Spectralis vs. A4

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Spectralis vs. A4

Postby breitt » Thu Dec 27, 2012 11:39 am

I understand the physical differences, but in terms of creativity, playability, overall sound--anyone have any thoughts. I am a Speckie owner desperately trying to tell myself that the A4 would not be a necessary complement.
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Re: Spectralis vs. A4

Postby acemonvw » Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:53 am

I don't know a whole lot about the A4, but consider:

Are you looking for an "All in one" unit or a synth?

If so, I would suspect the Spectralis would be better. You have 3 Multisample parts (The Dsynth) plus 4 oscillators that can be activated based on 3 trigger groups. PLUS an entire drum machine within it.

Of course, you know all about the problems associated with the spectralis. These issues (the Arp bug, some sequencerlines don't work, the LP filter doesn't open entirely, more issues I'm sure) can make it difficult to work with, but I still love my spectralis and the sheer amount of modulation that it is capable of.

You cannot use the spectralis's Asynth as a polyphonic synth. It HAS been talked about on the forums, but lets not assume that that will actually happen.

Sound differences? I have no idea. The spectralis is not an analog synth, but the oscillators sound great (as good as analog? I can't make that claim). The filters are analog however.

I wouldn't say that one is going to provide you with more creativity than the other. It all comes down to what you have, what you enjoy doing, if you have the money for the A4 for complementarity, then maybe it's worth it.

I think the A4 would be really awesome. I was looking for a polyphonic analog synth and the A4 came out at that time... I was really considering getting it, but have decided that I have enough stuff for now. My speckie is an all in one unit for me, but I also have Logic+Maschine+Access virus.

Hopefully that helps, even a little.
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Re: Spectralis vs. A4

Postby breitt » Fri Jan 18, 2013 6:23 am

Thank you for your thorough answer/opinion. I'm inclined to agree; as an all-in-one, I doubt that anything would top the Speckie for my ears.
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Re: Spectralis vs. A4

Postby Zamise » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:30 am

I'm a Speckie owner too, would like to try my hands on an A4.

My assumptions are the Spectralis has or can have a broader sound pallet, cause the sound fonts are basically like a sampler so that you can put any sound in it you want if what is already in it don't appeal to you. The A4 looks more immediately gratifying in terms of play-ability and making a sequence and tweaking out sounds. Once over that gratification I don't know if it would hold up tho and that "everything done on it seems to sound the same" thing would start to occur with me. My personal feeling is, it'd be great just not to have to break out the manual and have to re-learn even all the simple stuff like I do every time I boot up the Spectralis. If the A4 is friendly in this way then I think I'd probably get more use out of it and like it a lot more than the Spectralis. Even though the A4 apears to be more limited on the sequencer part wise and the sound editing side, the mini-key arrangement on the A4 is a big a plus. I don't play keys conventionally and even though it don't seem we can play chords on the A4 anyway, having staggered mini-keys like a piano is pretty important to me. I Don't like MPC style pads much either. Anyway, the Spectralis just hasn't got much use with me, but I still do get blown away from it's sound, especially the mono hybrid-VA/analog part, when I do get going on it. Something like the A4 might be more fun and less time consuming getting to know it again every time I want to do something simple that sounds good after being put away for a little while and coming back to it. Well it looks like it would be that way to me, but since I've not had a chance to sit down with one, only seen vids and demos, I can't say for sure. I do think it probably likely couldn't be worse in that department than a Speckie.

I don't like the small amount of filters and effects on either unit, understandable though with the cost of having components analog, but one of the great things on the Spectralis is the multi-multi-band filter/bank. I've used that to pass other synths through and do some bad ass EQing.

You know, analog is overrated anyway, have you thought about obtaining an RS7000 as a companion? I use my RS7000 heaps more than my Spectralis, even bought a second RS and it has taken over the Spectrlais's companionship with my first RS. I've been sort of considering selling the Spectralis lately too, to see if something like an A4, MD, or Tempest would make a better trio so occasionally I can still have some of that over hyped analogy stuff in my tunes.

I say if you've got the funds, go for the A4 and let us know how much more you like it over the Spectralis, or not ;)
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Re: Spectralis vs. A4

Postby zoomtheline » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:39 pm

Zamise wrote:Once over that gratification I don't know if it would hold up tho and that "everything done on it seems to sound the same" thing would start to occur with me.


Only had brief go on the spectralis and it did not grab me. Seemed easy enough to make it sound nice but parameters seemed too far away in logical terms. Sure the A4 is instant gratification, but only if you are used to the Elektron way of doing things. I couldn't disagree more with the above quote. I have had this thing a little while and made so many usable moments very easily. It IS a normal/simple analogue synth under the hood like many vintage synths and you wouldn't get bored of tweaking those would you? This just happens to have an amazing sequencer and stunning effects on top. This can take subtractive analogue synthesis past anything else before by a mile. It has quirks and people are already saying that "why does it not do this like so and so does...etc" but thats not the point. It has it's niche but that niche can cope with any genre of electronic music. The demo's you see online are great, sure, but don't let them steer you into thinking this is good for one or two things.

Sorry for the twatty sales pitch but I have not been excited like this for ages.
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Re: Spectralis vs. A4

Postby Zamise » Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:42 am

It sounds like you are very impressed by it, which is good to hear from someone who's got one. I'm positive the synth part is really truly amazing sounding, but it is usually the drums or lack of variation in drum kits that get to me if it is supposed to be an all in one kind of box that I won't get board with how it sounds after doing several songs. Will it keep my interest for years and years by itself? Or will it be something that would be greater as a companion module to add that extra something when needed along side a Spectralis in OP's case, or an RS7000 in my case, as Master seqs. for it? Or is it good enough all by itself to drop those units in exchange for just an A4?

My case would be to exchange a Spectralis for an A4 and keep two RSs might be the way to go. Breitt's case I think would be to keep their Spectralis and also get an A4 would be the way to go if they can do that, if not then the A4 might win out for being more immediately useful and fun. However, I think they will eventually want something that includes a full blown sequencer and can have more performance sounds, sample abilities, and drum kits on those extra tracks along side it. How long that will take to get to that point, 2 songs 20 songs, 2 years 20 years, maybe never, I've no idea really. Could depend a lot on if they like to play out more live with gear, or layer the one synth up with multiple pass recordings on their puter etc. etc..

The parameter locks feature looked nice and easy to do while it played which got me jonesing for the A4. The spectralis does something similar if I remember right where you can sequence in on a step a handful of parameter setting changes, but yeah kind of tedious and not so immediately accessible if I remember right. I know I can do something similar on the RS too but not via stepping them in, have to stop and go in to the events editor for that, but I usually just overdub a sweep which doesn't quite give the same jumping like effect from doing it step by step. There are ways around that to get jumping effects but too much and no need to explain it here. The RS does also have a huge plus over both of them in the amount of filter and effects types, but still similar in that you only have 3 or less effect blocks. That isn't many when compared to workstations and daws, but we are talking groovegear so that is normal, but some of the effects contain multiple effects on the RS. It has one filter per track on the RS too but that too has a lot more types to choose from and some of those are dual filters with a distance setting. I could spend days tweaking on the RS's effects and filters alone and I'm always finding something new in them or something else on it new to me that I can experiment with tweaking after 10 years.

I love the RS and could go on and on, but I'm getting off topic...

Anyhow, getting bored of a unit is partially what happened to me with the Spectralis, knowing I can put more sounds in it helps, but I never did that, like mentioned it is a bit of a tedious process compared to doing much of the same thing with my RS7000's sampling abilities to get new sounds like for drums kits, and vocal kits and sliced up grooves. I wish it had random start points like the Speckie, and cross fade is often mentioned as missing on the RS even though I'm not really sure what that is or how much it helps. RS can't do vocoding either, which the Speckie can, don't know if the A4 can, can it?

I'm going offtopic again, sorry...

I'm still contemplating the A4. Wondering how much I'd get for the Spectralis if it'd be enough or worth it to swap for an A4, I have to look in to the prices and think about it some more...
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Re: Spectralis vs. A4

Postby acemonvw » Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:56 am

Zamise wrote:RS can't do vocoding either, which the Speckie can, don't know if the A4 can, can it?

I'm going offtopic again, sorry...

I'm still contemplating the A4. Wondering how much I'd get for the Spectralis if it'd be enough or worth it to swap for an A4, I have to look in to the prices and think about it some more...


The Spectralis does not do vocoding. I don't know if the A4 can.

Zamise wrote:The parameter locks feature looked nice and easy to do while it played which got me jonesing for the A4. The spectralis does something similar if I remember right where you can sequence in on a step a handful of parameter setting changes, but yeah kind of tedious and not so immediately accessible if I remember right.


I created a tutorial on this:
Watch on youtube.com


I may have posted this elsewhere on the site, but it can be done, and despite the fact that there appears to be a lot of steps involved, I find it not too difficult to manage. Of course, you cannot p-lock EVERY parameter, but the ones I care about I can. I don't believe I can do as much with the Dsynth parts (the sampled parts).

I certainly would suggest keeping the spectralis. You are not certain about the A4 yet, if you can afford it, I'd say get that and determine after you've learned the A4 if they complement each other or if you don't need one of them. The resale value of these synths are pretty good.

I agree about the tediousness of sampling on the spectralis. I should probably get an octatrack for live sampling. It's not immediate at all to get samples (no live sampling) on the spectralis... I've looked into getting an RS7000, but with having Maschine, I wonder if it's necessary (no need to answer... just thinking aloud).
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Re: Spectralis vs. A4

Postby Zamise » Sat Jan 19, 2013 10:56 am

Ah nice the spectralis 2! Version one I know does vocoding, or maybe I should be saying using the inputs as a modulation source if that makes any dif, I've set it up before on it, even had to get instructions from Jorg himself on that.
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Re: Spectralis vs. A4

Postby zoomtheline » Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:19 am

I certainly would not get rid of anything to get the A4 if I was you. This box can do "all in one box" type stuff but to be honest I feel it's a waste to be using up tracks with drums. I don't use it for drums at all, maybe rhythmic element type sounds that analogue synths excel at etc but I am running it along side a Machinedrum which provides anything beatwise.
Think of it as a normal analogue synth module with a super sequencer added on. Of course it's much more than that but you have to remember that it IS a synth not a grooveboox. It's an accompaniment to a groovebox.

Oh and it does not have a vocoder although I may try and process some vocs later see what happens.
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Re: Spectralis vs. A4

Postby acemonvw » Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:49 pm

Zamise wrote:Ah nice the spectralis 2! Version one I know does vocoding, or maybe I should be saying using the inputs as a modulation source if that makes any dif, I've set it up before on it, even had to get instructions from Jorg himself on that.


Oh, yeah... you can use it as a modulation source I think. I never used it because it wasn't very simple. I recall people trying to explain how to do it on the forums, but straightforward is something it wasn't.

zoomtheline wrote:I certainly would not get rid of anything to get the A4 if I was you


Agreed. Unless you want to just work with your computer or play in a band with other people who have drums or compliment your A4 in other ways. I'd think the Octatrack or Machinedrum would be better grooveboxes. I never liked the Roland MC series because of the way you had to save timbres within a pattern to keep the edited sounds. The RS7000 looks nice and it sounds like people really love it. It's hard to say what you'd like, but getting rid of a complete package (even if it's hard to use) for something that is a 4 polyphony analog synth might make creating music more difficult. It doesn't have any sampling capacity either, does it? Like a UW+ model... maybe then it would be a more complete groovebox.
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Re: Spectralis vs. A4

Postby Zamise » Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:41 pm

Don't mean to be contradictive all the time, but the MC-505 stored its voices to voice banks. I don't know about the other MC's but that was sometimes a bit of a problem on the 505 for me. You change a voice on one pattern and if you used the same voice bank on another it screwed that one up. Once you ran out of user banks you were kind of screwed unless you had some extra 5v SM cards for a system backup. Not really an uncommon problem to deal with though if you attach performance synths to your sequencers. They might have changed that on the later MCs I don't know. The lack of drum part mutes was what bummed me out on later models, that was something I thought they should have carried over because even though it had only 8 part/track on the 505 the other 7 tracks could still be used for synth parts, that would of been 15 tracks of synth on the later models if they had kept that function. One of the reasons I got another RS and keep looking for companion units is so I can have more synth tracks. First 8 are generally for drums, second 8 more for synths. They could be interchanged but I hope you guys get the picture, drum part mutes can free up extra tracks. The 505 was a pretty dang cool machine by itself, lacked sampling and inputs, so wasn't quite complete but is a really fun and impressive box untill the LCD goes out. However, I don't think I could go back to not having each drum part on separate tracks now, too use to having different filters, effects, LFOs and EQ on each part now, but still would also be nice to have a dedicated drum track that includes part mutes. The RS stores voice settings to the pattern/song tracks which is great in my opinion and means a song will always load and come back sounding exactly the same, drawback is that you can't share patches/voices by themselfs between RSs, you have to send and give others a pattern with the voice in it and then copy the voice over to the style you want to use it on.

This is going way OT now, but I enjoy talking about these things...

Consensus seems to be, keep the Spectralis and get an A4, decide later if you want to get rid of one :)
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Re: Spectralis vs. A4

Postby breitt » Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:22 am

Thought I'd wait a month and see if anything's changed and it seems the more demos I'm seeing on the A4, the more I'm liking it. As Zoom and Zamise astutely pointed out, there seems to be that eternal battle of versatiltiy and all-in-one unit independence vs. intuitiveness and less necessitated menu-diving. I agree that, in this particular instance, the analog vs. not-analog sound differences would not be a deciding factor. I do miss being able to mold, craft and fashion my own "original" sound from a purely organic tone, but then again, will I, as one of you mentioned, become bored with "sound crafting" after a few months and find that same machine uninspiring for actual "song crafting"? In truth, I'm almost entering that phase with the Spectralis (even though I've owned it for a couple of years). I seem to enjoy creating these pulsating, swirling pattterns, but never have the follow-through inspiration (ability? patience?) to complete a full song.

The fact is, I can't afford to own both the Speckie and the A4 at the same time, so I'll decide in a few weeks what to do. In the meantime, has anyone participating in this thread had any further experience with the A4 during the past month?
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Re: Spectralis vs. A4

Postby n3wt15 » Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:39 am

I was a speckie owner for years, and I felt I had a very wide pallet for sound creation with it, it was my main machine for quite a number of years. On its own it does sound great, and you can get a lot done with it, however I always preferred to use it in combination with something else.

It pairs up great with elektron units, my first experience with a speckie and monomachine was a lot of fun, and used that setup for a while for many gigs, adding a machinedrum into the mix later on, which still sat really well in the mix.

I ended up selling one of my specks to fund a tempest, which i was very excited about pairing up with my other speck, but that one got stolen...so Im speckieless now and havent tried that combo yet, someday...

Im looking forward to trying an A4, im having a hard time justifying getting one myself, because its not something i really need, however I have been very impressed with everything i have heard from them and can only imagine it would work well with the speck/
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Re: Spectralis vs. A4

Postby acemonvw » Tue Feb 19, 2013 4:19 am

What exactly do you have other than the spectralis? If you had something else like the RS7000, maybe that would make it make more sense to get rid of spectralis. Either way, I think it would be best to buy the A4 and then determine if you can get rid of the spectralis. I know you can't do that right now, but... tax returns? Any way to just save up for it?

I get the feeling that everyone (myself included) thinks that when they get other gear, they'll make better music. Maybe if you just isolate the spectralis for a while and work with it, you'll be able to complete entire songs. I think it's a general observation that most of us don't finish what we started. I don't finish half the songs I write and it's unrelated to the spectralis. I took apart my first guitar I ever got and put a belt sander to it... Standing over it, I realized that it was too much work. It sits in my parents home, in a drawer, completely dismantled and without paint. Point being, it's easy to start things but not finish them, having a spectralis, an A4, a monomachine, maschine, a virus TI... won't help you finish those songs. In fact, I'd say if you don't have any other sequencer, exchanging a spectralis for an A4 wouldn't be the best idea. I personally enjoy the challenge of writing within the framework of the spectralis, and while the A4 seems neat, I wouldn't exchange them. Give it some more time, and like everyone else has said, just try to obtain an A4 without selling your spectralis

I've been trying to make videos to get people more interested in the spectralis (unsuccessfully I think), but you can look at the video and see what you think :D :

Watch on youtube.com
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Re: Spectralis vs. A4

Postby breitt » Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:50 am

Excellent points, Ace, and fairly hilarious that you mentioned the tax return, 'cause I've been wrestling with just biting the bullet, keeping the Speckie & usingthe refund for the A4 (though my years of financial foolishness has given me the wisdom, or at least, the guilt, to try not to do that). I know one will never replace the other, but ever since I semi-reluctantly sold my SE Omega 4 a few years ago, I've been missing my analog tweaking sessions. We'll see what shakes out.
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