ASSIMIL8OR or Octatrack or Both for Tape Music Project

For a Tape Music or Musique Concrete project I did some research on modern hardware gear, which could make life easier rather than working on reel to reel machines using real tape.

The goal is to do sound design, composition, and live performance. If anyone has any experience or thoughts about this, I would love to listen (read) and learn.

Please forgive the long post :pleading_face: … here are my thoughts … :thinking:

The following machines came to my mind:

  • Octatrack by Elektron
  • Morphagene by Make Noise
  • Lubadh by Instruo
  • ASSIMIL8OR by Dave Rossum (A8R after this…)

After some time of watching YT and digging manuals, I came to the conclusion that the A8R seems to do most of the things, which Morphagene and Lubadh can do, but it does it on 8 channels, which is impressive. The UI is not as hands-on compared to Morphagene or Lubadh, but after watching some tutorials I think, it’s fine for me.

Now I compared Octatrack, which is already in the studio and A8R, which might be in the future.

As I see it, the OT is more dedicated to pattern oriented sampling, application of FX, and sequencing and rules there. The A8R seems to be more of a reel to reel or tape loop machine, which provides many assignable CVs to all its parameters.

What I miss on the OT is a better hands-on process to scrub or scratch, like it’s possible with real tape.

I tried the RATE and PITCH on the OT, which works excellent, and generates impressive tones, even works fine on long playing samples with trigless-trigs, but so far I could not reproduce the equivalent behaviour or sound, which is typical for tape wobbled with different speed and direction in front of the play-head. The combination of 3 LFOs to modulate the sound generated interesting and useful sounds, but I want this tape sound as well …

On the other side I listended to a demo of the A8R and the scrubbing/scratching seemed to sound exactly as I know it from real tape. Also the speed can be modulated between -8 to +4 octaves, which is dramatically more compared to the OT.

Since I would need to spent quite some money, not only for the machine itself, but also for additional gear to meet all the 8 gate and 24 CV modulation inputs :wink: I would like to listen to your thoughts and advise.

Thank you and stay healthy :smiley:

Just wanted to add for your consideration the ER 301 by orthogonal devices. Has a really good selection of sampling/granular/ tape style units and effects. I have that with an OT, which completes my sampling heavy set up.

If money was no object however, I would also have the A8…

The ER 301 can do a ton of other things too, has 16 cv ins, 4 additional gate in, 4 audio in 4 audio outs which can be stereo/mono.

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I got great results with a pseudo random waveform I made with the lfo designer applied to delay time. Short delay time, feedback down and just a little lfo depth.
You can also turn down the dry signal.

Just shift a few steps up and down, range between -4 or -5 to +4 or +5 max in the lfo designer, most steps between -1, -2 / +1, +2.

(Lfo designer gives more precision 0.2/128 for pitch).

Also setting tracks to plays free is great for tape style experiments and don’t forget that you can use cue outs and inputs for send fx on the OT! You could even send OT tracks through tape and back…

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You could use the Assimil8or with the OT, all you’ll need is a midi to cv module. The Polyend Poly is my recommendation. You get 8 gate, pitch, velocity and modulation outputs. That’s 24 cv outs plus the 8 gates. Perfect for the 3 lfos per track coming from the OT.

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Thanks …

I didn’t have this on my radar for my project. I will definitely check out, what it can do to move the play-head around a sample. There is still no manual though … says the website :confused: but I will try their wiki :smiley:

Thanks, this makes much sense.

I want to apply heavy modulation on the “play-head”, quick change of speed, going through zero speed to change direction. My experiences are …

  • I got interesting and useful sounds by combining two or three LFOs to sum up and work on RATE. I used not the LFO designer yet. Maybe I should give it a try using the smooth transition mode between the steps.
  • Going through RATE=zero crreated some drop-outs. Often the sample just stopped playing and did not restart when I crossed zero. Seems to make some sense, because zero shall stop the playing. OT seems not support going through zero well. But that’s exactly what I am after.

Generally I want to apply a dynamic modulation without “steps”. Should be smooth, fast, and should support some understanding, what I am doing. No fan of relying on happy accidents. Maybe a flexible CV generator could be part of the solution … :thinking:

If I decide to get an A8, this is a good idea. But there is one thing … IIRC the MIDI section of the OT does not allow to have smooth transitions between different p-locks. The audio-section does.

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Yea, it’s actually still classed as being in beta (on 0.5 firmware atm) so the official manual is always being updated / refined and new features are added. This is kind of why it’s getting more popular, it had a really good community surrounding it like the elektronauts. I’d say check out the forum, and look at some of the earlier videos surrounding vari speed sample units. I’m not at my desk atm but I can post some videos of my custom sample units when I get home.

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Great … I stay tuned :+1:

EDIT 1: Just watched the “old”-video on the ER-301 web-side. This machine seems also to do, what I was looking for. I will dig it deeper now …

EDIT 2: Just tried to find a reseller. Is the ER-301 discontinued?

Maybe so, but the three cv outputs you get per track(pitch, velocity, and modulation) can be tied to the three lfos of the OT and that will be smooth moving on the non stepped lfo waveforms.


After spending some time with the OT now and an application of a smooth LFO-designer waveform to the RATE parameter, I got some interesting results. This is definitely an excellent approach.

Only drawback is that the OT doesn’t like to be modulated acrosss the RATE=zero position. I can wobble either in positive or negative space, but as soon as the modulation touches the zero-line, the sample stops playing until started by the next trig. Since this is reproducable, changing direction seems to be not possible.

Nevertheless, the wobbling generates great and interesting results by its own right. It was definitely worth the try.

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Not discontinued but the developer only sells direct and in batches. Oh i checked his site its closed for international orders due to the COVID-19

Yea it’s not discontinued, I didn’t realise he had to close up shop for now, that’s a bummer. I got mine from a fellow elektronaught, they do occasionally come up for sale.

I have the OT, Assimil8or, and the Morphagene.

You likely know what the OT and Morphagene can do. With Assimil8or, the core sampling functionality is there, and it sounds fantastic (I wish the Octatrack sounded like that). It’s up to you then to build the interface for manipulating those samples around the module.

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Indeed … I am considering to use some kind of joystick and a CV function generator … may be a ZADAR by XAOC or even Control Forge … :thinking:

Great advise :+1: Thank’s

Checked this out today. There is a Polyend Poly 2 and it seems to be an improvement and more flexible, although 4 outs less.

A few days ago my idea was, to have everything CV only and inside the rack. But today I checked my external midi gear to understand, how far I could use it in combination with a MIDI/CV interface.

I connected a Faderfox-UC4 to a Pyramid and the sequencer to a synth, which should simulate the Poly 2 with something connected. It’s almost plug’n play (MIDI-learn) to route any external CC through the Pyramid to a dedicated CC of a synth. The UC4 has plenty of knobs, faders, and even a cross fader like the OT. The hands-on modulation worked flawless and this setup is a multi-CC recording and playback device as well. It seems that I have come close to a decision :smiley:

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How do you rate the sound quality on the morph?

I don’t know what to say. Probably best to watch some youtube videos to get a better feel.

Yeah I’ve watched a few and read a number of threads. It was more that you seemed able to compare the assimil8or to the octatrack so I figured you might do the same with the morph.

Sure I mean the Assimil8or is going to sound the cleanest, most hifi etc. The pitching algorithm is phenomenal for example. But in this case it really is more about what kind of instrument you want.