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Image credit: Elektron

Elektron turned its Digitone groove box into a proper synth

Turns out, all they had to do was slap a keyboard on it.
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If you're into synths and grooveboxes at all, chances are you're familiar with Elektron's Digitone. It's part of it's mid-range "Digi" line of instruments, and it's loaded with all sorts of gorgeous FM sounds. It's not quite as cold as the classic FM synths of yore like the DX7, but it's still capable complex digital tones, metallic chimes and retro pads. The Digitone Keys is basically the same instrument, but with a keyboard attached.

See, probably the biggest issue with the Digitone was that it begged to be played expressively, in a way that just punching in patterns on its non-pressure sensitive buttons just couldn't achieve. That meant you'd need to hook up a MIDI controller. Not necessarily a huge deal, but sometimes you just want a completely self-contained synth, and the Digitone Keys is that.

Under the hood is the same 8-voice FM synth, with a multi-mode filter, base width filter and overdrive channel for each voice. There's also two assignable LFO per voice. In short, there's tons of ways to sculpt your sound. You also still get Elekton's famed 64-step sequencer with trig conditions and microtimings. Plus you can completely change the sound on a per-step basis. That means, even though there's only four synth tracks in the sequencer (plus four MIDI), you can basically have as many patches as you want on a single pattern... so long as you don't expect them to all play notes simultaneously.

The big news here though, is the addition of a three-octave, 37-key keyboard. Even better those keys aren't just velocity sensitive, but they have aftertouch for an additional layer of expressiveness. There's also a pair of assignable pitch and modulation wheels. And, of course, there's full Overbridge support for integrating the Digitone Keys into your DAW seamlessly.

At $1,299 the Digitone Keys isn't cheap, but it's not insanely overpriced either. We already know it's capable of making some really incredible music. It's just a question of whether that keyboard feels as good in person as it sounds on paper. If so, the premium over the desktop Digitone ($789) doesn't seem that absurd.

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