Brand new OT, no idea how to start!

If I were you I’d load up a small amount of samples and put them in a dedicated folder you made.
Then just makes some tracks with that.

Skip learning Parts and ReSampling for now.
Just get your basic muscle memory going.

After that, if you plan on hooking anything up to control with midi tracks, use 1 external synth, and fiddle with midi tracks and Thru Machines.

Just stick with that for about a month, and don’t get married to anything you make, think of everything as destructible.
Learn what and where you’re saving things project wise, make mistakes on purpose.
The goal should be to understand Static Machines, Flex Machines, Neighbor Machines, and Thru Machines. AND building muscle memory.
Make a bunch of Scenes.

Once you get used to all of that, Parts and ReSampling will be easier to digest.


Decide on just one thing that you want to do, and learn how to do it.

I bought it because a pro guitarist that I respect was posting excitedly about it, as the next awesome looping machine. So the first thing I did was learn how to use it to loop my viola.

I think most peeps here who buy an OT are more about making beats, so maybe just learn how to make a beat with the built-in samples. Then learn how to use your own samples in making a beat, and take it from there.


Do you remember what made you buy the OT? Maybe you saw a video, heard something cool? Set your goal to recreate whatever that was first. You may fail or not, but it will help you focus on one mission. Then the OT will open up to you further.
All I have. Good luck!


It’s a deep machine that can perform many different functions for a variety of studio and live performance methods. Give some thought of what you want it to accomplish or need for your particular situation.

It does require some setup regarding pre-planning, sample mapping, and FX trigs

As others have mentioned assign some samples and do the x0x style sequencing to get some quick results

Also if you have any other midi gear, plug that in and sync up midi tracks and audio thru/fx routing.

I picked up one of the very first Mk1 versions after sequencing Live PA for years on MPC1000 and MMT8. I struggled a bit at first learning the folder/kit structure. Since then I’ve performed a multitude of shows with OT, having a great time, and now enjoying a shiny Mk2

Luckily now, there are lots of tutorials for live recording, sample chopping, fx on the crossfader, so definitely explore those resources.


Speaking of destructive creativity, I start every new Live PA set from scratch, taking about a week before the show to load up samples, sequence them, write some midi, and figure out which other outboard drum or synth midi boxes I want to drag along. It provides a unique and completely new show everytime, and more importantly makes me much faster recording and creating songs.

Not sure if I recommend this methodology, but it’s challenging for me, not to mention stressful if you have other life stuff going on. It gives my local audience a fresh new hour+ of music at every show and keeps me from getting bored just going thru the motions on stale material.


“Quick” way to have fun :
Load a few drum samples in Flex slots. In Grid Rec mode, assign them on a track with sample locks (hold a trig, select sample with Level).*

Holding Scene B, assign parameters like Rate, Pitch, LENgth, Filter Base and Width, Delay Send and Feedback…
(In playback setup, disable TSTR, set Loop on)

*Instead of one shots, you can load a 1 bar loop, set the corresponding tempo, slice it in 8 (Audio Editor, Slice page, Slice Grid, 8). Place 8 trigs each 2 steps, and apply Create Linear Locks in Audio Editor Slice page.


I watched the Thavius Beck tutorial videos when I got mine and think they’re a good place to start, pretty much step by step on the basic functionality and should get you up and running

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…it’s overwhelming for everybody at first…

fool around with the preset card stuff for a few days…then throw that card away…buy a decent one…

create one new set on it…connect ur ot with ur computer…collect some sound snippets from ur computer…create some sample chains via daw bounces to combine various samples into bigger samples to slice them later on…drop all that in folders of ur liking on ur desktop…copy them from there into ur audio pool, which waits for u in ur set folder on ur new card…

load some short snippets in ur flex slot list, some other, longer stuff into ur static slot list…
double tap track machines to pick stuff from those lists and start placing trigs and hold them for random plocking…don’t think of any directions for now…just be curious and see where it takes u…

but as mentioned here before…get the basics straight right away…creating new projects and saving and switching them is essential for not loosing stuff u can’t even imagine yet…

mk1 and mk2 are exactly the same thing apart from some more direct access/shortcut buttons u got there on ur mk2…

warm welcome, forget about parts for now, just enjoy a sonic safari with heaps of lucky dips and happy accidents…

don’t rush…one step after the other…saying out loud what u do while u do helps for faster muscle memory built up…
no worries, many ot users never used all ways it could go for u…u’ll find ur way…

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Cuckoo’s tutorials taught me so much. But it’s so deep a machine that you have to determine what you want to do first. It took me over a year to start using MIDI. Almost two years to learn Parts! I was happy just getting into sampling and slicing and then using Song Mode. Best $1300 I ever spent on gear.


Watch EZBOT on YouTube. Truly do not understand why that guy is not mentioned on here more. He explained the OT way way better than anyone else i’ve seen.

As far as advice, as someone who just got one recently as well, I’d say be intentional with what you want to do with it. I’m sure you’ve heard that before. It can do so many things its easy to get overwhelmed. Make sure you know what you want to do with it and just focus on that.


merlins guide is a must read


Don’t complicate it. Just load up some loops from Ableton and send them to your card. Then load the samples into the default static machines ( Double press playback to load the sample slots MK1 ). Throw down some trigs and make a pattern. Mess with the FX and make a couple crossfader scenes. ( Hold down Scene B and turn some knobs to assign them to a Scene ). Basically just using it like a drum machine.

Ignore all the flex, sampling, and other types of machines for now. ( The only diff between flex and static is that flex uses the internal sampler memory while static reads from the card. ) Should be easy enough.

Funny thing about the OT is it actually doesn’t do all that much. It’s just the obtuse button functions, menus, and needless complicated presentation of everything makes it seem more extensive than it is. If you really break it down the main functions are:

1.) 4 Channel Mixer
2.) MIDI sequencer
3.) Sampling and Slicing
4.) 8 Track Drum Machine ( Parts are a weird abstraction. They’re kinda just drum kits )
5.) Song Arranger
6.) Live Looper

Learn those different parts of the box then just mix and match them together.

The main thing that sets the OT apart from other drum machines and samplers is that you can load huge files to multiple tracks. For example you could use 8 tracks of 30 min drone pads and mess with it. Or some 64 slice file with 64 different drum hits. And also that you have 8 internal recording channels that can be openly assigned to any number of things, I’d say that’s the most complicated part of the OT.

But tbh 90% of what I do with it is just run some MIDI patterns and sample loops and use crossfader.


I started Octatracking a little over a year ago, so I still remember how I started:

The first thing I learned how to do was record from a Thru machine and play that recording on a Flex. It taught me about Thru machines, Flex machines, record buffers, and recording trigs all in the same task. I remember laughing a lot through the process because I kept goofing up, but it was a really good first task because I use this stuff all the time.


Yeah hard to tell as I was making music before I got the octatrack. When I got mine, I already wanted to do things like effect, live looping and playing long field recording backing track.

The OT can do anything really, but starts small. Maybe just effect from a thru machine? Or use it as a drum machine? It helps to know what type of music you want to do with it!

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Thanks, everyone! I really appreciate all of the input. This is exactly what I was looking for, just stories about how people started with the machine and how to approach it.

I’m mostly looking to make dance-ish music with a healthy smattering of ambient and polysynth chords. Favorite musicians that I’ll try to emulate at first would be Clark, Mark Pritchard, Jon Hopkins, even some Thom Yorke/Radiohead sounds. But it seems like this machine will lead me in all kinds of different directions!

Managed to make a simple XoX track last night, learned how to load flex machines and assign samples, did a little retrig live recording to get some variance. Seems like it’s just a matter of choosing what to do next, and then learning. And of course, reading.

Thank you so much for the guidance!


This breakdown of the machine and what it does is super helpful and so is your advice on how to approach it. Thanks!

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You said you have worked with Ableton Live.
So maybe you have something to remix.
Put out some stems of Ableton (1-4 bar loops) and mangle the hell out of it.
Let´s say bass, lead, synth (mixed together in your stem) no drums.

When at this try to use the fx on every track. Just flip through.
If not enough - neighbou tracks to put even more fx on one track.

Build some simple drum pattern to it on the rest of the tracks and setup a compressor on the master track.

When you have gone through this, you will understand the machine better.

Then you can start to use a pickup internally to further mangle your track.

Ahh…nearly forgot…have a damn lot of fun :smiley:

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I would load up a few drum samples and maybe a synth line or some ambient samples and figure out how to do simple XOX drum sequencing first. Figure out how to copy patterns and start experimenting with plocks. You’ll be having fun in no time with just this and it’ll whet your appetite to dig deeper.

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nice selection!

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Maybe take a look at Synth Dawg‘s new Octatrack Notebook:

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