.

The 4 voice polyphony does not lend itself well to that kind of playing.

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AK can feel bit like this for me too. Doesn’t always feel like I’m enjoying using it when designing patches.

Compared to my Dom1 it can sometimes feel almost like using a mouse and soft synth. Click button, tweak with the annoying knob response curve, click, tweak etc. Dom1 feels like almost everything I tweak sounds good. AK not so much. I’ve come to think maybe that’s cos it’s kind of like a synth equivalent of OT. OT can initially be confusing cos it does so much and from so many angles. Very flexible box. AK is king of the same thing. Just need to find the parts of it that give you what you want.

I Still don’t find it anywhere near as immediate as my Dom1 (obvs), but when I scroll through my user patches on AK after only using Dom1 for a while, for some reason I always think they’ll pale compared to the Dom1, but I’m always a little like, ‘this thing actually sounds pretty great…’ def has its own thing going on but its super flexible, can’t think of many genres that it wouldn’t be useful for. And then there’s the sequencer… :slight_smile:


I view the AK/A4 as an encyclopedia synth with many, many volumes.
A wealth of the world’s synth information is contained inside, awaiting discovery and reference.

Presets aside, while programming the synth, the chances that you’re going to open up one of the 26 volumes (English alphabet in this analogy) and immediately turn to the Moog page, or the 70s synth prog page are slim to none.
No, you’re going to have to locate those general areas in the appropriate encyclopedic volume, turn through a big chunk of pages (dial in oscillators), maybe have to double back to a page or two (dial in the filters), and then understand the content (dial in the modulation).

Unfortunately, that means the A4/AK isn’t ever going to be AS immediate as a Moog or any other WYSIWYG synth.

But the benefit is you own an ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SYNTH!
And with a little time and practice, you can have the same skills as your local librarian or research professional that can instantly access that which they are searching for, in an environment that is dense with information and potential.


I would certainly like to and plan on doing so, just not in the first couple of hours. :slight_smile:

Walk before you run, right?


Not sure the A4 is any more ENCYCLOPEDIC than many other subtractive synths out there!

Presets arent so good in the Keys. I also, like some others, tend to use it as four mono synths and sequence them. I see the polyphony as a bonus. But rarely if ever use it. I have other gear for that. I wouldnt personally buy it as an only poly if i required one.
The most immediate fun i had at first with it was to sequence the most simple of sounds and plock them to death!!! It has a sound to it too that once you start having a muck around i think youll find pleasing. Its a deep synth but doesnt have to be. It is, as most things, dependant on needs and subjectivity.
Itll grow on ya believe me. I felt the same at first. I had very little to no experience with synthesis ( still dont haha! ) and i found it an intrigueing and extraordinary machine.
Just my tuppence worth.

I’m hoping to experience the same thing as I too have next to zero experience with synthesis. I’m just a ham-fisted drummer with melodies and songs that have been trapped in my coconut for too damn long! :laughing:

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If you are going to be relying on presets for a while, look into some of the more recent preset packs released by Elektron (there are audio previews)

Also: [ Definitive list ] Analog Four/Keys Sound Bank & more


Thank you, was going over that.

My original plan was: grab 4 Sounds I like, slap them in a Kit, and learn this powerhouse sequencer and then worry about sound design later on (I was going to actually watch the old New York School of Synthesis video series; heard good things about it).