OCTATRACK // uses / tips / tricks //


#1

since @dspk + I kind of hijacked the pictures thread with octatrack talk, we figured it was worth starting a new discussion.
i’ve realized that it is one of those machines that everyone uses differently so please share your uses, tips + thoughts on how you make music with your octatrack.


Advice from Octatrack users
Relays, Loop Pedals and Eurorack
Performing Modular Live
#2

saw discussion in the other thread, a lot of interesting ideas, glad you started a separate thread! will be more of a lurker for now - still learning my octatrack, but looking forward to seeing all the different ways people use it.

i’ve changed my set up a bit recently, now it’s octa clocking machinedrum, octa provides additional sounds as well as being effects processor and mangling tool to grab audio from machinedrum and modular. and using MIDI machines to sequence/control modular as well (need to pick up Endorrphines Shuttle Control once it’s available in NA).


#3

(1) My favorite tip was already mentioned, but is worth repeating:
• Use one track as a looper
• Use another track as a Flex machine that accesses the recording buffer of the looper track allows to manipulate the loop you are recording

(2) I hate to use my OT without an external MIDI keyboard, preferably a 2 octave mini keyboard. Allows way faster precise pitch setting of a Trig: hold down trig, press MIDI key, done. Can’t match this with the encoder.

(3) I also hate to use my OT without an >= 8 faderbox. Control the volume settings of every tracks immediately without selecting tracks.


#4

(paraphrased + quoted from my post in the pictures thread)

The octatrack is a crazy deep machine. I got interested in it first when I found out that I could have 8 realtime asynchronous looping recorders in one box… I was previously using a chain of different looping pedals. I don’t make rhythmic music so I didn’t have much use for the sequencer functions at the moment.
I wound up finding a great deal on a used one and couldn’t pass it up.

My setup lately it’s been:
Track 8 - thru machine w/ cross fader assigned to volume of input A/B on one side and C/D on the other
Track 5,6,7 - pickup machines
Tracks 1-3 - flex machines, each referencing the recording slots of the pickup machine right across from it (so I can slice + repitch the looped recordings however I please)
Track 4 - static machine with longer field recordings

The whole thing works great for looping / processing live instruments. It’s all running as a asynchronous multitrack looper. I never even press play on the whole thing… I never use it for sequencing anything
Maybe someday


#5

there’s one things always bugs me, and I’m not sure if it’s something i’m doing wrong. If you have a pickup machine and then use a flex machine to access the same buffer, the flex machine stops playing if you overdub into the pickup machine, but starts again when you finish overdubbing. is this the same for everyone?


#6

Yes! That bugs me as well. I think it must relate to how the buffer rewrites the file while overdubs.

I hope someday they allow you to disable the automatic tempo changes that happen when recording loops using master/slave pickup machine.


#7

hold the track button of a pickup machine and press tempo to choose whether tempo is locked to the pickup or stays locked


#8

Lots of good info here!
I just got mine and im in the process of learning it.
My intention is to use it ti clock the modular in a live situation (no computer) and sample the modular too.
I am findng the learning curve steep to be honest.
Cuckoo tutorial is good :smile:


#9

tutorial map from mindmeister is great:
https://www.mindmeister.com/310663045/elektron-octatrack-video-tutorial-index


#10

oh thanks for that tip!


#11

yeah it does have a steep learning curve. i sat on the couch with the octatrack + guitar every night for at least an hour watching tutorial videos and reading the manual for quite some time before i really got it to do what i wanted it to do… but i’ve still barely scratched the surface.

i could spend days just experimenting with LFOs and different parameters…

then cross modulating LFOs with other LFOs until you get these really complex organic things happening. pretty mesmerizing.


#12

Very happy to see this thread crop up. I’ve got an octatrack coming in the mail and I’ve been trying to read up and understand some basics before it arrives. All the tips and tricks are much appreciated!


#13

I might go for a used Octatrack soon and would love to use it mainly as a live sound mangling machine, not a sequencer. Using monome modules in eurorack to sequence.
It looks like the easiest way to sync Octatrack and eurorack is to have a track with an audio trigger run from Octatrack into the modular through a preamp like Gozinta. Could somebody confirm that this works?
Doing it the other way round, namely syncing Octatrack from eurorack, would require a CV/MIDI module, right?


Finally decided to join the monome family
#14

I haven’t set up sync that way, but it should work fine. (I sync the Octatrack to the modular via a sync’d Analog 4 with a Grayscale Synapse module.)


#15

I don’t recommend using 1 of OT’s 8 audio tracks to generate an audio trigger.

Consider this naïve assessment: a new OT costs 1,350 USD at Elektron’s webshop right now, that makes about 169 USD per track. So if you use 1 OT track for an audio trigger, you’re sacrificing 169 USD of the OT’s worth to perform a utility duty, instead of being available for exciting audio manipulation. Add to that the purchase of a preamp like Gozinta, which sets you back a further 100 USD, then you put down a total of 269 USD for a makeshift sync connection.

My recommendation for a proper sync connection is to get a decent MIDI-to-clock/sync converter Eurorack module, like the doepfer a-190-8 usb/midi-to-sync interface for 180 USD.

If you don’t want to shell out any money (except for the OT, that is), and have a preamp Eurorack module with envelope follower and trigger detector already, then instead of wasting one precious audio track you can try to use the OT’s metronome as the audio trigger (via the OT’s second output pair), but this means you can no longer properly cue OT audio signals, as these would mix up with the metronome audio, which ruins your sync…

…which means that all things being equal I really recommend a dedicated MIDI-to-clock/trigger module.


Finally decided to join the monome family
#16

I beg to differ. Maybe because I already have a Gozinta.
Wouldn’t put it into monetary terms like you’ve done.
Having 7 tracks available is still plenty for what I am planning to do with Octatrack.
If using audio triggers technically works, that’s what I would go for, personally.
Appreciate your thoughts and feedback, though.


#17

i was thinking about this for a while and i think it’s worth trying the audio route.

especially if you are looking for creative results… think about the possibilities of clocking with an audio click on an audio mangling machine like the octatrack?
things like:
adding a delay
muting parts of that track
slicing up your click track and shuffling it around

all of that while your octatrack is still running, right?

i think finding the most straightforward solution doesn’t often yield the most creative results.
if we were all just looking for straightforward solutions to making music there would be no way we would ever pick up an octatrack, a monome and definitely not a modular system.


#18

#19

This thread is making me want an octatrack :confused:


#20

it is a pretty deep machine with some deeply flawed implementation of certain features.

but for what it does, i don’t think there is another hardware device that could replace it.