Consider to buy an Octatrack MK1: Hope of a cure, or other solutions?

Disclaimer

  • If you don’t want to read as much you could immediately jump to “Questions, Concerns, Area of ​​Application”. Thanks for all taking the time.
  • I read a lot about similar topics to my mine and used the search function of this forum, nevertheless I still need some advise.

Current Situation

  • Around 2012 I sold my last hardware devices and went complete ITB
  • I have a perfect setup for my musical needs: Live, Push 2, Akai APC 40 MKII
  • The start of the pandemic lead to a lot of laptop time and while I loved to set up my gear, at the moment I just want to get away from sitting in front of my laptop

Tried Solutions

  • I started to buy some little hardware stuff (Behringer K-2, Volca Kick, Volca FM, etc.) to get away from the screen, but this type of gear did not satisfied me and I still preferred to do the stuff (MS-20, FM stuff) ITB
  • I sold the hardware (fortunately I made no money loss) and thought more about my musical frustrations
  • I realized that I need rather something similar to a groovebox, something I can go quite far with without being in front of my laptop, something which gives me something different yet similar to my workflow
  • So I cam up with the idea of buying an Octatrack. It’s not the first time I thought about it but right now I was never so close as now

Buying an Octatrack

  • As I said it’s not the first time I thought about buying it – in fact I think about it since it’s initial release
  • I’ve read the manual and I watched already a dozens of videos and I think I will have no problems with the usage
  • I owned a Machinedrum for quite a long time so Elektron stuff is not new to me

Questions, Concerns, Area of ​​Application

  • It’s a used MK1 for €800-850. The sellers states it’s barely used and indeed it looks like barely used. I know about the differences and I think those are no issues.

  • I consider to buy an MKII but then I’m afraid of the smaller OLED display (ghosting, burning, etc.) and I read the casing on the MKII is bit less tank like. Plus it would cost minimum €1245

  • Is it better so buy an MK1 for €800-850 (LCD, build quality) or the MK2 (better in/outputs)? Which would last longer?

  • And since I would like to get something portable how is it going with ripcord and a powerbank? Time of usage? Any problems? Could it lead to problems?

  • Is rendering, bouncing to use it further an issue for anyone?

  • How you keep track of your set/projects? Do you use a notebook?

  • Are the effects really that bad?

  • Regarding the used MK1: If the card-reader, rotarys, fader, etc are fine. What could be internally wrong / fault with an unit? Is there anything else to check? All buttons?

  • I mainly do ambient, drone, electroacousticmusic, minimal stuff dark techno, industrial. Also I a lot of experimental drum stuff. I operate mostly sample based anyhow. I do not use 3rd party stuff: just field recordings noise etc.

  • I want something similar but yet different to my ITB workflow.

Alternative to buying Octatrack

  • An alternative is Polyend Tracker (could get it for €400). I know different machine, different approach but again, I want something similar but yet different to my ITB workflow. So it’s about flow and sampling. What turns me off are the rather cumbersome resampling process.
  • Korg Electribe – not really an option but maybe one here see it as and could elaborate?

Thanks for all taking the time.

Unfortunately you are not really going to know if the OT is something you will like without actually trying it for yourself.

I had an OT Mk1 and and an Electribe E2S, I sold the OT but still have the Electribe but that is just me.

I can only advise you to look at all the features the OT has to offer and consider which of those features yu would use and which you would not and which are important to you.

For me a lot of the OT’s prime features (streaming samples from the card, looper capability and the ability to record on multiple tracks) were of no value to me and I was not so enthralled by the FX, no velocity sensitivity and poor standalone note input capability but you may be different.

Also at the price point you are talking about you could consider an MC707 or an MPC One as other possible alternatives.

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I’ll answer a few of your questions:

MK1 is perfectly fine, I’ve quickly tried a MK2 and while it has some quality of life improvements, I did not feel it was that much better than the original, definitely not 500e worth. I would definitely buy a MK1 and actually did. Much prefer the fact that it’s smaller, too.

AFAIK you can work off a power bank provided it’s powerful enough. Regular charger powerbanks don’t work? I could be wrong.

Effects aren’t bad, just dated and in some cases it’s pretty noticeable. Some are better and some are worse, I would suggest you buy a Zoom MS-70CDR multi effects pedal, it’s only 100 euros and has much better modulation effects. Still, a lot of people like them so they’re not horrible.

Octatrack is a perfect tool for the genres you’re into. ambient, drone, industrial etc. I myself make noise, ambient and old school industrial by mixing samples with live instruments and it’s the best hardware tool for that. Resampling is easy, so is recording a longer jam (up to 8 minutes at a time), so you can basically demo songs with nothing but the Octatrack. The crossfader is brilliant. For example I make cut up noise by running two long noise samples on L and R channels, then use the a random LFO to cut them up in real time. With the crossfader, I can quickly return to both channels being centered when I want. It’s just perfect for kinda simple yet effective tricks like that that would take a fair bit of gear to pull off live.

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Just wanted to point out that at least in Finland Octatrack mk1’s go regularly for 600€. I think it’s very hard to beat the OT at that price. It’s worth 800€, yes, but I’m sure you can get it cheaper than that if you just look around a little bit.

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Thanks for the hint. Unfortunately I’m located in Germany and I want to see the unit rather than hope for a good unit and careful shipping. My girlfriend comes from Finland but at the moment traveling is also difficult. Otherwise I could met my friends there and grab an unit.

Yeah, I understand that. 800€ still sounds a bit high (OT mk2’s start from 850€ in Finland) but prices in Finland tend to be VERY fair for 2nd hand instruments in general.

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I bought mk1 because I prefer the look and I couldn’t be happier (also have mk1 Rytm). Build quality is A1 as far as I’m concerned.

No. I’m no professional but they are plenty good enough I think.

The OT will be fantastic for this

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In France MKI it’s between 650€ and 750€.
Imho nobody can tell if a 10 years old MKI would last longer than a new MKII…

All fx are usable, can be usefull tools in certain contexts, combined with other fx. Some fx can seem deceiving at first, was my case, but with some sequencing, lfo modulation, crossfader/scenes you can have really interesting results with any of them imho.

Really good fx for me : Filter, Eqs, Compressor, Comb Filters. Dark Reverb can be really good on certain stuff, now I like it. Delay is ok.

I use more an more Lofi, sequenced.
Tested again Flanger yesterday, wow, can be crazy. It requires modulation of its Delay parameter, as Chorus.
Phaser is usable…

And don’t forget sample manipulation, pitch, pitch shift, timestrech, reverse, slicing, looping, realtime resampling with possible feedback > high quality fx!

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That’s fair prices :smiley: where I live you’ll have to pay at least €700. €800-850 for barely unused ones. I saw occasionally some for 650€ but then in a worn condition (scratches, missing caps, etc).

Thanks for all the replies. What I got in a nutshell from here: The MK1 is smaller (+), 850€ seems a bit high regarding the price (try to bargain; €750 would no brainer for me), the effects are okay.

I want an instrument and I can live with it’s limitations then plus a effectbox is always possible to route in if I feel I need some.

Still unanswered:

  • How to manage/memorize Sets and Projects? Do you take notes?
  • LCD really better than OLED?
  • Are jacks on the MK1 that bad?
  • How to / how you handle further outside octatrack editing?
  • What to watch out for when buying an used unit?

Thanks for all help. Stay healthy

I’d say the jacks on the MK1 are definitely not bad at all, they might be better on the MK2 but the jacks won’t be an issue if you choose the MK1.

You can just plug in to a computer with USB and take out samples to edit in a DAW and just put them back in, or just record what you’re doing on the OT to a DAW, edit and put back in. Resampling is also really easy. It’s very easy to do the bulk of the work in the OT and finalise your songs in a DAW if you so wish. Only problem is if you have a complex arrangement with multiple patterns or samples, you have to record the tracks separate if you want to mix them further. Not a problem for me however, as i’m not looking to polish everything to death in a DAW, I’m very happy to mix my music in the OT and just check the levels and do a bit of mastering in a DAW.

What to watch out for when buying a used unit?

  • Screen fading
  • Losse / wobbly encoders, how they fill and if they skip values
  • Sticky buttons

And on price - I got a mint MK1 for 600eur in Denmark - usually they are listed at around 740eur for decent condition - but they don’t fly off the table so I would guess most are sold somewhere between 600-700. So it’s probably also up to patience / negotiation what kind of price you end up with :slight_smile:

This. Probably applies to all musical instruments.

…er, guys…who’s saying mk1 is smaller here?
…it’s not…not at all…exact same sizes in all directions…the oled display takes the same space as the lcd, but yes, is actually smaller while showing exacly the same…

there are no truu differences in built quality…that’s all nothing but head fukkery…
if u don’t kik ur unit around and treat it obviously bad, any unit can last forever…no matter if black 1st gen, grey 2nd gen, black special edition gen or black last gen…
all the same, end of the day…only difference is what u get out of it…
and of course like any other machine, some hardware parts can stop working properly at some point…but hey, it’s a handassembled machine and whatever might need a fix can get a fix…

if u really had an eye on it since day one, it might be time to finally give it a try…

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Haha. Yeah after ten years I should give it a try. I asked the seller if he goes down to €750 I will buy it then. Everything above is too much for me, money is tight and 750€ is almost twice my rent.

If not I see myself buying Polyend Tracker for €400 (a bit below monthly rent :smile:)

Thanks for all the replies.

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Mk2: 13.3” × 7.2” × 2.5”
Mk1: 13.4 x 7.0 x 2.4"

It’s smaller :slight_smile:

Same metal case size imho.
@vanark could you confirm?

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You should go for the mk1. 750 is ok if the condition is perfect.
I have a mk 1 and a mk2 – and the mk2 is not that much better.
However the Polyend tracker is a totally different machine. I had one of the first ones but sold it quickly. I was used to the Elektron workflow and the tracker and overall user experience was not that easy for me.

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I’m fine with the Tracker concept. That’s where I’m coming from. And I like the challenge of using less to get where I want to go. Ofc a complete different machine but it would fulfill my needs and may have some advantages. I need something to be away from my desk since I’m heavily bond to it since corona. I want to have a different yet same workflow (scw, sampling, resampling, etc.).

Even if I could afford both I would buy just one right now because I want to go deep into the machine :joy: the plus for the Polyend Tracker would be the easier not so heavily shortcut and sub menue based approach. The Octatrack plus is the usual Elektron goodies plus it can serve as mixer, live looper, etc.

Dam* I’m still not sure which route I should go.

To keep you on track: the seller didn’t answered yet, probably because of the holidays here. He usually was super responsive. I think his answer will shed some light and helps to find the solution. Haha let’s see what comes.