Dr. Octatrack or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the DAW

Tonight I had a bit of a revelation.

I decided to sit down with my Octatrack and make some one-shot FX. Fun, quirky, goopy, squishy kind of FX. In the process of sound designing, I would come across multiple sounds from one sample that I was fond of. I then rolled my eyes because recording back into the Octatrack multiple times, saving each individual sound, naming it, etc. is such a pain in the ass that I nearly gave up then and there.

Then the obvious dawned on me: Why don’t I just record all these different one-shot variations into my DAW? Then I’m free to tweak and play and save as I go. And if I want these sounds in my Octatrack so bad, I can always just transfer via USB.

When I sit down with a box or a synth to experiment I tend to try and focus on the box itself; a limitations breed creativity sort of thing. But this was a clear example where if I kept going down the path of only using the Octatrack, I would quickly grow tired of the process and my ideas wouldn’t flow as naturally. It was honestly a bit of an internal battle for me to open up my DAW but I’m glad I did. I’m sure that seems very silly to some of you!

I’m wondering if anyone else has had similar experiences?


Yeah, I just recently bought the 1010 Blackbox and it’s changed my workflow completely. The OT can do what I want, but it takes more work of saving, switching parts and all the stuff you mentioned. Now I just hit record on the BB and tweek for a bit and it’s there. Ableton is another way, but I’m over tired to work with itb and otb together. Not trying to sell anyone on the BB, but I hear you.


Definitely different strokes, for sure. Part of me misses the immediacy of my 404SX where I just instantly resampled. No saving, no setting up rec trigs, no nothing. I would end up with some very cool sounds that way. I was listening to some old sounds I had on the 404 and was quite surprised with what younger me did haha.

As for marrying ITB and OTB, the main reason I got an OT in the first place was to experiment with sound design (it’s far more complex than the 404, obv)–and that’s still mainly what I use it for. It makes perfect sense to me now (a year and a half after owning the OT…) to just play and tweak on the OT and record whatever comes out in the simplest, most efficient way possible.


Depends what I’m doing.
Couple months back I was making drum sounds on my MS20. I used ableton to do all the sampling, then I could batch process super fast.

But if Im working on a project in the OT and I want to resample something, it makes nk sense to turn my computer on, start up ableton, plug OT into an interface, yadda yadda.

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Yeah this is a good insight. Recently I’ve been trying to have a tape (or DAW) rolling every time I’m just messing around with gear. That way all the happy accidents can be filed away and actually used for something rather than just getting lost in the ether.


Oh for sure.

For me, I literally always have the Octa plugged into my interface, and I always have my computer turned on…So to record the Octatrack I just have to open up Studio One and then open up a session and set the first audio track to record from inputs 1+2. Doing just that little setup takes far less time (and brain power) than resampling a sound.

Yeah if I’m working on a whole patch with my Octa I’ll just go ahead and resample internally. But right now as I write this topic I’m having a sound design session and I’ve made about 8 different recordings of sounds in waaaayyy less time than if I decided to just stay inside Octaland.


Would you recommend the Blackbox to someone like me?

From what I’ve seen the push2 +ableton sampler is a great way to have the feel of hardware sampling with all of the features of ableton. I’ve not got one myself but could see push2+ableton+max4live being an insanely robust setup


Yeah, this whole DAWless kick everyone seems to be on lately annoys me for this reason. I understand using hardware if its limitations inspire you, but using a hardware recorder, and sometimes going to the effort of editing/mixing on it as opposed to in a DAW just makes no sense to me.


You know, it’s a great little device. I went for ages trying to track out long phrases in the OT. Even had a set-up for a while where I could record 256 step record buffers really easily…But really in the end, I like to sequence samples on the OT and use the midi sequencer… Now, I know all is possible in the OT. I know, but I’ve never gotten my head around long background phrases. The rest of the OT is a blast. The center of my studio.
But, that’s what I found in the BB. I can bang stuff out on my instruments, be it the MnM, the OT (yesterday I broke out the sh-01a and made a bunch of 16 bar recordings on it) and there no skipping a beat. I just record for however long messing about with the synths and it’s all recorded into this little box…which also mutes the incoming synth and plays the new recording in sync.
I haven’t even gotten into anything else yet, but there’s loads it can do. It’s super easy to sample. Sounds really clear…Oh, and I have a 64gb card in it, so I should be fine recording whatever for however long.
It’s just simple. I don’t think I will be using the sequencer, seeing as I have 3 elektron sequencers, but for off the cuff midi synced sampling it’s a blast. Oh, and I happen to like the not so professional effects and filters. They are quick and easy. It has a slicer mode. Need to check that out… For what you were talking about in your original post.


Yeah so I just finished this session with 18 one-shot FX recorded…I guarantee you if I stuck to just the OT I would’ve had maybe 5 at the most.

Very liberating.

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Not to get into an ITB OTB conversation, like the hardware because i have so little experience using computers in general, the hardware stuff seems less daunting. But i absolutely see where the OP is coming from. If i was more fluent in using a DAW id be doing that shit

oh my goodness gracious me…

The way around this with the OT is to adjust the pattern length. So if, hypothetically, you wanted a 16-bar chord progression you can set the pattern scaling to 1/4 and then have 4 pages of 1/4…But the headache you run into is: What if I want to adjust the notes of a chord on bar 12? And listen back to it?

Does the Blackbox let you listen back at whatever point you want to?

How flexible is it in terms of sound design? Can you mangle things like you can on the OT?

What do you mean not so professional FX and filters? Would you say they’re on par with the OT (I like the OT FX a lot FWIW), better or worse?

I wouldn’t worry too much because this thread is–in part–about ITB vs OTB and our experiences.

That being said…You should really, really try a DAW. If you can learn an Elektron instrument you can learn a DAW. DAWs are a lot more straight forward and just make sense. They will have an initial learning curve (like an Elektron instrument) but they’re really convenient and awesome. Even just for the sake of recording things–if that’s all you use it for. I don’t use my DAW to sequence MIDI or do any of that crazy stuff. I just use it to record and mix.

I am not trying to be some dawless individual. I would like to play the stuff I have made live. Unfortunately (and man if it were possible. I’ve been using reaktor for ever and would love to integrate it into my OT nonsense) my laptop does not sync with my OT

I’m just learning it. Sorry. I haven’t gotten that far yet. This is what I know so far- there is a clip, slicer, sample, granular, multisample modes. I am onlyusing clip mode so far, and that seems to be just for loop sampling. I don’t think you can jump around the clip and it stays in sync. I think you could turn it into sample mode and then listen in the way you want.

It’s nothing like the OT. Maybe with the granular mode. I am just using it like the clip mode in Ableton. 16 clips at a time in sync to my OT.

I suppose worse, yes worse, but sufficient for how I use it. I like the simple hipass/lowpass filter…I got some crazy i don’t know what delay sound out of it already. The reverb is pretty shit, but usable for a looper. I just record reverb into it.

Oh, sure…
Most of my frustrations arise when every time i turn on a computer it tells me to update several things and then nothing works with the other things and the programs then need to be updated etc…
I used to have DOS system. and i had that dialed in… but i let it all pass me by and i didnt stay current.
check my posts. i havnt taken the time to figure out how to copy quotes and stuff like that so i end up posting too much. My wife is good with DAWs, and totally squeemish about hardware boxes…its funny that way.
i figure between the two of us we will figure something out.

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All you have to do is highlight what you want to quote then press the quote bubble


youre just learnin’ me left and right this evening…


Great post title !!


You two should just sit down and have a couple mutual consultations lol