MI: A Love Letter, TL;DR

So, of course, after making a massive dent in my investment portfolio this year on a move cross country and the usual things that go along with that, I thought it would also be a great idea to get into the wonderful world of hardware synths…3 Elektron boxes later……(don’t worry, 2 were used).

Well, a week with my Anushri and i’m totally in love with Mutable Instruments. Curse you, Olivier! I need money to LIVE. But I don’t eat much when i’m tweaking oscillators, filters and envelopes (unless my girlfriend reminds me that human beings need to eat). So that saves money! I’m just MAD for running my Machinedrum into the input on the Anushri, or CV sequencing it with the Analog 4. But, why did I have to fall in love with two synth companies in the same year! WHY![](? And why do they love EACHOTHER so much? It just isn’t fair) There’s only so much me to go around!

So, of course, I have been obsessively researching modular racks for the past 6 months or so, and I figured the Anushri would satiate the lust, because….knobs….and then I make the mistake of looking at the MI Braids and my heart broke a little. You know, the way that your heart breaks when you meet a beautiful woman and you know your life has just changed forever. So, thanks for making the format decision for me, guys. It was occupying too much space in my head.

Now, the idea that I could CV sequence Braids (or other stuff running through her) with the A4 brings me to the verge of tears. “You’re all dirt and grime,” I always say to myself. “You live in the lower octaves, and if your FM is turned down, it’s by accident- you speak to the fuzz filter on the Anushri like it can talk back (well, it kinda can- right folks??). You’re no good for NOBODY!” And then, Braids came along and offered me a way out- a way into the light and out of all this analog grime I’ve been wallowing around in. Oh, sure, she can get dirty when the time is right, but she picks her spots very well- like when she breaks out her Waldorfian wavetables (MEEEOW!).


All you wonderful MI community members and engineer have so graciously welcomed me in here, and honestly, I hope this company can maintain this level of customer service and this high a caliber of customers when it becomes a (NERD) household name by the end of the year. Which, if we’re all being honest here: MI + higher levels of prefab production= success. It’s very simple math. Metasonix, Doepfer (two companies I’d heard of before the hardware lust got out of control, just from being a big music fan), and now, Mutable Instruments. Mark it down, it’s happening.

So, I will ask again (and, my god, I didn’t mean to write this much!) for help from the ever-wise MI Community: what would be the best way to start in on this new money pit I’ve set my heart on? I’m assuming I shouldn’t fight it and just get Braids and Ripples (she wouldn’t be happy alone). Both, to me, seem like a lot of kit for the money. The things that have kept me away from pulling the trigger on a modular setup are, (a) modules that serve many purposes well are obscenely expensive; (b) the volume of modules is overwhelming and the differences in quality seem to be a matter of taste (not always money); © I don’t have any firsthand experience with the companies; (d) when you have too many modules doing too many different things, it just looks like a giant tangle of wires that’s a massive eyesore. Most modules don’t feel…meticulous…in the way MI’s synths do. I don’t want pure utility out of my “toys” (“So this is a BPF with 2 knobs and a switch- yay?”). I want something unique and expressive. If it is possible to make something expressive, I trust MI to do it better than I’m capable of imagining on my own.

After that, I’m assuming I’ll need a lowpass or two. And probably a mixer/audio processor (I love running other sources into synths and just watching the fireworks- or just micing up the compressor on my fridge and running that in…). A digital OSC is just what the doctor ordered for those activities! What would be good options for these?

What kit/enclosure is the best value for the money that will house everything I need? Also, if we’re being honest here, I’m not the type of person who could just throw together a little Eurorack and be satisfied (but who is? Wouldn’t care to meet that person). So room for growth is a consideration. If you’re kind, you won’t leave me with too much empty space in the rack (I’ll lose sleep over it).

Thanks again!

I would probably write the same love letter if my english was that good, and get the same gear if my bank account was that full. Enjoy ! :slight_smile:

It is getting less full every month! It’s a sickness!

Hah - this was a great read! I totally agree with you about the awesomeness that is the MI community. It’s what got me so excited about the Anushri, which I plan on playing when I get home from work today. I built one out of the first production run, but haven’t used it much (I know). I plan on changing that, now that the creative juices are flowing. Anyway, I’m veering off-topic here. I have a question for the original poster - which is your favorite Elektron machine? I’ve been caught by the allure of the Octatrack, but I have heard it’s tedious / a pain to learn. What’s your take?

I’m purposely avoiding Modular for now because I don’t want to get caught on that slippery slope, and frankly, don’t have the space for that. (yet)


Ryan, so glad you are happy with the Anushri! I don’t have one so it’s nice when someone wants me to build one for them and I can play with her for a bit.

So, you want something that had a low pass filter and a digital oscillator? How about my Bluethunder Shruthi/SMR-4 (shameless self promotion :slight_smile:


The Analog 4 is probably the best box they’ve ever made. If you have an Anushri, get an A4. You won’t regret the control you’ll have over the Anurshi’s sequence plus 4 other tracks of AMAZING, distinctive analog sounds. You could sit with the A4 all day and never feel like you’re lost or lack the ability to make a track sound exactly the way you want it to.

The Octatrack is DEEP and great if you have massive sample library and a desire to just smash all your previous work together in a box and see what happens. The OT can bring a lot of your other gear and libraries together and sample in real time from the audio inputs (or guitars/vocals through a DAI), then mangle, splice, stretch, chop them into unrecognizable little snares or synth-y echos.

It really comes down to this: If you want to make your own music from scratch, in the box, get an A4. If you feel weird just mangling samples all day, if that feels like cheating to you, get an A4. If you make your own music with other sources and hate throwing it all together on a computer and don’t mind spending a few weeks pulling your hair out learning, get an OT. If you DJ, get an OT. If you already have an an A4, get an OT next. But i’d learn the basics on the A4 first and just save your work in preparation for the OT (you can find BOTH used pretty easily- in fact, I got my my $1500 Machinedrum SPS UW-II+ for $750!- a lot of people see a youtube vid of these online, want them, buy them, and sell them after they collect dust for a few months). They’re rock-solid in steel cases and it’s a pretty safe buy as a used product.

Adam, I was about to email you about a Shruthi last night, but then I came on here and got totally sidetracked by modules. I know you understand!

With all the Elektron boxes, I am getting the suspicion I’ll be building something I already have contained within the A4 and the MD, basically. So if I just keep buying monosynths, it will end up being cheaper in the long run, RIGHT? Really, a shruthi and a sherman filterbank would probably obviate the need to build a massive rack, considering what I already have.

But…Braids, you know?

Wow, what a great read! I like the occasional wall of text :wink:

There’s so much great modular stuff besides MI gear - anything Harvestman, Intellijel, Malekko, TipTop, 4ms, AS, Maths (if you can get past the nasty panel graphics or change it), DIY stuff (anything behind a Clarke68 panel ought to be good), used PlanB model 15 VCOs, the list goes on and on and on… I’d recommend a trip to a dealer plus reading up lots over at Muff’s. Hmm, been writing about this before here I think :smiley:

My high point came once I sent some ppl down the modular path and got called the bastard hellspawn of Satan. I should print and frame that post, displaying it with pride.

I like the alphabet soup; you can get both PDO and DPO VCO modules. Or any kind of filter or waveshaper under the sun. Or frequency shifters, phasers or well…

@RyanA4 you like your A4 so much you’ve named yourself after it… :wink:
I’m just about to do a gig with Machinedrum II UW, Monomachine (Mk.1) and ‘Yellow Magic’ Shruthi-1. Let’s see how it goes, but it’s sounding good in rehearsals :slight_smile:

I’m half tempted by the Octatrack now, but quite enjoying working round the limitations of the
MD as a sampler. It certainly makes you think about each sound, in a way throwing a load of clips into Live doesn’t.

I must say I’m finding actually trying to impose some structure onto my jams is a bit of a challenge, though. I guess I’m too used to doing intricate arrangements in my DAW, and the Elektron gear doesn’t give the same level of control. I’ve been trying to use Song mode on both the MM and MD, but I’m finding it tough.


RyanA4: Dude, thanks. That was probably the best comparison / opinion on OT vs. A4 that I’ve heard. What you said makes sense, regarding the potential usage. I’m definitely more interested in what kinds of sounds I can create vs. mangling samples. You’re right about YouTube too - all those videos are what got me so interested in the OT. See! Yet another example of the great community here at MI. Now, I just have to get my Anushri 100% working… (Filter section is not quite right)



I sure did! Next step, A4 tattoo! I wish I was joking!

Song mode is one of the horizons I’ve yet to cross with my Elektron rig (along with going deep with scenes on the OT).

How do you like your MnM? I don’t know anyone with one, and I’d like to try it first, but it’s still tempting (of course it is- gotta catch 'em all!).


No problem friend. The OT is like homework. You’ll be watching tutorial vids and reading the manual every time you sit down with it (I still am). With the A4, if you’ve ever used a step sequencer before, you’ll just jump in right away and be making music day 1. Once you figure out your parameter locks, transposition, slides, etc (which will take you about 4 sessions) you’ll be BLOWN AWAY by what you can create on there. Tranposition alone allows you to easily go in and tune your sequences (or part of it) to sound exactly the way you want it. Also, If you’re avoiding modular, the A4 is a great way to do it. It keeps me out of that rabbit hole- it does way more than it’s cost in modular gear can accomplish, plus you can filter audio through the thing and the add FX on the dedicated FX track- INCLUDING REVERSE DELAY NIN MUCH? Not to mention the CV track, which allows you to add in all manner of esoteric stuff and easily sequence it.

I don’t lightly recommend a near $1,200 piece of gear- NO ONE could be disappointed with it. I can understand people getting frustrated with the OT, but the A4 will change your life!


I’m pretty close to biting the bullet and getting an Ambika. You guys see this video? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsrRIxwBt44

The first 2 patches this guy put together are just magical: Bladerunner and Born Slippy (I think Born Slippy might have sold me on it for good @1:30).