My journey with Elektron started in 2008 at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC. Autechre was performing using nothing but two Elektron Machinedrums and Monomachines and I was completely blown away by the sound—especially the kick drums, which hit harder than any others I had ever heard before. A couple of years later, I took the royalties I’d earned from a commercial sample pack I’d made and bought my own Machinedrum, which became an integral part of my percussion arsenal for years to come. In fact, it’s safe to say that nearly every track of mine written between 2010-2015 used the Machinedrum.
Fast forward to 2023, and Elektron’s offerings have expanded and include modern classics like the Analog Rytm drum machine, Octatrack Sampler, and Analog Four Synthesizer. Plus, with Elektron’s Overbridge software, I’m able to have extensive control over many of their machines with a plugin that runs in Pro Tools, giving me exceptional hybrid integration between hardware and software.
The Syntakt is the newest offering from Elektron. It boasts 35 digital and analog synthesis algorithms, or “machines” in Elektron-speak. Intricate programming and sequencing has always been an integral and very forward-thinking feature of their language that dates back to Elektron’s earliest machines—and they do have a unique language.
The modern evolution of Elektron’s sequencing greatly expands on their past and is one of the most detailed and specific of any modern sequencer, if not the most. Features such as Parameter Locking allow a user to sequence changes of nearly any parameter per sequencer step; dual LFOs per machine allow all sorts of wiggling; and, of course, the destinations of the LFOs—let alone their rate and shape—can of course be sequenced as well. All sorts of triggering options detail the way machines are triggered, and using trigger probability settings allow for a constantly evolving and generative sequence. It’s all quite mind-boggling at first glance with the sheer amount of control available. And while the machines sound amazing (of course), so much of the Elektron je ne sais quoi is the experience of using one. And one last thing—the sequencer can be used to sequence external hardware as well…
Elektron Syntakt 12-Voice Drum Computer and Synthesizer
The 35 machines within the Syntakt include numerous synthesis algorithms to create drums with—not to mention a number dedicated to monophonic melodic synths as well. Ranging from the classic drum sounds to the quite esoteric, there are very few types of synthesized percussion that you can’t create with the Syntakt. Factoring in multiple amplitude envelopes, multimode filters, the dual LFOs, FX (such as overdrive, reverb, and delay, all of which can be modulated and sequenced), the Syntakt is a beautiful sonic beast in a relatively small package.
Elektron Overbridge AAX plugin running in Pro Tools
In creating Elektron Syntakt Beats, I aimed to create as comprehensive a library as I could put in your hands—without you needing to own a hardware unit yourself. The one-shots are sampled extensively from the various machines, and the loops take advantage of many of the unique sequencing tricks up the Syntakt’s sleeve, such as Parameter Locking, Retriggering, Probability, and all sorts of other modulation types. While this pack will never compare perfectly to the hands-on experience of using a Syntakt in person, it gives you access to many core Elektron sounds.
The recording chain for the one-shots included a Warm Audio EQP and AudioScape 76A compressor, as well as the Syntakt itself. The loops were recorded through an SSL Ultraviolet EQ and Heritage Audio Successor compressor before being driven (a bit) by the Elektron Analog Heat—an awesome saturation box that’s also capable of being controlled by Pro Tools via Overbridge.
Like all Pro Tools | Sonic Drops, Elektron Syntakt Beats is FREE with your active Pro Tools annual or monthly subscription or current Updates + Support Plan (for perpetual license holders). Check the Sonic Drop tab in Avid Link (version 2023.3 or later) for a list of all the latest Sonic Drops. This is also where you can play audio samples and manage your content downloads. Watch this video to learn more.
Lastly, I’ll mention that I performed a live set this past January using the Elektron Syntakt and Digitakt with Overbridge in Pro Tools. It’s such a joy to be able to jam out with these machines in real time—they just sound so good. All the complex rhythms were performed with the sequencers of both the Syntakt and Digitakt while Overbridge was typically running a simple back beat. Super fun. Live At SoCal Synth Society can be heard here.
This blog written while listening to Autechre’s Untilted, which heavily features the Elektron Machinedrum and Monomachine.