Octatrack for music production, but not for live - still useful?

Hi there -

Big fan of Elektron stuff (even though I only own a Digitakt… so far!). I may have the opportunity to pick up an A4 and an Octa (MK1’s).

Wondering if the Octa is still a helpful piece of gear to have in the studio, if my main goal is production and not playing live (the latter I understand is part of what the Octa is praised for).

I use Ableton Live as my main DAW. I really like the p-locks and probability trigs that form part of the Elektron workflow.

I’m trying to determine if the Octa would help me develop ideas in the studio. What are some use-cases where you think it would be helpful in that regard? How powerful is it, in terms of sound design and coming up with interesting sequences (in ways unique to itself)?

Apologies if my question is overly broad. Hopefully some of you may understand what I’m getting at…

Thanks for any input in advance.

it will totally still be fun and useful. but at the same time, Ableton can already do pretty much everything the OT can. so the tactile nature of it will be a novelty and a luxury more than something crucial to your workflow i think. but i guess thats true for most digital hardware.


I can’t play guitar, so I got the OT instead. Still useful :slight_smile:

…ableton wit or wat…the ot remains a truu music instrument…

and as much it can push all ur no computer on stage wet dreams so easily…

it IS a big and unique sounddesign weapon in any recording/producing process…
especially because u don’t have to stay with all the logic it needs upfront and constantly if u rely on it to do all the heavylifting at once…

in the studio u can just go mad with it…use all it’s cpacity for just one little thing…or buckle up with four or five neighbor machines at once…it’s endless…

How do you use the Digitakt in the context of using Ableton Live as your “main DAW”?

Do you know what the differences are between the Digitakt and the Octatrack?

Hi Peter - I stream the digi over usb to my daw. I’ll typically let a pattern play for a minute or two and pick out the bits from each track that I like and incorporate that into the track I’m working on in my daw. I might also use the digitakt to sequence some other gear as well and print the output of that.

The strong point for me in that context is the fact that my digitakt can ouput interesting, somewhat unpredictable patterns b/c of the p/locks and trig conditions. This helps turn, for example, an otherwise static one/two bar hi-hat pattern into something more interesting.

My understanding of the differences between the digitakt and octa are:
Octa can sample in stereo, has more LFOs (and maybe more destinations, like fx?), a song/arrange mode, ability to morph between two states/scenes with the a/b slider, no overbridge, its fx are apparently so-so… beyond that, it gets a little fuzzy for me. This, despite watching youtube vids and reading up on various forums.

Thanks for your input

Yeah its great for sound mangling. I use it as a mixer at home, everything I record goes thru the OT. Easy to sample and mangle if inspiration hits

I would say if your after straight tracks in the traditional sense with no mangling then no. I cant see the point unless as a looper for jamming.

I know people use it to sequence drums, the sequencer is fun to use and capable of a lot of tricks that will take more effort in a daw. 4 outputs mean you can have 4 tracks with a dedicated out recorded to separate channels in a daw, so easy to mix ITB.

Like for example jungle breaks are really fun to do on the OT.

Yes time on drums spent on a Daw is a biggy. It would take you ages to input what the OT can do in seconds.


I’m currently integrating the OT into my home studio, and I learned first hand that it works best as a unique station where you compose on it, and then copy the wavs out.

I’m still new to it, but have spent a lot of time configuring how I want it to work (and we all know its actually the OT configuring me :slight_smile: ).

The setup and learning would be my only warnings. If you want something deep to dive into, and explore, it’s awesome. But it’s not “pick up and play” until you practice a lot with it (and I’m not there yet).

I’m using the OT to record guitar, and then mess with it.

I also started with a DT, and have it fully integrated into my setup. I use the midi sequencer to drive my snths (Argon8, PRO3, Iridium, plus Omnisphere as VST), and I found I prefer sketching ideas on the DT vs a DAW.


I’m into mangling sounds, just not so much “live.” What I mean by that is that I prefer (i.e. lazy) setting things up so that the mangling is somewhat pre-determined (with the digitakt) by the settings/parameters I’ve selected/tweaked in the pattern sequence. In other words, I let the machine do the heavy lifting in terms of improvisation.

One question I would have in relation to this is, in what ways does the Octa perhaps provide more options for that kind of “set it and forget it” morphing-mangling of sound/patterns vs the digitakt?

More memory, more features, crossfader etc. It just has more of everything, as well as the different Machines. Digitakt cant really even mangle samples compared to the OT.

It can improvise quickly, but remember most of the time you wont like what you get. So you may waste a bit of time there. If your really radical then you can just push everthing to the limits and be damned. :slight_smile:

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This is where the OT cannot be beaten IMO. You can slice to 2,4,8,16,32,64 steps then drop some trigs then randomize which slices will be played on which step (OT slice menu “create random locks”). You can replace the audio out from under a track like this and keep going. It’s madness :smiley:

Other OT strong points:

  • Loops. It really loves them. I wasn’t much of a loop kinda guy before I got one but I’m slowly becoming one and I like the results. And I don’t mean using loopy sample packs, I mean sampling your own material into loops and finding a whole other level of texture you can get when you do it.
  • It’s your favorite synth’s best friend. OT’s sequencer is great. Midi out -> synth -> OT audio in for added effects + sampling and you’re having a great time.
  • Per track effects (might be the only Elektron box with all effects available on all tracks individually)
  • Many more effects to choose from than the “lower” models.
  • So much nicer to program drums on an Elektron device than in a DAW

The downside is that it’s an investment to learn it all. I think it’s well worth it but you should be enthusiastic or you might have a bad time. I have had many moments where I wasn’t sure if I would ever be OK with a device that made me feel so hopeless. You get it eventually. It’s by far the most complicated device I ever owned so maybe I had to get used to not “getting it” immediately with a musical device. I’m a software developer so I’m used to not understanding things but interestingly it didn’t translate to the OT. :man_shrugging:


Thanks for those details. I’m pretty much set on getting the octa at this point… just trying to justify the purchase - haha The upside with buying used, I suppose, is that if for some reason I don’t mesh with it, reselling at little/no loss should be relatively easy…

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Glad I could help! I know this isn’t what you want to hear but I can’t fathom not having the extra buttons the MK2 has. The weird shortcuts to get to those functions are crazy. At least make yourself a cheatsheet of the shortcuts that are equivalent to those extra buttons. I use them constantly.

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