Using the Octatrack solo/standalone

Obligatory mention that I checked heavily for a relevant post and couldn’t find one.

I’ve owned my OT for about 4 months now. I use it along with my other instruments, arrange songs here and there, use it to add vocal samples to compositions written without it.

Still I haven’t gotten much use out of it as a standalone instrument. I really like to sit with each instrument and ‘get to know’ it inside and out. At this point, the DT is basically surgically attached to me, and it never fails in getting me ‘there’. I find myself using the OT the way that I use the DT, which, even with all its extra capabilities, is less satisfying to me. Yes I know scenes, timestretch, extra LFO, user LFO, arp, MIDI LFOs, etc. These are the reason I bought it!

Obviously this can all be chalked up to a matter of preference, and the possibility that it just ain’t the instrument for me, but before humoring the thought of trading it in for something else, I’d like to hear how other people like to use it standalone, how you use it distinctly from the DT/AR, or anything else that will help morph the way I look at the box.

What do you do with scenes that implements everything inbetween the extreme points of the sliders? Where do you direct all your LFOs to? Which ones do you use as an envelope instead? Who bought a DT first and found great use out of both as standalone instruments?

The question is sort of all over the place, but I want to embrace that so that people can chime in with whatever they want. Thanks!

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All of the instruments you mention are so distinct.
Yes, the OT is a “sampler,” but to use it a simply a beefed-up 'Takt would be neglecting some of its biggest strengths. To me, the OT is a modular-sampler/synthesizer.

I can’t imagine using anything else with the OT because it’s so deep. There’s almost too much to concentrate on.

I think it’s a question of continuing to learn about the OT and how you can best utilize it. Concentrate on one aspect at a time.
Put everything else aside and use the OT as your only instrument; that’s the only way to tell if the supremely flexible nature of the OT is for you.


I’ve had the OT about as long as you have. I tried the DT before (twice) and never connected with it. Where I’ve found the OT excels is in mangling loops, which is what I really wanted. I typically have one track with a rhythm pattern (either a pre-made loop or something I’ve made and resampled) and another with a top loop or fill that I can bring in or out fort variation. I’ll have one track with a sliced up melodic party that plays the role of melody or lead line and another track with a loop in the same key (or related key) playing rhythm duty. Another track typically has pad sounds.

Where the OT edges out the DT is in making a song. Different portions of a song will use different sample sets, so different patterns will use different scenes for me. Parts act as kits that preserve common settings so that different patterns don’t sound disjointed. The other aspect is the slider, using it to modulate delay, bit crush the drums, bring in an LFO to add warbler to a pad, french everything in reverb. I feel like the performance aspect there is superior to the DT’s control all ability.

I think about it this way: the patterns are the sheet music, you are the conductor, and the Octatrack is your demented orchestra. Compose accordingly :wink:


Using it as a looper to capture ideas and quickly compose parts has really opened it up for me. Loading samples from the card is fine but creating parts on the fly and then mangling them is where the OT shines.

I’ve posted this before but I’ll share again….
I like to set T1-4 as pickup machines. Then I set T5, 6 and 7 as Flex machines using the same record buffers as T1-3, T8 is a master track. This allows me to capture a part from one of my drum machines/synths/guitars/mic quickly with a pickup machine. Then I can switch over to a flex machine, slice up the loop and re-sequence/mangle what I just captured. All of this happens so quickly, I haven’t found anything else comparable. Not even Live with a launchpad. Having a mixer hooked up helping determine what gets sent in is helpful. I have a Focusrite Rednet system with 32 inputs, I can route stuff and stay DAWless to send any piece of equipment into the OT with 1 or 2 clicks. Once I have a few parts though, I track them out in Live and build from there.


Why don’t you record directly with Flex ?
It would save 3 tracks. On only 1 track you can also set your Flex settings, switch to Pickup, record, then go back to Flex. Saves a track.

1 Pickup can be interesting to record first loop and set tempo, if you’re not in that damn limited range: around 80 / 160 bpm.

otherwise I see only disadvantages or big problems using Pickups. You can overdub with Flex, pitch without timestretch, plock trigs, etc.

Imho OT can be great looper with Flex, or a bad looper with Pickups only. It’s very limited concerning free recording length, or to record something longer than 64 steps. Some workarounds, but it’s the least intuitive “looper” I used.

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I don’t need more tracks for this setup and prefer the way pickup machines work. I don’t have to set trigs or anything to record or even think about the sequencer to capture something live. I’m pretty good at getting solid loops and adjusting the tempo to an even round number is easy. I like to work fast and this setup is my favorite for speed.

I also use different fx and stuff for the pickups and flex machines. I can keep the loop un-mangled in the pickup and have a totally different version on the flex track.

This isn’t the only way I use my OT, just one way I can create on the fly and get use out of all of the mangling OT can do to create unique parts for compositions.

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If you prefer Pickups no problem, if you prefer that workflow; but as you use their buffer with additional Flex tracks, it doesn’t seem simpler in the end…

You can record without trigs with Flex too.

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Not sure why you’re arguing with me. My workflow works for me and works the way I expect 10/10 times.


How about this, share your workflow. Maybe we can all learn.

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I’m not arguing with you. I’m trying to explain why I think it’s better to use Flex directly.

Why you’re arguing with me? :content:


Well anyway, it doesn’t work the same way using flex machines. My workflow above is perfect for the way I like to create.


Here we go, this is a great mental framework for it. Thanks!

I think I would really benefit from looking at the OT from the perspective of being a loop mangler where the DT is more of a one-shot mangler (though I use loops on the DT as well).

I use OT at the heart of my other gear, always using its four inputs, as a mixer, sampler, looper. all the stuff that DT or Rytm are not. So using it standalone makes less sense to me.

If it’s to learn it, I’d focus on mangling. Or hook óne other sound source up, and dive deep into OTs midi sequencer, and make some tracks with material you sample into it from the one other piece of gear.

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+1 for the MIDI sequencer. I sold my Beatstep Pro after I got my OT.

This is a good way of thinking, though OT is the superior machine, DT is more refined, and they both have strengths and weaknesses. Why not come up with something on DT then sample into OT (at which point it becomes standalone in the OT).

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After finding a workflow with the OT, I finally understand all the comments I read that said OT wants to be at the heart of the setup. As a noob, I definitely have a hard time keeping track of more than OT and one other thing at the same time. Having a melodic sound source plugged into the OT opens the door to a lot of possibilities (sample, loop, live record through inputs), without getting too lost.

Ironically, what pushed me toward the OT was the MC707, which is a great standalone instrument but a woefully underpowered looper. Horses for courses, I suppose.

I also find the Digitakt way easier and faster for coming up with beats and melodies. So, recently I decided to use it for that, and then samples those into the Octatrack for messing with.

Or, I keep them both synced, with the beats coming from the DT, and sample other stuff into the octa

I too am struggling to work out the best way to use each of them. I also play guitar, and live sampling into the Octatrack is just great. It’s a fantastic looper.

The most common trick is to sample other devices into the Octa, but how about going the other way? Live sample into the Octa, season to taste, then sample a chop into the Digitakt. Then you can use its superior chromatic playback, and easier conditionals.

I initially thought that the Octa would be a way to capture stuff for arrangement, but I find that getting the samples out of it and into Ableton is such a pain I never do it.

In the end, I’m as confused as the OP.


As a noob I had to understand the OT’s workflow is as modular as the rest of the machine.

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Frenching with reverb… mmmmmmmmmmm


Here’s the thing with the OT that took me way too long to learn: you really, really have to get into resampling to begin unlocking the OT’s true power. You have to give up your sense of control and let the source material become something far different than what you started with. Yes it’s a sampler, but if you treat it as a simple way to sequence oneshots that you’ve loaded onto the card you’ll hit a brick wall immediately.

Once you start resampling your own patterns back into loops you can slice and mangle them into ways you never even thought of before. Be destructive to your audio and abandon committment and you’ll start to think of new ways to use the OT that go beyond a lot of other gear on the market, DAWs included!