Elektron Analog Four by psykx
The elektron analog four is four mono synths, with all the configuration options that usually implies. It’s also recently been made polyphonic with a firmware update. Which makes it immensely flexible in terms of sound variety.
The four dual VCO mono synths are tied together with a powerful 64 step sequencer, which supports live recording from the one octave button keyboard and drawing things in. Each note can then be shifted forwards and backwards, parameters can be changed for each step (this is known as parameter locking) and the entire preset can be changed per step.
There three effects a reverb, a chorus and a delay all of which are very high quality and very lush. Although somewhat lacking the flexibility of the rest of the synth. The effects are send and returns, so you have to use the same setting for each track. This isn’t unexpected in hardware.
There are also performance controls, for live performance and jamming, which you can create from a bunch of effects.
The Sound and workflow
The sound is obviously quite subjective, I found the presets to be great, but of a certain style and there is definitely a huge amount to be gained from digging in and creating your own.
I find the oscillators to be a little soft sounding which is actually one of the reasons I bought the synth. But it does make it a little less capable at creating some well known sounds. It’s certainly not a moog or an ms20. But it’s definitely not trying to be.
In use I found the Analog four workflow to be a little difficult to get my head around initially, once I’d read the confusing manual and played around a bit things began to make sense. The workflow is really quite original so you end up making sounds and phrases you would never have thought of, this is obviously hugely satisfying although it did lead to some early frustration. The interface is very quick to use once you’ve got the hang of it.
One of the main complaints of the analog four is that it doesn’t have separate outs for each track, I’ve not really found this a problem as I tend to think of the analog four as one instrument capable of creating different layers rather than a workstation. I usually prefer sampled drum sounds.
Pros: Hands on interface, Unique (soft) sounding oscillators, inspiring workflow, the sound, flexibility.
Cons: The manual, workflow can seem limited, effects are for all tracks, rather than per patch.
I have found the Analog Four to be loads of fun especially with the performance controls allowing some really impressive sounds instantly and making jamming with friends a real possibility.
Don’t expect it to be an entire track in a box. It’s just not intended to be that, it’s an amazingly capable synth which can produce rich layered sounds just not found anywhere else.
As for the workflow, I’m now one of the elektron following. My next purchase will probably be an octatrack.