So I’m looking at a three box setup, the Digitakt and Microfreak I already have, I’m pretty sure Syntakt is the third but the A4 is still making me think twice.
I have ADHD and I’m also not young anymore so the idea of having two boxes with a very similar OS is very appealing, I haven’t played live in many years and I want to get back doing it. I’m making straight fairly banging techno.
The Syntakt has a pile of voices and is early in it’s update cycle so more interesting things will happen… but reading people talk on here about the depth of the A4 and how surprising the results can be.
The Microfreak will be run into one of them so the effects are important, I’d rather not have to use extra processing if possible, though I have a lot of FX should I change my mind.
Thoughts from people with both especially welcome. Thanks!
Syntakt, with more tracks and digital machines, has an advantage in the range of sounds it can produce. Plus, the MIDI track mode can handle polyphony (I don’t think A4’s MIDI out functionality allows this, I may be wrong though as I haven’t tried).
A4 has a bit more depth in terms of what you can do with the synthesis and tracks. Things like keytracked LFOs, neighbour tracks (send the output of a track through the next one’s filter) and of course, the arpeggiator allow for more flexibility. Conversely to the Syntakt, A4 has the CV/gate outs too (and CV/expression ins if you get the mk2), which may be an advantage if you have or plan to acquire some CV capable gear in the future.
With this in mind though, I’d say the Syntakt is the right choice. There’s plenty to play with and it’s all very accessible. A4 can sound incredible but it’s very much in the same style of, for example, the Monomachine, where you really need to know how to work with it. Syntakt is just sweet spots everywhere—even the default analog kick sound is excellent. Before I bought mine, I played with it in a store, and had a very decent dark/heavy techno loop going in minutes. A4 I kinda have to poke at for a while before things start to take shape.
This is true. I have Syntakt and the A4 as Analog Keys.
The synth machine of the A4 is very versatile, but if you just listen to the inital patch, you might be - as others before - disappointed. I compare it with a white canvas and it’s up to us to fill it with shapes and colors. To get the most out of the A4 I reccomend a tendency of having fun designing sounds with subtractive synthesis and digging it more than only knowing about the basics. This and the superb sequencer will reward with great musical results, but it takes more than calling this or that factory preset.
I’ve also got both, and I prefer smaller set-ups. I intentionally bought the Syntakt to replace my old M:C, which was my “toy” for bedroom jams and trips… so my Syntakt use is similar - i.e. I’ve not tried to use it with another Elektron, but I pair my A4 with my AR.
I think the Syntakt has a more saturated, more forward overall tone, even before the analog drive is applied. It’s not that the A4 can’t be fizzy, it’s that the Syntakt tends to sound a bit cleaner and dryer around the fuzz. When I first looked into the A4, it seemed to have quite a stiff and brittle tone, but I seem to get “clouds” out of it now I have one. The difference is really subtle and might not be that important.
The ST is quicker to get more of a track going, and as @pselodux said, gives you easy access to a wider range of sounds. The ST’s digital drums and the fm-y and modelled sounds in particular will be difficult to replicate on the A4. The oscillator sync’d and AM’d sounds the A4 can do will be harder on the Syntakt.
I’ve got the A4 mkii. I like taking an individual out or two through pedals and bringing them back in through the external inputs. You can’t add an effects loop with the Syntakt without also using a mixer: but bringing an external source in through its drive is lush.
The difference between Kits and no-kits might be an issue for you. Some people with the Digis get frustrated managing sounds across multiple patterns. Some people with the Analogs get frustrated with managing Kits. I’ve made mistakes with both so I just accept I need to learn the systems and work with them.
…as much as i love the a4 with it’s total unique approach…
…in ur case, i hardly suggest, kill ur doubts and go for the st…
…as u mentioned already, it still can’t be empasized enough, having the xact same workflow right next to each other, one for sampling, one for synthesis, is priceless for a realtime/live/performance setup…
the st will still give u some truu analog flavours and so much more, all easy to dial in, reduced to the max of each soundparameter approach, way more versatile always from the get go, while the a4 is way more complex to setup and harder to handle in a live jam, even with it’s great performance macros…
while both takts together is THE killer setup for any stageperformance…
I have both and the ST is the way to go for techno. You could still do it with an A4 but the ST is made for it. Being able to pump sounds with the ST’s master track creates so much movement. Plus the ST’s synth engines sound super duper (I fricken love Swarm and the ring mod on Raw). I’ve been running my ST through the DT’s compressor and it sounds amazing!
You’ve probably already seen this thread, OP, but in case not,
I don’t have an ST, or a Microfreak, but I love my A4 for techno. It is a very, very powerful instrument, particular when it comes to live performance and expressiveness. The ST seems awesome and I’d love to try one someday, but I’d keep the A4 on your radar for sure.
I’d go A4 if you have a microfreak and a DT already. You can do much of what the ST would get you from that pair, and the A4 can some very cool things the ST can’t.
That’s just me, though - I like the ST but I haven’t used it much since I got an A4. The ability to offload sounds to the DT via sampling solve the A4’s biggest weakness relative to the ST (voice count).
I own the “Digi trinity” and also an Analog 4 MK2 and I produce techno.
I wouldn’t really say there is a lot of overlap between these 2 as @pselodux said it but I agree with a lot of his points.
I see the ST as a groovebox while I see the A4 as a synth.
I’ve been strugling with techno stabs/chords with the ST and got amazing results with the A4.
Most of the time, I start tracks with DT/ST/DN and when I face issues to get the sound I am looking for, I start the A4 and I am always amazed by its power. Sometimes I forget how amazing it is and then I come back to it and fall in love as in the early days.
So yeah, going for the ST would be your best choice imo, but having these two is a killer setup.
For the first time in years, I feel I found my perfect techno setup and that’s a rare feeling. Even my GAS left me
Syntakt and digitakt is everything you’ll need. Plus with adhd this is the perfect combo to stay focussed as they are both identical in form and function. Just they both provide different sounds and options.
A4 does allow this, up to four notes per step on a midi track.
Regarding the original post, it depends on how deep you want to get with synthesis, versus workflow and immediate gratification. The A4 is a WAY more complex instrument (but not OT complex) so it takes more time to learn it’s secrets and how they can work for you. The ST lets you make complete tracks right away… but it sounds a bit plastic and hollow to me, relative to the A4 and AR. However you get 3 times as many voices… and you can balance the inherent ST thin tone with warmer/more analog-sounding samples in the DT.
To sum up: for your uses, I’d go ST. But for me sound comes first, so A4.
I think so! Loved the possibility of patching, absolutely hated the reality of patching. I got our years ago and really don’t miss it, but the A4 looks like it’ll cover all the things I miss… without being two suitcases of modules and a thousand cables!