How is octatrack at finishing full tracks?

Hello!

I am thinking about getting myself an octatrack to get away from computer and kind of wondering how reliable is it at arranging and completing tracks without computer interference? Of course i would do the mastering on computer, but besides that how capable is the machine?

Thanks for answers! : )

1 Like

It is not that easy but there is a lot of internal resampling possibilities.
Personnally I prefer to compose with hardware, export tracks recorded in OT and mix them in DAW.

3 Likes

No problem at all. You’d have to rethink most of your ideas on workflow, but that’s also the point of getting away from the computer.

As to how it’s done, there’s no template since there are so many ways you can do it. But it’s not a problem.

After one year with Ot, maybe you can find a workflow for that. If time is not a problem, no problem. :slight_smile:

2 Likes

If you are accustomed to arranging in a DAW I think you will find arranging in any hardware more demanding.
The advantage of the DAW is the large screen where you can zoom in for detail, zoom out to see the whole picture and moving things around the timeline is a lot easier.

4 Likes

… and the advantage of the Octatrack is you can’t zoom in for details that nobody will hear anyway.
Not saying one is better than the other but it’s not the same philosophy.

I owned 2 OT and ended up to sell them because I found it easier to make detailed work on a DAW and the OT kind of frustrated me as a production center.
Yesterday, I send the payment to buy my 3rd OT, but this time I want to go for something more raw/minimal with my music, more live oriented too.

So it’d say it’s a matter of goals and how you envision music making.

2 Likes

I’ve never really used a daw, so for me, making complete works with the Octa wasn’t all that tricky. My first encounter with hardware was an SY55. Once you’ve used that sequencer, you can only go up.

4 Likes

It’s funny because I think a disadvantage of hardware sequencers is that they are always zoomed in at the detail level of a pattern (or even a section of a pattern). For arrangement I find it easier when I can see complete sections of a song or the complete song.

3 Likes

At the risk of sounding like a _roman_tic prick, fleshing out full tracks with the Octatrack is a bit like sitting down by the piano and just working out a piece as you play. You’ve got your ears, your fingers and your ideas. When you’ve learned the instrument, you blend this together and build a song. That you can’t see your song, is just a way to relate to music, not an advantage or a disadvantage by definition, and a subjective experience. It’s more abstract, but you’re seeing it in your mind’s eye, which gives you other perks instead. I don’t want to be visually crippled and not be able to use a daw. I just am. Fortunately, I’m good at seeing my stuff in abstract, so I’ve got that going for me instead.

For me, when I see a song in a daw, it stops working for me because I grew up with the piano and played the damn thing for years before I even touched something that required batteries or a power cord (the SY55, then). Once I did, I kept using those instruments as I used the piano. It’s just where I’m coming from.

So maybe this is of some help when you’re deciding, since depending on how you write your music, work your tracks and all, the Octatrack’s keys and buttons-approach to building a track is great or a disaster.

18 Likes

I personally made a mistake by thinking of the Octatrack as a replacement for my DAW.
Then after a couple of weeks it clicked. The Octatrack is just like an instrument, it behaves in a certain way to produce musical results. To get into it, I needed to understand its architecture first, as to, most importantly, -understand its limitations- to creatively exploit them.
I think the Octatrack’s most powerful asset is its limitations.

Now I feel like I have the perfect hyper-advanced musical sketchpad, for creative ideas, sequencing, arranging and YUS sound mangling.

The part where I polish my music with EQ and compressors and do the final arranging still happens in my DAW at the moment. Because well, the Octatrack doesn’t exactly shine in surgically removing certain frequencies or subtly controlling dynamics with compression as far as I can tell.

But damn, I find myself curating happy accidents all the time (like assigning another sample to an already heavily effected and modulated track or putting a random lfo on the start time of a sample chain), and for some reason they sound musical most of the time. I would never come up with this stuff. So glad with it :D.

Hope I helped out a bit, this is just my personal experience with the device!

7 Likes

This thread is interesting.

I personally made a mistake by thinking of the Octatrack as a replacement for my DAW.

Bear in mind with Mixing it’s not… Because if you came from the DAW you probably looking for Mixing Tutorials or Books, and you put a finger in something which is normally not related to music arrangement. Back in the days and i think we can safely say that’s is not the case today too. You don’t necessarily have to send a finished projects EP (i mean mixed and mastered) to a label.

But if you intend to arrange a piece of music, actually every Pattern and Song mode on every machine is there for that purpose. Then comes automation and how they lived in time notion in your mind. If it’s short and repetitive on OT with 4 bars and few tricks you should get it. If it’s more evolving you should have to jam it… and record somewhere.

Every audio engineer i know or discussed prefer to mixing and mastering on a finished piece of music : i mean arranged and exported as separate tracks, or a bounce to -12 to -6dB without anything on the master. (no compression, no EQ no limiter, nothing.

So you can perfectly polish you tracks on a DAW at the end stage of the process.
OR, mixing it on an external mixer. For instance you can use the 4 Outs of the OT : as 4 mono outputs or, 2 mono outputs + 1 Stereo or, 2 stereo outputs (like 1 drum bus and 1 melody+fx+voice bus) and record with your preferred hardware multitrack.

The Octatrack is just like an instrument

Yes it’s a dynamic performance sampler, i guess the name of the device is very clean and understandable at the end. To me it make sense.

Because well, the Octatrack doesn’t exactly shine in surgically removing certain frequencies or subtly controlling dynamics with compression as far as I can tell.

Dont forget FILTER can be a very surgical EQ, and you also have Effects in this regard at your disposal.
If you used the Cue Outputs with your DAW and put a Spectrum on it, try the Filter and effects with Visual feedback and you will see there’s a lot of perspective. I think it’s really good way to re-LEARN how to re-APPROACH music with Ears only when you get far away from it because of the DAW (in some ways)…

6 Likes

arranger mode + automations via MIDI within ableton Live seems to do the work for me (mostly automating the xFader moves for now but I’ll try with track parameters also)

not polishing a track to death avoids the (unwanted) removal of its original energy, at least for me :slight_smile:

don’t search to reproduce a DAW-like workflow, it is not possible… but working within the OT’s limitations will make you produce more direct, more alive musical pieces IMO…

3 Likes

Thanks for your response, I see your point.
I’m already starting to work more with my ears. :slight_smile:

1 Like

Great insight on OT.

Regarding the automation longer than 4 bars, is it possible to straight up record audio to DAW or do i have to acquire some kind of recording device?

Also, everyone made some really good points on OT, it looks like an amazing and deep machine, I guess it just depends on how much time i plan to spend on learning it ( gonna spend a lot, love the challenge) and acquiring OT + blofeld would make a great first hardware purchase.

2 Likes

Sure you need a soundcard with multiple inputs to get audio from hardware (like OT etc…)
Start with something not expensive with IO you need if OT + Blofeld 4 inputs should be nice… You record (sync midi between OT and Blofeld) then you JAM. Then you edit, finish the track + mixing it.
(iConnect Audio 4+ is pretty cheap, very good buffer and give possibilities to make an ipad a send return effect and all other things modern and cool) without to spend one year of free personal money

It’s when you want to create in an hybrid way, who forced you to sync computer and hardware which is coming then more complex. When you record without thinking to SYNC the old-school way. no worries.

@William_WiLD FĂ©licitations Ă©galement !

Don’t forget you can export long records in Ot to mix your Ot tracks without DA/AD conversion.
In theory, up to 9mn, minus time of used Flex samples.
You can export up to 8 tracks at the same time.
Mix in DAW after or mix in Ot if you can’t stand computers anymore. :grin:

4 Likes

At the moment I have Steinberg UR22, I believe it has 2 ins / 2 outs, would that be enough for now, or this combo requires more ?

You can’t record with max separate tracks if you can’t have 4 inputs or 6… but as @sezare56 said :wink: ask him to explain the export procedure for the 8 tracks on the compact card. i do not work that way…

1 Like

Could you explain that a bit more since i will not have an opportunity to acquire DA/AD converter anytime soon . Thanks ! : )

You have 8 recorders independent from the 8 audio tracks. They share Ram as Flex samples.
You can choose different sources :
1 - In AB
2 - In CD
3 - Track 1,2…8 - Main - Cue
You can records all or selected sources (1 - 2 - 3)
With Cue you can record premixes.
You have to set several things, including max record length per track.
Enough ? :wink:

I have a Blo and A4 too. I still consider buying later a Pulse 2 for deep bass sounds and definition in the mix. All in black. Think about Pulse 2 too.