To drum machine or to Modular (ARmkii? Perkons? already have DT+ST+DN)

So, not sure the best forum for this, but I’ll stick it here, before I step over the event horizon.

I want drums.

I currently have a DT+ST+DN (I’m still getting used to the DN, and drums are really it’s secondary purpose, but it’s part of the trio). I’ve sold off a few things, so I have money burning a hole.

I’ve tried out the TR8s/TR6s and Drumlogue as well as a roland groovebox and an MPC Live and they all went away for reasons. I like the Elektron sequencer, but for some reason the DT fed into the ST for overdrive isn’t as inspiring as it could be - I don’t know how to describe it. I’d like the ability to just throw out some drums while I work on melodic stuff or, alternately, sit down and really program drums. So, I like the DT+ST+DN for the latter use but also feel like I’m missing something for the first.

(1) Is there any reason to consider an AR MKii if I plan to keep the trio? I don’t know how much I’ll use the AR pads as drum pads, but performance pads maybe. I like the idea of sequencing from the DT but I don’t use it terribly often. Seems like a powerful tool to have though. More can sometimes be less.

(2) I’m also thinking about a Perkons (that seems immediate enough) or a modular drum rack (I know, modular is insane). Maybe a DFAM just to start, but I know myself and I’ll have 60-80hp worth of a few more drum voices and a sequencer before too long. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and I don’t expect trying to build a poly or even a synth voice, just drums. I do have a matriarch to integrate with. The modular rack would probably end up with a BLCK_NOIR and a few Erica drum voices (bass drum 2, snare); then either a turing machine+expanders or a step sequencer and a BBD. Step sequencer last, as I can do that with a keystep pro for now.

I recognize I could buy both a perkons and an AR MKii for the money I’m considering spending on modular - and maybe that’s a saner choice. I will always have one or two drum machines even if I take the plunge, as I know I won’t be happy with modular as my only drum solution.

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What do you feel your music is missing?




Seems you have drums covered tbh. What kind of drums are you missing? Is there any way you can achieve that without a purchase?

If you want quick drums its doesn’t get quicker than the tr8(s) id say. Also you can make default projects in the Digi boxes to open up if you just want quick drums.

Modular drums is anything but quick same goes for AR imo


I haven’t tried default/starter projects - and that seems like a good use for the rest of the morning.

I think the biggest problem I have with the DT+ST is “quick drums” becomes “two hours of drum programming”. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but I’d like something with more limited guardrails that tends to start in a different sonic place (like, say, the LXR-02 or Perkons or even Drumbrute impact).

One semi-attraction of modular is the option of a random sequence (Turing, Marbles) and of course the muscle memory of knobs for certain voices. Random triggers in the digi boxes are close but feel - I don’t know, like it is more work?

I wish I had gotten on better with the TR8/6; they did immediate well but I really disliked most of the sounds and kit editing was a chore.

I guess what I want is the ability to separate complex sequencing from complex sound design; I enjoy both but when both are at my fingertips I get lost there.


You have the best FM drum machine ever made (DN), an incredibly flexible analogue + digital drum machine (ST) and a ludicrously flexible drum sampler (DT).

You don’t need more drums. Use the DT more to recall your favourite drum sounds from anywhere.


I totally understand what you’re getting at, and I’ve been eyeing the Perkon’s HD-01 as well (even though I don’t have space for it and don’t want to sell any of the gear that I current use).

I would encourage you to try out the HD-01 in a way where you don’t have to commit (maybe you can loan it or just buy it with the possibility of returning it) to see if the workflow really is so dramatically different. If not, I would say just stick to what you have.

However, I don’t think an AR would add anything to your setup (it’s basically parts of the Syntakt and parts of the Digitakt combined into one). If you want to use some kind of macro performance controls, you could buy a small midi controller instead and control modulation wheel, breath controller, et cetera, on your digi boxes.


Getting a Rytm won’t help you with this - the workflow is pretty similar to what you’ve got. The main advantages Rytm has over that trio are the performance macros, the analog signal path and the advanced pattern switching modes, and I don’t think any of those really tackle this challenge. Between that trio you’ve kind of already got most of the Rytm feature set and workflow already.

Maybe this is just a workflow issue? Separating your sessions into sound design and sequencing could help. One way or another, if you want complexity in both you kinda have to build that complexity yourself. Modular can be a fantastic playground of rule based rhythm sequencing, but most of that fun requires a whole boatload of utilities (otherwise you’ve just got another complex sequencer to program, it’s just in an expensive case this time), and you might find you spend a lot of time fishing for gold amongst the generative patterns that emerge. It’s a nice way to work though, but it’s a lot to get into.


Yeah, that’s what I’d guess it would be like. It would be nice to rent or try a modular rig for a week or two to really see; something that is a lot easier to do with an integrated drum machine (e.g. Perkons).

Try VCV rack to see how it feels to sequence drums in modular. You won’t get the blinkenlights that we love so much but you’ll get a clear picture of what’s needed to make euro drums work.

Dokev is right though. You need a ton of modules to get the generative sound you might have heard on YouTube or other socials. A euro drum sequencer is fun (I’ve tried 3 of them) but ultimately can cost as much as a DT.

Maybe a TR8? just straight up classic drums, no editing, no samples, direct control and fast af

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AR is wicked - nothing beats it for a dedicated drum machine imo - doesn’t mean you need one but it does rock.

The performance modes are very cool, kind of like having access to 12 OT crossfaders all at once. Also latched mutes and hands-on retriggers. Individual outs, which for some people are essential, for others unneccessary - I take the kick for the sidechain input on my compressor which is dope.

Being able to layer the synth voice and the sample voice on each track can be really powerful - in some situations you’re basically doubling your voice count - it can be used very creatively if you want. You have choked voices too.

I also think the effects are really good in it. No complaints about the Digi effects, but the AR’s delay and reverb just work so well with drums - maybe it’s a genre specific thing. Really lives up to its ‘dark’ moniker.

If it weren’t for all the above stuff I’d use my Digitakt for drums, that’s what keeps the AR on my desk. I have a MKI, which I bought used for less than the cost of a new Digitakt.

It also does basslines, acid and other mono synth voices really well. It’s a lot of machine for the money.


I really liked DN for drums when I had one but ultimately I want the hands on of a drum machine. I totally get that. I have Modor, tempest and pulsar and they couldn’t be more different but all hands on, quick if you want but crazy deep also.

You have three very capable machines for that.
Resampling is the way.

You mention random sequencing enough that it seems like you want the machine to spit drums out at you with little effort on your part. random sequencing is lazy. who needs that?
focus on the machines you have and you have all the drums you could ever want.


Do you have any samples of your music? Do you have any samples of the music you would like to make? Maybe that would help understanding a bit better your case.

I would say you are pretty much covered (regarding drums) with those three machines you already own, and probably still covered in case you would sell the syntakt too. Digitakt is a sampler, and Digitone is a FM synth that can be also use as a subtractive one too. Both can make big sounding drums, whether they are sample based, synthesized, or even using single cycle waveforms.

How much time have you dedicate to learn those tools? Sometimes we focused on getting new tools before having complete control and learnt the ones we currently own, and I may include myself along this list too, as GAS sometimes are difficult to tame :slight_smile:


For me, the trick was seeing that whilst I might be able to do both on the same machine I can still dedicate my session to either designing sounds/kits or playing with those kits and sounds, thereby separating the two activities not in different machines, but in different time slots.

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Your needs and suggestions confuse me. It sounds like you want an instrument that is “good out of the box”, for quickly delivering good sounds. I know from regular use the the Rytm benefits from lengthy detailed work and exploratory sound design - but it sounds like you already use your Digi trio for that. Maybe the Rytm with some well chosen sound packs would deliver quickly, but it seems like an expensive choice for that role. Surely modular is even more complex and less “quick”?

Or have I misunderstood your needs?

Sell everything. Buy Octatrack. Spend years mastering it.


I mean, so is setting every step conditional to 50% or 75% and setting each part to trigger on every step isn’t it?

The melodic parts will be either composed or improvised (and played by my hands or programmed deliberately) so some randomness in the percussion sounds like fun - and I am not liking how I get there with the Elektrons, at least right now. I mean, sure, I can reduce the probability on a ghost note or a heavy accented layer, but I don’t want to be so deliberate all the time.

Yeah; it strikes me as two different directions. An AR is doubling down on what I can already do (e.g. is there some secret AR sauce? Some way to use the pads to change conditionals accross several parts?), the other options are trying to get a different workflow.

What’s attractive about the second case is being somewhat limited/curated sound design in the moment I am working with it. A few knobs per voice with the Perkons or the knobs on the drum voices in modular. I have a semimodular now (Matriarch) and I currently tend to set up a patch and just leave it for awhile, or only make a few knob twists here and there. If and when I wanted a complex sequence in either case, I am pretty sure I could still do that with my Digitakt (I’m sure the Perkons responds to midi sequencing, and a midi to CV trigger module seems easy enough to find). Probably not usable at the same time I’m using a random sequencer, but that’s ok (and what patch cables are for, unless I want to go crazy with mixers).

I’ve messed around with random sequencers and polyrhythmic pattern generators in vcvrack, for what that’s worth. I don’t think I’d like pure random, but I think randomizing some voices (in less deliberate ways than programming it across the whole part or per step) is the sort of “happy accident” I used to get when I’d quantize finger drumming to 16th triplets or similar.