by Marcus Schmahl | 3,3 / 5,0 | Approximate reading time: 7 Minutes
Elektron Digitakt II Review: Drum Machine and Stereo Sampler

Elektron Digitakt II Review: Drum Machine and Stereo Sampler  ·  Source: Elektron

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Digitakt II from Elektron is an updated version of Sweden’s well-known and popular hardware sampler. Completely reworked internally, this drum machine allows you to do far more. Everything is now stereo; you get more steps per pattern, and an Euclidean sequencer ensures more creativity. In addition, new effects bring a breath of fresh air to your sound and song. And that’s precisely what I was allowed to check out in my studio in this Elektron Digitakt II review!

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Elektron Digitakt II Review – The Highlights

  • Stereo sampling
  • 400 MB sample memory, 20 GB internal memory
  • 16 stereo and mono tracks (or MIDI (including 4x polyphony))
  • Improved stretch algorithms/warping
  • Comb filter effect for crazy sound design
  • 128 steps per pattern and track
  • Song mode
  • Euclidean sequencer
  • solid built (like all Elektron devices)

Elektron Digitakt II Review: what’s new?

In April 2024, Elektron surprised us with the Digitakt II, a new version of the drum machine and sampler. Now, it plays samples in stereo, there is much more memory, new functions, more creative freedom by doubling the steps, new effects, and more. However, the hardware concept has not fundamentally changed. And that’s a good thing. This means that even old projects can be imported.

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Unboxing Elektron Digitakt II

Anyone who has ever unboxed an Elektron hardware unit from its elegant cardboard box knows what to expect. Digitakt II is carved from the same wood (more like steel). It has a super solid construction, tight-fitting encoders, and tactile buttons. What more could you want? Everything is located where you would expect it to be on an Elektron device, so experienced users can get started right away. A poster, a USB cable, and an external power supply are also included in the package. Let’s move on with our Elektron Digitakt II review!

Elektron Digitakt II - The I/O
Elektron Digitakt II – The I/O · Source: Elektron

However, beginners and Elektron newcomers should be aware that Elektron’s instruments all come with quite the learning curve. This is because the Swedish boxes are loaded with functions. After switching the Digitakt II on for the first time, you might find it challenging to start a new song. The included presets and demo songs are excellent and reflect the Digitakt II’s capabilities rather well. You can learn a lot if you study these presets. Furthermore, you can also find excellent tutorials on YouTube. What’s next in our Elektron Digitakt II review?

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Sound design and the first music project

To start with, my new Digitakt II needs to be loaded with sounds and samples. This happens through the free Elektron Transfer app and a USB connection to the computer (Mac Studio, in my case). You have to download the current (beta) version from the Digitakt website (firmware updates as well!). The “official” version does not work with the hardware (yet). The app is rather basic, but individual sounds, loops, and even entire folders can be transferred to the +Drive using drag-and-drop – the Elektron Digitakt II continues!

Digitakt II's Workflow
Digitakt II’s Workflow · Source: Elektron

Unfortunately, this transfer takes quite a long time. So first, get a coffee. I’m still wondering, why, though? Nowadays, we are used to higher storage speeds from contemporary devices. A tip to keep things tidy before you start: Create a folder structure from the start on your computer. That way, you can find your sounds and samples easily—20 GB of one-shots and samples are a lot of sounds!

Let’s make a beat on Digitakt II

To begin with, I select the first empty pattern and start selecting sounds. Fortunately, all samples are automatically previewed when you select them (just activate the preview function). Once you’re in the Elektron flow, getting through all the menus is pretty straightforward. The step sequencer with all the Elektron gimmicks (parameter locks, etc.) is also unique and fantastic. Everything is possible.

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My drum samples are now loaded onto the box. Next, I would like to add a melody track with a sound consisting a synth note in loop mode. Playing this sound with the new Euclidean sequencer—boom! It’s so much fun! Each step generated by this sequencer can be edited. I can also determine the loop length per track and create very cool polyrhythms that way. Next, we check out the sound quality in our Elektron Digitakt II review.

Elektron Digitakt II revies: It’s got that sound

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Finally, you can post-process your sounds with the internal effects (especially the very good-sounding saturator) and send the sum through the compressor. Of course, this is just a small glimpse into the world of Digitakt II, which only scratches the surface of its features. If you’re interested in the hardware, check out some of the countless YouTube videos.

Also, be aware that this (or any) sampler can only sound as good as the source material you use/import. That means your samples, sounds, loops, etc., should sound reasonably good to begin with. Ultimately, Digitakt II is “only” a sample player with various sampling and sequencing functions. But it is incredibly versatile and has been such a boost to my creativity from the start.

The effects' settings page
The effects’ settings page · Source: Elektron

Conclusion for our Elektron Digitakt II review

Elektron Digitakt II is another success from the Swedish hardware manufacturer. Fans and users criticized some points of the first iteration, such as the lack of memory, the fact that there were only mono samples, or the fact that there were too few tracks. Many also suggested more sequencer steps. Elektorn responded to almost all suggestions, sometimes even surpassing them.

Digitakt II sounds excellent: from brute to powerful to soft, to atmospherically beautiful. The hardware can even be used as a (rather limited) synthesizer. Then there’s the new Euclidean sequencer … It’s so much fun!

Elektron Digitak II's euclidean sequencer
Elektron Digitak II’s euclidean sequencer · Source: Elektron

As with the Swedes’ other recent products, Digitakt II, unfortunately, also came with rather “unfinished” firmware. I had to update it as soon as I unpacked it to avoid dealing with bugs immediately. But even this update still doesn’t contain all the features, you’ve come to know and love from other Elektron boxes. Overbridge does not (yet) work, some menus have not yet been finalized, you can sample mono sources only in mono. There are also a couple of issues that have not been ironed out yet (e.g., USB and MIDI cables must not be plugged in at the same time. Otherwise, the tempo will go completely crazy during sync)!

But the good thing is that the Digitakt II will certainly receive firmware updates soon, which will hopefully also respond to new user requests, fix bugs, and add missing functions. Apart from that, this drum machine and stereo sampler is already a lot of fun!

Prices and specifications of the Elektron Digitakt II

You can buy the Elektron Digitakt II here at Thomann*. In addition, a suitable stand for tilting the device on your table is available at Thomann* from Coverup, which can be attached to four VESA mounting holes on the bottom of the device.

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The package includes the Digitakt II hardware in a steel case measuring 215 x 176 x 63 mm (W x D x H) and weighing 1.48 kg. In terms of I/O, you get two 6.3 mm jack inputs and two 6.3 mm jack outputs (each balanced), a 6.3 mm headphone output on the back, a MIDI I/O trio (In/Out/Thru), and a power connection for the supplied external power supply. According to a forum post, you can also power it with the USB Ripcord from myVolts* and a suitable power bank, even on the go.

More on the Digitakt II

Pros and cons of Elektron Digitakt II

Pros

  • Stereo sampling
  • 400 MB sample memory, 20 GB +drive internal storage
  • 16 stereo and mono tracks (or MIDI (including 4x polyphony))
  • Improved stretch algorithms/warping
  • Comb filter effect
  • 128 steps per pattern and track
  • Song mode
  • Euclidean sequencer
  • Solid built
  • Announced updates with new features

Cons

  • No individual outputs (“only” one stereo input)
  • Initial Firmware is still buggy in some places, and functions are missing (e.g. overbridge)
  • No mono sampling
  • Slow sample transfer speed from computer to Digitakt II

Originally published on Gearnews.de by Marcus Schmahl. Translation by Julian Schmauch.

* This post contains affiliate links and/or widgets. When you buy a product via our affiliate partner, we receive a small commission that helps support what we do. Don’t worry, you pay the same price. Thanks for your support!

Elektron Digitakt II Review: Drum Machine and Stereo Sampler

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