Elektron Digitakt vs Digitone (Differences & Which Is Best?)

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  • What is the primary difference between these two seemingly similar instruments?
  • Pros/cons between workflow for Digitakt vs Digitone.
  • Which of Elektron’s Digi series best suits your needs?
  • Also, check out our shootout between Digitakt vs Octatrack

Elektron’s Digitakt and Digitone are two of the most iconic and best-selling bits of music hardware from the past decade. With such similar names and UI, it can be tricky to pick the right one for your workflow.

In this article, we’ll look at what makes these two bits of gear fundamentally different, and why you might even want to buy both.

Elektron Digitakt DDS-8
$799.00

With a powerful digital sound engine, sampling capabilities, and a performance-friendly sequencer, the Elektron Digitakt excels on its own as well as being a sweet sequencer for your hardware synths. 

Why We Love It:
  • Robust MIDI capability
  • Great-sounding built-in effects
  • 8 stereo audio tracks
View Price On Guitar Center View Price On Sweetwater
Elektron Digitone

Combining deep FM synthesis with a familiar subtractive synthesis signal flow, the Elektron Digitone is an amazingly powerful 8-voice synth.

Why We Love It:
  • Very versatile
  • Eight-voice polyphony
  • Superb built-in effects
View Price On Sweetwater View Price On Thomman

What’s The Difference Between Elektron Digitakt And Digitone?

The main difference between the two is in their methods for sound generation/design. The Digitakt (DT) is an 8-track sampler, whereas the Digitone (DN) is an 8-voice, 4-track FM synthesizer.

Without getting into the nitty-gritty of FM synthesis, the DN is essentially a synthesizer in the truest sense – creating sounds from “scratch” rather than relying on samples like the DT.

This is the first thing to consider when deciding which of the two is right for you.

DigitaktDigitone
8 track sampler8 voice FM synthesizer
8 MIDI tracks4 MIDI tracks
1/4" Stereo input and output1/4" Stereo input and output
64 step sequencer with scaling64 step sequencer with scaling
Monophonic playbackPolyphonic (multitimbral)
FX: Overdrive, Reverb, Delay, CompressorFX: Overdrive, Reverb, Delay, Chorus
USB/MIDI (In, Out/Thru)USB/MIDI (In, Out/Thru)
2 x LFO's2 x LFO's
1x Multimode and 1x base-width filter per track1x Multimode and 1x base-width filter per track
64MB sample memory
1GB +Drive Sound Library (up to 2048 sounds stored)
512 factory presets

Digitone (DN)

Elektron Digitone

Combining deep FM synthesis with a familiar subtractive synthesis signal flow, the Elektron Digitone is an amazingly powerful 8-voice synth.

Why We Love It:
  • Very versatile
  • Eight-voice polyphony
  • Superb built-in effects
View Price On Sweetwater View Price On Thomman

Build Quality (9/10)

Rock-solid metal housing, and the best clicks and clacks in the game. Solid inputs, and non-wobbly encoders to boot.

You’ll be able to carry this one around and gig with it without any worries.

Features (8/10)

Elektron sequencers are legendary for their deep versatility, parameter locks, and playability. Add 4 tracks of a highly usable, yet deep, 4-operator FM synth, and you have an FM synth that is both accessible and inspiring.

Not perfect due to the lack of some features present in other Elektron gear, but perfection by definition is rare.

Value (9/10)

While many are catching up, the stack of features and abilities Elektron injects into their sequencers along with a deep FM synth, and external inputs with built-in effects, would easily jump over the $1000 mark pretty quickly with other gear.

You could easily use the DN alone to write whole songs and performances.

Pros

  • 8 tracks of samples
  • Real time sampling
  • More MIDI tracks
  • Powerful sequencer
  • Rock solid build quality

Cons

  • Monophonic playback
  • No live sampling/playback
  • No arpeggiator
  • No song mode

Digitakt (DT)

Elektron Digitakt DDS-8
$799.00

With a powerful digital sound engine, sampling capabilities, and a performance-friendly sequencer, the Elektron Digitakt excels on its own as well as being a sweet sequencer for your hardware synths. 

Why We Love It:
  • Robust MIDI capability
  • Great-sounding built-in effects
  • 8 stereo audio tracks
View Price On Guitar Center View Price On Sweetwater

Build Quality (9/10)

The same as the Digitone for the same reasons.

Features (7/10)

Many people tout the Digitakt as the most fun and versatile of the two. With 8 tracks of samples and 8 tracks of MIDI, it’s no wonder. Having no arpeggiator hurts this one a bit in my book though.

Value (9/10)

For under $1000 this could easily be the brains of your DAW-less setup.

Pros

  • 8 voice FM synthesis
  • Multitimbral polyphony
  • Arpeggiator
  • Extra chorus effect
  • Powerful sequencer
  • Rock solid build quality

Cons

  • Shared voice structure
  • Less MIDI tracks
  • Only 4 audio tracks
  • No song mode

Workflow and Overall Character

Digitone

Inspiration

If you find that you enjoy the digital synthesis sonic realm, but don’t want to dive deeply into FM synthesis, the DN is a wonderful choice.

Plus, if you want to shape sounds from scratch, this is the one to get.

You can take a simple carrier wave with four operators and turn it into lush pads, stinging stabs/leads, booming bass, harsh noise, or any drum/synth sound you can think of.

The folks at Elektron have carefully designed the choice of operators and ratios to help you get going quickly, as FM can notoriously go into wild (and sometimes very dull) places if you’re not careful.

Great Sound Palette

While some say digital synths can sound harsh, the addition of a filter and built-in FX with the Digitone can help you dial in sounds that fool all but the snobbiest of analog purists.

Polyphony

Much like analog synthesis, it’s really about shaping the synth to do whatever you want. The DN has 8 voices that can create really lush chords and arrangements no analog mono will ever pull out.

While 8 voices may sound a bit limited to some, the DN offers multiple voice configurations per track (multitimbrality), and sound locking which allows you to put any sound you want on any trigger in any track.

This opens up a world of possibilities in an otherwise seemingly limited format. Add in 2 LFOs per track/sound and you’re in synth heaven.

(What makes LFOs so good for synthesis? Read more in What Are LFOs And How Do They Work? (w/ Illustrations & Audio Demos))

MIDI

There are 4 MIDI tracks to control external gear with, as well as 2 input jacks with their own FX section to make jamming a breeze.

The DN offers a sleek, easy-to-use solution for your FM synthesis itch that can be the brains of a DAW-less setup as well

Digitakt

Smooth Straightforward Sampling

The DT is a sampling beast. Despite the lack of a proper “synth” engine, you can really get a lot out of this little black box.

As a sampler, you can feed the DT any sound under the sun up to 1 GB. Whether it be samples from analog synths, FM synths, real instruments, vocal takes, field recordings, or any audio you can get a hold of.

From here you can mangle, slice, loop, and arrange them to your heart’s content utilizing the FX, filters, and 2 LFOs.

In this way, you can take the sonic territory to many different places with complex and organic sounds.

Versatility

The “takt” in the name roughly translates to “rate” as in speed or velocity, suggesting the Digitakt is good for drum samples.

Don’t let the drum labels underneath the trig buttons fool you, though. You have 8 sample tracks that can also be sound locked to really open up the DT’s capabilities much like the DN.

This way a kick track can fill the duties of other tracks (snare, hats) to free them up for other sounds. Using single cycle waveforms, you can approximate a subtractive synth engine as well.

(You’ll find plenty of single cycle waveforms from analog synths in our ultimate wavetable bundle!)

There are also two input jacks to sample directly into the DT, making it easy to grab sounds and get on with creating. This also does well to connect with other gear (*cough* DN).

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MIDI

On the MIDI side, the DT doubles the DN’s tracks. That’s 8 other instruments you can potentially control with this one unit.

Again, it can easily be the brains of your DAW-less setup. If making beats and songs with samples sounds like the route for you, the DT is a very strong choice in the sea of samplers on the market.

Workflow Drawbacks

This list isn’t going to be long, but it’s worth it to note that many of these features are present in other products from Elektron.

While having them would be very nice indeed, I understand them not wanting too much overlap from a business standpoint.

Digitone

No Song Mode

Not a killer for me, but some would like to not worry about song changes to leave themselves free to do all the fun knob-twiddling we love so much.

8 Voice Limitation

I know this was in the pros mentioned above, but there’s nuance here. It would be easy at a glance to think 8 voices is enough for 4 tracks, but the truth is these are shared voice lanes.

So if you have a single synth sound that happens to use 4 voices to make a chord, you only have 4 voices to work with at that given step with the rest of the 3 tracks.

With proper voice configuration (DN provides many options) you’ll be fine, but 8 voices per track would be much more comfortable.

Lack of MIDI Arpeggiator

It’s on the synth part of the box, why not the MIDI?

Digitakt

No Polyphony

Each track trig can only trigger one sound at a time. So if you’re thinking of playing chords, unless you have other MIDI gear to help, it’s not going to be done in the DT in any standard way.

No Song Mode

Again, not a killer for me, but for some it is.

No Live Sampling or Looping

It is a sampler, but if you want live sampling and looping you will have to look to the almighty Octatrack (another Elektron product).

No Time Stretch

This is something I love playing with on samplers. So, again, quite the omission.

No Arpeggiator, At All

Not a deal-breaker because it’s technically a drum machine, but ouch.

Which One Is Right For You?

While many of Elektron’s flagship offerings like the infamous Octatrack, and the highly touted Analog series are powerful beasts in their own right, many may find them just out of reach price-wise.

The Digi series (DigitaktDigitone) are priced right in between entry-level gear ranging from $100-500, and more advanced flagship type instruments starting at $1000+.

It’s hard to pass up either, with all the features and potential to be a brain in your setup.

So which one is right for you? It depends on what you want from your equipment: synthesis or sampling.

They sort of cross over in certain ways with workarounds, but ultimately this is what draws the line. That and the overall sound palette. Some people don’t like digital synthesis, some people don’t work well with samples.

Alternatively, you can do like many have and get a Digitone and a Digitakt for the best of both worlds, and a very capable two-piece DAW-less setup.

Either way, as an avid Elektron user, I can assure you that you’ll be happy with your purchase. Even if it doesn’t work out, Elektron gear holds its value pretty well on the second-hand market.

Both bits of gear are well-built, have extensive capabilities, and sound amazing. The rest is up to you!