Elektron Analog Keys In-Depth Review

This video, via sonicstate, is an in-depth review of the new Elektron Analog Keys.

The Elektron Analog Keys is a four voice analog poly (four voices) with digital control and the famed Elektron sequencer.

Elektron calls it a ‘flagship synth’, with features like:

  • 100% analog signal path
    Two analog oscillators, two sub oscillators, dual analog filters and an analog overdrive circuit per voice provide that inimitable and organic sound.
  • Seamless integration with MIDI controller functionality, CV/Gate connectivity, assignable joystick and more
  • Fully customizable voice allocation lets you use it as a four voice synth, four independent synth, as a massive unison monosynth and anything in between
  • Dual filter action with 4-pole lowpass and 2-pole multi-mode filters
  • Effects including Wideshift Chorus, Saturator Delay and Supervoid Reverb
  • Built-in step sequencer
  • Flexible modulation architecture
  • Massive storage space lets you store over 4,000 sounds
  • Connections include individual stereo outs per voice, two audio inputs, two dual cv/gate outputs, USB & MIDI & DIN sync

The Elektron Analog Keys is priced at US $1,849/1749 Euro. See the Elektron site for details.

21 thoughts on “Elektron Analog Keys In-Depth Review

  1. I really want to like Elektron and honestly they make terrific sounding machines and almost perfect live setups, but this is just too menu-driven to fully enjoy one of the best things about analog: the experience of direct sound manipulation. Constantly having to pause and gaze at the screen just kills the flow. Let’s face it, if you are going to be constrained by menus you might as well go for a good virtual analog, which definitely have enough punch these days and offer far more voices, effects and parts.

    1. Have to disagree with this statement I’m sorry. These comments almost always come from those who haven’t actually owned any elektron boxes. Now, I can’t comment on the A4/AK but I have an Octatrack and yes in the beginning it took some learning but as you build muscle memory you are able to really get around the thing quickly. Just take a look at any Dataline video to see how quick you can get when you really know your way around.

      With that in mind though there is a tonne of under utilised space on the AK (a la the 61 key Virus) which could have been put to better use….

      1. The screen of the Octatrack is nearly three times the size of the screen of the A4 and AK. The size of the screen is a major issue and one that should have been better thought out. I have posted my comments on the issue on Sonicstate as I have intimate knowledge on their decision and thinking on this issue.

        1. Yes well if cost was the major decision to downsize the screen from that on the Octatrack then maybe that’s not the best move. I was referring mostly to the generic comments about all elektron boxes being hampered by menu diving, that just simply isn’t the case. FWIW I would have loved to have seen an OLED screen like on the op-1 on the A4/AK/AR, or even a 1 colour OLED like on the tempest.

        2. I have both, and the smaller screen really isn’t an issue at all (tbh this surprised even me, as I thought it really would be)

    2. I have several Elektron machines, and it’s pretty easy to memorise what each knob/button does. A couple days and you wont even be thinking about it

  2. Agreed, these menus are ultimately the downfall for me. Friends have told me you have to dive really deep into Elektron products to really use them proper. No immediacy here, do your homework on these and frankly there are better options for me. Sounds amazing and love their setups…Not for me.

  3. I’m not generally a fan of menu diving… but Elektron makes it bearable for me.

    There aren’t as many menus as the review makes it look. Seeing as there are 4 synths, ALL with 2 oscs, 2 subs, 2 enveleopes, and 2 lfos, and effects….. plus insane sequencing possibilities, plus different modes for mono and poly operation… and more on top of that… the menu diving is actually pretty minimal.

    I agree that Elektron has quirky ways of doing things… for example, remembering to save patches frequently to avoid losing stuff (it happens all the time because of the way elektron’s stuff works), and copy/paste patterns and then deleting them constantly to create variations for a song… but overall, I find the analog four to be very quick to work with and easy to get interesting sequences out of.

    I have already pre-ordered my Analog keys (Along with a MOOG Sub37) from sweetwater. Should be shipped to me by the end of the month. I’m very excited to make music with this, alongside my machinedrum and monomachine!

    1. I have to disagree with calling the menu diving minimal I’ve got an Analog Four and the number of menus and parameters per voice is kind of daunting, particularly when considering it’s an a single mono sound I’m working on. I can’t help but feel it should be more immediate and natural. It also forces you into working a certain way where as say on your Sub37 you can grab any 2 knob at once and get to tweaking. You’re not going to be tweaking filter res and lfo speed at the same time on the A4 unless you’re setting up performance mode. I guess that’s not really their philosophy and plocks are where you should look to for that sort of thing but I can’t hep but think the Keys was a missed opportunity for more immediacy. There’s a lot of real estate left on that Analog Keys and I think more dedicated knobs would have made it much more appealing. I have an Octatrack as well and I find it’s menus a bit frustrating sometimes but consider them to be much more acceptable because it’s sampler/sequencer, and a damn powerful one, so I kind of expect to deal with that.

  4. My first dive into the synth world was the a4 after using software for ages, I find the logic behind it somewhat like live, ive had the synth for over a year and have no trouble with the menus, it’s not that difficult and is very intuitive, obviously not a instantly gratifying as say my microbrute with everything laid out in front of you, in the long run the a4 wins out with depth and 3dimensionality of sound, I’m getting in and around the machine very quickly now, even when drunk as last night I had a very satisfying jam no problems.

  5. Same price as an 8 voice 1 knob per function Prophet 8 – I think you would have to really want that sequencer to go for this over a Dave Smith, but if looks like fun if you have the time to learn it- if you are pluging in to a DAW anyway, I can’t really see the need, if you want to use the sequencer live, then there isn’t too much like this with a keyboard (but I’m sticking with my OP1 as it’s battery powered and portable 😉

    1. The sequencer really is that great. Seriously, you can’t understand until you’ve learned how to use the Elektron sequencer.

      You are right, you could just record into a DAW, but a large portion of users end up buying these desktop synths just so they can get away from the computer! Elektron does a great job at breaking those chains to a keyboard, mouse, and monitor.

  6. Not 100% Analog, because is a DCO, Arturia Mini and microBrute are 100% analogs, but I wish to have this one too. 🙂

    1. For the millionth time:

      DCO is an analog oscillator, pitch synced to a digital clock division, with a fully analog sound path.
      Arturia Brute series have digital LFOs and other digital sections.
      Only DSP can be called pure digital.

      The big issue about the Elektron is the interface, which is dominated by administrative buttons and by a screen menu. If that’s what you like, then its for you. If you like 1:1 control with no multifunction, then its not. But it’s analog either way,

    2. Applying this logic, I guess a Juno 6 isn’t really an analog synth now, too, since it has DCOs.

      Analog is not a religion.

    1. It’s easy to use and super fast for getting ideas down. My advice is to try one. It’s only complicated for the first couple of days. Then, it’s like second nature. I think many of the complaints about the a4 come from people who haven’t tried one or haven’t had a day or two to figure it out. Truly is a great machine

  7. I own two Elektron boxes, and have used hardware and software for years. The learning curve for Elektron products is known to be very steep, but once you get used to it, you barely need to use the screen. Think about your first experiences with any software and how daunting that felt for the first few times you used it. Well, you figured it out, and now you probably can’t imagine anything being easier to use!

    And yes, the sequencer on the Analog Keys is a huge advantage. There is so much more to it than meets the eye.

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