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My ordeal towards the Elektron Digitakt and why I want you to avoid it



The question of the right gear to produce music is not so easy to answer these days. The market offers an incredible variety of equipment, from beginner to professional devices, from all-in-one grooveboxes to simple synths, from cheap to expensive, simple to extensive. It is really not easy to make the right choice, especially for beginners.


Because I went through a long and expensive adventure until I found what I was searching for, I want to tell you my story so you don't make the same mistakes than I did.


How all began - before the Digitakt dropped in


I started making music many, many years ago, but it really took off in 2018. At that time, the iOS platform produced an incredible number of great apps for phones and tables, and I was very busy with Auxy, a complete music studio for the iPhone.


I used it to produce complete tracks and eventually got to a point where I wanted more. More control over the mastering, more tracks, more power and I wanted to push buttons to control my output. Gear!


It started with the Maschine Mikro


So I first bought a Maschine Mikro, a full featured All-In-One Groovebox. I bought it without real research, I thought "yeah I will make super duper tracks in no time".


Unfortunately, I had absolutely no idea about all the Midi stuff that came with it, the many technical terms and the device. In addition, my old Mac was so slow that the Maschine softwares performance was just horrible. So it was no fun at all. I sold the device after only 3 months or so and after 6 more months Korg Volcas came into the game. 6 pieces. I bought them used.


Dawless with Korg Volcas?


The approach was simple: small boxes that made great sound, able to connect and extremely affordable. Only - I didn't use them. The knobs were way too small for my fingers, I couldn't record anything with them because the individual tracks always arrived in the DAW with an uncorrectable time offset and so on.


As much as I loved them, I sold the Volcas the other day, although I bought a sinfully expensive Multiclock master clock to correct the time issues.


Complicated setups can be frustrating for beginners

Ableton Push or Digitakt?


Then came Ableton with the Push 2. This was followed by the OP-Z, very great part, a Novation Circuit Mono Station, several controllers for the iPad and yes the story I could continue for some more pages.


I don't even want to know the total amount of money I spent. But what was even more frustrating is that I was simply overwhelmed by the variety of devices and the increasing complexity with each added new piece of gear. So it was no fun at all to make music. The technical aspect was far too much the focus.


I was told to get a Digitakt but I didn't listen


I'm writing all this down for you because throughout the entire "career" of my hardware mania, I got several tips that I should buy a Digitakt from Elektron and would be happy with just that one package as it delivers all. Unfortunately (and you will have noticed that on my blog) I simply love to play around with devices LOL I have a big favor for machines, so I have skillfully ignored the hints.


Until then came the lockdown. At that point I had decided that I wanted to change musically and eventually earn real money from a long term perspective. I had been producing progressive house with Ableton at the time, but it had somehow become too boring and generic for me. I wanted to produce haptic, reproducible music that could be performed live. That's when the keyword "Dawless" popped finally up and I started to work intensively researching all-in-one grooveboxes.



I finally came to the Digitakt


And so I finally arrived at the Digitakt. Yes, it's expensive on first sight, but worth every Cent! After a short time, I was totally enthusiastic about the device. The workflow made me incredibly productive, there were lots of creative possibilities, and what was very important to me: I could finally make music with knobs and switches by hand, giving my music organic feels and mistakes.


Since then, I've been a complete fan of the device. I added some more gear meanwhile - Digitone, Model:Samples to name a few - but I always come back to make simple Digitakt only tracks, because it's so easy.


I wrote this whole story down because I'd like to save newcomers the expense and frustration that comes from ignorance. There are so many options on the market, and if you choose wrong, there can be a lot of frustration that ultimately kills your creativity.


I'll outline the pros and cons of Digitakt in the next blog post and give you a little concrete help in deciding. I will also compare the Digitakt with other current Grooveboxes.


What are your experiences with music hardware so far? Let us know in the comments!


Need help for your personal setup?


If you need concrete help building your setup or if you need some individual advice, I recommend booking my 1:1 coaching sessions! Book a free 30 minute call and we'll see if and how we can find a solution for you.

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Guest
Mar 26, 2023

Hi there I love the digitakt picked up loads of tips and ideas from you , but I’ve only just discovered that it doesn’t record all the panning I do in the box very frustrating.

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59 Perlen
59 Perlen
Jun 23, 2023
Replying to

Hey there. thanks for leaving your thoughts. You can "record" the panning in Digitakt using the Parameter Locks. Cheers :D

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Hey Mat, I stumbled across your blog recently, after countless hours of youtube tutorials and reviews - which I often do when researching a product. I too, have this conundrum of feature paralysis through hardware, which is kind of a curse if you ask me! I already have been brought into the Native Instruments eco-system with an A49 keyboard, it's excellent within my DAW (logic-pro) and I like to create almost, moody-80 synth wave tracks with a bit of instrument such as guitar and sampled drums from GGD. I'm now wanting to reduce my cognitive load by now solely focusing on a hardware instrument that can create, manipulate samples and produce the type of genre I have mentioned above. Sampling guitar loops would be…

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59 Perlen
59 Perlen
Aug 05, 2022
Replying to

Nice, I’d go the same way Paul. The Digitakt can be powered by battery as well, you just need a little Voltage converter. Let me know about your final decision, super curious :) cheers man !

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Hi 59, Really enjoying your content - lots of great information on this site. I've spent the past year or so really learning the capabilities of my Maschine MK3, and I really enjoy it and I think it's an incredibly powerful piece of kit. But I frequently find the amount of choice "in the box" to be overwhelming and, ultimately, inhibiting. I'm currently deciding between the M:S and Digitakt as I want a powerful and portable instrument that imposes constraints and forces me develop sound design skills. Portability is a huge feature for me as I want to be able to bring it with me when travelling and to play/jam informally (like a guitarist/instrumentalist would). Owning both, I'm wondering what your…

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59 Perlen
59 Perlen
Jun 07, 2021
Replying to

Hi Dav, Great to see you here! I recently sold my Model:Samples because I got the Octatrack in exchange. I never used the Ms as much as I planned to, but In terms of portability I can tell you that You can operate both on the go very well. With a big power bank and an adapter cable you can easily run the Digitakt on the Go. From that perspective, both are doing well. Feature-like, the Digitakt is clearly the winner, in return the MS is a little easier to perform with its number of knobs. In terms of workflow, I think you will get into both very quickly on both machines. The M:S design might be a plus for you,…

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