OT expectations/Where it fits in your workflow

Had my OT for a few weeks, had about 20 hours on it.

Does a ton of stuff I didn’t really understand before buying. Doesn’t do some stuff I assumed it would. Had some bug problems that Elektron are on the case with. Overall very happy with it so far.


I’m totally fucking lost as far as where it fits in my work flow…

Love sitting down and just getting random with it. Love the hands on ‘this isn’t a laptop’ aspect. Love that it’s making me think more about intergrating my other hardware more at home (previously mainly just used for shows. Now thanks to the OT midi sequencing I’m thinking more about possible hardware combinations etc all the time. I could have done this with a daw midi output before but never really bothered for some reason). Love that it has huge sample audio pool to dig through.

But I’m really struggling with how long things take and how fiddly editing/mixing/comping etc is. I’m probably going to get a bunch of replies saying ‘you’ve only had it a couple of weeks. It take 3 months to get in to it and forever to totally master it’. I guess what I’m looking for is some kind of idea about what I should expect in terms of are a lot of people making complete songs inside OT or do a lot of people do the bulk of composition on a laptop still? After the teething process is OT a quick enough/deep enough machine to write full songs?

At the moment I find myself tinkering away on it for a few hours, all the time totally engrossed and having fun (albeit with a lot of stalls and hiccups)… But then when I turn it on the next day and listen back Im thinking, ‘damn, I could have done that in 5 minutes on a laptop…’. Maybe not the exact same thing, probably not quite so expressive or random, but I guess like 95% and can’t help thinking that the other 5% is maybe worth sacrificing in return for all the convenience of writing in a daw…

Basically at the moment I’m thinking I’ll keep it but the role I imagined it having is probably going to change to an ideas sketch pad/external sampler to sync with daw for hands on elements & pattern creation/part of my live setup. I know it’s early on but I just really can’t see myself ever writing complete songs (except for some minimal field recording/interludes kinda stuff) on it without it taking about 50 times longer than it would in a daw. Is anyone finding the opposite to be true after learning the OT?

I’m not knocking the OT, it’s definitely going to find a lot of uses here. But I think the 64bar restriction and arranger and a lot of the other little nuances are just gonna make it too frustrating/laboursome to do any intricate full length songs ITB with 8+ tracks of audio + midi.

Guess time will provide the answer for me, just curious how many people have totally ditched laptop after getting an OT or if for most people it’s more like another weapon in the arsenal, in addition to laptop as main writing environment.

Dang, long post, sorry!

i’ve been looking the OT for well over a year now, and to honest, what you said in your post is the exact reason I haven’t pulled the trigger. I don’t like most of the beat stuttering, sample mangling, incoherent jams that people post online, and I still have no idea if the OT would be feasible for making full tracks with. By appearances, it looks like it funnels people into that same sort of jam-noodling crap that I hate, and i would be really bummed to spend that much money on sample mangler.

One thing I’ve read is that it has limited sample lengths. That could be a problem if you want to use samples of a long melodies or something like that.

Also not a fan of the SD card problems that people have (i.e… broken pins).

The last major issue for me is file management. Is it so much of a pain in the ass that i deters people from making tracks that sound intentional and designed?

Great post.

Not an answer to the OP - although this demonstrates a neat minimalistic setup integrating external gear to perform a track (dunno if he composed it on the Octa) - but also dispels any suggestion that this is just a glitch machine:

Hey callofthevoid, here’s the way I use the octatrack; I’ve only had mine about two weeks but found it quite a simple machine to use though I pretty much just focus focus on learning the parts of it I would use for my tracks (ex. I would never use it as a looper so I just ignore those functions).

I just use it how I would an mpc or other hardware sampler. I find the sampling on the octatrack to be kinda annoying (when sampling a sound source) and just takes too long to get what I want so I pretty much just upload audio from my computer.

So I got a bunch of drum kits on it, bass hits, field recordings, and then random vinyl samples, chords and other audio I either record into my daw from different sources. I like having these different “audio pieces” rather than full loops because I can get a better mix out of it. And then I just build full tracks using scenes for transitions in a song and other patterns on the same part for bridge variations. And then once I have a full beat with different scenes and stuff I just record it into my daw as a live take muting and unmuting instruments, adjusting scenes and using send effects on my mixer.

It’s basically replaced reason/ maschine for me though there are certain type of tracks a daw would come easier in which case he octatrack would still be my drum machine, and bass sounds better on it than a daw to my ears.

But it’s a two part process: spend time making audio samples/ getting vinyl samples, and then making music.

What genre of music do you make?

[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.701961)]I use my OT in a variety of ways. I bought it mainly as a live performance tool, a laptop replacement. This is how I’ve used since I got it over a year ago, I use it in conjunction with an A4 and a Kaoss pad and it’s bloody great. It definitely has limitations but I found ways to work within them and get great results. I also use it in the studio and I guess you could say I treat it like a sample synthesiser, or rhythm/beat/texture synthesiser. I make melodically lush, techno influenced, glitchy electronica so I guess it’s a good fit for me, I love glitching out. But yeah, my workflow is basically that I make cool sounds on it and if I decide they’re usable I then record them in and use them. As with all my hardware (I have a fair amount) including all my elektrons, my tracks start in hardware and get finished in software. It’s just what works for me I guess. I think it’s also worth mentioning that it really helps your workflow with any hardware to have everything all plumbed in and ready to go at all times. In the case of the OT that means not only are the outputs ready but so are the inputs. I spent a lot of time figuring out a good way to set everything up physically so that there are very few hassles when I want to get creative.

[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.701961)]Cool post, the OT is unique, keep using it :slight_smile:

[color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.701961)]PS. don’t ignore the arranger, cool things can happen, especially with long sequences, as long as you like in fact.

Oh and the stuff I make on the octatrack is non-glitch, it can be used to make any type of music, not sure why it is so often taken down the glitch route but there’s a lot more you can do with it than just that.

in a few minutes, Sugar-Bytes software lets me do things that takes me an hour to do on the OT.

but the laptop stuff feels like it was made by someone else and i’m just adjusting the settings. the OT stuff is mine from creating the sounds to sampling them to isolating the bits to use to creating patterns to performing them via the slider and the arranger.

could a listener tell the difference between my stuff and the Sugar-Bytes creations? hell no!

but i would know.

i suggest the OP sell and move on. as i wrote when you first got bogged down in the OT: skip all the headaches and go back to the laptop. use the tools you like best to make the kind of music you like most. you’ve given it a fair shot.

I’m on the same boat, and I believe there are more of us here.

In fact, most OT owners I know personally make their tunes in DAWs and import tracks to the OT for messing around live. I guess even as tactile as making beats on the OT gets, it’s hard to beat a 20" or more display. But you’re making music with your eyes more than your ears and not everyone is comfortable with that. I’ve done an experiment lately by sacrificing 1 whole day to making beats on the OT and another one to making beats on my laptop, using only mouse as an external device. The goal was to make complete tracks, and unfortunately the result was 0 to 2 in favor of the DAW. This situation alone made me almost certain I want to swap the OT for an AR and go back to Ableton with some added OTB action.

But then again, there is some magic within this box that’s hard to describe. Jamming out on it just feels great, even though it’s usually not productive. Tunes I’m pulling out on it are not making things easier (my inspirations are somewhere between Flying Lotus and Burial, so a bit more difficult to pull out than 4x4 techno with all that heavy swing and emulating sidechain with custom LFOs - it’s great for atmospheres however!) but even though I could click them out more efficiently using my mouse, it would never felt as much “my own” as it’s with the OT.

There’s also one more thing: OT really seems to be giving back. The time you sacrifice to learning it does miracles. I’m noticing the more I jam out with it, the less I’m looking for options / browsing the manual, and the more I’m just sweeping through menus like I’m pulling out a combo playing Tekken :slight_smile: I guess it’s a normal learning process, but it feels so much better than when I was learning a DAW. Makes me feel almost like I’m a musician! Also I devoted some time lately to build my sample library the way it’s supposed to be - sample chains and all that jazz - and damn, did that help.

With all that wall of text behind me, I’m still on the fence. But the more I use it, the less I want to seal the swap deal. I guess I’ll just keep using both for now and see where things go.

TL;DR: OT is awesome, but DAW is faster for making tunes. Wat do?

I shared/share some of your concerns. Sample length isn’t really a problem though. You can stream long samples from the card in Static slots. And if you want to record long samples in OT you can juggle/combine recording buffers to give you 8 minutes or so and then save and stream from card, freeing up your sampling ram again. Kind of a hassle but unless you’re planning on using the OT like an 8-track audio recorder I don’t think it’s something you’d need to worry about doing too often.
The file management is kind of a pain but Rusty’s Octa edit software sounds like it’ll be a godsend in that area. And even as it is it isn’t so different from saving files on a laptop etc. Not a deal breaker aspect of OT for me anyway, just could be better laid out for quickness/convenience.
Re the OT funneling users toward glitchy music. It definitely excels in that but it’s avoidable and has a ton of other features that are yours to take in whatever direction you choose. I’m not really in to glitchy stuff, to me it has to be very very good for it to not sound kinda non-descript and cliché. But each to their own and I think it’s ultimately down to the user rather than the machine…

Ha, I like the Tekken combo metaphor :wink: Think I’m pretty similar to you with work flow. I like Flying Lotus & Burial. Though what I’m looking to do is slightly more of chaotic/organic mix, kinda like a Black Dice/Animal Collective/Morgan Delt/Ariel Pink/John Maus soup. I guess things will feel more natural/instinctive the more I use the OT. I have most functions down already but it’s still kind of a stuttery work flow, once I find a flow on it I think it will definitely be a pretty significant part of my setup though.

It’s definitely a keeper. I’ve never used a laptop for shows and the OT is basically the best sampler out there right now, so even if it’s not the centre of my writing setup I think it’s still gonna be pretty inspiring/useful here.

Seems like opinion/work flow is pretty evenly split, so I’m not gonna feel too bad about potentially not using a lot of the OT features. Maybe I’ll use it more as standalone/hub in future once I’ve totally nailed it.
This morning I setup Sonar with Ableton rewired and midi out from Sonar to OT. And 4 line inputs/outputs cabled up between my interface and OT. The sync seems solid and this setup feels like it fits perfectly with how I’m used to doing stuff giving me a ton of options while still giving the OT a place where it can earn it’s keep :wink: and obviously I can still use OT for standalone jamming/coming up with random ideas and song parts. So it’s all good!

i’m using it for live and not for production!
if you dont want a laptop on stage just put everything you make on the computer into OT.
i’m am also dissapointed from the OT workflow and yes, the sampling quality…
but for live is ok and you can make some “improvisation” on it or something like that…

Yep, I’ll be using mine in a similar way I think. Such a fun box for coming up with spontaneous little parts/sounds.

Nice Ambient Track

Somewhat same experience.

I still appreciate using it as a sketchpad, in my case I work out different melodies / rythms when using the step sequencer and my ears compared to Piano Roll / Midi Keyboard.

But for fleshing out and arranging I find the workflow too cumbersome and limiting. Especially when collaborating!

I am trying to go all in the OT box.

After 8 months this is my first ‘proper sounding’ completed tune…

Definitely took me a while to get my head around how to make something that flows in a conventional structure and builds to something approaching a programmed ‘drop’ with just 64 steps patterns.

I think is having a clear idea of what you want to make and some nice samples and probably a time limit is key.

This was a sample pack collaboration challenge. Truth (NZ dubstep) unloaded about 30 samples -mix of 1 drum loop, hat loop, couple of reese basses, some stabs foley etc. Having nicely processed sounds definitely helps keep things getting to cluttered when your messing with them in the OT.

Wasn’t a rule about sticking to those samples only, but I did to see how much milage I could get with the OT.

Other key part was getting into the arranger with 16 x 64 step patterns and a couple of halts for some nice hanging drones…with lots of programmed sample locks and plocks.

Had to bounce down a few of the cut up loops as well to save tracks (trick is to remember to save your recordings to a free flex and don’t assign to the buffer itself!).

Tried to avoid the mangling aspect etc. Didn’t use scenes or get to crazy on the modulations.

I think that the mangling power of the OT can also be a trap.

Could probably polish it more with some extra time but moving on to to the next one… hopefully it won’t be another 8 months now that I’ve got the hang of it

I find it interesting reading through these posts, I feel I might be one of the only users who feels the octatrack workflow is pretty straightforward and much more productive than using a daw.

I guess I see it as more focused, like going from reason to machine for me boosted my productivity because instead of having a completely open ended system you went back to ok where’s my drums, bass, melody etc. like with the octatrack my first four tracks are almost always kick, snare, hi hat, and bass. So now I got three more tracks to mess with.

I like that my choices are limited but at this point in my music I’m kind of sick of having a million choices or 10 different software synths and constantly programming sounds, though if I’m making a track with a more traditional arrangement I might center it around a daw sequencer workflow rather than the octatrack.

For those who feel the sample management is difficult just make a folder on your computer label it something like “octatrack samples” and then have sub folders in it for bass, snare etc. and then just keep adding samples over time and updating it on the octatrack, works really well for me. And even if you make volume changes to a sample on the octatrack it saves it.

Agree with this. OT really forces you to work with 8 tracks at hand…
I find the musical elements of those last 3 tracks are more more potent because of it, but its still a bit tricky to map out a traditional sequenced arrangement with repeatable/programmed transitions.
Not necessarily a bad thing… just have to focus on 2 tracks in a transition rather than having everything happening at once

So I recorded one half of my live set (second half coming soon) using the OT and the A4. I figured it might be of interest to people in this thread. Enjoy :slight_smile: