Octratrack vs Ableton Live question

So be honest, can you accomplish most of what the Octratrack can do , much faster, if you did it in Ableton Live? I totally get the appeal of working outside a DAW/computer and doing stuff live . But I would like to know, given you’re ok with using a mouse for now, how does Octratrack’s workflow stack up to Live’s in terms of efficiency and speed? And what can it do that Live can’t?

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To answer that depends on ones mindset I suppose. On one hand it doesnt fare well at all. On the other, it’s not a fair comparison and, once up to speed, the OT can take you places that would take a little longer to reach in Ableton.

Getting down to brass tacks, probably very little with a chunk of fannying about within Live. But, when it comes to immediate sample mangling there isn’t much out there in the software world in general that can do the things the OT can do. With at least 3 LFO’s to use, the p-locks & sequencer, application of recorder buffers, etc, etc it’s this sort of stuff it excels at.

Ableton is my comfort zone. If I’m looking ot build a regular tune in line with the stuff I listen to then I currently wouldn’t go near the OT. But, the OT fascinates. It takes material places you would never have considered. Genuinely unlocks doors a lot of the time.


The OT is a good sketch pad for generating ideas, but the power of Ableton or another daw is required to compose complete tracks


Thanks for that remark. That leaves me the option to get the Octatrack MKI next year, in my case the MKII would be over the top price/expectation wise.

The OT and Ableton are quite different eco-systems. There are some similarities, sure, but also many differences. Both compare badly.

For me the workflow on the OT is completely different compared to Ableton. The operation of all Elektron instruments using their sonic options together with the built-in sequencers is, after some training, much more like playing an instrument live. But if I’m using a DAW, I tend to construct clips, arrangements, tracks piece by piece. This said, I use both, but enjoy the different approaches to generate ideas and entire tracks … with different outcomes, of course.

With the integrated Ableton sound and midi tools and some plug-ins, it should be possible, to get very close to results, which could be generated by an OT sonically and track-wise. But if we watch how great artists like Project Dataline (aka Jenk) are performing on those Elektron machines in a live situation, I would say, not really possible with Ableton even combined with Push. Why …

The accessability of almost all parameters of a complex sound engine via p-locks is unrivaled, AFAIK. Just think about more then 200 parameters of the OT. Just move one of the encoders to change something, hold down one of the trig-keys in step-record mode and make a change. Without doing more, it’s accepted and stored directly to the track. Imagine doing this with a similar complex sound-plug-in or an instrument/effect rack in Ableton using so many different CC-parameters in a live situation. I would say … a nightmare :wink:

I would say:

  1. If your goal is something like creative creation of clips and launching or working in a MPC like style, Ableton with Push could be the solution.
  2. If you would like to play a flexible instrument with many sound-mangling options at your fingertips without the need of much thinking and planning ahead, go for the OT.

… only to reconsider after vast experience with the MKI :wink:

thanks for the long response. But couldnt you accomplish these things with Max For Live’s Granulator? For example, I am using my Beatstep pro to generate “trigs” that select different chunks of the sample loaded. And using Max’s LFOs to modulate any parameter I want. I do however get what you’re saying as when I use my Analog Rytm I get to places I wouldn’t have thought to get to if I was just making drums in my DAW

yeah that makes sense and its why I love my RYTM. The one thing that holds me back from an OCtratrack is the small menu. For the RYTM its ok because drum sounds are not that complex, especially 1 shots. But I’m not sure how the workflow is goign to be when using long samples and wanting a very specific result or outcome. I might get frustrated. Also, loading and then accessing samples into my RYTM always has seemed like a big creative block to me. I hate doing it. So I end up being lazy with my RYTM a lot of the times

Vastly different. One has limitations and the other doesn’t.

The display and menu should be no problem. Most of us developing some kind of muscle memory after some time of usage and the display get’s less important.

Working with long samples may sometimes be not as comfortable compared to a computer display, but it’s not too bad.

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The OT reminds me of Live lite under the hood.
Track limitations, effects limitations, etc.
But that’s the beauty of hardware, you work with what it does and create what you can.

The workflow is very different with hardware.
Somethings seem more convoluted, but all the fat is trimmed, so you don’t waste hours and hours trying to decide on endless options.


thanks for all the great responses. leaning towards getting one now! too much GAS

Live runs on a general purpose computer running a general purpose OS, which is a different sort of limitation.

Also it is criminally overpriced.

Agreed. Especially compared to Reason and Logic

Isn’t Reason basically the same price as Live Standard? And I guess Apple should be able to push down the price on the software to help keep people on board with their pricy computers


I recently purchased a Octatrack MK2. I am also beta testing Ableton 10.

The Octatrack, as mentioned, has limitations compared to Live, but that’s what makes it a great way to make music. I get things done quickly and find myself being far more creative due to the quick availablity of the settings. Hardware just encourages you to twist knobs.

However, Live 10 utilises the screen of Push 2 far more which makes the use of laptop screens less necessary. This leads to moments where the laptop really does become something on the background.

I’m bouncing between making tracks with Live and my Elektron boxes, and with Elektron boxes only. The intention is to perform some of my stuff; the Octatrack would be a great for doing this.

If it was one or the other . . . Well, Push 2 and live 10 will be a formidable combination. It will also be about the same price as an Octatrack. Plus, you need a good computer to run it on. However, if you only have one platform, I think Ableton is a terrific product with huge scope.

Perhaps this response reflects my inexperience with the Octatrack. Perhaps it reflects the fact I’ve been a Live user for nearly 12 years. I would love to become proficient enough with the Octatrack to move more into hardware but currently I find myself doing most things with help from the laptop and Ableton.

I hope this offers some help.



For me it is about getting lost in the vast amount of possibilities in Ableton as well as any other DAW.
For me it is difficult to stay focussed with software.
Push tries to make that easier but again… too many ways of getting distracted
The OT may be difficult to learn, everyone makes his own experiences there, but for me it was a relief to experience the limitations and have a button or knob for every function, or a shortcut :slight_smile:
I can keep the focus much better with my elektron boxes …
That is the reason I kicked the computer out of making music.


I have Ableton Push2 and a Macbook and tested out Elektron gear. The laptop with Ableton and Push can do more but I much prefer the Elektron gear for live performances as it feels more like a hands on instrument and is more fun. For studio and live, Ableton is great but for just live events, I hate focusing on the laptop screen versus playing an instrument. Ideal world- get both. BUT if you do more live DJ type music events, the Elektron will push you harder to do more with less and have more fun.

I really dig the Elektron MD that my friend loaned me and when funds come up, I want an Octatrack to use to sample live instruments and use for live events.

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It’s an interesting thing where when you design a piece of hardware, you design the software for the hardware. Ableton is kind’ve a reverse case, Push came after Ableton, therefore Ableton is shoehorned into Push as best as possible. I personally think that if Ableton and Push are to truly leap forward, they would completely redesign their software Instruments and Effects in such a way that meaning was congruent between both the soft and Push-based interfaces. That is part of the beauty of Elektron hardware, you know these were designed in tandem.

Further, Ableton is a lot about building chains of things and assigning macros and doing midi mappings and stuff like that, to get a workable instrument that you desire. With something like the OT, it’s already there. And lastly, the big difference, really, is Ableton, if it is to compete with the Octatrack, is really Ableton + Push (or another controller) + an Audio interface. That’s 3 machines / devices vs 1. I definitely think what Ableton are pursuing is interesting however, the idea of Push, or to a larger degree the idea of Ableton as an Instrument, or the studio as Instrument, is a great concept to chase.

In my own, ideal fantasy world, Ableton Push is standalone, has a built in audio interface, is half the size, and is completely functional without the Ableton Live software, but once plugged into a laptop, you have your full set there ready for editing, tweaking, bouncing mastering etc. I’m not sure that day will ever come, but if it ever does, I think it’d topple the OT as an all in one box. For now, realistically, its 3 boxes.