Replacing the elektron analog 4 keys

So … I’ve had an ongoing love/hate relationship with the A4K. My primary reasons for holding on to it are:

  • useful CV outs (tho not essential)
  • CV sequencer is pretty handy at times
  • Audio inputs I use for routing audio signals through and
  • Applying FX to incoming audio
  • Finally the synth delivers some useable sounds

Still the interface/workflow is not really my thing.

I would like to get rid of the A4K, reclaim some studio space and replace it with something that matches the features I most value. I suppose having something with decent FX to route audio signals into is essential, I could just get a fancy FX unit (of course) but that feels like a poor trade off for what I’d be letting go. I was disappointed the Minologue XD does not have an audio input as that would be my ideal - a synth with lots of knobs and sliders, great sound and external signal processing.

All this waffle to ask what ideas folks might have?

Overall my system is heavily modular/eurorack and for the most part that suits me. Sometimes I think just ditch the A4K and get a Sherman FB or Intellijel Rainmaker. I’d have loads more fun with either of those and they’d both sit well in my overall system.

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I would check out the DSI Pro 2. It’s very different than the Elektron Analog Keys but has a sequencer, CV/gate outs, audio input processing and sounds amazing.

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I hated my AK, got a Grandmother instead and never looked back.

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While I agree that A4 FXs sounds nice especially for something that is bundled with a synth but to be honest I feel that when you compare it directly with external fx unit like for example Eventide Space the difference in sound is really obvious and for me dedicated fxs sound better + you have knobs to easily modify the settings.

You can assign the ten performance macros to multiple parameters on the A4/AK, so you can have as much custom knob-based control as you like for the FX, especially if you want to set it up as a dedicated effects box.

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yeah I know, but to be honest assigning controls beforehand never worked for me. But I am mostly improvising so most of the time I don’t know what I will be even playing.

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Sure, it makes for a long-winded approach… though I’ve found myself assigning macros during soundchecks before.

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I loved the A4 as a Sequencer but just couldn’t get on with the sound. I ended up selling it but have always had an Octatrack for live performances. I use it to sequence my modular gear, apply FX and generally act as a performance hub. No direct CV control of course but the addition of trig conditions for both MIDI and FX make it great for my needs.

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Yessss. The Pro 2. I was looking at that a couple of days ago and thinking THIS is good. I was excited by that synth on its initial release but felt it’s always been a tad out of budget. Alas, that may still be true!

I agree, dedicated FX are the way to go but all things are usually a compromise & I get useable results with the A4K’s FX but it isn’t a strong reason to hold on to it.

I played with a Behringer MS 101 a few nights ago and was blown away by how great it sounds, how immediate and how fun it is. That and an FX box I realise will be better than the A4K. Yes!

Like the AK sequencer, like the sound, but creating patches is a slog.

One (very) small thing that always bothered me is that they couldn’t even be bothered to put in a sustain pedal input. 1700 USD at launch and it cant even do double duty as a basic ass midi controller.

I understand where you’re coming from, but i’ve decided the A4 mk1 is well worth its real estate in my small setup. I rely on the effects for processing the outs on my modular, but i’ve also created 1 to 1 MIDI mappings of the chorus, reverb, and delay parameters onto different (immediately accessible) pages of a very knobby and slidery MIDI controller. Everything is immediately accessible by muscle memory. The FX sound great and cover a lot of ground if you really I understand how the parameters interact with one another (crunchy delays, wacky vibratos, wide choruses, lush infinite reverbs). As a straight synthesizer people’s lackluster feelings toward the sound are understandable, but i think what most people sense are the bandlimited sound which i like (and is partially due to the default sound having a closedish filter) and the lack of strong bass (capable of working around with careful use of filter 2 tracking/resonance). The fact that its raw saw does not blow my socks off simply encourages me to take advantage of its essentially modular architecture and get my hands dirty patching. Basically the A4 returns what you invest into it and then some, but it’s not an immediate device.

Standalone effects are great but before you jump ship you might try mapping your effect parameters to controllers for a more immediate experience and see if that helps. If you want to get really fancy you can break out all the fx lfo parameters or synth voice parameters too.

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I reckon get rid of it. You’ll be able to pick up another down the track.

Certainly an interesting approach tho not for me. I don’t use midi anymore and I’m not sure I’d want a controller interface floating around, tho I do still have the Korg Nano Controllers that I could pull out for nothing.

I can’t quite put my finger on what it is about the A4 that doesn’t gel - I know a lot of people grumble about the sound, but actually, the sound is there and I can go from an init patch to a decent sounding Kit quickly. I think it sounds good mostly. Indeed when I think about it, the A4K works well. My love/hate manifests when I’m using it. It doesn’t feel or interact with me (the workflow) in a way that i find pleasing or rewarding. Maybe it’s the encoders and the menu system - I don’t know. It’s hard to find a like for like replacement. I waiver between accepting it for what it is and what it is to me to let’s just replace it with a mooer ocean machine and a dfam! well. I’ll see if I can do something with the nano controller and the fx, that I am curious about!

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Oh 2 things about the A4 MIDI control that can trip up - you may need to use NRPN instead of CC messages which aren’t supported by all controllers, and place a trigger at the beginning of the FX track.

But most importantly, don’t feel so bad about moving on to other tools. The single best reason to use or jettison an instrument is whether it inspires you and makes you feel fuzzy inside! I feel this way about the A4 but it’s not for everyone and that’s very OK.