NAMM 2015: Elektron & The Elektron Overbridge

Photo by Natefrogg
Elektron has built up quite a reputation for itself over the years with their take on the all-in-one music box approach, somewhat similar to Roland's Micro Composer line and Korg's Electribe line from the 90's, but with far greater in-depth control of synthesis parameters and sequencing capabilities. Not one to rest on their laurels, Elektron has a major update to their newest machines that brings them into harmonious copulation with computer based Digital Audio Workstations. Overbridge will bridge the gap between Elektron machines and the computer based workstation that lives at the heart of most recording studios. It provides full VST and AU support of the Elektron Analog Four, Analog Keys, and Analog RYTM; allowing for total integration with Mac and PC computers, providing deep visual control of these Elektron boxes from the computer screen. Imagine being able to see what each parameter for a voice in the Analog Four is set to, all at once on a large 27" monitor; performing sound design completely from the front panel. Analog Four works okay once the user gets used to it, but this can be a bit tedious going back and forth between the pages and sub-pages of controls, the option to see and control everything at once will greatly speed up workflow in this respect; not to mention, if the Analog Four had knobs for each parameter then it would likely be 5~6 times larger than it already is!

Overbridge does more than just control and display the parameter settings from a computer screen, it actually allows audio transport to occur over USB, this means that each channel on the Analog Four can be recorded into a DAW as completely separate tracks rather than the stereo pair that the Analog Four comes equipped with. On a personal note, I welcome this capability of separate audio channel recording when doing studio based work. In my experience I have found that the Analog Four can get quite muddy if used for multiple bass instruments and low frequency percussion at the same time. For example, without an equalizer onboard, it can make things quite difficult to fit well with each other where channels are not stomping upon each other. Overbridge provides a great workaround for this kind of problem when recording, being able to break out the individual channels this way adds much to the functional of the Elektron machines that Overbridge will support. It should be noted that this audio streaming is bi-directional - not only can you record multiple channels over a USB connection at once, it is also possible to send audio from the DAW to the Elektron - and if you wanted to send a mixdown through the fabulous compressor of the Analog RYTM then it is incredibly easy to do so with Overbridge; having the option to quickly and painlessly use the Elektron boxes as sound modules or effects units seamlessly with a computer based DAW opens up an enormous amount of possibilities for music production in the studio.

Overbridge can effectively turn the Elektron machines into multi-channel USB sound cards. It allows for visual control of all sound engine parameters and it greatly extends what is possible with these instruments while working alongside a DAW, and best of all it will be given away free once Elektron has completed their work. The initial projected completion date has passed by already, but that's okay, it is best for Elektron to release Overbridge only when it is finished rather than half baked. Have patience Elektronauts, Overbridge is coming and it will change the way you work with these fine instruments.

Sonic State has an in-depth video of Elektron Overbridge technology here:

Written by Natefrogg 
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