Which Elektron box has the best MIDI sequencing for polyphonic synths?

I have not been using MIDI channels in my Elektron gear but it is time to start. I’ve read that some of them only do well with mono synths. I guess that is understandable for boxes that are themselves made up of monophonic channels. (DT, A4) Does the Octatrak handle poly MIDI tracks well or should I stick with using the MPC Live 2 to drive MIDI gear?

If I remember rightly, Octatrack can only sequence 4 notes polyphonically per track, but it has the MIDI ARP, which is awesome.
Digitakt is just 4 note polyphony per track, no MIDI ARP.

Digitone has 8 note Polyphony per track but also no MIDI ARP. Also only four tracks, as opposed to 8 each on the other two.

I’ve used all three as midi sequencers and I’d say the Digitone was the most fun to use, the Digitakt is fine, but a bit lacking in features and the OT is deep but a bit more of a pain in the arse.


Totally depends what you want to achieve.
Elektron sequencers are step sequencers, and therefor any event must happen on a step. (Microtiming is just a smaller resolution of steps, but still a fixed step)

Also, the way elektron seqencers handle note off commands mean playing legato notes will not get recorded as you played them. This is my only grip with elektron sequencers.

So far as polyphony goes, OT can do four note polyphonic sequencing, but, all notes must occur on a step, and the note off command must occur on a step.

Having no idea what kind of music you make, nor what you want to achieve, I suggest you set up your elektron machine with a poly synth and play around. See what the results are. And see what you prefer.

Sometimes I think about getting an MPC for proper poly sequencing. But then I just sample myself playing the poly bits and go with that. Imperfections and lack of midi editing has its good sides.

Hope that helps.


Thanks to both of you for the replies. That gives me some stuff to think about. In most cases I would not exceed 4 note, but it is possible when sequencing something like a piano part, or maybe strings. Will be connecting a Roland Jupiter Xm. Sometimes for synth sounds, sometimes for ROMpler. The 4 track limit would not be an issue with it.

Yeah, test the piano parts using elektron to record the midi. My guess is, you’ll prefer the MPC. As said, elektron machines dont do legato notes properly. (Meaning overhanging notes wont overhang, even though the voice is polyphonic)

Edit: I have two elektron sequencers, the OT and DN. For sequencing external gear prefer the OT. More tracks, more LFOs, the midi arp is insane, more assignable CCs, and it just feels more comfortable. DN feels cramped to me.

Digitone has 8 notes polyphony in total

You cannot have 8 notes on all 4 tracks- that would be 32 note polyphony

You can have a total of 8 notes shared across the 4 tracks- for example 4 notes on track1, 2 on track 2, 1 voice on 3 and 4

Four notes is enough! If you need more, move the root note to the bass track.


Talking about the midi tracks.


If you have the gear, start playing with it!

As others have said, the OT is a pretty good polyphonic and multitimbral sequencer. It isn’t perfect - it has it’s limits, as do the rest of the Elektrons.

If you already have an MPC, then dedicate a few weekends to learning the sequencers on your Elektrons. Then try combining the Elektrons with the MPC.

For others finding this thread that don’t have an MPC, consider an RK-008 as your master sequencer.

If you want the “best” or a “perfect” sequencer, then you probably want an M1 mac and Logic or Ableton or maybe Bitwig. Hardware will always be more limited than a DAW. The limits of hardware force creative compromise, so if you already have the hardware then the best way to understand how it will impact your process is to play with it yourself.

The Xm has a step sequencer and sophisticated arpeggiator. I suspect interesting things can happen when the OT and Xm are playing together with their sequencers and arpeggiators. I’m still slowly learning the Xm myself, but if you are already comfortable with it, then maybe look into the games you can play with it and the OT.

I use my MPC Live for midi. All the channels, all the arps, a thousand and one bars if you want.

If you just want basic 8 bar loops with some randomness, any of the Elektron boxes will be fine.

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