Elektron is perhaps one of the most revered creators of music production equipment you’ve never heard of.
But you’ve definitely heard tracks produced and played on their gear, and more often than not, that will be either a Digitakt or an Octatrack.
They offer a few overlapping features in that they are both samplers, which begs the question: which one should you get?
Are these two entirely different beasts, or is the Digitakt just a simplified Octatrack? That’s what we’re going to investigate.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this Digitakt vs Octatrack comparison:
- Functionality and Design
- Learning Curve
- Price & Value For Money
- Pros & Cons
Ready? Let’s get started…
30-Second Summary: Digitakt vs Octatrack
So when it comes down to Digitakt vs Octatrack, which one should you choose? Here’s a quick overview:
- Go for Digitakt if this is your first sampler or sequencer, and you need something that will get you off the ground quickly. Choose it over other options for its enhanced audio editing features.
- Go for Octatrack if you need expandable storage, beat slice mode, and the ability to use the Octatrack as a mixer. It’s a complex beast, so it’s best for those who are reasonably familiar with electronic music production equipment.
1. Functionality and Design: Digitakt vs Octatrack
Functionality and Design: Digitakt
The Digitakt is a straight up and down drum machine and sampler.
It offers eight voices, sequencing capabilities, and the ability to integrate with other gear via MIDI protocol.
Of course, you can sample anything you like, not just drum sounds, though that’s where the Digitakt really excels.
The bottom row of the Digitakt is occupied by a 16-step sequencer, which allows you to create drum beats or melodic sequences on the fly. This is helpfully backlit, so you have a visual cue on top of the beats you’re creating.
The overall feel of the unit is pretty solid, with dynamic, responsive rotary encoders that take up a variety of functions.
There is no multi-color display on the Digitakt, however, the black/yellow LCD display is easy to see in darkly lit environments, where this sampler is likely to be used most.
Functionality and Design: Octatrack
The Octatrack is a different beast entirely.
It’s still a sampler, sure, but rather than offering your basic sampling and sequencing features, the Octatrack is focused on giving you a depth and breadth of audio editing capabilities.
Here are just a few things that the Octatrack offers:
- 16-step sequencing
- Audio editing functions such as the ability to slice your samples up
- A dedicated crossfader
- Time stretch and pitch shift functions
- Three LFOs for each track
- 5GB of awesome loops and one-shots to get you started
Functionality and Design: Bottom Line
It’s pretty clear that the Octatrack goes deeper in terms of functionality.
However, that doesn’t necessarily make it better. Some producers have found that the Octrack’s incredibly deep skill set actually makes it difficult to get your head around, and many end up just using it as a simple sampler anyway.
The Digitakt, by contrast, is a lot simpler and more straightforward and might play a more defined role in your setup.
This one comes down to a matter of need and individual preference.
Functionality and Design Winner: Tie
2. Sampling: Digitakt vs Octatrack
Given that the Digitakt is promoted as a sampler and sequencer, you’d expect that the sampling functionality is going to be pretty easy to get your head around.
And it is.
Though the Digitakt does have two inputs labeled left and right, it can only sample in mono. That means that if you connect a stereo sound source, it will sum them to deliver a mono sample.
Not brilliant, but okay for most drum sounds, and of course mono synths, and it keeps the storage space nice and free.
The Digitakt allows you to record samples of length up to 33 seconds, which is pretty decent, and you can always cut them down later. We’ll talk more about this soon.
Though the Octatrack goes much deeper than just sampling, it has some pretty impressive sampling functionality.
Unlike the Digitakt, the Octatrack does offer stereo sampling. In fact, it has four inputs, so you can select from two sets of stereo inputs
It also has a much longer sampling time, which is up to between 6-8 minutes, depending on the sampling rate you’ve chosen.
That means you can easily plug a whole song into your Octatrack and then get to editing a bit later.
Sampling: Bottom Line
The Octatrack is definitely the more capable sampler, with four inputs and a huge sampling time. If a depth of features is what you’re after, get the Octatrack.
Sampling Winner: Octatrack
3. Editing: Digitakt vs Octatrack
Given the Digitakt is a sampler and sequencer, it follows that it should have at least some basic audio editing capabilities.
Other than being able to trim audio clips, the Digitakt offers editing functions such as:
- Filter and envelope settings
- Amplitude parameters
- Effects sends
- LFO editing
The Octatrack has all of the same audio editing functions that the Digitakt does, but with much more detail.
One of the biggest benefits the Octatrack offers in the audio editing world is the slice mode, which allows you to slice up a sample based on its transients (which you can edit), and then assigns those slices to different buttons.
Other cool editing functions that the Octatrack boasts include:
- Ping pong – plays the sample forward then in reverse directly afterward
- Quantized trig – quantizes manual performance data so that if you play a note slightly early the Octatrack pulls it back to the beat
- Timestretch algorithm for changing the tempo of your sample
Editing: Bottom Line
It’s safe to say that the Octatrack offers way more in the way of audio editing functionality, so it wins this round, hands down.
Editing Winner: Octatrack
4. Mixing: Digitakt vs Octatrack
The Digitakt is, as we’ve discussed, a pretty straight up and down sampler and sequencer.
So, it doesn’t really have any mixing functionality.
You can use it for this purpose, by say, plugging the outputs of your synth into the input of the Digitakt and switching on input monitoring.
However, the Digitakt will sum the inputs to mono (so no stereo mixing), and you won’t be able to edit any parameters of the audio on the way through, such as levels or effects sends.
The Octatrack, on the other hand, does work reasonably well as a mixer.
It’s a basic one, at that, and certainly doesn’t offer the same kind of ease of us that say, a DJ mixer would.
The Octatrack has four separate inputs, so you can mix up to four mono inputs at once, and sample and apply effects in real-time.
However, setting up gain staging and other mix details is a little less straightforward than it would be on a dedicated mixer.
Good if you want to keep your setup as compact as possible, however.
Mixing: Bottom Line
Neither of these devices is designed for mixing, per se, but the Octatrack definitely comes out on top for its ability to put a mix together from four mono inputs.
Mixing Winner: Octatrack
5. Learning Curve: Digitakt vs Octatrack
Learning Curve: Digitakt
The Digitakt is a reasonably simple device, giving you all the functionality you need from a sampler and sequencer without the fuss.
As such, the learning curve is pretty easy to overcome. Of course, it will be easier if you have some experience with other music production gear.
Learning Curve: Octatrack
The Octatrack is a bit more of a beast. If you have some experience with other outboard gear, then you’ll be able to pick up the basic functionality pretty quickly.
However, it will take a fair bit longer to get intimately familiar with the entire feature set of the Octatrack, mostly because it’s so comprehensive.
Learning Curve: Bottom Line
The Digitakt is a much simpler device, so it’s unsurprising that the learning curve is a lot more approachable.
It definitely wins this round.
Learning Curve Winner: Digitakt
6. Inputs/Outputs: Digitakt vs Octatrack
On the analog front, the Digitakt has two inputs, two inputs, and a stereo headphone jack, as well as MIDI in, out, and thru.
Other than that, you’ve got your power jack, and a USB port for software updates.
The Octatrack has much the same I/O set, except it doubles up on the analog in and out jacks.
So, you get 4 mono inputs on TS jacks, and two sets of outputs (main and cue), also on TS jacks.
Inputs/Outputs: Bottom Line
The Octatrack easily wins this battle, as it offers all of the same inputs and outputs as the Digitakt, but more!
Inputs/Outputs Winner: Octatrack
7. Storage: Digitakt vs Octatrack
The Digitakt is fairly limited on the storage front.
It has a 1GB internal drive, which is not expandable. This is part of what limits Digitakt’s max sample length and file size.
The Octatrack opts for an expandable flash storage slot. It comes with a 32 GB high-speed CompactFlash card, so it’s already got 32X what the Digitakt offers, but of course, you can throw in something bigger if you like.
Storage: Bottom Line
The Octatrack offers better and bigger storage here, and because the flash card is removable, you can even jump into live performances with several cards and swap them in and out as required, DJ-style.
Storage Winner: Octatrack
8. Price & Value For Money: Digitakt vs Octatrack
Price & Value For Money: Digitakt
The Digitakt is about $800, which is pretty pricey compared to it’s competition:
- Arturia DrumBrute comes in at $300
- Korg VolcaBeats is $150
- Korg Electribe is around $500
To be fair, though, the Digitakt is a bit more sophisticated on the sample editing front.
Price & Value For Money: Octatrack
The Octatrack is no cheap unit, costing you about a grand and a half.
However, it packs an insane number of features, so this is entirely justified in the pro audio world.
Price & Value For Money: Bottom Line
Though the Digitakt is a lot cheaper, the Octatrack has a tonne more to offer and represents greater value for money.
Price & Value For Money Winner: Octatrack
9. Pros & Cons: Digitakt vs Octatrack
Digitakt Pros & Cons
- Easy to get your head around
- Decent audio editing features
- Well-built and solid device
- Limited storage
- A bit on the expensive side
Octatrack Pros & Cons
- Expandable storage
- Huge feature set
- Beat slice mode
- A bit on the expensive side
- Can be tough to learn all the ins and outs of the machine
Conclusion & Takeaway
To summarize our findings in this Digitakt vs Octatrack comparison, here are the winners for each category:
- Functionality and Design – Tie
- Sampling – Octatrack
- Editing – Octatrack
- Mixing – Octatrack
- Learning Curve – Digitakt
- Inputs/Outputs – Octatrack
- Storage – Octatrack
- Price & Value For Money – Octatrack
Pound for pound, the Octatrack is the better device.
It offers greater mixing and editing functionality, an intuitive beat slicing mode, and expandable for storage for maximum sample quality.
Of course, it’s not cheap, and for some, the depth of functionality might be a bit intimidating.
If you’re confident with audio gear, grab the Octatrack. If this is your first sample and sequencer, then you might be safer with the Digitakt.
Products Comparison Table:
Spec / Feature
Internal audio tracks
Dedicated MIDI tracks
Multi-mode filter per audio track
Overdrive effect per audio track
Assignable LFO per track
Delay and Reverb send FX?
1 GB +Drive
CompactFlash card storage
¼” balanced main output
Max sampling time
Hi-Speed USB 2.0 port
In/Out/Thru with DIN sync out
W215×D176×H63 mm (8.5×6.9×2.5″) (including knobs and rubber feet)
W 340 × D 184 × H 63 mm (13.3” × 7.2” × 2.5”) (including knobs, jacks, and rubber feet)
1.45 kg (3.2 lbs)
2.3 kg (5 lbs)
Power Supply PSU-3b
Elektron USB cable
Quick Guide manual
32 GB high speed CompactFlash card
Power Supply PSU-3c
Elektron USB cable