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Elektron Octatrack MKII


mngosx
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I still think the complexity/difficulty of using the OT comes when you try to do too much at once. 

If you take it slowly at first and just use it as a sample based drum machine before anything else, then add things as you need them, it shouldn't be too hard to grasp.

If you try to handle sample playback, live sampling, thru machines, and MIDI control all at once, things can get super confusing if even one parameter isn't set correctly, especially if it's all coming from the same source. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've been doing music pretty much exclusively with the octatrack as my central hub for the last few years. (Though admittedly I kind of don't have shit to show for it but I'm very slowly accumulating "album" material I will eventually master and whatnot). I feel like the following techniques/features have been the most useful in adapting a style that I like to use when programming songs on it.

1. midi sequencing polyphonic synths. I'm never going to use that many midi devices at once in a song, so I just use multiple tracks to allow more complex overlapping note structures. It ends up working fine for me, when I used to be really annoyed by the limitation, I've still yet to hit it in practice. If I feel like I hit a limitation, just bounce it down into a sample, and now I can do even more with it!

2. Bounce stuff down, use fx, spend time making your loops sound ok. Once you have something you like, it's very simple to resample it into a new perfect 64-step sample, which you can then chop up and do all kinds of crazy shit with. Run out of voices for some reason? Using each track as it's own drum sound? Great! bounce the main out down into a sample, change to part 2 or a different bank, and start fresh with your drum loop. I Always have an aux input coming from my mixer into the OT. Sometimes I use it as a master insert (seems stupid but it works).

3. Pair it with another elektron device. This sounds simple but the stuff syncs perfectly. I can add 4 more synth voices and sequence my ms-20 by using the analog-four, great companion.

4. Sample stuff in, little hits, sounds from other synths. Load up big libraries of hip hop drum kits or whatever from reddit and load them into static slots beforehand. The sample lock feature is so useful to add variety quickly and easily to your patterns. It's stupid but it sounds cool to have lots of different sounds.

5. Slide trigs can do wild shit with sequenced precision, it's like scenes but programmed into the pattern on a per-voice level. You can use to do tape-stop fx, or crazy slidey bouncing ball (ok now you know my secret techniques).

6. Use the editor. Chopping up amen breaks or ANY other break is super easy on the OT once you know the workflow, you can get the attack PERFECTLY adjusted by zooming in on the waveform and adjusting every start point and then make sure to save your sample settings in a new file and assign it to a free flex or static slot. Hold function key to make sure your start point aligns with zero crossings. Get the sample normalized, all nice, and save it. You might also want to make the slices end point longer than you normally would, so you can do the tape-stop effect I'm talking about more effectively on sliced samples. The OT is different than a tracker but shares a ton of the DNA so many of the same tricks apply.

7. You have lots of patterns, use them. You don't have to tweak everything "live" you can work linearly and copy paste your pattern, build on top of it, edit it, change it and make quite long and evolving pieces.

8. If you want more than the 64 step loop I finally took the time to learn pattern chaining (dead simple, hold down the pattern button and press the patterns you want to chain.). Just think of 1+2 as one pattern, 3+4 as another. It's slightly more tedious to copy+paste correctly but you can still basically loop everything as you're working on it and get those longer phrases perfect. It's not as annoying or tedious as I thought, did a whole song that way and it worked out I think.

9. When working with midi tracks, make sure you have your patches figured out before you start programming the program-change and bank number into a midi track, nothing is more frustrating than when you forget to save a patch on a synth and your patch changes.

10. Don't overuse scenes, comb filter, or retrigs or any of the stuff that screams "this is obviously an octatrack". The octatrack doesn't have to sound like an octatrack. Limit yourself and hold yourself back on certain features that are convenient and sound cool. Those kinds of sounds are sometimes more interesting when they come as a surprise and more dialed in.

 

These are just the things I've internalized while using it. Really not trying to preach that it's best or anything, just the tenants I go by. There's still a ton of stuff I don't know how to do with it. I never use scenes anymore because I suck at using them and it requires a steady hand. I'm not great with the live sampling stuff but I think I understand how it works, I just don't trust it, too confusing. I just record stuff in so I know exactly how it sounds. It's just one way of working and probably still not that efficient, but I figured out how to make it work to fit my style and then let me really push it into places that I feel are interesting and let me get into creative territory that I never really reached when working on a PC.

 

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26 minutes ago, Bubba69 said:

8. If you want more than the 64 step loop I finally took the time to learn pattern chaining (dead simple, hold down the pattern button and press the patterns you want to chain.). Just think of 1+2 as one pattern, 3+4 as another. 

Also per-track length and scale can be handy for this. Beat-per-step is very intuitive in many situations, and microtiming can compensate for the reduced resolution. 

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7 hours ago, Bubba69 said:

These are just the things I've internalized while using it. Really not trying to preach that it's best or anything, just the tenants I go by. There's still a ton of stuff I don't know how to do with it. I never use scenes anymore because I suck at using them and it requires a steady hand. I'm not great with the live sampling stuff but I think I understand how it works, I just don't trust it, too confusing. I just record stuff in so I know exactly how it sounds. It's just one way of working and probably still not that efficient, but I figured out how to make it work to fit my style and then let me really push it into places that I feel are interesting and let me get into creative territory that I never really reached when working on a PC.

Thanks for all the above! Feel I need to read/hear these words every now and then to give me a boost of encourgment to push my octatrack workflow further

As modey also mentioned, one can get lost/overwhelmend by the seemingly endless possibilites of the machine

I find i've been stuck just using it as a live mixer/effects/remixer and want to get more out of it - think for me I need to treat it like Ableton and start to layout tracks with it by recording my lines in and seeing how further I can push them before hitting the DAW/tape

Side note on embracing the limitations of the Octatrack - on my last project I paired the 4 outs with the 4 inputs on my Tascam 244, soul brothers from differnt decades!

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  • 1 month later...

!! OT UPDATE !!

Octatrack OS 1.40 comes crammed with new features such as Parameter Randomization, Tempo Per Pattern, MIDI Trig Modes, Parameter Locking Multiple Trigs simultaneously, Trig Preview, additional performance improvements, and much more

yesssss

 

So good. Gonna spend the day with it tomorrow 🙂 

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The anniversary edition is sold out at Elektron store but a retailer near mine has one


Perfect timing as I was looking to get one this month, but I actually do prefer the grey version. Black is boring and every other grooveboxes are in black 

Season 5 Whatever GIF by CBS All Access

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@modey... i could research this but you're here so why would i do that.

 

Is it possible to use a midi feedback loop to send midi program (pattern) changes to itself on conditional triggers? This, with the BPM per pattern could open it up to some pretty cool experiments.

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No, the OT doesn't allow program changes to be parameter locked, for some reason. That's been a big request for years, and something I find confusing, since the Monomachine has it, as well as the Digi boxes..

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3 minutes ago, modey said:

No, the OT doesn't allow program changes to be parameter locked, for some reason. That's been a big request for years, and something I find confusing, since the Monomachine has it, as well as the Digi boxes..

I'm working on a norns app that could help with this kind of MIDI plumbing. If you have a norns/shield and would like to help out with it (and hopefully solve some of your own MIDI problems), PM me!

Edited by sweepstakes
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Sounds like there are some new bugs, but nothing that's reported so far comes close to outweighing the improvements. 

 

Finally being able to edit, copy and paste multiple trigs makes me so happy.

 

I'm also probably going to have to update my main footswitch preset to add single-button randomize/revert for the selected track once they get the bug that makes reverting randomized parameters reset your effects to the new project defaults under some circumstances.

Edited by TubularCorporation
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the multiple trig thing is a HUGE workflow improvement holy fuck. For some reason I assumed that could never happen. Figured it was a hardware thing. But now that I think about it, it makes sense that it's possible in software I'm just stupid. I use it all the time on the A4. Hold down like 4 trigs, change the sample length. Get the slices just right on like 3 trigs and then copy paste that. This is going to make beat-chopping stuff way more fun I used to have to copy paste individual hits and it made me sad.

 

I'm still a couple years behind on updates, I don't have the other latest update with trig conditions because I didn't care about those.

 

This will make break programming 10 times better, not just from the multi-trig thing, but also because you can use a midi keyboard to preview slices and input notes of those slices!!!! It used to be a hunt + peck thing, or a play live on machine thing, or just hope for something random that sounds good, or use insert slice grid and then mangle further. All of those workflows sucked ass, like really ass. This workflow will be amazing... 

 

Also the tempo thing seems sick. I never bothered with tempo changes because it was awkward and you had to use the arranger which I almost never used until the very end if I had a string together a lot of pattern changes that jump between banks a lot.

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You should try trig conditions, they're really useful.  If nothing else you can use them to spread your 64 steps/pattern out so that a single pattern can be as long as 32 bars instead of 4. You still only get 64 steps but the maximum pattern length is effectively 8x as long as it was before trig conditions (or 256 bars per pattern if you use trig conditions AND change the multiplier to 1/8, but they'd have to be really miimal patterns in that case).

 

 

There are a ton of other, more sophisticated uses for them, but packing multiple bar patterns into a single bar is what I usually use them for.

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The thing about the OT is any improvement to one particular feature becomes an improvement to like 3 things at one time, because everything can be combined. For example, with trig conditions, the multi-step edit thing means you can set trig conditions for 4 steps at once instead of setting up one and then copying it and tweaking the copies accordingly.

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so glad I didn't scratch that MPC itch, the slice MIDI triggering is well overdue but grateful it even came! Also the per-pattern BPM thing, I was so confused when I found it didn't do that when i first got it thanks to the Digi, looking forward to try expand my octa brain again 🙂
 

 

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  • 4 months later...
On 12/6/2020 at 9:37 AM, TRiP said:

so glad I didn't scratch that MPC itch, the slice MIDI triggering is well overdue but grateful it even came! Also the per-pattern BPM thing, I was so confused when I found it didn't do that when i first got it thanks to the Digi, looking forward to try expand my octa brain again 🙂
 

 

looks like ^that was the last of Cenk's contribution to the company....he's leaving Elektron after 10 years there. Ess also left a few months or so ago, he was the main one behind the Digitone iirc. Cenk posted something to IG and Elektronauts: https://www.elektronauts.com/t/goodbye-elektron-a-new-chapter/153089

note of course what Cenk mentions with:

Quote

 ....things took a recent sharp turn and I decided to part ways.... ....most of my Elektron colleagues whom I started with and looked up to have already left Elektron, which makes me incredibly happy to be joining the ex-elektron crew of legends!

not a good sign for the future of Elektron imo, but obv that's some amount of speculation on my part.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, auxien said:

 “....things took a recent sharp turn and I decided to part ways....”

Troberg and Ess left too!

I wonder what happened! What sharp turn? Doesn’t sound good 😕

Edited by xox
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1 hour ago, xox said:

Troberg and Ess left too!

I wonder what happened! What sharp turn? Doesn’t sound good 😕

yeah....Troberg was a couple years ago, Ess last year....and someone who'd been there since the beginning had left before Troberg. i think all that started not long after they were bought out by some bigger investment company or something (or sold a 'majority stake in the company' to an investment firm, idk the details but whatever). 

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