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(Modulate This) Digitakt Elektron Elektron Digitone Elektron Overbridge

Elektron Releases Major OS Updates for Digitakt (1.20) and Digitone and Digitgone Keys (1.30)

Elektron has just released MAJOR updates to the Digitakt and Digitone. Of course they are free 😃.

Get yourselves ready for some serious OS upgrade fun for the Digitakt, Digitone, and Digitone Keys. Time to get elbow deep in a host of cracking features that will make each device even more powerful and your music-making experience even sweeter.

https://www.elektronauts.com/news/522?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_content=other-video_native&utm_campaign=global-digi_os_up_06_20-

Class Compliant USB Audio

Class Compliant USB Audio has come to the Digi machines. Connect your Digitakt or Digitone to a compatible phone, tablet, or computer, and easily capture the audio recording from your unit on the fly. And this is just scratching the surface of what is possible. Hook up to all kinds of apps to add extra control in any number of ways: more effects, more LFOs, more freedom.

Step Recording mode

A new sequencing mode is available on the Digitakt and Digitones – Step Recording. This feature lets you input chords and notes into the sequencer step by step. Or use jump mode to skip to the next predetermined spot in the sequence via the Length parameter, making it even easier to control your melodies and build them a step at a time.

Trig Probability

Adjust Trig Probability on the Digitakt and Digitones to introduce a little controlled randomness to proceedings. Chance really is a fine thing.

Trig Preview

Stay a step ahead of the pattern with Trig Preview on the Digitakt and the Digitones. You can now preview individual trigs whenever you want, without having to wait for the track to catch up.

New Play Modes for Digitone

The Digitone Keys and Digitone now have four different Play Modes to choose from: Switch between Poly, Poly with mono LFOs, Mono, and Mono Legato and gain deeper control of envelopes and LFOs, and increased playability.

Increased sample skills for Digitakt

You can now use Parameter Randomization on the Digitakt to shuffle sample slots. And keep your sample list or sound pool better organized across all Digi machines with easier removal of unused sounds. Purging power, leveled up.

Lots more improvements & fixes

For a full list of improvements and bug fixes, check the release notes.

Note: When installing an OS please set your device to USB-MIDI mode.

Download the Updates

Pro Tip: Read the release notes within the downloads as there is a WHOLE lot more changes in the updates that aren’t listed in the summary above.

Overbridge

To use the upgraded Digi OS with Overbridge, please update to Overbridge 2.0.39, also released today to support the new firmware.

Digitakt

To download Digitakt 1.20 head here.

Here are the release notes and updated manual for Digitakt.

Digitone & Digitone Keys

To download Digitone 1.30 head here for the Digitone and here for the Digitone Keys.

Here are the release notes and the updated manual for Digitone / Digitone Keys.


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(Mark Mosher Music News) (Modulate This) Elektron Elektron Digitone Novaton

Video: Working on New Patterns with Digitone New Jump Step Sequencer Mode

Here is a 1 minute video of my Sunday coffee in bed session with Elektron Digitone new 1.30 OS.

I started off this session thinking I was going to learn all the 20+ new features that Elektron added in the recent 1.30 update (see my earlier blog post).

I printed out the release notes and started going through the features. Then I ended up spending the entire session on a new STEP RECORDING mode called Jump which is documented on p. 33 of the updated Manual.

Jump mode allows you to the use the LEN parameter to automatically advance the sequencer when notes are received. This includes entering single notes or chords from an external MIDI controller. In this session I was using a Novation Launchkey MINI MK3 which has become my go to portable keyboard. You can also use the arrow keys to move through steps which allows you to skip steps which are now rests.

More on Jump Mode

Click to see larger view…

Thanks Elektron!

I have to say Jump is super useful and fun feature. It’s also a bit nostalgic for me as it’s similar to the step sequencer in my first synth the Poly-800 – woo hoo! Nice work Elektron! And thanks for always bringing new value to our machines.

I guess it’s going to take quite a few more sessions to get through the new features which I’m sure will inspire many new patterns and songs.

If you’d like to be notified of future blog posts on these sessions and other synth tech & technique topics take a moment to subscribe.

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(Mark Mosher Music News) Octatrack Performance Videos Synth: Octatrak Video

Psychedelic Octatrack Soundscape – “I’m Going to Mary’s Party Tomorrow Aren’t You?”

Take a trip through a wormhole where captured signals from a 50’s PSA come streaming through your space helmet. You try to tune to some techno, but it doesn’t work.

Watch embedded YouTube video

Sample mangling with Elektron Octatrack MKII making heavy use of scenes and Designer LFO’s. Some manually tuning of the Comb Filter with slider as well.

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(Mark Mosher Music News) Elektron Elektron Analog Four Elektron Digitone Improvisation Live Streaming Live Streaming Concerts Live Streaming Event Octatrack Performance Videos resolume Synth: Analog Synth: Analog Four Synth: Octatrak

Video Replay of My May 22nd Live Stream Multimedia Concert with BTS Notes on Using Elektron Machines , Novation Controllers, and Resolume

If you missed my live stream a few weeks back here is an unedited YouTube live replay of my solo multimedia concert. The performance is a combination of live arrangement and live playing that features original electronic music with real-time visuals.

More live streams are coming, so subscribe to my YouTube channel and click the bell icon to get notified of upcoming videos and streams.

Set List

The video is 23 minutes long but if you just want to jump to a particular song you can use the links below. Let me know in the comments which was your fav 😃.

  • 0:00 Stand By (Recording of soundscape “Slipping Into Stasis Entering Jump Gate 42” from album Sonic Encounters Volume 02
  • 0:35Gonna Rise Up live performance of song from the album Fear Cannot Save Us
  • 4:27 “Replicant’s Dream” live performance of a song from a forthcoming album
  • 7:42 “Techno Planet 01” live performance of a song from a forthcoming album
  • 11:49Disconnecteda Bandcamp single performed live
  • 16:50 “Light Runner” live performance of song from a forthcoming album
  • 22:34 End Program with audio excerpt from the song “They Walk Among Us” from album Reboot

As you can see some of these tracks will be released in the future. Follow or subscribe on my Bandcamp site to get notified of an album or single release.

Performance Notes

All the music and sound is from Elektron Analog Four MKI, Octatrack MKII, and Digitone. The machines are not synced. I mostly play directly from the machines, but also play notes on the Analog Four via the Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 keyboard and on the Digitone via the Launchpad Pro MK3 grid. I also use the Launchkey Mini MK3 along with a Logidy UM3 pedal to control Resolume Arena 7 in real-time. Visual sources are from live camera input and other various sources.


Mentions

The performance got some nice mentions by synth publications.

Synthtopia

The video was featured as a Synth Sunday Jam. Thanks Synthtopia – woot!

Synth and Software Magazine

I got an amazingly kind mention on the Synth and Software Facebook page.

Synth & Software is an online publication and social media community for electronic music enthusiasts—anyone who enjoys listening or who plays, programs, or aspires to make music with synthesizers, samplers, DAWs, audio processors, and other instruments and software…

https://synthandsoftware.com

Performance “Instrument” Notes

I view this entire rig as a multimedia “instrument”. One goal in designing this “instrument” was to accommodate the following use cases while being air locked in a performance cockpit where my performance flow would not change whether I’m performing:

  1. Music sets in-person
  2. Music + visuals sets in person
  3. Music + visual sets via live stream
  4. Music + visuals sets in person simulcast via live stream

Performance Cockpit

When I’m performing in person I don’t normally use headphones and don’t look at the monitor on my laptop. Instead listen I to the P.A. or monitors. I look at the screen or wall/screen/scrim where the visuals are being projected. This incorporates the performance space as part of the vibe of the performance.

My streaming equivalent of this is to us a big screen right in front of me and perform with reference monitors at near concert volumes. Performing this way is much closer to performing on stage in front of an audience which puts more positive energy into the performance.

Conceptual Overview of 2020 Rig

Click image to see large version of diagram
  1. Performance Cockpit – The region outlined with aqua highlighter is my performance cockpit where I play, perform, control live arrangements, and visuals.
  2. Music Machines – All sound and music is produced via the following Elektron machines:
    1. Analog Four – Analog synth with 4 synths and effects
    2. Octatrack – Performance sampler, mixer, looper, effects processor, live arrangement of playback when needed
    3. Digitone – Digital FM synth with 4 synth and effects
  3. Live Camera for Visual Synthesis – I compose the camera shots in real-time by moving a Logitech HD Webcam which is a source for my visual software Resolume
  4. MIDI Controllers
    1. Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 – Keys are used to play the Analog Four through hardware MIDI. RGB pads use custom MIDI modes to control Resolume through USB MIDI.
    2. Novation Launchpad Pro MK3 – Velocity and pressure sensitive pads are used to play the Digitone through hardware MIDI. I have custom control modes that I can also use to control Resolume via USB MIDI.
  5. Audio & Visual Monitoring – Screen + reference monitors.
  6. Audio to the house / Audio interface with Loopback for Streaming – Yamaha AG06
  7. Laptop for Visuals and Streaming – Microsoft Surface Laptop 3, Windows 10
  8. Visual Software – Resolume Arena 7 software
  9. Streaming Software – OBS Studio software for streaming
  10. Streaming Endpoint – YouTube…

Using Midi Controllers to Decouple Visual Arrangements from Song Arrangement

In past incarnations of my multimedia show I controlled the arrangement and automation of visual effects for Resolume with Ableton Live “dummy clips” and automation envelopes. This meant the arrangement for visuals were implicitly locked with musical arrangement. For this new rig I wanted to decouple the visuals from the audio arrangement. This would allow me to perform the arrangement of the visuals manually making the experience more variable and unique with repeat performances.

I now control arrangement with the RBG pads on the Novation Launchkey MINI MK3.

Alternatively I can use the Logidy foot pedal for hands-free arrangement.

Carousel image

While I’m pretty busy playing and doing live arrangement, I can also use the Launchpad Pro MK3 with it’s custom MIDI modes and velocity sensitive fader grid feature to control parameters on Resolume.

FYI I’ve written past posts on these controllers in these categories:

Juggling Machines with No MIDI Sync

My set list is made up of songs spread across each machine and I often perform an entire song using only one machine. In a few cases I will work across machines. For example, I perform the majority of my song “Disconnected” on the Octatrack and the leads from the Analog Four.

The machines are not synced and are not connected via MIDI. This allows for complete freedom to do live arrangement, change my set list on-the-fly. I might have corresponding patterns with matching tempos across machines but I select them and trigger them on-the-fly so I can play around with the pocket, tap tempo to shift or even change tempos or free-form play to add more tension.

Having no cross-machine dependency also means if a machine where to go down during a performance or have to be rebooted (which has never happened), the song and show can go on.

Fits in One Case and a Backpack

Another design goal for the rig was it had to fit into a Pelican 1510 case and backpack. This allows me to fly with the rig as well as load in to local shows with only one trip from the car.

I flew with an earlier version of this rig to Asheville, NC to perform at Mountain Skies in 2019 and manage to jam all this into a Pelican 1510.

With the addition of the new controllers I’m sure I could fit it all in the pelican with some overflow into my backpack.


In Closing

Thanks for following along on this long read. If you’d like to get blog posts via email opt-in below.

Also swing by my Bandcamp page if you’d like to listen to some of my audio recordings, and my YouTube page to check out move videos.

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(Mark Mosher Music News)

Live Multimedia Performance – B.E.A.T. Creative Technology Performances and Demos Event Friday May 22nd, 5PM MDT

I’ve schedule a YouTube Live event. Swing by now and click “Set Reminder”.

Watch Live / Watch the Replay

I’ve embedded the video in this post so if you happen to be here during the event you can watch live. If you are here after the event you can watch the replay.

For my portion of the event I’ll be streaming from my YouTube channel here.

Program

I was asked to perform 20-25 minutes. Below is my planned set list. Of course, things tend to be fluid when doing online streaming so this may shift.

  1. Stand By Loop – Music is a recording of “Slipping Into Stasis Entering Jump Gate 42” from the album Sonic Encounters Volume 02
  2. Gonna Rise Up – Live version of a song from the album Fear Cannot Save Us
  3. Replicant’s Dreams – Live version of a song from a forthcoming release
  4. Techno Planet 02 – Live version of a song from a forthcoming release
  5. Disconnected – Live version of single “Disconnected
  6. Light Runner – Live version of a song from a forthcoming release
  7. End Program – Audio excerpt from “They Walk Among Us” from the album Reboot

Artist Notes

Music

All music and sound will performed live and with live arrangement using the Elektron Analog Four MKI, Octatrack MKII, and Digitone. I will be performing on the machines directly and with the Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 and Launchpad Pro MK3.

Visuals

All visuals are generated in real-time with Resolume Arena 7, with live camera input from a Logitech C922X and other various sources. I control Resolume in real-time with Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 and Launchpad Pro MK3.

Streaming

I’m streaming with OBS Studio with audio routed into a Yamaha AG06 audio interface with loopback. My talkback mic is a RØDE PodMic.

Show Credits

  • Mark Mosher: Music & Real-Time Visuals, Show Design, Show Producer
  • Chris Barr – Associate Producer, Testing, Chat Wrangler
  • Lizzy Mosher – Social Media
  • Victoria Lundy – Photoshop assist to trim the groovy speaker array image

Artistic Support

If you enjoyed todays performance and want to show you can leave me a tip with a secure PayPal donation…

or…


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(Modulate This) Launchkey

I Mind Mapped My Fav Top Features of the Launchkey Mini MK3

I recently picked up a Launchkey Mini MK3. Wow – what an improvement over past generations.

The short of it is: the keys are super playable with a light synth touch, the pads feel like smaller versions of the Launchpad Pro MK3 and Launchpad X, and the knobs are small but probably the best feeling pots on a mini controller I’ve experienced.

Currently, I’m using it to as a keyboard controller for my trusty Elektron Analog Four via hardware MIDI and to simultaneously use a custom pad mode to control Resolume via USB MIDI.

There is a lot of other useful features which I documented in this interactive Mind Map.

View large interactive version of mind map here

Links

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(Modulate This) Live Streaming Concerts

The Sydney Opera House is Streaming a Digital Season Including Contemporary Music Like Sets from Panda Bear #Octatrack

The Sydney Opera House is now streaming a Digital Season including contemporary music by artists like Panda Bear.

Digital Season – A weekly program of unmissable full-length performances, live recordings and never-before-seen footage from the Opera House archives.

https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/digital.html

Once something streams the video is available in archive form on YouTube. Lots of interesting programs to fill your weekend with music

Panda Bear Set

Here is a video of Panda Bear’s 2018 set from The Sydney Opera House which streamed on Sat 4/11 at 7p AUS. The heart of his rig or this set is two Elektron Octatrack MKI’s 😀.

Animal Collective co-founder Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear), made his highly anticipated Australian debut in the intimate settings of the Sydney Opera House Studio in 2018. A unique blend of experimental-pop, featuring sun-drenched sampling coupled with introspective lyrics, Panda Bear’s careful attention to detail and masterful use of vocal harmonies are unparalleled in modern indie rock. Summoning comparisons to the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson, you can feel the warmth pouring out of the music. Listen to Panda Bear’s album Buoys: https://EMIMusicAus.lnk.to/Buoys

SET LIST:

  1. 0:00 Flight
  2. 7:20 Cranked
  3. 11:20 Nod To The Folks
  4. 18:00 Crosswords
  5. 22:58 Untying The Knot
  6. 27:10 Token
  7. 31:25 Buoys
  8. 34:59 Part Of the Math
  9. 41:20 Inner Monologue
  10. 46:30 I Know I Don’t
  11. 49:55 Sunset
  12. 55:20 Last Night at the Jetty
  13. 1:01:55 Selfish Gene

Panda Bear | In Conversation | Sydney Opera House

Here is an interview form related to this performance.

Check Out Panda Bear’s Web Site

Panda Bear is a super trippy interactive web site you should definitely check out https://pandabearofficial.com

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(Mark Mosher Music News) (Modulate This) iOS Live Recording Mosher-Deane New Releases Synth: Micro-Freak

54 Minutes of New Music from Mark Mosher & Dino J.A. Deane

Yesterday I did an improv session with my good friend and mentor Dino J.A. Deane. This session was recorded live at the Dino’s studio (The Bohemian Lounge) using ambient room mics. We recorded 4 songs which came out to 54 minutes of music. I uploaded to this Soundcloud playlist for your enjoyment.

Mark Mosher Instruments:
Elektron Octatrack, Elektron Digitone, & Tablet (Samplr)

Dino J.A. Deane Instruments:
MicroFreak & Tablet (AUM-SpaceCraft-ENSO-NOIR-Samplr)

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(Mark Mosher Music News) News Show Announcement

Live Album and Concert Video: “Live at Mountain Skies 2019”

In early May 2019 I flew out to attend and perform an original electronic music set at the Mountain Skies festival near Asheville, NC. It was a really fun weekend and I had a great time performing one track from 2014 album Fear Cannot Save Us, plus 4 brand new songs. Checkout a video of the entire set below plus a brand new live album from this same show.

Live Performance Video

My full performance is available on YouTube. It’s a 1080p video with live album audio mixed with live room audio so if you have a chance play it on a big screen with headphones or a home theater system :^)

You can jump to individual songs within this video using links below.

  • 00:00 – “Gonna Rise Up” (Octatrack MKII, Analog Four for leads)
  • 3:13 – “The Strange Case of the Dancing Automatons” (Intro is field recordings in Octatrack MKII, rest of the song is ALL Digitone)
  • 09:11 – “Disconnected” (Octatrack MKII, Analog Four MKI)
  • 14:20 “Techno Planet” (ALL Analog Four MKI :^) )
  • 19:29 “Mind the Gap” (Octatrack MKII)

Live Album

I’ve also released live audio recordings of the songs from this set as a “name your price” album on Bandcamp. These songs are presented as I performed them to 2-track during the show with no edits other than trimming and fading to break the continuous set up into this 5 song album with minimal gaps.

Performance Notes

The music was performed using only Elektron Analog Four MKI, Octatrack MKII, and Digitone with no external gear other than a CME Xkey Air 25 MIDI controller which I used with the Analog Four. Original field recordings made on location in Boulder; Denver; Bath & London England. I vocoded my voice in the studio using Ableton Live and Tone2 Electra2.

Visuals provided by Michael O’Bannon.

Photos from Event

Thanks!

A big thanks to Tony Gerber and Mike Metlay for organizing the event. Also a big thanks to all the volunteers at the festival, Radio Spiral, the venue White Horse at Black Mountain, and all the other artists for making it such a fantastic weekend. Also thanks to Geary Yelton and Paul A Vnuk Jr for sharing pics. Lastly thanks to Michael O’Bannon for providing my visuals.

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(Mark Mosher Music News) Events Live Performance News Performance Videos Video

Pics and Video Snippets from March 2019 Beat Cypher Performances

On Thursday March 28th I performed a set at Beat Cypher at madelife in Boulder. Here is an Instagram video with some snippets of some of the performances including mine which is first. Thanks to https://www.instagram.com/eddiecii/ for footage.

I’m playing lead synth parts on “Gonna Rise” up from the album Fear Cannot Save Us (Spotify, iTunes).

It’s a custom synced oscillator preset from init on the Elektron Analog four.

Speaking of Elektron, this was a shakedown voyage for my Elektron trinity rig with Analog Four + Octatrack MKII + Digitone + Xkey Air 25 (Kentron USB Host) which I’ll be using for Mountain Skies electronic music festival in Asheville, NC in May.

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(Mark Mosher Music News) Events Live Performance News Videos

Video: NewEcho & The Aefonic Live 01

newecho-the-aefonic

Here is video with an excerpt from a recent live collaboration with myself (NewEcho) & The Aefonic using only two Elektron Analog Four synthesizers. I also provided interactive visuals.

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(Mark Mosher Music News) Events Live Performance News Show Announcement Video

Performing Set at Beat Cypher May 24th, 2018 on Elektron Digitakt + Video from Past Performance on Analog Four

I’ll be performing a set tonight (Thursday, May 24th) at the Beat Cypher event in Boulder. As the format is rapid-fire 10 minute sets and I’ll be improvising using only an Elektron Digitakt and using small a set of custom beat sketches as a starting point. My set is inspired by the Star Trek: The Original Series episode #21 “The Return of the Archons”  – ha!

Time: 7:30 0 10:00 PM
Location: Madelife, 2000 21st Street, Boulder, CO 80302 | Map

[Update 5/25/2018]

“Not of the Body” 5/24/2018

Here is a recording of the song I performed. I forgot to hit record during that live session – so this is a recording I made during a session in the studio earlier that day. The song was inspired by the ST:TOS episode “Return of the Archons”. It was performed live on an Elektron Digitakt and recorded straight to 2-track without edits.

 

More About Beat Cypher

madelife-beat-cypher-poster

Madelife, a creative accelerator in Boulder and frequent host venue for the Rocky Mountain Synthesizer Meetup, started hosting a very cool electronic music concert series late in 2017 called Beat Cypher. Each performer gets a 10-minute slot and signs up first come first serve. It’s Rapid-fire fun for performers and listeners!

Video from My Last Performance Using Only Elektron Analog Four

Here is a video of my performance from madelife Beat Cypher #2.Audio is from GoPro.

I challenged myself to do my set with just an Elektron Analog Four. The Analog Four has 4 analog synths, is only 4 note polyphonic in total and has chorus, delay and reverb on the master chain.

The performance is a combination of original presets, tweaked factory presets, live playing using the onboard chromatic keyboard, real-time sound design, use of some pre-defined original sequences with live arrangement and live sequencing. I’m using 4 kits” throughout (which you can switch to with no load-time or hickups). So all synthesis, no samples, no audio playback.

  • 00:00 Real-time synthesis with original preset
  • 00:34 Live arrangement with grooves, live-sound design, live play on chromatic keyboard
  • 4:00 Back to real-time synthesis using chromatic keyboard
  • 05:00 Things get pretty Logan’s Run bleepy and modular-like
  • 06:25 Freeze with the amazing on-board reverb

 

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(Modulate This) Elektron Digitone namm

Elektron’s Fascinating Interview with Father of FM Synthesis John Chowning + Digitone Overview

John Chowning Digitone

Elektron’s Fascinating Interview with Father of FM Synthesis John Chowning

Elektron just posted a long, deep, and fascinating interview with John Chowning who originally discovered FM Synthesis.  The interview covers a lot of ground including his thoughts on:

  • Explaining FM synthesis to a child
  • The history of his work at Standford and how they helped productize his research
  • Yamaha’s development of the DX7 which took over 8 years with 100s of engineers
  • How limitations like constraints in computing power – as in not having the power for real time computing – aided in the discovery in FM
  • His time studying in Paris with Nadia Boulanger
  • His advise for bold sound explorers
  • Some interesting math behind all FM
  • Some comments on Elektron’s new Digitone
  • And other topics and philosophical discussions

I recommend you take some time to read this if you even remotely interested in FM synthesis or music technology. You can read it here.

Do you think the time and environment was crucial to your discovery?

Yes I do. I’ll tell you why: Let’s say the computers I was working with had been powerful enough for me to do my experiments in real time. I’m not at all sure that I would have made the discovery! Because the condition under which I was working, on a time-share machine, a few seconds of sound might take me nearly two hours. So the time it took, perhaps specifically the time between experiments, I had to think. These were discrete times: I would generate a sample of a sound that was 20 Hz, with a modulating frequency of 20 Hz and a deviation of 100 Hz. Then I would wait. Then I would listen. Then I would increase to another. If I’d had continuous control, I think I probably would have missed it.

Elektron Digitone Overview

digitone-panel.jpg

Announcement

Digitone was announced this week for NAMM 2018. In a nutshell it’s a 4 operator FM synth plopped into a synth OS framework that is similar to the Analog Four but with the sequencer and hardware design aesthetic and build of a Digitakt. It supports multiple FM algorithms which can be automated per step in the sequencer!

Basic specs:

digitone algorithm

  • 4 Synth FM Synth tracks
  • 8 voice polyphony including dynamic allocation supporting multitimbral and per step trig patch changes
  • Multiple FM algorithms (which can be automated with trig conditions per step)
  • 1 × multimode filter per voice
  • 1 × base-width filter per voice
  • 1 × overdrive per voice
  • 2 × assignable LFO per voice
  • Trig conditions
  • Send & Master FX
    • Panoramic Chorus send effect
    • Saturator Delay send effect
    • Supervoid Reverb send effect
    • Overdrive master effect
  • Same form factor and build as Digitakt
  • Audio in for FX processing
  • Will support Overbridge

Pricing and Availability

US Price is $739 and unit is already shipping. Elektron web shop and has already sold out and Sweetwater has them on pre-order.

PDF of Manual Online

A PDF version of the manual is online here.

Overview Videos

Watch the official launch video.

Watch Sonic State’s visit to the Elektron Booth for a Digitone overview.

Update: Added awesome 30 minute interview with sound engine designer Simon from Elektron

Listen to Factory Presets and Patterns.

Bottom Line

After seeing Elektron’s Cenk talk about the Digitone in the videos above, it’s clear that Elektron’s goal was to make of FM synthesis more approachable, fun, and more performance and improv friendly.

Chowning’s take on the Digitone from the interview is:

What you’ve done (with the Digitone), from what I can tell, looks like a rich palette of possibilities. There are fine guided decisions that have to be made in FM synthesis, and this idea of letting the FM units be sound generators and then processed in normal ways that synths process sound sources seems perfectly reasonable. It eliminates the part where you have to know anything about the theory of FM.

That’s the idea, making FM real-time, hands-on and musically useful. That, I guess, was your intention when you made the discovery, too! Reading your original description makes me realize the sheer power of the method: what enormous musical potential and power of expression you can have with just eight parameters.

It seems to me that the metaphor for the instrument (Digitone) is to give the user kind of a ball of re-formable plastic that, with the FM, can be pulled and stretched in many different ways. Of all the hundreds of sub-sets of what FM can do, yours seems to be a very useful sub-set! It leaves out many of the sub-sets but lets the user intuitively explore this re-formable, shapeable ball of stuff, then put that through the normal processes of synthesis that we know and love, band-pass filters and low-pass filters and so on.

The Digitone in the smaller Digitakt form factor at a lower price point than the larger boxes seems like it’s right in the sweet spot for many artists – as evidenced by the fact that it’s already sold out on their web site.

I look forward to trying one out some day.

Thanks for reading,

Mark Mosher
Synthesist, Electronic Musician, Producer
Boulder, CO
ModulateThis.com


If you found this article inspiring, helpful, or a time-saver, click here.

 

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(Mark Mosher Music News) (Modulate This) Elektron Analog Four Sound Design

Synth Journal: The Return of the Elektron Analog Four

return-of-analog-four-mm

Back in August I picked up an Anlog Four MKI as Sweetwater was closing the MKI out. I really kicked myself when I didn’t get a new Monomachine when they closed them out. I actually had an Analog Four way back in 2013 when they were first introduced but sold it to focus on my love affair with the Octatrack. Anyway – I decided to go on the Analog Four “ride” again as with all the OS updates and Overbridge it’s like a whole new animal.

Back in August I only had time to mess about a bit and wrote the post First Impressions Using Elektron Overbridge on Surface Pro 4 with Analog Four and published this video.

After a little stall out – I’m back at it with the Analog Four and have been working on:

  1. An original long-form Krell improv piece using only the Analog Four using custom presets for a performance in 2018.
  2. Doing tests to use Analog Four as an audio interface for Ableton Live.
  3. Studio sessions to practice sound design as performance from init. No overbridge here so I could really gain some muscle memory for the box so I could use it effectively in free-form improv situations.
  4. Spending time wrapping my head around the best way us Analog Four as a composition platform – or companion for the Octatrack. These sessions are both with and without Overbridge.
  5. Spending time wrapping my head around data management and backup.
  6. Using the Analog Four as a live performance synth with USB MIDI Controllers using Kenton MIDI USB Host MKII.

Long story short – I’ve learned a lot and taken a lot of notes. Watch for future posts with on all this on the category https://modulatethis.com/category/elektron-analog-four.

Oh, and in case you missed it, Elektron has decided to…

…offer Overbridge free of charge for all our Overbridge enabled instruments. This means that Overbridge Basic and Premium are now simply Overbridge https://www.elektronauts.com/news/387.

Mark Mosher
Composer, Synthesist, Electronic Musician, Multimedia Artist
Boulder, CO
MarkMosherMusic.com
ModulateThis.com

 

 

 

Categories
(Mark Mosher Music News) Announcements Music Single

New Single and Video: “Space-Time Distortion Near Track Number 8”

Story:

I discovered a space-time distortion while visiting Chicago. The location of the anomaly is at track 8 at Union Station.

Get The Single Watch the Video

I published this new song as a single on Bandcamp.

I also made a live studio recording of the session then edited this into a super trippy video which you can watch on YouTube.

Artist Notes:

This audio and video was captured in one real-time pass to a Zoom Q4N Digital Recorder. The primary source video for 90% of the visuals is from the overhead view of the live studio session. The only other footage is a video field recording from Chicago’s Union Station also recorded on the Zoom Q4N. The audio was not edited when I added video effects in post.

The audio field recording was extracted the Zoom Q4N video shot at Union Station. It’s mangled pretty heavily in this piece put if you listen closely, you can hear an automated voice informing you that you are at track 8 and 10. Interestingly, the speakers at the station are not directional and the audio is at different loop lengths – so just wandering about between these gates is a trippy polyrhythmic treat.

Instrumentation and Instrumentalities:

The piece is a combination of live sequencing and live performance. The Octatrack is used to host drum samples and recording. It is also used to MIDI sequence 3 synth slots on the Nord Lead 4 including MIDI automation. I perform live using all 4 slots on the Nord plus manipulate the Octatrack in real-time. Lots of real-time sound design and morphing. All the groovy synth sounds are exclusive to Nord Lead 4 all being created in real-time (meaning no synth audio was pre-recorded).

Categories
(Modulate This) Octatrack Sound Design

Elektron Octatrack MII vs Octatrack MKI – A Deeper Look Beyond the Bullet Points

[update 2017-11-01 The New OS is Here!!! Here is a new post on what’s new with a link do the download.]

This rather lengthy post offers a comparison of the original Octatrack vs the Octatrack MKII from my perspective as a long-time Octatrack user. [Update 2017-10-07] The MKII has release and the manual is online here. While I wrote this article in July info below is still helpful. I’ll offer an update post on the new OS once it releases and I install it. The PDF manual isn’t online yet and I wanted to get beyond the marketing bullet points so I swapped some messages with Elektron support (excellent responses and response times btw) to get clarifications on some of the new features. I’ll also offer some thoughts on what the MKII means for existing and new users as well as some tips.

My History with the Octatrack

I’ve been working with the Octatrack for over 4 years. It is the cornerstone of my hardware rig and my primary instrument for my improvisational solo work and for my collaborations with the (no)poem, and A.I. Winter. The Octatrack was also featured heavily on my recent studio release Sonic Encounters Volume 01 and for the singles “It Doesn’t Have to Hate Us to Use Our Molecules” and the recent “Space-Time Distortion Near Track Number 8“. I also like to use the Octatrack to emulate exotic instruments like the Swarmatron.

I’ve written about the Octatrack on Modulate This! using the category https://modulatethis.com/category/octatrack/.  I’ve also had the pleasure to teach other artist how to make music and perform with the Octatrack.

My favorite (and perhaps most unusual) use for the Octatrack is with the Denver’s Carbon Dioxide Ensemble with Copper Heartist Thomas Lundy and Theremist Victoria Lundy. I use the Octatrack to process and live sample Tom’s copper heart play played with dry ice build sample based instruments on the fly. In other words real-time Musique concrète. Here is a short behind-the-scenes and performance snippet video.

 

For more, check out this playlist on my YouTube channel which feature the Octatrack.

My most recent work with the Octatrack was for my single “Space-Time Distortion Near Track Number 8” (available on bandcamp). Here is a video of the piece.

The primary source video for 90% of the visuals is from the overhead view of the live studio session. It’s mangled pretty heavily in this piece put if you listen closely, you can hear an automated voice informing you that you are at track 8 and 10. Interestingly, the speakers at the station are not directional and the audio is at different loop lengths – so just wandering about between these gates is a trippy polyrhythmic treat. The piece is a combination of live sequencing and live performance. The Octatrack is used to host drum samples and recording. It is also used to MIDI sequence 3 synth slots on the Nord Lead 4 including MIDI automation.

Octatrack MKII is a Mechanical Upgrade

 

 

According to Elektron support the MKII is a mechanical upgrade. They needed to change out some components (they didn’t mention which ones) that were end of life. Since they needed to do some redesign to accommodate the new parts, they also took the time to upgraded the mechanics and some other parts within machine plus add more buttons to the panel.

The redesign to add the Digitakt-style buttons and encoders, more buttons,  plus the update of Audio-In to balanced inputs make this more than simply a hardware guts and cosmetic refresh.

Operating System & Data Storage are the Same on Octatrack MKII and MKI

Elektron support verified the operating systems are the same.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Octatrack,  one of the best things about it from a backup and data management perspective is that system config information is stored in the individual projects end therefore there are no external dependencies.  If your move your card to another machine and turn it on, this other Octatrack becomes your Octatrack. If your machine breaks, move the card to a friend’s machine – done. No drivers, no missing VSTs, no missing files.

In the MKII specs, they indicate “Fully compatible with Octatrack MKI projects/data“. Since the OS is the same and the MKII still uses Compact Flash, this is NOT an import. It means you can work natively with your project data on Compact Flash cards on either a MKI or MKII and move the cards back and forth.

[update 2017-07-05] For clarity, I’m including my questions and responses from Elektron on the OS.

Q: I saw this in the specs “Fully compatible with Octatrack MKI projects/data”. So this implies I can open MKI files on a MKII. I’m hoping I can also open projects I create on a MKII with my MKI so I can use the MKI as a backup. Is project data compatibility work both directions?

A: Elektron Support – 
They will run the same software – the MKII is a mechanical upgrade and has the same features and OS as the MKI.

Q: Elektron announced Octatrack was “Feature Complete” on the OS side a while back. Will you start developing new features for both machines again?

A: Elektron Support – We have nothing to comment on OS features at this time. We will however address some bugs and issues – which will benefit both MKI and MKII users since they use the same OS.

Same OS, same data format, and same storage format means the next paragraph still holds true unless at some point they fork the code or change the data formats. 

The upside of all this for existing owners is that if you buy a MKII, you could use the MKI as a backup or for a dual-deck setup without having to mess around with import/export and be concerned about feature parity.

[update 2017-10-07] As anticipated, the MKII shipped with some new features which will also work in the MKI as they are in fact running the same OS. Elektron has not posted the OS yet, but the support page has a notice that it’s coming soon.

I scanned the MKII manual and it looks like Conditional Locks and Fill Mode is in the future for us MKI owners :^)

ot-mki-os-update

New/Re-Purposed Backlit Buttons and New LEDs

While the operating system under the hood is the same, the user experience has been enhanced by “Increased amount of dedicated buttons enabling quicker workflow”. The buttons are described as “Ultra durable back-lit buttons. Rated for 50 million presses”. These buttons add new affordances for tasks that used to require menu diving or more complex shift-presses include:

  • AED/Slice Grid – AED (which I assume stand for “Audio Editor”) get’s it’s own button – yay! On MKI you access the audio editor by pressing [TRACK]+[Bank/Edit] which isn’t the most obvious button sequence in the world. So much so that I find when I’m giving lessons on the Octatrack that many people don’t even know the OT has an audio editor :^0. So this is a biggie. Slice to Grid is also a tab interface from there on MKI – which is quite a few steps away from how it’s surfaced on the MKII. Excellent!
  • PROJ/Save Proj button – this was burried in [FUNCTION]+[Mixer/Project].
  • MIX/Click– There was already a mix button, and because Project has been surfaced as it’s own button, the shift function is assigned to Click settings. You used to have to use  [CUE] + [TEMPO] to toggle click (assuming you had metronome configured to “Active”).
  • PART/Part Edit – a click instead of a shift-press with access to part editing as the shift-press.
  • MIDI/MIDI Sync – MIDI was a dedicated button, but it’s Function shift mode was “Part”. Now that Part has it’s own button, MIDI Sync has been surfaced as a function-press.
  • ARR/Arr Mode – Arranger get’s it’s own button. BTW did you know you can set different tempos per pattern in arranger? Yes it’s true! The “B” parameter is for BPM.
  • PTN/Pattern Settings – Pattern has it’s own button on the MKI so that’s not new. Since Arrange has it’s own button now, the shift-function of PTN is now Pattern Settings.
  • REC3 –  Earlier available in the REC setup menu for internal resampling.
  • -Int- – Two new LEDs for monitoring the resampling input level.

Button Brightness

The back-lit buttons look plenty bright when you watch Digitakt videos. Just the same, I asked Elektron support:

Q: Question about Octatrack MKII back-lit button brightness. Do you find that if you were using the MKII in daylight that the button states expressed as color are more or less visible than the MKI LEDs? Not direct sunlight, but say under a tent at a festival in the daytime.

A: The lit area is larger, and the lighting is a tad brighter – so the new buttons (same as Digitakt) should be more visible in a very bright environment.

New and Improved Labeling

The button naming convention has changed with the label for the primary function being all upper case now. New labels have been added on to the panel for the shift functions to reveal some [FUNCTION] presses that were already there or to make the function more obvious. This will help shorten the learning curve a bit. They include:

  • Arrow Keys  – Trig mode and nudge. Tip: Trig mode is how you set trigs work operation for real-time performance. Possibilities are TRACKS, CHROMATIC, SLOTS, SLICES, QUICK MUTE, DELAY CONTROL.
  • Yes/No – labels for arm and disarm (ex. rearm a one-shot)
  • Cue/Reload Part – used to say just “Reload”. Reload what? The “Part” of course.
  • A-F Encoders  – New labels for audio editing control…Start Position, Loop Position, End Position, Zoom up/down, Scroll left/right, Zoom left/right. Holy shit is this helpful! I’ve been using the machine 4 years and I sometimes get still confused with this set of controls – haha.
  • Tap Tempo/Pickup Sync – There was a tempo button before. It opened up the Tempo page so you could adjust tempo with an encoder. Tap tempo was achieved by holding [FUNCTION] then tapping tempo. I assume (as I don’t have the manual yet) that pressing Tap will bring up the Tempo page and tapping it will do Tap Tempo – more immediate and obvious than the MKI. [update 2017-07-05] [FUNCTION]+press is still serves pickup Sync a new function-press and the labeling properly reflects this.
  • Level – has a sub-label for Cursor position – in case you didn’t realize the level button was your data scroll control. Tip: Holding [FUNCTION] when turning Level allows you to adjust your Master Volume.
  • REC1/REC2 – now has handy labels for pickup machine overdub, play/stop.

OLED Display

“A crisp OLED screen with fantastic viewing angles.” In the picture the black and white are inverted for my high-contrast viewing – like Digitakt. Looks pretty great. Both machine’s specs say the screen dimensions are 128×64.

Better Encoders

I felt the MKI encoders were great. Seems like these are even better. Tip: Turning an encoder offers fine control. Press [FUNCTION] and turn offers more gross control over a parameter, and if appropriate will snap you to virtual detents, For example, if you hold [FUNCTION] and turn the knob for pan Balance, the value will snap Left (-64), Center (0), and Right (+64). If hold [FUNCTION] and turn a know when setting a sample position you will snap to a zero crossing.

New Crossfader

The MKI spec is “Infinium optical crossfader”. The MKII spec says “Contactless silky smooth performance crossfader”. I verified that this is a new component  as the older Infinum is no longer manufactured. According to Elektron, “the throw are a few mm shorter and the friction is a bit lighter.”

Power Supple Change

[Update 2017-07-05] Alvaro Villalobos on facebook pointed out that the power supply changed. MKI is 6V DC 3A positive tip. MKII is 12VDC 2A poitive tiop. Label those power supplies!

Better Audio In

The MKI already had 4 × 1/4″ impedance balanced audio out jacks. The the audio in’s where not balanced. The MKII hardware offers an upgrade to the external inputs so they are impedance balanced as well.

No Overbrdige

No Overbridge support. This makes sense now that I know its the MK1 and MKII share the same OS. Personally this is not a show stopper for me. I use the Octatrack when I’m not using Ableton Live. I use it because I don’t want to be on a computer. There it is.

The End Result – Surfacing More Features with Quicker Workflow While Shorting the Learning Curve

At quick glance all this doesn’t look very different, but when you look deeper you can see a lot of design went into improving the UX and hardware to surface more features with quicker workflow. All this will help shorten the learning curve as well. I for one know that the update will have me using more features in real-time that were burred a few clicks away. I could see using features such as resampleing and slicing – which I used in the studio – more in performance.

Overall, it’s pretty great Elektrton could overlay all that on top of the same OS!

What’s In It for Existing Octatrack Users

Think iPad Upgrade

Getting an Octatrack MKII if you have a MKI is more like getting an iPad Pro 10.5 when you already have an iPad. You get a better screen, better mechanics, better stuff under the hood, better design, some new User Experience affordances, but the OS under-the-hood is the same OS. I suppose the analogy breaks down on things like processor speed, but you get the idea.

Your chops and data will transfer to the new machine – done. If you keep your old machine, it can act as a backup or 2-deck system since the OS is the same and you can swap cards back and forth. If you sell your old machine to a friend, you’ve just helped the community grow.

The OS “It’s Alive”- Again

There is another benefit to the MKI users even if they don’t buy a MKII. Until this announcement the Octatrack OS was “feature complete” – as in NO more updates. I asked Elektron support if they were planning updates. They said “nothing to comment on OS features at this time” but indicated if there were bug fixes it would benefit MKI and MKII since they use the same OS.

The release of MKII leaves the door open for fixes or issues where as before it was closed. Being ever the optimist, it seems possible that on the way to V2 they could sneak in features that the current hardware could support – say trig conditions.

What’s In it for New Octatrack Artists

Elektron Support’s take on this update is that…

“The Octatrack still stands as a unique and great instrument, this upgrade lets it continue being just that.”

I agree completely – and now the machine has new revitalized life for a new set of artists. Even considering Digitakt, the Octatrack MKII has a unique spot in the the Elektron lineup – and in the market.

Cheers to Elektron for Circling Back and Extending the Life a Fantastic Instrument

Elektron is a small company and I’d imagine creating new products like the Heat and the Digitakt required all-hands-on-deck for the past few years. It’s pretty cool (and extremely rare in the music tech industry) that a company would circle back and take a pass at getting a piece of hardware that first launched in January 2011 back into a producible and supportable form. Their strategy rewards loyal customers who worked to gain virtuosity with the instrument by extending the Octatrack’s life as well offering current Elektron build quality and features that those with newer products are used to. Smart.

I would much rather have this MKII update than to have waited 2 or 3 years for a V2 product. MKII has the potential to renew interest in the instrument which would help grow the Octatrack community building more support for a V2. [Update 2017-10-07] This is already happening and there are a flurry of new videos popping up on YouTube with folks showing off the MKII. It’s alive!

Octatrack MKII – A Machine that STILL Makes Music

I’ll leave you with the original and epic original Octatrack video.

Oh and Elektron, if you are reading this, now would be a great time to do another episode in the story with Hector with the new Octatrack MKII!

Thanks for Reading,
 
Mark Mosher
Boulder, CO

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