Massive distortion in Demo mode [resolved]

Hello all :slight_smile:

So this is my first post here, and I’m a new Octatrack owner. It arrived yesterday, and while waiting for it to arrive, I’ve read the manual a couple of times, and watched many YouTube bits, and I feel like I have a good understanding of the machine.

Busy times right now, and no time to commune with my new toy in depth, so I just thought I’d play with it in Demo Mode and see what’s what…

So I plugged a couple of (unbalanced) cables into my audio interface, and pressed play… Hideous distortion. So turn down the input gain on the interface… still distorted! So I turned down the interface gain to almost nothing, with the input indicator LEDs hardly showing. Still distorted.

So its the OT outputs distorting horribly with the Demo project. The distortion only disappears with the OT master volume turned down to below half. That doesn’t seem right to me… Is this normal, or (usual noob question) is it a fault?

I’ve searched the forum and found nothing similar. So… am I being an idiot here? I hope so. That’s my initial assumption…

Thanks for any help you can give me, and apologies if its just another noob stupid question.


Got myself a little confused there…

Demo mode plays with main volume set to 0.
At that setting it distorts horribly.
I have to reduce it to about -12 before it is fully clean.

Check out this thread

Line or mic / hi z inputs?
What about headphones out?

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Thanks for the replies guys :slight_smile:

No headphones to test with right now, but will try that out tomorrow.
Inputs to my audio interface are line level, and show no such problems with other gear.

I just loaded the Chillwave pack, and have the same problem with the preset patterns in that, though less extreme. Leaving the master output at 0 I am getting occasional nasty distortion peaks.

Lowering the master volume sorts the problem, but it does not seem to make sense that Elektron would put out the Demo mode, or packs with overloaded peaks at the preset output levels.

I also just routed all tracks of the Chillwave demo to the cue outputs, and did not have the same problem, though I need to do that again more carfully to make sure I got it exactly right.

I will try with headphones as soon as I can, but logic would suggest that (since this is not a known issue as far as I can tell) there is an issue with the main pair output converters.

My freinds are laughing about this… Chance dictates that some people will have consistent bad luck in some areas… I have over the years had WAY more than my share of new gear that does not work and has had to be replaced by the manufacturer! Thus I take things like this with a smile and a chuckle, as it is not unexpected :grinning:


Is it a brand new MKII?

Sure is, though it is a ‘B stock’, which probably means it was ordered and returned. Full warranty though, so I’m protected, and not worried.

It does occur to me that a full hardware reset may be in order… didn’t think of that as its a new item… No. Just did an ‘Empty Reset’ and no change.

Reckon it might be time to contact the lovely folk at Elektron and see what they have to say.

However this goes, whether it’s something I can sort out, or Elektron, soon enough I will be coaxing the OT into making weird noises and fractured beats, and laughing like a maniac :smile: :smile: :smile:

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So… it turns out this was a user error :blush: I am embarrassed to admit that this looks like it was due to my lack of understanding about how the multi input xlr/jack sockets work on my (cheap) audio interface. Wrong cables = wrong input impedence = hours of head scratching and worrying = blaming my new toy instead of myself.

Happy to be wrong, and will try to think things through better in future, before asking you guys for solutions :blush:


do you mean you had used XLR cables and therefore your interface thought you were feeding it a MIC level input?

would explain it for sure…

but not 100% sure if the impedance is/was the problem here, but rather your interface switching on additional mic preamp gain.

though you are writing you were using UNbalanced cables… so no XLR… does your interface maybe switch to “instrument” mode when on “jack” style cables?
then of course you might be right about the impedance gain if your interface goes into “Hi-Z” mode…

‘‘does your interface maybe switch to “instrument” mode when on “jack” style cables?’’

Yes. I think this is my answer. In order to deal with the high input levels, only balanced jack to jack cables will do it. The one kind of cable I don’t have :wink: I tried pretty much every other kind of cable there is… But it looks from the interface manual like that’ll sort it.


I often figure out the solution to problems myself while typing out the question! Usually after hitting “Submit”.

So it is always worth it IMHO. I totally love reading about people’s various problems and solutions :smiley:

(Thanks for posting about your cool and interesting problem!)




Also what’s the interface? Probably one to avoid if it makes it this hard to detect input clipping.

Sezare56 … yes, seem like you called it :slight_smile: I didn’t pay too much attention, as the input LEDs on the interface were not only not showing red, but also not even showing yellow, so I assumed it was not that. Since I don;t have the correct cables, I’ve not yet been able to confirm, but on reading the interface manual it seems like the obvious explanation - but the lack of overload indication on the LEDs still makes me suspicious…

Anfirm - Its a Presonus Audiobox iTwo. Its the first cheap interface I’ve had (always had MOTU before), and til now its been great.


that´s actually a common feature on many many interface, not just cheap ones.

pretty much everywhere you see those XLR/Jack combo buttons it will at least switch between “extra” MIC Gain when using XLR and “normal” Line-Level mode when using Jack.

If marked as an “instrument”, “guitar” or “Hi-Z” input though, it will also try to match impedance.

This is happening on several interfaces I have used.

I guess the “CHEAPO-WARNING” would only apply if this is done in some half-ass/weird way that actually leads to crappy sound even when using right cabling.
In that case, I´d suspect shitty AD/DA converters with minimal headroom.

you´re right in saying that most MOTUs I´ve ever encountered surely wouldn´t struggle like this.


I checked with the cheapest interface I own, an original-generation Focusrite Scarlet 2i4 (was ~170€ new in 2015), which has 2 XLR/Jack combo inputs.

on that one, there is simply a switch below each combo input labelled “Line/Inst”, which is another simple yet clever way to prevent the impedance mis-match like AmosQuito was describing from happening.

I am kind of curious though to see what happens on that interface if I use an XLR plug - but then still switch to “INST”… if they did everything right, it should just ignore the switch as soon as it recognizes an XLR plug being present.

So an update…

I plugged the OT into my interface using balanced jack cables. The project contained in the House pack works and sounds great.

But… the Demo mode still distorts horribly, even with the interface gain turned fully down!

This is clearly not right… Guess I’ll have to find someone with a decent interface and try it there now :roll_eyes:

Obviously Demo mode is hardly an important thing, but it does leave me wondering if there’s an issue with the machine

Headphones. :wink:

Did you set your inputs to line level?