Decisions: Can’t Keep them all (Part 3) (Elektron Digitakt)

(This year, I bought too many drum machines.  This is the third part in a series where I’m thinking out loud about which I should keep and which I should sell.  You can find Part 1 and Part 2 by clicking the links)

Ahh, the Digitakt. Of all my drum machine purchases, this one was the most impulsive.   I had literally *just* bought an MPC Live (the next one in this series) when an open box deal came across my desk that I couldn’t pass up.  I watched a few demo videos on it and, perhaps stupidly, snapped it up.

This is not to say that I am disappointed in the device…far from it.   I really do enjoy working with it…when I actually do work with it.  Which hasn’t been all that much.  Which is very, very unfortunate.

What attracted to me to the Digitakt is that Elektron seemed to be trying to do something I always wish they’d do: Cut out all the bullshit and just make an instrument that was straight forward and fun to use (I love my octatrack, but it’s not really fun).  They all got into a room and just said “Lets make a simple drum machine” and BOOM: digitakt.   But…then they started thinking…hm….maybe we can add some sample inputs….and 8 MIDI tracks…and…and….

Thankfully, the meeting ended and they didn’t add everything and the kitchen sink to it.  What they were left with was still pretty straight forward.

What happened next…eh.  I don’t know.  It seems like the ordered the hardware, started work on the firmware and then let marketing publish the specs and features they hoped to have two years form now.  Why?  Because what arrived on launch day was *not* what everyone had hoped.   To put it mildly, the system was buggy, overbridge wasn’t even implemented and there were a number of issues with the MIDI track.   Oh and, yeah, they didn’t bother to build in a song mode.

Yeah.. Read that again NO SONG MODE.

So…lets get this straight.  They made a great sequencer with great external control that can’t be used to chain those patterns into songs?




Of all the decisions Ive seen developers make, this is the most blisteringly stupid.   A drum machine with out a song mode?  Ok, that’s fine for a Roland TR reissue or maybe some machine trying to emulate an analog workflow…but this was positioning itself as competition for an MPC, and an MPC IS ALL ABOUT MAKING SONGS!!!

I love Elektron..but I will never understand their decision making process.

Back to the question at hand.  Do I keep it?   The answer is…maybe.   Even without song mode, the thing is really, really good : As simple to use as my EMX 1, but with a better sound and a lot of cool slick tricks.   I haven’t sampled with it, but loading samples in was cake (the +drive is Elektron’s best idea ever) and because of that, I’ve got a huge library of sound that’s a button push away from being in a track.  Slaved to the input of the Octatrak, it’s a great sound source.  All of that plus Elektron’s history of great software updates makes me want to hold on to it for a while and just see what develops.  Maybe even it will get a song mode…




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