Integrating Elektron Instruments into My Studio

I've been really excited about the possibilities of Elektron's Overbridge VST software since I bought the Elektron Analog Rytm in May 2014 (second batch released!).  What an amazing idea - the ability to use real analog gear in a virtual studio environment.  As an Access Virus TI user since their first iteration in 2005/2006 this is not only a workflow I know a great deal about but it's my preferred way to work.  The releases since 2006's The Zero Engine have been done almost exclusively "in the box" - using the TI as one of my main pieces of gear on virtually every track.  When I saw that Elektron had an analog synth as well - the Analog Four - that was Overbridge enabled I actually sold my Virus TI Snow and my Moog Slim Phatty to buy a unit.  

I haven't been disappointed at all with the sounds of both the Rytm and the Four.  The Analog Four, which I purchased in November 2015, has such an amazing depth of sounds.  It's been a few weeks now and I'm still figuring out the sequencer but the free sounds Elektron has available are great!  Now on to my Overbridge gripes.....

Overbridge was announced about the time the Rytm was released.  After more than a year in development, Elektron released a v1.0 which was supported for Ableton Live only.  This isn't an issue for me as I'm a Live user, although Steinberg Cubase is my DAW of choice.  I recently purchased a Push 2 so imagine the drool I've had thinking about Analog Rytm + Analog Four + Overbridge + Push 2!  Elektron even released a beta Overbridge v1.0.5b to be used in Cubase and other DAWs.  Great!

Unfortunately for me, I had already upgraded every computer to OSX 10.11 El Capitan.  Overbridge wasn't supported!  Indeed, I didn't even find that out until I loaded my instruments for the first time in December to use it and found some truly odd behaviors and crashes.  I contacted Elektron support and sure enough they replied right away to tell me.  No matter, I'm an engineer by trade so I just rolled back one of my Macbook Pros to Yosemite...and then reloaded all of my software.  In all it took about 8 hours of installations.  Did that solve all of my woes?  Well, not at all really.

I'm running into persistent problems - probably of my own making.  Specifically the most annoying issue is the inability to get all expected tracks of audio running in 24-bit.  Troubleshooting has pointed pretty strongly to a USB hub I'm using.  Hung notes, parts dropping out, crashes and the inability to use all of the 24-bit audio tracks that are advertised.  It's enough to really get frustrated in the middle of a very creative session.  Unfortunately I'm forced to use a hub in that the laptop I rolled back to Yosemite only has 2 USB ports!  "Lucky" for me Elektron offers a hub of their own making called Overhub made specifically for Overbridge use.  How convenient!  While I was at it, I ordered one of their hoodies.  Might as well go all in if I'm going all in.  

The engineer in me knows that it's a no brainer of course - you work with materials that you are 100% sure the company supports.  Simply put, the company has tested this gear and put their word behind it that you won't have problems like the ones I'm experiencing.  The cheapskate in me looks at the price and isn't happy - but I've ordered it.  Nothing else to be said.  Hopefully that'll get things running as expected.

What shouldn't be lost in all of this is that Elektron announced an "imminent" update of Overbridge back in November.  The update, v1.10, will add librarian features and El Capitan compatibility.  Great!  Google describes "imminent" as:  about to happen.  Hm, well it's the second week of January now so I guess we're leaning towards "the sun will imminently devour the earth" use of the word rather than an "My paycheck is imminent - every two weeks."

In the meantime the issues I've run into using the Rytm and Four with Overbridge aren't game-breaking.  The end result is still amazing sound, it's just a very convoluted process that's necessary to get what I need done recorded.

Alex Kourelis

Digital Geist, 925 Fairfield Woods Rd, Fairfield, CT 06825, United States