OT or separate devices?

Hey all

So basically, I’m at the point where I want to expand my setup a bit from the current A4 + MS-20 (sequenced by the A4 and running through the A4 for fx). What I mostly need is a bit more (and individual) effects, something that can sequence MIDI and something to provide separate (sampled) drum tracks.

As far as I see it my choices are:
a) Mixer + FX unit + something like an MPC
b) Octatrack

Am I right in thinking that the OT would be suitable for my needs? If I haven’t missed anything it has four inputs, so that would mean inputs for my A4 + MS-20 and one more mono device (I’m thinking Moog’s Sub 37).

Pros for OT are: Integrated solution with small footprint, I “know” the Elektron workflow from the A4.
The other choice is easier to expand (I don’t have big plans for more stuff though), also slightly cheaper.

Of course there’s much more the OT can do, so it’s possible that even if I currently only need it for this I’d at some point end up doing the crazy sampling stuff some of you are doing (and that’s sort of the reason I’m considering it).

shure the OT is a powerfull machine which can also be used standalone for studio or live purposes.
8 samples in paralell play plus 8 Midi tracks to control and play external gear…
It is a very good addition for the A4 + MS-20.

If you need only more effects why do not use f.e. a KAOS-PAD 3 or aJomox Resonator Mark II , etc? It is also cheaper than an OT.
But if you need the flexibility of sampling and sample use and maipulation the OT is the best choice.

I have an OT. It will work for all these things, but there’s a question of if it will work the way you want it to.

As a mixer for external gear, it’s a 4-input mixer where you control 1 track at a time unless you hook it up to an iPad running Lemur or something (I can confirm that the lemur solution works).

As an FX processor it is very powerful but comes with no presets and perhaps not with the specific fx you want or need. Also no return tracks. On the other hand, the fx sequencing is a lot of fun. And I grew up using pedals, which also lack presets, so this isn’t an issue for me.

As a MIDI sequencer it’s amazing but note inputs might be a little different than you expect. Unlike the MPC you’d need an external device for velocity recording.

I don’t think there’s a living person that uses all the machine’s features, but it is very deep.

In sum, I recommend it for all your uses, but with the caveat that it will take some learning and possibly extra gear for more control. Can you try one out? At least watch all the training videos.

Edit: forgot to say, workflow is a bit diff from the A4 but they’re made to play together. I use the cue outs through a channel in the A4 as return fx for the whole thing.

Is it for live or studio or both?

Within the limitations of the Octatrack/option B, you can easily view it as it would be (a bit odd version of) option A.
But if you choose option A, how much of option B can you easily do with THAT setup?

In the Octatrack you´ve got the options of having totally different projects/banks/patterns. Where all are as you said an integrated solution. Dependent of what the situation demands (what you need), it forces you into deciding whether it should be a new project totally, or if you may get away with banks/patterns (either “normally” or by clever structure setup in the OT).
Either way the OT can be sculpted for each kind of situation, one perhaps being sample trig playback (manually trigged, programmed or both). Another not dealing with playback sample per se, but instead just using flex tracks to record/sample what you´re doing within the A4 + MS20 etc. Then the crossfader adds to that a kind of huge twist of what possible. But still, if it is for live usage this might be awkvard if you are forced to change between projects just because you want certain things in each songs. As said, it´s dependent of what you think you can´t be without…

Viewing it from the perspective of option A, how much preparation/loading/programming would you need to do. To achieve the same thing as in option B if considering that you would like to have the abovementioned situations aviable?
Another benefit with this setup of option A, is also that you may change any of each part in that setup. More (different) effects: change or add effect unit. More channels or busses/effect send/returns in mixer: change mixer.

It all comes down to how you would like to work:

  1. In expanding your setup of today (i e what are you missing).
  2. What you want to be able to do later on (i e temporarily changing direction), on top of number 1 above.

All of the above?

The OT has soo many possible features in a setup. I use 3 dedicated sets. One as a mixer/processor for my band, one for writing music in the studio and one for researching and experimenting.

It’s not smart to try and use it as an all in one solution, because it tends to become too much in one box. I still prefer a seperate mixer and sometimes I prefer having my FX elsewhere and only use the OT as a sequencer and mixer. etcetera…

Thanks for the quick answers!

It’s for studio use, though studio is overselling it a bit! This means that quickly switching between entirely different projects/setups isn’t necessary, but of course it’s always nice to just turn on an effect for a track instead of rewiring everything.

The expandability seems to be the really important question here. With the way I approach music/synths I don’t see myself going for a rack full of effects etc., but of course anything can happen. Going separate units really seems like the more future-proof option, but I could get the OT now as a short-term solution (the small footprint really is a selling point in my current apartment) and then buy the other stuff when I actually need them.

And an easily expandable solution seems like it’s going to be dangerous for my wallet :neutral_face:

My wallet is already crying! :sob:

My wallet is already crying! :sob:
Mastering a few devices is what leads to great music, not using many. (huscian proverb :wink: )

And it saves you a lot of money…

You are looking at:

Two devices assigned to two Thru tracks.
Two or three tracks for drum samples.
Three or four tracks for sampling/resampling.

This is plenty. As you see in the comments the OT can do many things. It is also quite fun when you bring a friend with an ipad or whatever they might have. It is a fun machine after you learn it. Learning it requires patience.

The OT takes a moment to get used to. having good knowledge of the A4 will help you a lot but it is a beast and you will have a lot of: Wah?!?, no wait moments.

I think the set of gear you have will work well with the OT and will offer synergy. It also depends on your music style. I think you will not gain much by getting the Moog, it is big too.

For live use, all devices leading to the OT inputs simplifies the many many decisions you have to make and puts it all under one console. Super powerful and only a few trade-offs. The scene lever ruling all of your inputs is awesome and fun. One significant trade off is that the MIDI controls are in one mode and the sound controls are in the other and you can only turn one instrument’s knobs at a time. The scenes help on this but you can’t scene MIDI knobs.

For studio use, I’d add an external effects processor. It adds variety and frankly, the effects are not my favorite thing about the box. I find them a little dark. The Q-filter emphasizes aspects of the spectrum well but I don’t care for the resonance. The DJ filter and regular EQ are great and folks find creative use of the rest of them but if you want a great reverb that sounds like another reverb you have or likewise, delay, these

I like the sequencer a lot. Micro-timing is cool. You can send chords. You can configure 10 knobs to custom CC settings. However, my experience is you want to send the CC value on a previous step so it has time to get there before you hit a note.

The A4 has performance macros so that you don’t have to change scenes to change settings. The scene slider takes on this role.


Thanks for the input everyone. I’m not buying anything right now (probably in a month or two), so I’ll have some time to think through how I want to approach my setup in the future. The OT seems like an attractive choice right now (and it’s a sexy little thing!), but I’ll keep an eye out for any good deals on used gear which might help me make a decision :slight_smile: