Drum machine manufacturer Elektron are well known for their powerful and eclectic range of drum machines, samplers and synthesizers. Recent years have seen the launch of a number of really interesting and capable devices from the Swedish manufacturer including the Model: Cycles and Model:Samples both of which were launched in 2020.
In this article I’ll attempt to explain some of the differences – and similarities – between the Model:Cycles and the Model:Samples.
What is the Elektron Model:Cycles?
Model:Cycles is a 6-track FM synth and groovebox. Each of the 6 tracks is powered by a unique machine covering percussive and melodic synth tones so that you can create complete compositions consisting of both melodies and rhythms.
What is the Elektron Model:Samples?
Model:Samples is a 6-track sample based groovebox.
Key difference between Model:Samples and Model:Cycles?
The main difference between Model:Samples and Model:Cycles is that the Model:Samples generates sounds via samples (either preset sounds or user samples) the Model:Cycles generates sounds via FM synthesis.
Model:Samples or Model:Cycles for creating Lofi Beats?
Model:Samples is powerful tool for creating sample based music including lofi beats, trip hop, chill and down tempo music. Take advantage of the Model:Samples 64MB sample memory and 1GB internal storage to pack the Model:Samples with the sounds that best suit the style of music you are attempting to create.
Model:Samples or Model:Cycles for creating Techno
If you tend to rely a lot on drum samples when creating your techno music then the Model:Samples is certainly a capable device (although I would argue that other machines in the Elektron range are better suited for techno) however if you’re into exploring and creating unique sound via hardware synthesis and want to push your techno into new directions then the 6-track Model:Cycles is well worth considering.
The 6 machines of the Model:Cycles and the comprehensive hands on controls and dedicated knobs are ideal for on the fly experimentation and leftfield track creation.
Can the Model:Cycles do drum sounds?
Built around six different types of digital FM synthesis the Elektron Model:Cycles has been designed from the get-go with drum and rhythm creation in mind. The six different machines in the Model:Cycles each have a different focus as detailed below:
Kick – a versatile kick drum generator
Snare – capable of generating a wide range of snare type tones.
Metal – the metal machine generator is geared towards creating metallic hi-hats and cymbals and other high frequency sounds.
Perc – use the perc machine for creating a wide range of percussive sounds from rumbling toms to zaps and bleeps.
Tone – the tone machine is a fully controllable two operator FM voice synth for creating monophonic sounds.
Chord – this machine gives you 4 simultaneous voices for the creation of melodic and pad like sounds. This machine isn’t a true polysynth.
Note that Elektron pitch the Model:Cycles as an easy to use groovebox rather than a fully-fledged high end synth (such as the Elektron Digitone) so you only get a few synth engine parameters to tweak but despite this the Model:Cycles still offers enough sound sculpting opportunities to enable the coaxing of interesting and unique sounds and textures.
Also note that any of the 6 available tracks can be set to whatever machine type you prefer (so you could use 6 Chord machines, for example, or 6 Kick machines).
Can the Model:Samples actually sample?
The Elektron Model:Samples can import samples but does not sample.
Can the Model:Cycles sample?
The Elektron Model:Cycles can not sample or import samples.
Which effects do the Model:Cycles and Model:Samples have?
Both the The Model:Cycles and Model:Samples feature reverb and delay send effects. Both the Model:Cycles and Model:Samples have 1x assignable LFO per track.
Both the Model:Cycles and Model:Samples sequencers feature Elektron’s much loved parameter locks.
What are Parameter Locks?
Parameter locks on Elektron gear (including the Model:Cycles and Model:Samples) allow you to set and store multiple settings on every individual step of a sequence. By playing around with various engine/machine/effect settings on a per step basis it is possible – and easy – to create complex and evolving beats and melodies.
Does the Model:Cycles have an arpeggiator?
The Model:Cycles does not feature an arpeggiator.
Does the Model:Cycles have individual outs?
The Model:Cycles does not have individual outs. You can stream audio directly from Model:Cycles into your DAW but this is limited to two channels.
Does the Model:Samples have individual outs?
As with the Model:Cycles the Model:Samples does not have individual outs but you can steam the main stereo output into your DAW of choice.
Does Model:Samples or Model:Cycles feature Overbridge?
Elektron’s Overbridge technology allows their more advanced hardware machines to be edited and controlled in realtime directly in any suitable DAW via a plugin interface. Model:Samples and Model:Cycles are part of Elektron’s “budget” range of music making gear and as such do not feature Overbridge.