When did you start to have rewarding moments w/ A4

Hello. So I finally got myself an A4 MKII since yesterday and while being really impressed by it’s sheer beauty seen as an incredible piece of nicely designed hardware I feel a bit lost on how to start.
Owning two other Elektron devices I’m not struggling with the concept in general. Neither it’s understanding of subtractive synthesis in general, which I feel I’m well experienced in. And no, it’s not about it’s sound. I’ve seen and listened enough demos which sounded really convincing to me.
However… it seems like finally there is something like this steeper learning curve and a little less immediacy that you often read about in conjunction with Elektron.

Did you experience something similar? How and when did you get to the point where the A4 felt absolutely right and you finally had a deeper understanding?

PS: I’m a bit uncertain whether to return the A4 or not.

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I’ve had one for about a month now. I have other Elektron boxes, various synths, drum machines, sequencers, etc. and am used to workflows that are across the spectrum in terms of immediacy and complexity.

While I am new to the A4, it is already standing apart in many ways and has a feeling to me of it’s own world. Familiar in terms of Elektron workflow, yes, familiar in terms of subtractive synthesis, yes, but bigger than the sum of those parts. It’s deep and subtle and I have found that a slower pace unlocks the most rewarding moments for me thus far.

I didn’t get it to be a track making groove box per se and, although it can do that as well as anything, (and I have definitely sat down with it to get a more immediate track going….and love that about it too) slowing down with it and diving into the subtleties has been the thing that is clicking with me the most. I’m really into sound design/experimenting with synthesis so that plays into these rewards in my case. The variety and beauty in there is immense and after my first month, I can see it being the type of instrument that gives me surprising results every time I sit down with it for years and years.


I think for me it was when I realized I didnt need need to make new patches from scratch each time. I started using the presets as quick starting templates and tweaked from there. I had to learn to focus on building the core loops or themes, and then copy that to various patterns. After that I could just add and remove pieces, go crazy with plocks and slides.

I’ll add I just used the a4 solo for like 3-4 weeks to learn its strengths and weaknesses, made integrating into the setup much easier.


This is what I did. Took It out of my studio, brought it downstairs to my living room, printed out the manual and and had only the manual and A4 in the living room. That worked well enough, that since buying my A4, I’ve done the same with the MPC One, Hydrasynth and OT (although I will need to do that again with OT at some point because I became discouraged and have since reconnected it to my studio but am not sure how I want to use it there). Now, I have my MPC One in the living room and have been focusing on that.

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My solution was to blow away the whole +Drive within about 10 minutes of powering it up. Not on purpose, but I ran with it. So in the last two years I’ve made all of the sounds I’ve used, and all I use is an AK. This was my first Elektron device so it took a long time to get it all together but sound design wise I was in heaven from the first.


I bought a video course ~ 8 h that dives deep into it’s sound design and routing options. The availability of such courses is the advantige of mature synth concepts.

I think the secret of any complex synth is to learn and practice. Therefore the questions seems to be: Are you willing to be more a synth guy or more a sample chopper?

BTW there are some nice A4 patches you could start with, e.g.:

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This is exactly what I was planning to do. Erase the whole thing and start exploring.


Thank you! To me this sounds like a very insightful and encouraging answer. Reminding me of whenever I think I already gained enough knowledge/experience impatience kicks in and brings trouble.

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Hell no! That’s the reason why I ended up with that black beauty.

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I love that idea. Always. A piece of gear has to be good enough to stand on its own. Plus I suck at multitasking so I’d rather stick to one box after the other.

The A4 got me into having deliberate sound design sessions seperate from making music, it’s really deep and really rewards patience and exploration in making sounds, so I was not pulling the best out of it when trying to make sounds while writing music. I’ve really enjoyed using every modulation source at subtle settings, can make a simple bread and butter sound or monotonous loop really feel alive.


I just got one a few days ago and like others have said I just started using it standalone. I’m loving it, I know already that it’s a keeper.

I decided on a chord progression for 8 bars (so I had to learn to use different patterns and chain them) and then set to using the 4 tracks to fill out that idea.

I started with presets and then started tweaking, learning all of the sound parameters to get everything to gel together.

I did own a MKI A4 briefly but quickly sold it as like you I was unsure about. My difficulty was that I think I wanted it to be a poly synth back then but have since got a deepmind 6 for those duties so I’m happy using the mkii A4 more to its strengths now (IMO).

Good luck with it :+1:

  • Fill conditions on the effects sequencer track
  • Using track 1&2 as effects tracks for the ext inputs
  • performance page standard used on all projects. (It takes a long time to customize it correctly, so copy the setup from one project to the next and refine it rather than trying to make a new layout each time.)
  • integration to eurorack

Bonus fun exploration
Set both oscillators of a track to sub auditory levels (you should hear pulses or clicks instead of a tone)
Make sure they are not the same frequency
Fool around with the am settings
Voila very cool synced rhythms that can be changed with the keyboard.

The A4 is goat


This, if they arent already programmed I tend to forget about them. And that’s bad because the macros are so powerful in performance.

Same thing with the joystick, I have a set of assignments I like and copy that patch as an Init.

This! It’s going to be a very nice weekend.

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If you have time download everything from the download section and follow the blog :

You can print the book if you want
Happy A4 mkii learning


A4 engine is like dough, you need to work it. Assign all the envelopes and LFOs… get some of the less hip parameters like Pulse width moving… Personally I’ve found the envelopes very important, be sure to experiment with them, the shapes and responses are quite different.


Thank you for putting the book together and for offering it for free for us. I just read the introduction, and will plan to read the rest of it (could it be a kind of “Merlin Guide for the A4?”

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I was struggling for about a week, when I decided just to say ‘fuck it, I can’t actually break it can I?’, pressed record, turned a lot of different knobs, then went and plocked anything and everything.

The first time after that I pressed play, well, it was a mess. But an exciting and sonically awesome mess that suddenly opened a load of potential. The A4 voices on their own are a bit flat. Not rubbish, but just very obvious. With modulation and movement, it comes alive like very few other synths. And it’s very very good at modulation and movement. It also has so many different parameters, and they interact in very different ways. Exploring it fast helps get a sense of how these sounds (the envelopes for example!).

Everyone will have a different style, but the light bulb moment for me was letting go of workflow preconceptions and making a mess with it.


Thanks for the compliment… !

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