I’ve been thinking about getting a Digitakt and wondering how folks use it with VCV.
My main reasons for getting one are that I - like a lot of people - spend my working day on a computer, and the last thing I want to do after work is spend more time on a computer fiddling with Ableton, or even VCV. I want to explore more rhythmic stuff, so a sampling groove box/drum machine seems perfect. I’m imagining my workflow like: make patches in VCV, record short segments in Abelton, load my samples into the Digitakt. Anyone work like this? How do you find the workflow?
For reference, I tend to make ambient patches, mostly with Audible Instruments, in VCV. You can get a sense of my stuff here:
If I use my DT with VCV it’s usually for making drums to go against the melodic stuff I made in VCV. I’ve never really been happy with making drums in VCV, either the sounds aren’t right for what I want or they sound too random or rigid. I just send a clock to the DT and it’s easy and quick to get something half decent.
I haven’t really messed around much with non-drum stuff or loops in the DT but I think what you describe is certainly possible. There are some limitations like samples being mono, no real slicing (you can trigger a step from anywhere in a sample but it’s not chopped/sliced as such), no song mode (although you can sequence patterns from VCV/Ableton), only 8 tracks (9-16 are midi but I’ve never used them). That said, it is a lot of fun and quite powerful.
I own a digitone and it integrates very nicely with VCV, so the digitakt should work as well (from a technical point of view regarding overbridge and clock sync). In terms of sampling i would not choose the digitakt (mono-samples, limited recording-time). It is great for rhythmic stuff, especially regarding the outstanding sequencer, but if you want to use melodic stuff too, I would have a look at all the other options out there. I own an MPC-One, which I love.
I also don’t use VCV for drums. I’m not really, nor have I ever been, a beat-maker. I thought getting a DT would inspire me to make more rhythmic stuff, but maybe I should start out at a lower price point and try something from the Volca line.
I have heard good things about the MPC-One, especially in regards to melodic things. It is a bit more expensive so I might hold off on it for now.
My main need/want right now is to get a little standalone hardware thing (preferably under $800), that I can jam on and explore sounds and get off the computer. This is my first real hardware purchase, so of course I’m obsessing over it! (lol)
A sequencer/sampler is maybe not the right thing for me at this time. I really enjoy the unpredictability and creative explorations that come with patching. I come from a more noise and experimental music background, so I have also been eyeing a 0-Coast or even a Strega.
If you have the money I would say go for the DT rather than Volca stuff, I know they are well liked but I think they would get boring pretty quickly. Plus you could pick up a second hand DT from reverb and sell it again later for around the same amount, all Elektron stuff seems to hold value.
I guess it depends on what you specifically want the DT to do. It is interesting to play with long loops with it and there is quite a lot that you can do which isn’t immediately apparent (for example you can trigger a long sample and for each step have wildly different parameter changes). Probably the biggest selling point is the sequencer so look into that if you haven’t already. There is lot of conditional triggering options so you can have stuff happen according to probability or only if something previously happened for example. It’s very creative and exploratory. And if you buy more hardware later on you can sequence it from the DT with the amazing sequencer. One other thing is that, although it is a sampler primarily, it can do some kind of synthesis (I guess it would count as wavetable?) where you can loop single cycle waveforms and apply envelopes, lfos, effects, filters etc.
The 0-Coast is great. Strega certainly looks intriguing and perhaps more in line with the music you make from what you’ve said.
Amazing advice. Thank you! If I do end up with the DT I would absolutely get it used from Reverb. Good to know it will hold value. Definite plus is that the DT could be the “brains” of any future gear I might get. I’ve seen people do really cool things pairing the DT with the 0-Coast. The problem is that I want all the gear! Now the decision on what to get first. Thanks again.
Haha yeah it’s difficult to restrict yourself! For sure think of the DT as the brains, potentially you could have 8 different midi devices all playing according to probability or whatever else so if your aim is to do more stuff away from the screen then it’s a solid start. After using Rack and modules with probability I find it very difficult to go back to fixed sequences and the DT is brilliant in this area because you can affect the probability of single steps or all sequences at once if you want to.
It might be good to understand the limitations of the DT, I think Ricky Tinez has a video on youtube about his thoughts a year after buying it, and loopop does fairly thorough reviews. But the limitations are not always a bad thing, it can force you into thinking differently and lead to places you wouldn’t have got to otherwise.
Anyway, let us know what you do, I would be interested to hear which direction you take.
After some careful consideration I decided the Digitakt is not for me (for now). I love patching in VCV and exploring weird and beautiful sounds, and while I love the sounds some people make in the DT, it’s not really the music I’ve been making.
I’m taking the plunge into slowly building a hardware Eurorack kit instead. If I’m gonna spend the money, might as well go for what I really want anyway.
Starting a better paying job in a few weeks and buying myself Beads to start (as a treat).
Thanks for all the great DT advice!
Nice, that’s very exciting. Good luck with it!
IF I were to work with the Digitakt combined with VCV, I record stuff from VCV into the Digitakt, where I would then slice and split it up on the 8 channels and create interesting rhythms and textures. The Digitakt is a sampler and an instrument, and should be used as such. Looking at it as a compositional tool or a drum machine will likely lead to either underutilizing it, or ending up spending a lot more effort than needed to reach a result you could get to in half the time with a DAW.