Octatrack and Ableton Live

If you have an Octatrack then I would say dont use Ableton Live at all for performance. I also use Ableton but anything I compose in Ableton I just transfer over to the Octatrack for performance. I dont really see the need to use both.

The beauty of the OT is that you can do some much with it and frankly is the only piece of kit you really need to perform. Its easy to get caught up in the gear frenzy and buy this and that and combine them together. At the end of the day you just need the OT.

The only other piece of kit I use is a Pioneer RMX 1000 that I run the OT through. The only reason I use this is because I want to use all 8 audio tracks on the OT.

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I also thought about leaving Ableton aside. But I really can’t. I have a system that sets everything in the right key, because I want to jam live, even when I feel like it, creating a song live, without having to mind which key I’m at. I couldn’t miss the freedom to put clips together. I like to have every control at my fingertips without digging into different pages. And all the main controls of my OT are mapped to a midi controller too… to be able to act fast and keep it interesting.

So… I use it as main FX unit and live sampler. T1 trhu T2 neighbor T3 record T4 neighbor… same for T5-6. I can switch between T2 and T4 and trigger the record arming with a midi controller. So I can instant record tweak and switch between the live and recorded part.

If made a quick movie of me testing my liveact system… if you’re interested:

I guess I’m caught up in the gear frenzy. :slight_smile: In the end everyone uses the methods which suit them best, it would be a boring world if we all played in the same way.

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although when playing long sets, i do like to have something, cheap, fool-proof and immediately bashable, such as an electribe2 along for the ride.

nothing against laptop-live sets, but personally i think nowadays laptops on stage or in the booth look too much like the person is DJing or VJing.

this was different in 2001, when i started playing out live with ableton on a laptop.
back then, DJs would play vinyl or CD, but most VJs were a nuisance already, taking away loads of stage space and acting as if THEY were making the music. :wink:

i played on laptops+controllers until 2010, after that i got the OT. never took the laptop on stage again. and never got confused with a VJ again, although people still treat me like a jukebox DJ sometimes… hey at least they realize i’m making music on the OT, not the light show ; )

generally, the direction of my studio to live workflow right now is: Rytm or other (jamming) -> Ableton (recording, mixing, editing) -> Octatrack plus e2 and/or Rytm (performing).

So I’m reading the workflows here and I’m wondering in a bit more detail. If you are using ableton to compose, then to export to the OT…how are you exporting your clips.

Let’s say I’ve made a drum track in ableton with 20 clips each a variation or unique clip of drums. AFAIK I would have to lay them out in the arrangement view, and export the entire track as a wav file. Let’s pretend that it’s a minute long wav file of drums, it seems like importing that into the OT and trying to slice it would be pretty cumbersome.

Right now I’m trying to get this workflow down as well, before I just cluck my ableton license, push and apc40 lol. Ive arranged the drum clips one after another, exported it to audio. Now I’m going to reimport it, slice it in ableton, put each slice on it’s own track, and export all the tracks…then ill have files I can reasonably slice on the OT.

Am I missing something here?

Say you have 16 clips each 8 bars long. In ableton,lay out a clip every 8 bars, render the sample chain exactly 16x8 bars long, then use Create slice grid, once in the OT (16 slices). Saves time compared to slicing manually in OT.

PS. The number of clips and length is arbitrary, but render the sample chain with length in bars divisible by four. This will usually yield useful slice/loop results with slice grid. How you trigger them is up to you, many possibilities…

Great thread.

Having a good bit of trouble syncing Octa to Ableton… as expected though. Read many threads that advised against but I said I’d give it a go.

At the moment Ableton is master sync wise.

Midi goes: Live->Motu 828->Octa->MD->MnM

No joy. It takes a while for the machines to sync up when I hit play on live and even then the sync seems to drift.

My plan was to add extra soft drums/synths in live and build proper tracks. Sort of incorporate ableton into my live jamming. Not working out that way as I am cintinually adjusting delay times in tracks as the delay between machine and ableton tracks seems to change all the time:(

Can anyone advise me on a decent midi clock type device that would cure this and allow me to sync up 3 elektron boxes?



… Am I after something basic, such as this?


Hi Martin,

imho the state of the art external sync device is this one here:


Unfortunately Ableton has no switch to turn the clock off on the sync-ports, so the elektron boxes receive MIDI-clock from USB and an external signal (i.e. multiclock) over MIDI-port. Some synths (DSI i.e.) have setups where u can decide from which port the clock comes from - Elektron (for the moment) not.

Since Ableton sends the transport commands via sync-port(-button) it’s neccassary to activate them, cause the multiclock cannot send transport.

Until these possibilities of clock routing aren’t included wether in Live nor in the Elektron boxes, it is almost impossible the get a proper sync. There is a chance to calibrate the clock on the output port switches, but sync always needs a half bar to run exactly in time.

Hope this helps a little bit…


I’m very limited with midi understanding and new to OT but I’ve so far also found ableton + OT midi sync unusable. I’ve found that if I rewire ableton from Sonar that everything’s ok though. But this removes the ability to record in ableton. However you can still use most of ableton’s other sorcery… And I ‘think’ I can drag/drop wavs from sonar to ableton, so it’s easy enough to record a loop or whatever in sonar then drag to ableton for warping/arrangement etc. I need to check the drag/drop thing though to remind myself if that’s possible but vaguely remember doing this before.

Aha, so there’s always going to be a sync issue.
I could definitely live with a bar or two or drift before it syncs up, no problem. Like, I don’t wish to perform with live, I just wanted to sync it up with my three Elektron boxes for composition purposes.
Thanks for the multi clock recommendation and the tips, TheDiePie:)
Much obliged.

well, I have the same purpose with the Elektron boxes and therefore sync is a most essential requirement. Imho these boxes were primarily not made for ‘classic composing’ so Overbridge points in the right direction to come a bit closer to straight planned results.

On the other hand, I really lke these ‘accidential’ results! :joy:

What expensive equipment are we talking about? Just curious.

Expert Sleepers makes a handful of MIDI sync devices, at least one of which is specifically for improving DAW stability.
their site doesn’t seem to be loading for me right now though…

Expert Sleepers makes a handful of MIDI sync devices, at least one of which is specifically for improving DAW stability.
their site doesn’t seem to be loading for me right now though…[/quote]
Yeah, their site is down for me also.

It’s taken a while to get it right, but I’ve now got a “set and forget” sync between OT and Live. The way I work is to do all the composition on the OT, and just keep feeding it material from Live. OT is master, Live is slaved, the OT midi sync offset in Live is about -12.8ms in my case. (128k buffer). That’s while monitoring on the OT, with Live coming in through a Thru machine. Yes- it takes a couple bars for Live to sync up, when starting up. However, once it’s locked I don’t have any drift, just some barely perceptible jitter (and I mean barely). Don’t even think about tempo changes with this setup though. Terrible. Audio back to the OT is captured perfectly, but audio from the OT to Live needs the start point adjusted a bit. I use a different amount of midi sync offset to record perfectly synced clips INTO Live.

I’ve done a ton of experiments to get to the numbers I use, but now it works the same way all the time, every time, without an external clock sync device. One thing I’ve noticed though, is that Live’s response to a sync input is non-linear. Meaning, the -12.8ms offset that sounds rock-solid at 120bpm introduces a slight offset between OT and Live at 85bpm. We’re talking really minor here (like an additional -2ms, which some folks might not even care about. I’m OCD for solid sync though.

The non-linearity thing is actually a huge revelation for me, and answers so many baffling Live sync questions I’ve had in the past. I’ll probably put together a list of all the midi sync offsets needed for all my most used tempos, dial 'em in when needed, and be done.

I’m not clear whether there are any external clock options out there that do not require a computer in the equation, but I’d be interested to know!

The interface is an iConnectivity iCA4+, by the way.

Hi guys,
Not a VS thread.
I know lots of you use both the almighty OT and Live with Push, so I was wondering, how do you integrate them and how well do they work?

Is there much overlapping between the two?

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I just want to play my ableton live tracks live and mangle them with the OT…after reading some posts it seems like OT cannot play long samples, right? deal breaker here?

OT can play long tracks no problem, up to about 2 hours, the max size of a wav file…

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Some folks buy, declare false info, and sell the OT before they have any idea what it can do. Sometimes folks read it can’t play long samples, never look into it, and think it’s true even though they’ve owned one for several years… :smile:

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Can anyone help me out with the correct setting to use the OT in ABL10 as a controller ?
I cant seem to find the right setting that I can use the OT sequencer to sequence a Drum Rack or any other instrument.
If I trigger a sample trig by hand (for eaxmple the KICK on nr 9), I can see a midi note being triggered into a drumrack in ableton (its not the correct note, but this is easily fixed), But once I start the sequencer on the OT and program that kick into the sequencer, it will not trigger the drumrack. So manually it works, but not when using that exact same kick in the sequencer itself.

I’m probably overlooking a routing somwhere, but cant seem to find it.
Any help would be fab.