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Analog Four vs Monomachine
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> General Gear Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author Analog Four vs Monomachine

Satyrs

So I recently got a Machinedrum and am absolutely in love be with the depth of sounds, programability and workflow. Really need to pair it up with of of these two synths for a bit of cohesion. Also have a Micromodular I'll be using along sode .

Opinions from those who have in the past or currently owned both or either would be much appreciated.

I'm leaning towards the monomachine for the different synth engines but they don't seem to be easy to come by and the A4 still is just as impressive but I don't really care as much as others about "Dat analog sound".

Any comments appreciated 8_)


Brownian Lotion

I have an AK and it's not the first synth that comes to mind when wanting the "analog" sound. For that you could probably do better with a CEM based poly like the prophet 600 or even an obie matrix 6.

Because I've never ever used the mono, I'll just list the obvious things I know in favour of the AK (and the A4):
1) It is currently in active development/support, which means more features to come, including some sort of full DAW integration
2) Micro timing on the A4 sequencer
3) Timing is solid on the A4. Check the innerclock tests. Not so sure about earlier Elektron devices.
4) The A4 sounds nice (to me). This should be #1 on this list.
5) Built-in keyboard for the AK and an octave of note buttons on the A4.
6) Built-in effects are simple but sound nice.

Reasons against the A4/AK include:
A) No fm. This could possibly change in future to a basic 2op fm if Elektron ever decide to release an OS update that unlocks the LFOs (which go very fast) from the tempo and allow keytrack as a modulation source. This is an often requested feature. Also, you have a micromodular for this.
B) "Only" four voices.
C) No sampled drums, but you have that covered in the machinedrum.
D) The screen is teensy.

Now that I really think about it, apart from a slight complaint I have with the standard Fatar key action on the AK, the only discerning characteristic that makes or breaks this synth is whether or not you like the sound. For what it does, it does it well without bugs.

What kind of sounds to you want out of it? Pads? Keys ala B3 or Rhodes or piano? DX7-ish? Blippy squerps? Harsh glassy PPG tones? Thick warm fuzzy... blankets with pictures of smurfs?


Brownian Lotion

Duplicate


Brownian Lotion

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Brownian Lotion

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stimresp

Only briefly tried the A4, but after having a choice of any box last year, I plopped for the Monomachine. I like it a lot, though there were long periods of buyers remorse. I was initially disappointed with the synthesis machines - I thought they were too limited and flat-sounding.

After a while it dawned that synthesis an P-locks are inseparable - that's when the machine really started to open-up for me.

Also, for some reason, by default, Elektron have left Filter keytracking on for both LP and HP filter. You need to turn this off to get the low-end (I can imagine that some owners might have given-up without realising this).

Now I find the workflow quite fast, and I can approximate most sounds fairly well, with still plenty of room for experimentation. I find it particularly good for electronic percussion sounds, but then I'm still exploring the machines.

It's got 6 MIDI sequencers as well. I sequence the blofeld from it, and run blofeld back through an FX machine. It's a nice self-contained combo.

You should really try to spend time with both before you buy. MnM definitely has a 'sound' and some people don't seem to like it. Personally I love it's unashamedly digital nature.

BUT - I think they are outrageously expensive. If I were in the market I would go second-hand, or hold off to see if there will be a successor, or maybe save my pennies for the A4 keys. MnM won't be able to benefit from Overbridge AFAIK.


desdinova

I've got both. It's definitely one of my favorite boxes. It will sequence MIDI which the A4 will not. It's a very deep machine from a sound design point of view. The LFOs are great and can modulate each other, don't forget they're plockable like everything else. Definitely disable at least the HPF key tracking by default, imo. One thing I think a lot of people overlook is triggering one track with another. You can get some great layered patches going with this.
It's also a great FSU machine. The internal busses let machines affect more than just neighbor tracks. You can make a filterbank style MIDI-sync'd kit and just tweak external program material or other synths. My machinedrum outs are plugged into mine most of the time, I use the filter, EQ and delay on just a thru machine and it's great.
The wide response of the EQ in the amp machine especially goes a long way to changing the sound, so poke that. The amp and filter EGs are not your typical ADSR/AD(respectfully) so be mindful of that. You can spend an LFO for a very sharp AD envelope for either if you like.
For what they go for I think it's a bargain machine, it just does so many things. You can get the MkIs for ~500 these days. I'd agree going brand new probably doesn't make sense unless you're already a fan and want one (or a second) with a warrant/+drive. It's still worth it I think BUT buying blind I would be very hesitant to suggest new. You're going to either love it or hate it.


digable-me

I owned the A4 and sold it because I didn't like the sound. It can do so much, I love the workflow, the reverb and delay are superb, as is the sequencer obviously. I also loved sequencing the modular with it.

The monomachine for me is much more interesting. It makes some of the strangest and most original sounds I've ever heard. The sequener is slightly more limited (I wish I could do polyrhythms). I feel like it responds better to the P-Locks, in that turning a knob on the mono is always an unpredictable event.


pantalones

Usability: The monomachine has the magic the machinedrum has. The A4 doesn't.

Integration: The a4 is a really complex amazing polysynth that can integrate with a modular very well. The monomachine integrates with midi things very well.

Sound: As far as I remember the monomachine has the same dsp as the micromodular. They don't sound the same, but there is still an element of plastic in both. I did love my mm but eventually got rid of it because I didn't love the sound enough. If they rebuilt the MM with an analog engine and squashed in some a4 capabilities it would be the most amazing poly ever made. But I do think the A4 sounds better.

Fun: The monomachine is fun and versatile. The wavetable stuff just makes it amazing.

Filter: the monomachine's filter is surprisingly good for a digital synth.

My recommendation would be to pick up a MMmkII used, and if you don't like it, sell it.


Brownian Lotion

pantalones wrote:
Usability: The monomachine has the magic the machinedrum has. The A4 doesn't.


I agree with everything else you said except this.

How is the A4 not usable or magical straight out of the box? It comes loaded with presets for synths and drum sounds alike and a bunch of sample patterns. Sorry to be pedantic, but can you define the "magic" part?


dshan

its a great machine. You just need to take ur time with it.
There are a few on ebay.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Elektron-Monomachine-Sfx60-/251813092199?
Read the description


pantalones

Brownian Lotion wrote:
pantalones wrote:
Usability: The monomachine has the magic the machinedrum has. The A4 doesn't.


I agree with everything else you said except this.

How is the A4 not usable or magical straight out of the box? It comes loaded with presets for synths and drum sounds alike and a bunch of sample patterns. Sorry to be pedantic, but can you define the "magic" part?


Oh no problem, I get what you are asking. The A4 is awesome and I won't part with it for a long time. But it still suffers from Elektron-black-box menuitis. The silver boxes were magical because nearly everything was self-evident or discoverable. All basic functions are in your face, and then the deeper hierarchies are buried below their logical front panel functions. The black boxes treat much of the hierarchies like the "hamburger" menu on mobile apps, where they bury a bunch of things in a junk drawer. Like it wouldn't have hurt to have a few extra front panel buttons instead of hiding things under global. It's still an awesome box but it just lacks a lot of obviousness in the overall information architecture.

And more than anything I think that the lack of gestalt / perceptual organization in the front panel greatly affects its magic. The silver boxes used grouping, proximity, continuation, negative space, etc. The black boxes lack this.


suicidelane

Much agreed Pantalones. It is incredibly difficult to find your way around the black boxes in dim light conditions. The silver boxes have ridges (much like an SH101) that give your hands an indication of where it is placed on the unit. Also, red print on black is very difficult to see in dark surroundings.


Brownian Lotion

pantalones wrote:
Brownian Lotion wrote:
pantalones wrote:
Usability: The monomachine has the magic the machinedrum has. The A4 doesn't.


I agree with everything else you said except this.

How is the A4 not usable or magical straight out of the box? It comes loaded with presets for synths and drum sounds alike and a bunch of sample patterns. Sorry to be pedantic, but can you define the "magic" part?


Oh no problem, I get what you are asking. The A4 is awesome and I won't part with it for a long time. But it still suffers from Elektron-black-box menuitis. The silver boxes were magical because nearly everything was self-evident or discoverable. All basic functions are in your face, and then the deeper hierarchies are buried below their logical front panel functions. The black boxes treat much of the hierarchies like the "hamburger" menu on mobile apps, where they bury a bunch of things in a junk drawer. Like it wouldn't have hurt to have a few extra front panel buttons instead of hiding things under global. It's still an awesome box but it just lacks a lot of obviousness in the overall information architecture.

And more than anything I think that the lack of gestalt / perceptual organization in the front panel greatly affects its magic. The silver boxes used grouping, proximity, continuation, negative space, etc. The black boxes lack this.


Now this is a response.

I agree, the menus are more complicated on the black boxes. It's the main reason I sold the octatrack. Sound was ok, but it lacked the immediacy that the Elektron price tag implies. The real-time time-stretch functions are the only thing that box can tout as a defining characteristic. I've never used a Rytm, but from videos it looks to be a little more immediate with the inclusion of the performance pads. Plus, being drum sounds the voice architecture is not as complicated as the A4.

The A4 could well do with less menus. It has a great sound and capabilities that the interface doesn't really do justice. The Sound Settings menu under which the bulk of the performance modulation routings live is my biggest menu-diving gripe Elektron could have really put more effort into making these pages accessible from the voice module pages (filters/amp) without all that scrolling. Hopefully the overbridge functions will alleviate this problem. And then hopefully Elektron will open the spec (yeah, right) and we could have overbridge on more than just DAW integration. Wouldn't that be something.


pantalones

Brownian Lotion wrote:
The Sound Settings menu under which the bulk of the performance modulation routings live is my biggest menu-diving gripe Elektron could have really put more effort into making these pages accessible from the voice module pages (filters/amp) without all that scrolling.


YES! Exactly, we are on the same page. A good IA for any system cues off available anchors in the mental model, as in, if I'm in a mode / context focusing on A, and the current manifestation of A is dependent on / related to / enhanced by items B, C, and D, i should be able to access items B, C, and D from that context. Instead we have to constantly context shift to do related tasks.

So people might think hey, this makes no sense, the A4 is just fine. So that's great and I understand you've learned how to use it. But take the oscs for example. Each has two pages. Pages? What? Why pages? Because they couldn't fit everything on one "page." That's an archaic user interface model. I shouldn't have to remember that tuning is on "page" 1 and sync is on "page" 2. Instead, think more like how findable/intuitive the LFO pages on the machinedrum were and how they worked. The major use case is up front (speed + depth), the finer controls are available once the user dives in with function+LFO. That's proper information architecture.

I know we are being critical, so to be fair (as in, not just griping on a forum) I've been super honest with contacts @ Elektron about this too, and hope that one day they will take a lot of this feedback into account.


Satyrs

Thanks for the great responses guys!
Think I've found a MnM in the BST forum for a good price Rockin' Banana!
Will have to return to this thread for some pointers when it arrives.


limpmeat

Sorry for the derail, is that Yoshi in your avatar?


Satyrs

limpmeat wrote:
Sorry for the derail, is that Yoshi in your avatar?


Assuming you mean me?
That is my dog and no that's not his name spinning


Barfunkel

Former MnM owner, current A4 owner here. I find the A4 superior, at least for my (techno) needs. Sounds good enough straight out of the box, while getting great sounds out of the MnM usually requires some outboard processing. The different synth engines of the MnM all sound somewhat similar, I really wish there were different filter models as well, to expand the palette.

Strangely, despite being quite a digital sounding synth, I do miss the warm dub techno chords you can get out of the MnM, using the ensemble machines. They were my favorite sounds in that box, I haven't been able to get really great dub chords out of the A4.


limpmeat

Satyrs wrote:
limpmeat wrote:
Sorry for the derail, is that Yoshi in your avatar?


Assuming you mean me?
That is my dog and no that's not his name spinning

Cool, one of my mates has a beagle that looks identical, right down to the red bandana.


sushiluv

i sold my monomachine a while ago and that was a mistake.
it´s a magic box, like the machinedrum. just be careful with the gain and turn down the amp and suddenly it sounds much better.

if it hasn´t to be analog, i´d go for the monomachine, it´s also the the most sophisticated when it comes to parameter locks, i think you can lock almost all parameter. one example, you can lock different LFO speed, waveform and destination on every step, nuts.


cosmic_son

Monomachine all the way.

FM synth.
Vocoder synth.
6 tracks of midi and internal.
Amazing sounding synth.
Poly mode.

I was considering the a4 to seq my modular, but now I'm using a kenton and it that's it. I'm waiting on my Mutable Yarns to potentially get 4 tracks of cv/gate seq from the mono + it's internal tracks... so flexible and awesome.


orz

I prefer the Analog Four over the Monomachine by quite a lot actually. I think it has to do with how the A4 is much more streamlined with 4x identical voices instead of loading different "machines" that each have their strong points for certain sounds etc. I guess you could say that the A4 is simpler in that regard, but at the same time the voices are much more flexible than any of the machines (on their own) on the Mono. They both have a distinct "sound", something that is prevalent in each of the Elektron boxes – and it does sound very good. I think Mono is actually closer to my taste since I prefer additive synthesis and digital overall, but on the other hand I just relish the "proper" control you have on the A4, the freedom to shape the sound into what you want. I've made a bunch of quite unorthodox sounds on that box, it really is flexible. With the Mono I think it will always sound a bit too much like it's already been pre-sculpted, you know?

Besides that, the sequencer is so much better on the A4 – you can't do polyrhythms on the Mono! And combine that with some creative poly configurations and you can make some very complex structures. Love it.


cosmic_son

orz wrote:
I prefer the Analog Four over the Monomachine by quite a lot actually. I think it has to do with how the A4 is much more streamlined with 4x identical voices instead of loading different "machines" that each have their strong points for certain sounds etc. I guess you could say that the A4 is simpler in that regard, but at the same time the voices are much more flexible than any of the machines (on their own) on the Mono. They both have a distinct "sound", something that is prevalent in each of the Elektron boxes – and it does sound very good. I think Mono is actually closer to my taste since I prefer additive synthesis and digital overall, but on the other hand I just relish the "proper" control you have on the A4, the freedom to shape the sound into what you want. I've made a bunch of quite unorthodox sounds on that box, it really is flexible. With the Mono I think it will always sound a bit too much like it's already been pre-sculpted, you know?

Besides that, the sequencer is so much better on the A4 – you can't do polyrhythms on the Mono! And combine that with some creative poly configurations and you can make some very complex structures. Love it.


Ah nice, that's a good way to put it. Didn't know about the polyrhythms. Mostly what I love about the a4 over the mono is the little keyboard smile such a nice touch for programming.


orz

cosmic_son wrote:
Mostly what I love about the a4 over the mono is the little keyboard smile such a nice touch for programming.


Ahh yes, that's actually a really big plus! Speeds things up a lot.

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