If you could buy one Elektron device ...

Which would you choose, and why?

I’ve been lusting over an Octatrack for quite a while, but whenever I was about to buy one, I started to have doubts about whether I actually need it (I know I don’t). It seems it just had a price drop at Thomann (€999 instead of €1180), but now I heard and saw the Analog Rytm, and that seems even more fun! It’s not a sampler, but a drum machine with groovebox elements. Yeah, totally different, but mostly I want something to just jam and have fun with away from the computer – something with knobs, buttons, etc.

I guess the question is always, “What else could I do with the money?”. Buy food, maybe. :wink: Nah, it’d just be spent on something else I don’t need, like a custom uke (don’t need, I have a couple good ones), or that tenor e-ukulele from Risa (same), or a few of the Moogerfoogers.

I’m lucky enough to have them all. The Octatrack is quite Renoise-y as you can use short or long samples and change every param per step. You are limited to 8 tracks, but you have some ways around using more than one sound on a track (change per step). There’s no drum synthesis and the only synthesis you could do with it is load single cycle waveforms. You can sequence 8 additional ext midi tracks (poly tracks) so that can be fun to sequence Renoise synths and resample them into the Octatrack.

With the Rytm you are more in MPC territory. The samples are mono, its a bit of a pain to load samples (for now), but you have synthesis capable of synth sounds as well as the possibility to load it up with single cycle waveforms etc. Rytm filters are also a bit nicer than the Octa, as Octa has more of a utility sounding digi filter where the Rytm are analog.

So in a way the Rytm is also a bit Renoise (parameter locking per step) but better with short samples and only mono. 12 tracks at a time but sounds can change per step.

So if you don’t need long samples so much and don’t mind mono this is a cool hybrid of sampler and synthesis. I feel the OS is still in early stages. I would bet on some cool upgrades to it by NAMM.

I still have a deep love for the Machinedrum. Digital models, but there is just so much in there. Also capability to midi sequence external midi (sequence renoise with your MD) and the 4 (in the mk2) resampling tracks are also like Renoise magic but incredibly fast for resampling/messing things up. Sound quality is a bit more “vintage” 12 bit, but have always liked it.

If you’re looking for more of a synth the Analog 4 is quite nice. It can’t get as big as a monster analog, but its incredibly versatile can do some drums as well. Limited to 4 voices, but its a great expander for your other cv gear as the cv sequencer is great. No ext midi sequencing though.

With Rytm and the Analog 4, overbridge is coming soon which allows streaming of audio over the usb port directly to Renoise (without switching main audio io).

So to pick one, its difficult. They are all made to be quite different but they are all quite special. In the studio at the moment I’m using the Analog 4 more than the others, with the Rytm in 2nd. Octatrack is more of a live gig machine as it replaces a laptop quite nicely. The Octatrack is capable of making complete music on its own (limited to samples you load like Renoise), and so is the Rytm (in a different way with some synthesis).

Hope this helps more than it confuses.

If you’re a software user and you’re only going for ONE Elektron I’d suggest not getting the Octatrack because it’s redundant with softwares like Renoise or Ableton. It’s super fun and very well made once you get through the learning curve but it essentially is a super good controller for a sampler based performance DAW. Using the Octatrack a lot inspired me to design my own in depth sequencers for controllers and Renoise is the perfect sample host for that kind of approach. All in all, Renoise is similar and more powerful than the Octatrack except Renoise doesn’t come with the boundaries that will turn out to be so much fun with designing your sets on the Octatrack.

hazeltine said it best, the Octatrack is a laptop replacement and it’s a really good one at that. Sooooo fun and creative… but redundant if you keep the computer in the workflow.

For only one Elektron, I’d go for the Machinedrum or Ryth.


Thanks for the posts, guys!

I ended up getting the Analog Rytm during Elektron’s 15% off sale, so it cost around €1300 with the cover. After six weeks with it, I feel that I’m at a crossroad now where I need to decide where I go from here: continue with hardware and buy an OT and an A4 at some point this year, or if I pull out while I still can and focus on software (ITB) again.

The Rytm is an amazing machine. The analog percussion sounds blow my mind – never heard, “in person”, a bass drum that sounds so incredibly “phat”. Videos don’t do the real thing justice. I really haven’t explored a lot of what the Rytm can do, so this is still all “early impressions”. For example, I haven’t layered samples or toyed with them yet, partly because of how tedious it is to get samples on the thing. I find myself mostly jamming, bouncing around the room while twiddling knobs and messing around with p-locks, scenes, and the performance mode. I can totally see what people mean when they say that Elektron boxes are great for live performances. It’s just a lot of fun and sounds good even if you have only a mild idea of what you’re doing. Coming from an ITB background, though, some of the workflow elements feel archaic to me.

My “problem” now is that I can see where this is going to lead me. If I focus on OTB music making, I’ll want an Octatrack and an Analog Four as well. This would be another €2500, plus cables/covers/stand etc. Well, compared to what “normal” instruments cost and other “fun stuff” people tend to waste money on, it’s not that much money. What I do worry about is that it wouldn’t stop there (I’m already eyeing a Sub Phatty 37!), If I stay in the box and I want a new synth (toys are fun), I can buy a VST for a hundred or two hundred bucks, find a free one that’s great to explore, or have fun with Renoise instruments. A hardware synth costs much more.

I also don’t want to end up with a ton of clutter as for the past few years I have embraced a kind of “minimalist” life style where I find it refreshing to not be burdened by “stuff”. Midlife crisis probably! That part of me really likes the idea of just having a laptop, an interface, monitors and headphones, and nothing else.

On the flip side, I like the hands-on approach of at least the Rytm. It feels like I’m “making” music in a “natural” way instead of programming or assembling music, though that very thing can be appealing at times as well.If I managed to only stick with a Rytm/OT/A4, it’d be OK, they don’t take up that much space and are fairly compact, but everyone who dives into hardware seems to end up with a room full of synths and other devices.

So basically, I don’t really know where to go from here. Overbridge, if it turns out the way they describe it, will allow a hybrid approach, so I’ll definitely wait to see how that turns out when the open beta starts next month. If I decide for an OTB setup, and Elektron doesn’t announce an Octatrack MKII at NAMM this week, I’d probably get an OT next. Then again, Renoise is more flexible.

The curse of too much choice.


I was in the same position last year. Then I heard about the RYTM and overbridge, and was sold. I loved the RYTM so much that I bought a 2nd hand A4 the next week.

Here´s how great overbridge will be!