Elektron Digitone Designed To Make FM Synthesis User-Friendly

At the 2018 NAMM Show, Elektron today introduced the Digitone, a polyphonic digital synthesizer that features what they call ‘a powerful yet user-friendly take on FM synthesis’.

The Digitone combines a modernized FM implementation with a classic subtractive synthesis signal flow, making it ideal, according to the company, for creating ‘highly unique tones and timbres’.

The Elektron Digitone sequencer offers four tracks for the internal sounds and four dedicated MIDI tracks for controlling external gear. You can use the sequencer to quickly add chords or create melodies adhering to a specific scale, Add probability settings to individual notes and create tracks with different lengths.

“Digitone is the sound explorer’s choice,” says Jonas Hillman, CEO of Elektron. “This synthesizer will take you to places you didn’t think existed.”

Scheduled for release later this year, Overbridge for Digitone brings new-school FM synthesis to DAW environments. Overbridge greatly enhances the Digitone workflow, allowing you to edit Digitone parameters directly from your computer screen and record all internal tracks individually.

Digitone Specifications:

  • Synth voice
    • 8 voice polyphony (multitimbral)
    • Multiple FM algorithms
    • 1 × multimode filter per voice
    • 1 × base-width filter per voice
    • 1 × overdrive per voice
    • 2 × assignable LFO per voice
  • Sequencer
    • 4 synth tracks
    • 4 MIDI tracks
    • 1 arpeggiator per track
    • Polyphonic sequencing
    • Individual track lengths
    • Parameter locks
    • Micro timing
    • Trig conditions
    • Sound per step change
    • Send & master effects
    • Panoramic Chorus send effect
    • Saturator Delay send effect
    • Supervoid Reverb send effect
    • Overdrive master effect
  • Hardware
    • 128 × 64 pixel OLED screen
    • 2 × 1/4” impedance balanced audio out jacks
    • 2 × 1/4” audio in jacks
    • 1 × 1/4” stereo headphone jack
    • 48 kHz, 24-bit D/A and A/D converters
    • Hi-Speed USB 2.0 port
    • MIDI In/Out/Thru with DIN Sync out
  • Physical specification
    • Sturdy steel casing
    • Dimensions: W 215 × D 176 × H 63 mm (8.5” × 6.9” × 2.5”) (including knobs and feet)
    • Weight: approximately 1.49 kg (3.3 lbs)
    • 100 × 100 mm VESA mounting holes. Use M4 screws with a max length of 7 mm.
  • Miscellaneous
    • Overbridge enabled
    • 3 year Elektron warranty
    • Included in the box
    • Power Supply PSU-3b
    • Elektron USB cable

Audio Demos:

Pricing and Availability

Digitone is available now for $759 USD/779 EUR/£699 GBP.

32 thoughts on “Elektron Digitone Designed To Make FM Synthesis User-Friendly

  1. Fish Modulation Synthesis is sometimes Brassy and Metallic but these demo’s seam to not be so much harsh sounds maybe due to the filters included within the Digitone. Sure sounds good from what iv’e seen. Vanta Black sounds sweet i think they are onto another winner here the digitakt is great bugs aside which i’m confident will get ironed out.

    With the send effects im sure you can get this device sounding quite sweet and lush i’m not so worried it’s not “Analogue” contrast is a good thing. The fact you can Parameter lock different sounds per track makes this potential for this quite large. 4 tracks is a limitation and im not sure why they added 4 midi since the digitak has 8 but none the less limitations make for more creative thinking. If you already have the digitakt you can sample baselines etc – ( hint to elektron give the digitakt some Synth Drum engines and maybe a base synth engine) pair that with the Digitone and you have a great setup.

    I’m glad they didn’t just make a mini Monomachine although id love to see a monomachine / Machinedrum hybrid in this form factor. The FM operators remind me of the Operator synth in Ableton live and that wasnt too hard to use and the screen makes it easier than the volca to get your head around.

    Looking forward to listening to a great demo from a user to blow my socks off im sure a lot of videos will come out soon for this it’s an interesting box and looks like a lot of fun if your’e willing to put a bit of extra time into it.

  2. If you want user friendly FM, try the Casio CZ-1. Check out the page on it on Vintage Synth Explorer…..yes yes I know technically its PD synthesis but that was just so they did not get sued for copying Yamaha.

  3. A snarky take: 8 voice polyphony with 4-operator FM synthesis is kind of lame. OK, it’s “easy” and has filters, but the 4-op, 8-voice TX81Z was already possible in 1987.

  4. Weren’t there like 6 or 7 different synthesis methods in the (now discontinued) Monomachine, FM being just one of them? Seems like Elektron are trying to repackage old techniques into flashy looking hardware and pull one over on the unsuspecting consumer. ~$800 for 8 FM algos? FM8 would be a much better deal and a ton more flexible at only $159.

    1. There’s definitely some repackaging going on here, but the monomachine retailed around $1500 and didn’t have trig conditions or overbridge. The effects in the new boxes are probably much higher quality, at least judging by comparisons to the octatrack effects. There were 6 voices, 5 synthesis methods in the monomachine — each with their own limitations, like only 2 or 3 operators and 3 algorithms for the FM machine from what I can gather. Versatility vs. flexibility.

      “Easy” FM isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s something you couldn’t get in an Elektron box until now.

    2. FM8 would be a much better deal if you aren’t embarrassed to perform with a laptop in the year 2018… as most people should be. No point in comparing hardware to software.

  5. funny enough but the tone of the video is like an advert to someone trying to quit smoking.

    “Buy this thing and I guarantee that you will quit smoking in 2weeks. Fear not, we have the solution for all your problems… erectile disfunction… no problem, back pain…no problem, late for the bus…. no problem.

    With Digitone in your life you will smile again”

    Very very lame

  6. Effing great. Does seem a little odd to not make it 8 synth X 8 MIDI tracks. Even if it were to remain only 4 part multi-timbral, having a secondary track for each synth part for differing length parameter lock tracks would be dreamy. And yeah, 8 MIDI… why not?

    A Digitone, a Digitakt, an iPad, a keystep (or analog synth with MIDI out as a controller) and dayyyyyum. Fit it all on an ironing board ffs!

    In this scenario, iPad = additional sound source + ‘song mode’ sequencer which the new Digi*’s are still lacking, best I can tell. If no screen and all jamming is your thing, a Blofeld would fit the bill (and the ironing board) nicely.

  7. Put FM8 in a hardware box and it would be a little more than 159 bucks. Which is probably why it’s a soft synth.

  8. This is a no brainer over the volca fm and reface dx if it’s in your budget. I’ll probably get one if the demos and reviews look good. Need to see what’s behind those menus first.

  9. It’s the user interface which makes all the difference. Try using FM8 or TX81Z as an engaging performance instrument. The same with Digitakt, specs do not tell anything about the huge potential the small box compasses.

  10. Is it really supposed to be pronounced “diggitone” and not “dijitone”?? The fellow is clearly not a native English speaker, but he can pronounce the “j” sound in “nudge” and “overbridge” so I wonder if the “dig” pronunciation is deliberate.

        1. I speak German, yet I don’t say Neu York 😉 The name is Swedish, so why shouldn’t he pronounce it properly? Not everything needs to have an English name.

  11. So, it seems that the biggest product launch of this year’s NAMM will be the groovebox version of the 8-voice / 4-OP FM synth, TX81Z? Now that’s progress!

  12. I think it’s about time for a modern, performance oriented take on FM synthesis and this box might just have what it takes. I owned both TX81z and Volca FM and still have FM8, DX7V and Dexed. While I love their sound, they end up collecting dust because they’re just not fun to use and editing is a drag. I don’t think Elektron tries to reinvent FM here, but rather make it more accessible and enjoyable for performing electronic musicians. In my eyes that’s a good thing.

    1. Owned a PreenFM2 years ago, not even a close comparison, Elektron wins this battle easily. PreenFM2 is like a single voice of the Digitone with no Elektron sequencer, no MIDI out, no audio input, and a fraction of the interface/control.

      1. Single voice ?
        The preenfm2 can play 4 timbres at the same time, with 12 voices of polyphony (if you use 4 operators alog, 8 voices with 6 operators). It has a 12 rows modulation matrix that can target anywhere inside the FM algo. FM algos have up to 6 operators. 8 voices of polyphony to share by the 4 timbres, each voice has 3 Lfos, 2 envs, and 2 step sequencers. And it costs quarter of the price if you build it yourself. But right it doesn’t have any sequencer.

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