Is the AR as capable as the MD?

I was going to buy a MD but I’m considering the AR now with the 1.30 update. Somehow the digital synthesis aspect of the MD has me thinking it’ll be more capable at creating unique drum sounds. I asked a similar question in the MD forum but haven’t gotten any responses. I wanted to get some opinions from the AR users. thanks guys

The MD is significantly more capable than the AR. I’ve had the MD for over 10 years and it still surprises me. When i bought the AR I was expecting more of the same but it’s pretty limited by comparison. I’m not wanting to paint the AR in a bad light, of course, because it’s a great machine and I love what it does, but my first choice will always be the MD

Brief examples of why i prefer the MD…

  • You can assign any machine to any of the 16 tracks
  • Lots more sound generating machines to choose from
  • LFO’s can be reassigned to affect other tracks (you can have all 16 LFO’s assigned to one track if you like)
  • Control all machines. A track which affects all parameters on all tracks
  • Classic vs Extended mode. Very handy live.

They’re quite different from each other. AR’s sequencer is more flexible–for example, tracks can have different lengths. AR pads are velocity-sensitive, and the performance controls offer interesting ways to change sound in real time.

On the other hand, the MD has some tricks up its sleeve that AR does not share. For example, you can put a machine on one track that will tweak independent parameters on other tracks and that, in turn, you can parameter lock. You can also resample and mangle portions of what you’re playing in real time, allowing stuff like reverse echo.

I don’t know how to make an AR do a lot of the stuff in this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtxX0VEpMSI

depends on what you are trying to do of course. i had the MD for many years and sold it because i got very sick of it’s sound (samples and synthesis) whereas i absolutely love the AR. even all the samples i recorded from my MD before i sold it never get used now.

it’s difficult, but i would try and spend some time with both of them if possible. i bet you’ll pretty quickly know which one is more appealing.

One could compare functionalities for ages, but I think in the end it’s all about the sound.
MD is more crispy 12bits digital, whereas on AR the sound is more round.
But you can get distored analog sounds out of AR and pristine sounds out of MD.

I feel like samples shine a lot more on AR.
After spending some time with both of them, I’d say go for AR.

I think it decision should taken in a genre oriented way…

If you make experimental, electro-acoustic, electro jazz, glitchy things, german electronic, electro pop, dub > i would go on MD
==> I really like the Real feel sound like acoustic model out of the box, kind of linndrumish

if you make more US stuff like hip hop, booty bass, deep house, house, techno, trance with a raw, round, distort sound > i would go AR
==> I really like the electronic warmth and strong low end out of the box, kind of rolandish

Of course if you’re a sound synthesis killer you can do what you have in mind with both of it, they are capable !!!

If your genre is undefined and more general, you like to build tracks in a moody way and can make a cold electro track noisy and a deep soulful house one next i would go to take both of this machines…

Hope it’s help but you right it’s both nearly perfect drum machine

I won’t say nothing new here, but I think the MachineDrum is yet superior in terms of sound synths variety and utilities (sampling, MIDI, Ctrl-All, better song mode, and other features).

The Analog Rytm needs more love yet. I don’t think any of them sounds better, just different. I own the Analog Rytm just because I think Elektron will refine its firmware until do it a competent MD succesor, with the added tricks of the modern Analog series. I really want more machines (more Toms/Congas! 1 machine for 3 parts isn’t enough!) some basic MIDI Output, and better sample management.

For me it depends on your intended timbre. I got the MD, having already owned the A4. It didn’t pair well. I found the MD cold and lifeless by comparison. Also, while the MD has more machines they aren’t all good. The TR machines mostly sound like garbage when compared to something like the TR8 or software emulation of TR synths. Sampling is also only 12 bit. It’s really cool for glitchy/idm stuff, but it seriously lacks warmth.

I spent 5 seconds with the AR and decided it was the one for me. Sequencer I was familiar with and was more flexible, pressure sensitive performance and scenes (big for me cause I’ll be using it live), thick, rich, analog, 16 bit sample engine, and reverb/delay that sounds more in parallel with the A4.

I think they are both great machines, but ultimately it depends on what you’re trying to do.

MD has advantages in LFO assignments, midi sequencing of external instruments, and realtime sampling.

Rytm has advantages in sequencing its own internal sounds (polyrhythms, micro timing, probability, fills), macros (performance + scene), project memory, and physical output count (4 more outs than MD),

Of course, their timbres are quite different as well and judging superiority between them here is entirely subjective. They’re two very different instruments.

An opinion was voiced earlier that MD is better for electro styles. My opinion is that, since the latest AR update, the AR is an ideal machine for many electro styles.

To my ears, the Rytm is the best machine Elektron has made. The sound is flat out amazing. It can sound so warm and round, but also raw… the sort of raw and gritty that digital cannot do.

The sequencer in the Rytm has functionality that is essential to me. For example, the micro-timing. The Rytm can sound fluid and expressive and not mechanical (which it can do too of course).

And did I mention the sound? :slight_smile:

Besides all the new analog machines, there is also just something about samples played through the analog circuits. Yum!

Oh… Overbridge

I don’t think you need much more than what you get on the AR. If you mess around a bit and layer sounds and samples, you can get some quite unique sounds.

I have never tried the MD, but I am sure that I don’t need to play all those machines simultaneously to create something that sound interesting and I think you can get what you need from an electronic drum machine from the AR.

I also think that Overbridge helps a lot when putting things together and that it is extremely useful compared to the monomachines humble sync capabilities.

I don’t have the MD but from what I’ve heard on tracks it is amazing.

However I’m going to have to agree with the others on how the AR sounds. “Round” is a great way to put it…3D, spherical. To my ears it’s as if the sound exists more than what I know of digital.

But in the end, for real, it’s between your ears and the two machines only. Nothing else. You fall for the MD, take it home.

there is much greater range of detail of information in analog audio, wheres digital audio has a limit… theoretically the human ear can be fooled, but it can also be acute enough to spot differences that eventually add up to a firm (and generally accurate) perspective

of course by the time it gets to your ears its all analog, but its the generative stages that determine most of the fundamental harmonic qualities

for example, analog synthesis often sounds physical or more “real”, because it literally is physical - instead of vibrating a string like a piano, essentially its vibrating electricity… digital doesnt do this, but sometimes digital through an analog filter will get you partway there

It only took 13 posts for this to turn into analog vs digital… It’s like the Godwin’s law of audio forums :wink:

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i need to make it clear i am an equal opportunity synth-lover!
but there are definitely differences …
and they are good to know because some things are much easier with certain types of methods

Not had much time to play with gear this year, but I spent some time today with the MD. Having spent yesterday and this morning on the AR 1.30 new features, I’ve learned a great deal about how to use the LFO now to really get into experimental territory with the AR.

Took those lessons and applied them to the MD, and NOW I see why there is still such a love for the machine. I now also get why folks say that the LFOs on the AR are more limited (they are).

I think at this point any thoughts I had about selling my MD-SPS-1UW+ Mk II have gone out the window. Definitely going to keep both MD + AR, and try to find more time to spend with each. I got into this hobby for the sound design aspect, and after this weekend, I’ve renewed the pursuit for new sounds.

I can appreciate what you’re saying. I’m the same way…good digital is good digital (i.e the Mutable Instruments Modular stuff)

Thanks to each and every one of you… every response here was helpful and insightful. :smiley:

there is much greater range of detail of information in analog audio, wheres digital audio has a limit… theoretically the human ear can be fooled, but it can also be acute enough to spot differences that eventually add up to a firm (and generally accurate) perspective

of course by the time it gets to your ears its all analog, but its the generative stages that determine most of the fundamental harmonic qualities

for example, analog synthesis often sounds physical or more “real”, because it literally is physical - instead of vibrating a string like a piano, essentially its vibrating electricity… digital doesnt do this, but sometimes digital through an analog filter will get you partway there

[/quote]
Not to derail this thread too much, but as someone studying advanced mathematics and DSP a lot of this post is pseudo-science. I love analog sound, but it doesn’t magically make the ear hear things digital never could,it just makes certain sounds in a much easier way. Not to mention that this argument precludes that “analog” is synonymous with “colored analog”. Read up on high tech gear forums where engineers argue over a transformer in microphones and you’ll see many people who love hardware but absolutely hate the “imperfections” some like in analog. And without those imperfections, analog sound is imperceptible from digital.
I’d recommend the Rytm, just because so many aspects of it seem to be made on improvements from the MD model. It does lack a few things, but other than LFOs they’re all moot for my needs. Sold my MDUW to get a Rytm, haven’t regretted it once.

there is much greater range of detail of information in analog audio, wheres digital audio has a limit… theoretically the human ear can be fooled, but it can also be acute enough to spot differences that eventually add up to a firm (and generally accurate) perspective

of course by the time it gets to your ears its all analog, but its the generative stages that determine most of the fundamental harmonic qualities

for example, analog synthesis often sounds physical or more “real”, because it literally is physical - instead of vibrating a string like a piano, essentially its vibrating electricity… digital doesnt do this, but sometimes digital through an analog filter will get you partway there

[/quote]
Not to derail this thread too much, but as someone studying advanced mathematics and DSP a lot of this post is pseudo-science. I love analog sound, but it doesn’t magically make the ear hear things digital never could,it just makes certain sounds in a much easier way.
Not to mention that this argument precludes that “analog” is synonymous with “colored analog”. Read up on high tech gear forums where engineers argue over a transformer in microphones and you’ll see many people who love hardware but absolutely hate the “imperfections” some like in analog. And without those imperfections, analog sound is imperceptible from digital.
I’d recommend the Rytm, just because so many aspects of it seem to be made on improvements from the MD model. It does lack a few things, but other than LFOs they’re all moot for my needs. Sold my MDUW to get a Rytm, haven’t regretted it once. [/quote]
No, there is no psuedoscience involved. I never said anything about the ear hearing things “magically”. Dont try to put words in my mouth. DSP is a method using virtual constructions of sound from applied abstracted mathematics simulating physical reality. Analog sound IS physical reality. Our current models of simulation do not account for the totality of our understanding of acoustics in most cases simply due to lack of processing power, but even if we could completely simulate it, there would still be a drastic difference between our simulations and the actual generation of sound as it occurs in the physical world we have based our simulations upon.

You say analog sound is imperceptible from digital, but this is not true in all cases - in many cases it is incredibly perceptible. In others not so much, and in some not at all. Especially some high-end VA synths are practically indistinguishable, and then they put in some high-end DACs and all kinds of other goodies in there that push it over the top.

I have argued over transformers before, I have been a working engineer for a number of years - I can tell you that if your ears are worth a damn, then you can tell the difference between analog sound generation and digital sound generation. If not, then too bad for you, go complain about it or deny it or whatever… but it wont change the actual facts.

It is not a power struggle, its not which is “the best”. They are both great for all kinds of things, just know the difference. Dont sit there saying “nope! no difference, its all the same” because you will miss the wide spectrum of identity and character available. There are certainly sweet spots out there.