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Blackbox vs Digitakt vs ???

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  • Blackbox vs Digitakt vs ???

    This question is for people that have used both

    What are the pros/cons of each ?


    Ive had my blackbox for a while now and I’m starting to see its limitations with regards to modulation of the samples

    I also thought that because it had timestretching, that it would stretch the samples when in keys mode, but it doesnt
    It just speeds up or slows down the sample, unless I’m missing a trick ?

    So, I’m toying with moving away from my blackbox for something else
    Looking for something in the same price range
    Any recommendations ?

    It has to do timestretching all around
    Have a built in sequencer, lots of modulation options, looping, internal fx would be a plus
    I know the Digitakt doesn’t do timestretching, but it has some super cool features

    Thanks guys

  • #2
    BlackBox pros - small size, streaming from MicroSD card, stereo sampling, very long sampling/playback length, 256 step sequence length, multiple outs, multi-sampling, easy sample transfer from computer to BB.

    Digitakt pros - Elektron workflow, trig locks/robust probability, good physical controls. basic modulation/sample mangling, build quality, applying the Elektron workflow to external gear through its 8 midi tracks, Overbridge is you use a DAW, works as basic Audio Interface for computer and tablet, etc.

    BlackBox cons - lack of Fx, hard to use touchscreen based sequencer, lack of modulation, touchscreen dependent/lack of physical controls.

    Digitakt cons - lack of song mode, lower audio track count, mono sampling, limited sample length, limited sample storage memory, lack of Fx, the Elektron workflow, 64 step sequencer length.

    For everything listed above, arguments can and will be made to the opposite. For instance, I listed the Elektron workflow as both a positive and a negative. Many people love the Elektron way, others hate it. Everything I listed as a negative for the BlackBox will be argued by many as its strength - the limits spurs creativity argument.

    Same for the Digitakt, saying the lack of a song mode is a negative for instance. You can find countless examples of people performing complex arrangements with the Digitakt, thereby overcoming the lack of song mode with skillful precision. I don’t mind at all that it lacks a song mode. That’s the thing about art, artists, creativity, and the instruments and machines we use. One persons shortcoming will be another persons strength. That’s just the nature of things. Ultimately no one can know exactly what will be best for you and your needs.

    Assuming someone had no other gear, and was only going to use one device for electronic music making, in that general price range, and not knowing for sure what are the most important features for that person - I would suggest something like the MPC One. I would be suggesting that even knowing it has many negatives to it. Touchscreen dependent workflow, modern MPC workflow, etc.

    Those aren’t negatives for me, I can use the modern MPC’s and enjoy them, much more rounded and ‘jack of all trades’. I own and use the Akai Force and compared to the BlackBox it is light years ahead in terms of overall power and options. But I use my BlackBox right along side it. For me the BlackBox was a welcomed side addition to my other gear. If I had nothing I would never have chosen the BlackBox as the central unit, too limiting for me, but I have multiple synths, groove boxes, and use a DAW so anything I can’t do in the BB I can do with something else.

    One ultimate pairing is my Digitakt running with my BlackBox, together they are a powerhouse. Another great combo for me is my BlackBox with my iPad, linked by midi. Again, many people hate the tablet/touchscreen environment, it all depends on what works for the individual. I like DAW’s, iPads, groove boxes, physical synths, soft synths, basically anything that makes cool sounds. I can adapt to using anything.

    Assuming you will eventually branch out and own more gear, I would argue to keep the BlackBox and add a second unit to compliment it. For instance, add a Digitakt and use its LFO’s thru it’s midi tracks to effect the BlackBox. Build a basic song structure on the Bb, live performances with the Digitakt alongside it and you have massive power and options. Same if you added and MPC, a Roland or other groove box, or a couple small/affordable synths, one larger synth, effects units, etc.

    Two other pieces I love using with the BB are my Korg Electribe2 groove boxes and my KP3 FX/sampler as a master out FX. I geek out on sampling the samples I’ve sampled from another sampler with my Blackbox sampler. Hours of fun! Good luck on your choice. If you haven’t watched it already, Ricky Tinez on YouTube had a good, quick video comparing the Digitakt and BlackBox that you should watch. Just search ‘Ricky Tinez Digitakt vs BlackBox’ and you should find it no problem.

    Comment


    • FreedomSeven
      FreedomSeven commented
      Editing a comment
      WOW Suspect Frequencies
      Thank you so much for your super detailed reply

      Im still none the better for a decision on which over which
      But just like you say, there's so many different workflows and which ever one suits you is the one
      Im starting to see this will only become clearer after using each device

      You mentioned the MPC One, which is something else I was considering instead of my blackbox
      How do you find that compared to Blackbox ?

      If I had the extra dough then I probably would get a digitakt as that seems to be the best pairing of both worlds

      You also mention the Electribe 2, which is at the top of my list currently because of my budget
      I was hoping to use it to send modulations to my Blackbox
      Have you used it in this way ?

  • #3
    The BB can do time stretching, I think you just have to set the pad to clip mode. One of the major advantages of the BB is that it streams from the SD card, meaning there's no real limitation to how long samples can be. Otherwise the main advantage of the BB is that it's very intuitive; not much menu diving or button combinations. The Digitakt does a lot more (especially with sequencing and modulation), but at the price of more menu diving/button combinations. It also doesn't stream from the SD card; it only has 64MB of RAM for samples and afaik doesn't support stereo samples either.

    The form factor is also an important consideration. For me the Digitakt and most other grooveboxes are simply too big to fit in my rig (I travel by public transport when I'm not playing at home). The BB can always fit somewhere, but the small size does make the touch screen a bit harder to control, especially with the sequencer. The small size and low current draw also means I get to take it on long trips (post covid); it runs for ages on a standard USB power bank.

    I personally use the BB for basic sampling duties and a Morphagene for mangling stuff up.

    Comment


    • FreedomSeven
      FreedomSeven commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for your reply pieter3d

      Yes the Blackbox can do time stretching in clip mode, but I thought this was just for loop
      Maybe I'm missing a trick and can use it to time stretch the sample for keys mode, if that's an option
      Will have to check that out

      I definitely liked the ease of use of the blackbox, but am starting to feel the lack of certain parameters like in the digitakt
      And im really starting to understand and see all of the great options in the Electron world of machines

      That Morphagene looks like a pretty cool and interesting piece of kit

  • #4
    Don't have a takt, but have you seen this video? It does a good job at comparing the two:

    Comment


    • arteom
      arteom commented
      Editing a comment
      good video, thanks for sharing. I think he makes some good points but really have to disagree with the blackbox not fitting for someone who might just be starting out. The blackbox has honestly done more for me as far making full tracks than anything in the past. Where it shines for me is I can connect a synth, a drum machine, and program a full track. Sample drum parts, sample synth parts, program sequences, then song sections. Then have it record the entire programmed track as it plays. The song section can be intimidating but really isn't all too complicated once you start using it, could actually stand to be a bit more complicated, Aaron! You just have to understand that only sequences can be parts of songs. There is some ground to be gained in song mode user interface, and better ability to edit which sequences are playing in any given song section. But the core concept isn't exactly rocket science.

      Cabling interface for me is workable. In the past I ran my synth to audio input on my Roland TR8, output of that to blackbox. Changed that around, now use a 3 channel DJ mixer to plug in drum machine and synthesizer and run that output to the blackbox. Which I don't even necessarily have to do, but my synth has stereo output with some panning that can be modulated.. That all said, I don't use any of the individual outs on the blackbox, so wouldn't mind if one out was sacrificed for a 2nd stereo input.

      Also he makes mention of the digitakt's ability to sequence external gear, but makes no mention of the same function on the blackbox, which I think it does really well.

    • FreedomSeven
      FreedomSeven commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for this

  • #5
    I have the Octatrack, MPC Live and the BB. I personally find the directness of the BB preferable, but I’m not going too deep. When I want more control, I prefer the MPC. The Octatrack is very powerful, but the learning curve is a bit much. Just my 2 cents.

    Comment


    • FreedomSeven
      FreedomSeven commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks LC

      I think it will be a move to OT in the future
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