What’s in the box?

Starting at an event in Berlin in the fall, the folks at Elektron have been teasing new hardware, hiding it inside a padlocked, frosted-plexiglass case. Today, they opened the case.

Inside is what appears to be an anticipated new Elektron drum machine – though various readers tell us this latest drum machine from the company will use analog drum synthesis. (That’s unconfirmed.) The obvious addition is given away instantly: you get a colored 4×3 grid of pads, looking a bit like Maschine and Machinedrum had a love child. (Then again, that love child doesn’t sound like a bad thing.)

Updated: readers do tell us it’s an analog drum machine. So expect a new machine with a new workflow – a kind of analog Bride of Machinedrum.

Oh, and in good news for lefties, you get your transport on the right and pads on the left — even if that has some people online complaining. (I’m a rightie, but it’s about time the Leftorium got its own drum machine. They do tend to be disproportionately creative, the left-handed population, and they did make up a disproportionate number of the early astronauts, so quit whining.)

Other than that, we know precisely … nothing. In fact, we probably know more about Roland’s leaked Aira line than this. But while I expect the Aira will run much cheaper, fans of the Swedish groovemakers’ pulse just went up substantially from earlier this week.

Speculate away.

(answer: pain?)

  • Dom Harwood

    Looks like 3×4 rather than 4×4 from here.

  • Foosnark

    I see 3×4 (or is that 4×3?) pads, not 4×4…

  • 歌麿

    you guys def. deserve both the mathematics and proofreading badges.

  • Trms

    12 pads = 12 voices? The Machinedrum already had 16, so I’m calling an analog drum machine. And why not, with several synth engines.

    LET THE HYPE BEGIN

    • apollo

      12 analog voices would be like a $2000 piece of gear…

      if its 12 voice, i seriously doubt its fully analog

    • Trms

      Volca beats has 6 analog voices and it’s around 140€. Have in mind that we are talking percussion synths, so you don’t have several lfos, envelopes, multimode filters, complex routing, etc – a couple of simple attack/decay envelopes with very limited controls plus a sine wave makes a nice analog kick, you don’t need a fully developed substractive synth for these kind of sounds. Think of the tr808 – you have two or three parameter per voice because it uses a much simpler structure.

    • http://vrpr.org/ Henry

      That’s right. On the other hand, the DSI Tempest has 6 analog voices (yes, yes, DCOs, not VCOs…) and all the bells and whistles, at the 2000$ price point.

  • http://vrpr.org/ Henry

    Seriously, I cannot get over that hideous round buttons design. All these Elektron devices give me immediate eye cancer when looking at them. And yes, call me an old-fashioned idiot for that, but I just can’t stand it.

    Also, why only 12 pads and not 16? That is the biggest shortcoming of each and every non-Akai controller (except for Maschine and that odd one Arturia keyboard, as far as I know). Yes, Elektron’s devices are not meant to be MIDI-controllers for other instruments, but this is just half-arsed. Even the Tempest has a distinct idea behind the 2×8 grid…

    • Tr

      Re:12 pads. Maybe that’s the number of voices. You already have a line of 16 buttons below for X0X-style sequencing, so there’s no need for 16 pads.

    • cooptrol

      It has 5 voices.

    • Foosnark

      Even on Maschinie I kind of wish I had 24 pads. I wouldn’t want to compromise on pad size, so I have no idea where I’d put the thing if it were that big, though.

    • Radiophobic

      I completely agree with you on the round buttons. It seems to be an aesthetic they borrowed from the rounded edges on the ios/osx interface. But it looks terrible in physical interfaces.

  • TROS

    It’s definitely 3×4 and it’s not replacing the Machinedrum. It’s an analog drum machine, a very different beast than the Machinedrum. I think the pads in the middle would have made a lot more sense.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Fixed that. I had limited access to the Internet when this story arrived.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      It’s a drum machine; I don’t know that it can’t be in the lineage of Machinedrum, even if it is analog.

  • TROS

    I’ve had all the Elektron stuff and I’m actually more interested in the Aira T-8 at this point. The Elektron stuff is great from a programming standpoint but I would say it’s just ok in a performance situation. If the TR-8 sounds good, I’m really looking forward to knobs and slider for every sound, I’m surprised more people aren’t excited about this. I’m tired of cycling through menus to edit drums sounds in a live situation. And if I want to make some basic drum patterns to manipulate and tear up in my Octatrack, I really don’t need a $1500 Machinedrum to make them. More importably than all that, if you don’t have any Elektron stuff and are in the market, just get an Octatrack, it’s really all you need unless you’re a collector. Limitations are good.

    • Lion King

      Nice try, Roland.

    • TROS

      Eh, no, I’m not Roland. The TR-8 looks great for immediate performance of simple drum patterns, assuming it doesn’t sound like crap. The Elektron stuff can be great for performance too but in a very different manner.

    • antennatree

      As far as we can see so far the Aira T-8 is just going to be a watered down VA version of the 808 (that’s what Roland does these days)… and this is something Roland could have done 15+ years ago when they introduced the MC-303.

      Elektron has already surpassed these old drum machine paradigms so I’m much more interested in seeing what they have to offer right now.

      Roland has a legacy that they are unable to escape from, and they don’t have the talent or ambition to rise above it. Korg has shown that you can take legacy concepts and make them contemporary, but Roland is too stubborn.

    • TROS

      Possible but who knows. I’m willing to give them a chance. Anyone who’s owned an Octatrack knows how it can manipulate sounds into total madness so if you wanted a cheap, quick, machine to makes beats to sample into Octatrack, it could be great. Also, could be great for live performance. This is all assuming it sounds good, and I realize there’s a really good chance it won’t. I’m assuming because the new Roland CEO is one of the engineers that worked on the 808 that they may have gotten it right. Also, I used an MC 303, an MC 505 and an SP 808 to great extent in the 90s, at the time it was cutting edge and I don’t remember wanting them to be 808s. It wouldn’t have made sense to bring out an 808 in 96, they were fairly plentiful and cheap at the time.

    • XanaX

      +1 i’m so underwhelmed by this design, it just looks like an A4 + mini pads.. is this really the best Elektron could come up with? I’ve been using their stuff for the past decade but the tiny LCD + nameless encoder configuration is a little tedious at this point. Analog is good, but what people love about analog instruments is their immediacy and 1 knob per function control.. not cycling through menus via 1 inch screen.. this is where I believe Roland have struck gold with the TR-8 design and throwback to 808/909 interface with dedicate knob sections and no display other then BPM.. if they get it right with the synth engine it just might be a game changer..

    • TROS

      My feelings exactly. I’m not a big fan of the A4 and was really surprised to see it get a synth of the year award. The A4 is definitely an original design, there’s nothing like it but menu diving to edit an analog synth is just annoying, and honestly the raw oscillators on the A4 are just really weak sounding in my opinion. If the analog engine in this is the same as in the A4, no thanks, I can get better drum sounds from my Nord Lead.

  • trash80

    Maschinedrum™

  • antennatree

    Not sure how the colored pads will add to the functionality here, but it still looks brilliant. Elektron has been on a roll ever since the Octatrack. I highly doubt this has any analog components. Elektron has that covered with the A4 and they’re building a suite of devices that work together… A4 + Octatrack + New Machinedrum could be a great set-up.

    • antennatree

      The only thing I can think of with the colored pads is that this new device would replace the Octatrack as the Master device. Perhaps it has some more sophisticated sequencer functionality that surpasses the Octatrack.

    • antennatree

      But the smaller LCD screen on this thing makes me think that the Octatrack is still supposed to be the “brain” in an all Elektron set-up.

    • TROS

      It’s definitely analog, it’s definitely a drum machine, and it’s not replacing the Machinedrum and it’s not necessarily intended to be a master device.

    • Dan Findlay

      Hope to hell it has external MIDI sequencer tracks … Analog Four doesn’t (pain in the ass) so MD2 and A4 would suit me fine.

      I just can’t bring myself to buy anything with a f**king plastic crossfader on it (sorry Octatrak lol)

    • TROS

      Dude, Octatrack is excellent though. The crossfader is one of the best things about it, it’s not really used in a DJ mixer way and only the knob handle is rubber, just like the knobs on all their machines. I think it’s the one machine that can really do it all once you wrap your head around it. I was wondering the same thing about the sequencer.

    • Dan Findlay

      Was just joking around – OT is a great piece of kit, even if I personally don’t get along with it. My friend uses one for his live setup but I just get flashbacks of my old M-Audio DJ controller every time I look at it :) (photo halfway down page: http://createdigitalmusic.com/2006/07/m-audio-starts-dj-division-kills-cross-fader-still-doesnt-offer-decent-dj-control-surface/ )

    • antennatree

      Elektron made a 4 voice analog at a reasonable price. An all analog drum machine would need to be more than 4 voices and the price would get into DSI Tempest territory which I don’t think they’re comfortable with.

      I’m not sure why this wouldn’t be the new Machinedrum… this form factor is what Elektron is using across the board now.

      As far as being the new “Master Device” I will agree that the Octatrack will most likely still carry that role.

      Speculating is fun. Looking forward to all the announcements at NAMM :)

    • TROS

      Elektron stated it wasn’t replacing anything. Also, this sounds quite analog to me and I doubt Elektron is squeezing in Machinedrum synthesis along with analog and sampling. The physical modeling in the Machinedrum is very unique, as is the sampling in the UW, and I don’t think we’ll ever see Elektron replacing the Machinedrum.

      Also, I think with clever use of sound locks Elektron could make a 4 to 6 voice analog drum machine.

    • Nagasaki Nightrider

      Less about crazy new functionality, I suspect, than capitalizing on the current craze for colored, blinky button grids. I’m going to disagree with you in my equally uninformed speculation about analog vs. digital. If this doesn’t have analog voices, what does it offer that I can’t get in another Elektron device? Only tiny, barely playable beat buttons? I doubt it. It would also be nice if they don’t limit external sequencing to CV as they did with Analog Four. So stubborn. One thing you can bet on, though, in true Elektron fashion, there will be some cool things about this and some non-standard and irritating quirks. I mean, features.

  • Jeff

    I’m speculating a sophisticated FX box. Think OTO Biscuit with all the Elektron P-locking goodness.

  • http://avene.org/ Glenn Thomas

    I’m not sure about this video teaser. I think they should start making short films again with Hector to promote their products.

  • 3M

    “Good news for Lefties”? Peter, I’m recommending you for United Nations diplomatic service. You would be a great asset to any department, engineering, news or otherwise.

  • just wondering

    Here is a question. If people are so obsessed with things being analog these days, how come nobody has listened to the song in this demo and been like, “oh yeah, that’s analog, this thing is analog.” Can’t you tell from the song if it’s analog or not?

    • wingo shackleford

      Man, you’re right – that is a good question. Ha. I would say it sounds like it could be analog, prob is. But yeah, you can’t say for sure, and that says something. I think lines are being blurred…

    • mercury

      hilarious, u nailed it

    • Nagasaki Nightrider

      I don’t know. Trying to determine synthesis methods from YouTube videos seems pretty pointless.

    • stumm

      what does that have to do with anything besides your trendy pessimism?

    • animalfarm

      lol that question you ask is so incredibly true. Nobody listening to music gives a **** if its analog or not. Might be different from the music makers point of view, but this is a fact I constantly have to remind myself when wasting valuable to time looking up cool trendy new gear like just now instead of making music…

    • Commmenter_Without_Portfolio

      youtube sound quality makes that difficult to do.

  • http://vrpr.org/ Henry

    They’re going to milk the Analog Four cow as much as they can with yet another spin-off that is going to have some two or three unique features that are supposed to help Elektron’s marketing to explain why you need to purchase both the A4 the AKeys and this new thingy.

    • stumm

      how dare they ‘milk’ an engine they recently spent alot of money investing in. they should just shelf it! ..sigh…

    • http://vrpr.org/ Henry

      That is not my point. Also, spending money and resources on developing new products is the price you pay as a manufacturer. But what I find increasingly boring is the plethora of “new” products coming out, all just slightly different from their predecessors, but marketed as the really, completely new thing. Which they aren’t.

  • seismologist

    I applaud the right-brained placement of the pads… and 12 of them is plenty. Audio track seems analog-ish, but the kick sounds beefier than anything I’ve heard from the A4. Interesting.

  • cooptrol

    I was the one complaining everywhere about the left handed design, but not caring about the pads as much as having the transport controls on the right like on the Monomachine. This leads to a typical live situation problem which is recording unintentional plocks just cos you cant see the rec button blinking underneath your knob-twiddling hand. It’s no big deal but at this point they should choose a standard. Either right or left, but please all models on the same side. Also I can tell from reliable source that this new machine is called AR, which probably means Analogue Rhythm.

  • BaDM

    Hope it’s a drum machine… If only so I can buy a 2nd hand MDuw for a little less. That Elektron sale had the prices soaring for a moment there didn’t it.