Octatrack workflow questions

I just got my octatrack and I’ve already got the elektron-headache i remember from when I got my monomachine a few years back. :slight_smile:

The question i have is: what is the best way to recreate my music on the OT?
Should i export each track individually from my DAW in their entirety or should I export loops and loop them on the OT for more flexibilty when playing live?

My music has a lot of melodies, delay and reverb, so perhaps there might be issues of pops and clicks if I use loops.

I hope my question isn’t too weird and I apologize if it has been asked before.

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This is one way. I haven’t done this yet but it I’ve gleaned the method from a couple of users on the board and put the following together based on that information. Hopefully one of them might jump in and correct any errors in my understanding.

Mix your stems down to a max 8 tracks - 7 if you want to use channel 8 as Master on the OT or keep a spare channel for live sample triggering and/or mix resampling.

Make sample chains from each stem for each track, keeping their lengths appropriate for slicing in the OT. i.e 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 16, 24, 32, 48 or 64

So let’s say you have a track that splits comfortably into 48 x 8 bar sections. You can then load those 8 x 384 bar stems into the OT, assign them to machines and tracks and slice each one of them to 48s.

Set the Tempo Multiplier to 1/2 so those 8 bar loops will work within the OT 4 bar scale.

Then use scenes to lock in the next stem slice for each track and parts to give you access to more scenes as and when required. The OT gives you 16 patterns per bank, 4 parts and sixteen scenes per part = total of 64 scenes per bank. If you use 1 bank per song / track that will give you a 16 track set without having to stop and load a new project. Each of your stems will take up 8 sample slots (they have to be static machines as they are large files and will eat up the OT ram too quickly for you to use Flex). Once more you will be able to play a 16 track set this way as there are 128 static sample slots ( 8 stem chains x 16 tracks = 128).

Working this way you don’t have to worry about patterns too much as the same pattern with a trig on the first beat of each track can be used in each bank.(or see Biologik’s transition tip below for plays free, ableton style launching without programmed trigs. It’s very cool) It’s the scenes and slice locks that are going to move you through your sliced stems.

With that basic structure it’s up to you how much Live flexibility you leave yourself. You could say leave one channel free on the OT to trigger off samples live over the top of your looping sections using slots mode. The 128 flex sample slots could for example be populated with up to about 8 minutes of stereo samples ( depending on how much ram you assign to your recording buffers). You could also use that spare track to resample your mix and remix elements of it by assigning the recorder buffer to play back on that track and programming triggers and p locks to mess with your tune …depends on your style I guess.

Check out Biologik’s transition tip here.

This method enables you to create smoother transitions between tracks , swapping out one track at a time if you wish.

Hope this helps and provides some pointers for further exploration. I’m still trying to find the best workflow for prepping stuff for Live performance myself. The OT gives you so many options it can get mighty confusing…

If you use Live as your daw this clip might help you figure out how best to mix down your tracks into stems to load into the OT. He’s actually detailing how to go from a studio multitrack version of take Live arrangement to one that can be played live from Ableton’s session view but the principle remains the same and will give you ideas about how best to approach it even if you use another daw.


Have fun.

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Wow, Thanks!
I’ll spend the weekend trying to make sample chains.
I have all my tracks in Logic Pro X, but hopefully that won’t be a problem.

I use stems prepared in Logic. I don’t often slice them up as they’re usually 4, 8 or 16 bar phrases. Also with delay/reverb as part of the sound. Sometimes using Logic automation to dip the volume to zero at the end of the phrase can help avoid a ‘pop’ - a bit crude, but if you add effects in the OT it’s usually inaudible enough.

Don’t be afraid to put a complete drum mix onto one stem. If you use the steeper filter setting in the OT, you can play with exteme filtering in your scenes for radical dub-style remixes. Getting the LFOs to sweep filter base, width etc can give more variation. Works very satifactual for moi!

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so much cool advice here already. would like to ask, does it change the sound much if the Octatrack ‘chops’ an audio loop?

recently i pressed the big red button and wiped my OT drive, and updated to the very most recent OS…

this time around, i am keeping everything in 24bit. and the difference is audible. richer, deeper, more sparkling sound quality.

^ this.
+1 … even try experimenting with what you export as fodder for the Octatrack. Like in ableton, i really like just getting a breakbeat loop in, and automating the volume so only a couple of beats sound from it, the rest silent. i then do this with two other loops. really easy for subtle volume envelope manipulation. Export this as something for the Octatrack, and when in the OT, with parameter locks, the situation becomes uber creative.

it could be my imagination but i am noticing that the OT really shines when i give her a partial stem mix as a four bar loop. Say … half the drums, a bass synth and maybe one chord stab… all with the 4 bar loop. Somehow, the algorithm that the OT uses for time stretching is sounding really nice to my ears when working with mixed-instrument loops which are fairly sparse, while still retaining a mix of rhythmic and tonal content.

Hello zeropoint thanks for the tip. I especially like the Tom Cosm vid. Quick question how would I export each audio clip on live as an wave sample? Is there a quick an easy way?

Anyway thanks for the tip.

yes, many thanks zeropoint …
fantastic, really awesomely cool advice, cheers for the share.

Thanks all. Glad to be of assistance.

@ geneoart…not sure what you’re trying to do.

If you follow the process in the Cosm vid you will end up with your group stems inside the “recorded” folder for the project. Make sure you have Live set to 24 bit recording by the way. Also make sure you do the group bounce at the tempo you want to play them back at in the OT and that warp is off for each of your resampled stems. Then mount your OT to the desktop via USB and drag those files into your audio pool or create folders per track on the OT card and drag them into there

If you mean just a single stem or sample chain, you can consolidate the separate clips into one file for chopping in the OT using CTRL J. You’ll find those files in the Processed/ Consolidated folder for the project. By the way I learnt today that Live normalizes consolidated files (unless they’ve made that optional in 9) so if that’s an issue “export” the stems instead.

Does that answer your question ?

@ previewlounge - the OT won’t change the sound when chopping the files as such but you might end up the odd pop or click at the beginning or end of the slice depending on the material. I steer clear of allowing the OT to cut at zero crossings, preferring to audition the slices myself and edit if necessary.

I have now created a few sample chains and slices them in a static machine.
I’m having trouble selecting which slices to to trig på the sequencer…

I’ll keep looking through the manual but if anyone wants, they´re more than welcome in helping me!


you’d need a flex machine to have slices available

you’d need a flex machine to have slices available[/quote]
No you don’t. You need a flex if you want to select the recorder buffer for playback or slicing.
Start parameter on the playback page selects the slice.

you’d need a flex machine to have slices available[/quote]
No you don’t. You need a flex if you want to select the recorder buffer for playback or slicing.
Start parameter on the playback page selects the slice. [/quote]
oops, sorry - never mind then … didn’t know

@ tasmansea…I think perhaps you were getting confused with needing a flex if you want to modulate the slice number with an LFO …