Does Ableton do the Octatrack thing?


For clarity I’m definitely not saying you can’t do great stuff with Ableton, I’m quite sure it rocks… It’s just OT is so unique in its approach to make something work like it without using one would be similar to inventing the thing… :smiley:

And yeah, I think your onto something with how everything is sorta connected and one… OT layers are like gears and one gets turned by another which might turn another one, and you can shift… :wink:


To Op, yes. And more so. M4L alone is like OT on steroids - if the steroids themselves were on steroids.

Maybe a more interesting discussion is OT or steroids: where should I spend my money? Big muscles or muscle memory?


I actually have Ableton and the steroids would cost a lot less


…yes…ableton does the octatrack thing…
…octatrack does’nt do the ableton thing…


Yeah, if we are including M4L then its game… no hardware will get close.

Edit: maybe Organelle for Pure Data??


I think Octatrack will have to wait a little bit. I’ve already committed myself to learning how to use Ableton and I think that will require more attention than I’d be able to give if I had to learn Octatrack worflow too. Maybe I’ll discover I’m fine with Ableton.


For me personally, to get the most out of ableton I use it as a tool to work with other tools as in vsts. It’s not just the daw that lets me create and enjoy making music but all the things I can add to it.

A negative is just like hardware gas you sometimes get caught up looking for the next thing thinking your setup needs something else which it doesn’t always need.

I guess the bottom line is both make music and it’s down to personal preference, nobody is wrong or right and each can do what the other one does which is gives you a medium to create. Use what feels right, nobody can tell you what that is and just best trying both


It’s impossible to answer this definitively but I do enjoy the discussion as you can see the variety in approaches to Ableton and OT. All you can say with certainty is that there are things that Ableton can do easier/quicker that the OT can’t and vice versa.

I can write a tune I’m happy with in Ableton considerably quicker than I can on the OT. But I can take a sample and chop/warp it to hell and back far quicker on the OT.

My take on it: the OT is best viewed as an instrument (which of course Ableton can do too…)


My own debate wasn’t A’ton vs OT (I wasn’t into either anyway) but I just couldn’t stand computers anymore, for live music. I still use a laptop because I have ONE virtual instrument I really like and which is pretty much bound to one of my HW controllers (it’s Equator which comes with Roli’s Seaboards), and I run it standalone. And for librarian and configuration puposes. I really have tried to integrate DAW’s into my live performance but it’s just a HUGE pita.

The latest change in Window’s licence paradigm (switching from “product” to “service”) was what definitely pissed me off. (Please no Mac vs PC debate, I had both :wink: )

Even with this minimal use of computers it still gets in my way each time I try to do something with it. Unexplainable USB disconnects, Adobe updates that keep coming back, Window update we can’t switch off and can decide to reboot your computer when you leave it idling for half an hour, background tasks messing up ASIO drivers resulting in increased latency… (Just to get stuff in perspective, I’m was a VST coder myself as a side-project, I really dug deep into low level machinery for years, I studied OS’s from MacIntosh to Windows in-depth)

Also, using PC’s in the end turn out to be VERY expensive. A good audio PC will set you back quite some €€ /££/$$, then you need a good screen, ergonomic mouse and KB, a great soundcard ($$$/£££/€€€), licences for plugins and software (££££/$$$$/€€€€) and the whole thing will need to be upgraded after a couple of years because they decided to stop support for connector X/Y/Z, universally used all over the place, and the OS will then automatically update, and drivers for said connector protocol will not work anymore. This all adds up to huge amounts in the end. Oh, and did I mention the graphic card? Most modern software rely on the GPU of the the graphic card these days, so you need a computer with a powerful one, and guess what: the thing needs drivers!

On the other hand, I have my attic full of stuff from long time ago and guess what: everything just works, decades later.

So even if there are limitations, learning curves etc etc I feel I’m much more confortable with my hardware rig that I was with a computer-based workstation. It feels just better. This goes way beyond A’ton vs OT.

Here’s a pic of what was a audiophile-grade soundcard from 1998 (there’s a breakout box where the actual preamps and converters reside). Price was in the 1000€ (equiv) range. Does it still work? Sure it does (if I resolder that resistor). Do I have a motherboard that can host it? Yes in the attic. What would I need to run it? Windows XP (I believe that’s the latest version and it was buggy) Do I have software I can use it with? No, not anymore. And even if I mounted a PC to run this card, it would be a very frustrating experience, and a dangerous one if I connect it to the internet because there’s no antivirus software that support such computers anymore. No webbrowsers either, probably. Basically, it would be a huge loss of time. I still have it because I just cannot throw away a working 1000$ audiophile grade soundcard in the trash.

That’s why I prefer self-contained machines. I’m not willing anymore to fully depend on a service provided by a mastodont tech company from abroad.

I hear people complaining often that there’s not going to be any FW updates for this or that machine anymore, so they are contemplating selling it off. That’s a typical Computer Generation reflex. Even without updates, your machine will work until eternity unless you screw it up physically by spilling coffee over it or something… As long as you don’t need a computer based software to operate it.

So for me, no doubt about it, it’s OT. Not A’ton. :wink:

And now, even though I REALLY enjoy Equator for the Seaboard, I’m about to order a Micromonsta because it’s MPE enabled so whatever would happen to my PC-based Equator, I will not end up with a useless ROLI MPE keyboard :wink:


Not really comparable.
But it’s noteworthy that Ableton gives away a lot of OT’s sampling-featureset with their Ableton Live Intro Version for 79€ in the form of the simpler-device and complex warp modes, what a bang for the buck. Simpler with Push2 is still my favorite sampling solution :heart_eyes:


Let’s only talk about one single work-flow difference, which could make the decision easier.

The OT provides more than 100 parameters for a track (AFAIK its near below or above 200 really). Now lets imagine we are up to use many of them and record automations.


  • play the track and know and plan, what you want to do.
  • Identify the plug-in and the particular parameter, which shall be automated
  • set-up a control lane for this parameter (create it and connect to the parameter)
  • select the lane and draw the automation or use a connected controller unit, but the controller has to be prepared and set-up also.
  • have a couple of control lanes running, say 10, 20, or 30 and thinking, one of those should be changed …


  • play your track and try one of the many parameters just for fun by tweaking it in live mode
  • like what you are doing
  • hit the record button without stopping the playback
  • do it again … done
  • have many parameters animated and think, that one of them has to be changed … now only move the particular knob in recording mode again as you like … done.

Oh … just to add this … which is more live performance oriented: Scenes and the slider of the OT

A Scene is the arbitrary setting of each possible parameter we want to use in a scene. Per Part we have 16 Scenes and we have 4 Parts per Bank and there are 16 Banks …

Having two Scenes selected, the slider “morphes” all parameters from Scene A to Scene B. Can this be done with Ableton. I would say no.

And there are many more differences.

Technically I would say that Ableton and plug-ins can create very similar audio-results as the OT. But the setup and operation would be no fun or even painful.


Endless possibilities in Ableton for sure. That’s the main problem for me, after the fact I can’t stand computers for music creation anymore.

59 if I counted correctly. 250 parameters available per scene (31 per track + DIR AB / CD).


You can definitly do what the octatrack does and a lot more, but as it is out of the box you do have to bear using a mouse, a keyboard and a computer.
Push is great but not feature extensive. it’s simplicity and design makes it a joy to use, but for more advanced features you will find yourself reaching the mouse and keyboard.

Also, keep in mind that for external hardware midi sequencing the octatrack is much much smoother than any computer!
Midi can be a headache, but USB midi and the nature of Mac/Windows OS that hosts your DAW just add a lot of difficulty to the equation!!!


Well, a computer can do that for you, too. It’s just a matter of how you use it. Treat it like a HW box dedicated to a special job (as a completely air-gapped standalone unit). Don’t connect it to the internet. Don’t update/upgrade every now and then. When everything is set up and works as it should, leave it there. It will run until eternity … :slight_smile:


In the end…you make the music. You have your sound palette and will gravitate to certain sounds and patterns, whether you use OT or Ableton.

The question is which tools feel best in your hands to make those sounds.


Yes you can do that, but not natively.

Max4Live -
Kapture -
and a gazzilion other Morph or Snapshot tools in the maxforlive database

But you don´t even need max4live to do the snapshot (aka Scenes) morphing thing, you can grab a free version of ClyphX (not updated/supported ) or the payed version of ClyphX Pro and do all of the above plus a lot more -

Have fun :sunglasses:


Yes, I have done that for years with my LivePC… But now Microsoft isn’t a product anymore, but a service. Next change will be the subscription model, like Adobe did for their Ceative Cloud. Most of my new software, and even some of my hardware needs to be authorized online on a regular basis. That’s where we are heading, and that’s why I go back to self-contained hardware. But that’s my opinion and my choice, I just wanted to contribute my pov to the discussion, not to push anything upon anyone :wink:


Thanks for the info, didn’t know this :+1:


For the sake of accuracy, I feel like this is not an accurate description of Ableton.

If you setup a template in Ableton, then you do not have to “plan” anything. That is no different from setting up a template in OT. Both Ableton and OT require the same amount of “planning” in that sense.

You absolutely do not have manually setup control lanes for parameters in Ableton. You can just hit record and turn knobs. Or, you can use step automation, just like OT.


just want to mention that I love how when the OT came out, many heralded it as “Ableton in a box” while others scoffed. a decade later, we have someone asking “can Ableton do what the OT does?”

Elektron, you have succeeded in your mission.