Elektron Analog 4 or Blofeld + El Capistan dTape Echo + iConnectMIDI4+?


Two months ago I asked here about a good compact synth for ambient music (Topic: http://operator-1.com/index.php?p=/discussion/comment/15040/#Comment_15040). After some amazing explanations, I got the Arturia´s Microbrute. It´s a impressive little beast, with a rich and really warm sound and the modular possibilites are teaching me a lot of things about the synthesis signal patch (doing a better job than the Dark Energy did). I´m really happy with it and grateful for the help.

Yet, the monophonic nature of the Microbrute and my lack of delays/reverbs pedals makes me still wondering for a lusher synth (which I can warm up with the MB´s Brute Factor!:). After some specially good DJ gigs I got the money for an Elektron Analog 4, which I´m considering to buy next month, when I will travel to Paris, as I live in Brazil and our taxes made virtually impossible to import expensive electronic stuff here (I was wondering about starting my modular, but I think I will wait a little, mastering first my semi-modular synths - the Microbrute and the Dark Energy 1).

However, I didn´t find any videos in Youtube where the Analog 4 shows a similar potential of the Waldorf Blofeld to do ambient stuff (Youtube is blocked here; will edit the post later to show some links). Quite the opposite, the sound of the A4 appears to be agressive, dark and warm, good for more techno and house oriented stuff - like the monophonic synths that I already own but not exactly what I´m producing right now (weird hip hop, downtempo and ambient stuff). Still, I´m not sure that the lack of videos is due to the attributes and personality of the Analog 4 or it´s just a consequence of more techno/house-oriented people doing stuff online with the synth (the same thing happens with the Octatrack, which, despite of this, I think is very groovy and have and amazing swing, making it an excelent machine for hip hop stuff). I should also point that beyond the more imediate aspect of the A4 sound, I´m considering it because of the impressive quality of Elektron stuff, the excelent resale price, the virtual impossibility of getting it here and it´s modular aspect, which can open more possibilities with my monophonic synths and future Eurorack (and there´s also the upcoming Overbridge - if it works like it´s announced - and I don´t have reasons to doubt Elektron - It will push the Ableton x analog stuff to a next level, which is quite amazing).

But right now, I´m thinking about using the money to get the Waldorf Blofeld, a Strymon´s El Capistan dTape Echo (which I could use with the Blofeld and my other synths, including more esoteric stuff, like the Pocket Operators, Microgranny 2, the Monotrons and even the OP-1, etc) and a iConnectMIDI4+, making the Blofeld (and also de Microbrute, the DE...) controlable by the OP-1. I´ve also read that a lot of people are using the Blofeld with the Octatrack, with amazing results, and could be also an option.

What do you think I should do? :) Thanks a lot!

I have an Analog 4, iConnectMidi4+, El Capistan and an OP-1.

I do think the Analog 4 is well suited for ambient sounds. The Blofeld has the advantage when it comes to polyphony, and I have heard that it’s a pad monster – but I haven’t used one myself. An Octatrack or OP-1 would of course alleviate the polyphony issue with tape/sampling capabilities.

I kind of think that Dataline’s (the Elektron in-house guy) style affects the stuff people are making with the Elektrons quite a bit. The Elektron demos are very distinct, very good and pretty cool. But once you dig deeper, you can find all kinds of styles done with the boxes.

My answer is a bit vague, I think, but maybe this gives some insight on how to approach the A4… :slight_smile:

the big thing with the A4 is that its played from a sequencer not a keyboard so you will end up making music that sound sequenced. Not a bad thing at all but worth thinking about.


you can turn off track quantize in the global options…

don´t know…the a4 is a great pack for itself. i think sonically you are covered best with the blofeld (+sample option)…but you need something to sequence it…

While i agree that the sequencer is a big part of the A4, you can choose not to use it at all and record your playing to your DAW, or a cassette if you so wish. I’d rather see the sequencer of the A4 as an additional option, not a limitation.

@josker thanks for the insights. Talking about polyphony, I must confess that I don´t understand very well how the polyphony implemented by a later Elektron patch really works in the Analog 4. It´s limited, right? However, I´ve read something interesting: although the Blofeld have a impressive polyphony (25 voices?), it´s uncommon to use so much voices. It appears to me that the 4 track structure + P-Locks + limited polyphony is enough to create a very rich sound. However, what puzzles me is the nature of the A4 sound, that still appears dark and a little gritty to me, akin to the Dark Energy and Microbrute. Do you think that I can do things like this (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4yxvDWoU670) and this (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=A35NyBd1FcI) with the Analog or it´s beyond the sound characteristics of the synth?

@aswefallintostatic and @LAUNE it´s true that the A4 have the powerful sequencer, but can´t I play it with the little “dots” keyboard to have a more organic/free composition? I´m not a keyboard/piano player, can´t do complex chords or things like that so the sequencer isn´t exactly a problem to me - quite the opposite, indeed.

you can do whatever you like :wink: no rules or regs when it come to music making!

I guess all i was meaning is that I find it useful when GASing over gear to think about what the designers intended the workflow to be, as that workflow will always be guiding the sound towards a particular kind of result. Its purely because, no matter your intentions, whatever has been made easiest to do on a piece of gear is probably what you will find yourself doing most often as its the easiest thing to do…

You are linking to a digital synth and are asking questions about complexity of sound design. the A4 is very complex but it is limited by being an analogue synth. Analogue synths can sound gritty, warm and have very rich sounds, but no matter how flexible their modulation, they are still at heart an analogue synth and will always be guiding you towards the sounds of subtractive synthesis. If you want the sound of FM modulation and a more deeply complex modulation and soundscape option then i would look in to something digital like the blofeld.

^very well said.

Absolutely agree with you, @aswefallintostatic. However, the architecture of the A4 appears to be quite unique - not only because of the rich signal path, but also because of the polyphony + four track + p-locks possibilities - and makes me wonder the limits of it´s ambient/soundscape/texture capabilities :slight_smile:

Checked our brazillian version of eBay and a trance dude was selling an used Blofeld for a good price, couldn´t resist and just bought it. The guy didn´t got so much reputation on the site so wish me luck, but I think that everything will be fine :slight_smile:

Seeing as how you already made your purchase my point may be useless, but I own the keys version of Blofeld and an Elektron monomachine. I have found that hands down the Elektron products are by far the most useful hardware devices for stand-alone music making. Period. Their ability to sequence/create sounds, effect external audio via the inputs, and the onboard effects really just make them the most viable purchase. Regardless of what genre of music you are making. I don’t understand how music genre can dictate your purchase, as these are both highly capable synthesizers. Unless you plan on simply using pre existing patches, I don’t see how you won’t be able to make either a Blofeld or A4 work for you. Also, I see these as totally different sides to music making in regards to each piece of equipment. (Ones a powerful sequencer/synth/effect - the other a great sound module)

Personally, if I didn’t already own an Elektron product this would be no contest. A4 hands down due to:

  • Standalone sequencing
  • Killer sound engine
  • Better built in effects (IMO)
  • parameter locks
  • ability to process external audio through the great effects.

All that being said: I love my Blofeld and I hope you enjoy making music with yours (check out that Attack drums download). If I’ve seemed rude its because Im running on no sleep.