OCTATRACK beginner's tips

Alright, i’ve got an octatrack just curious what is the best way to progress in learning this beast.

Start going through the entire tutorial book ? then move onto the youtube videos etc?

Just not quite sure what is the best place to start…if there is a best place.


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I would start with the manual and the Merlin’s ot thoughts (that you can find under Files sector)

In parallel look at Skab’s Octatips videos - Secretmusic’s - Biologik and more…

You will be aware of what OT can do and what kind of ease to achieve

thank you!

[li]Read the manual[/li]
[li]Read the manual again[/li]
[li]Read the manual but take notes this time[/li]
[li]Read the manual while sitting with the OT and familiarising yourself with physical locations of menus and button combinations.[/li]
[li]learn how to create, save and backup projects[/li]
[li]create a scratch project . this is your learning playground.[/li]
[li]do not worry about creating songs yet and don’t get too attached to your experiments . you will inevitably lose stuff at this stage so relax and don’t set yourself up for disappointment.[/li]
[li]Load some samples .[/li]
[li]Experiment with trigging samples in patterns[/li]
[li]Learn about and start to use parameter locks[/li]
[li]watch each of the elektron tutorials and reproduce the technique on the machine after watching. this builds muscle memory[/li]
[li]read merlins thoughts on OT[/li]
[li]breathe a sigh of relief as some stuff that was confusing the hell out of you now starts to make a little sense[/li]
[li]do not be afraid to ask questions on this forum[/li]
[li]have some fun[/li]
[li]read the manual again[/li]
[li]learn about parts[/li]
[li]experiment with linking parts to patterns[/li]
[li]experiment with swapping parts out on same pattern[/li]
[li]watch all of secret musics videos, reproducing the technique after each one.[/li]
[li]have some more fun[/li]
[li]start getting your head around recorder and playback buffers[/li]
[li]spend a day sampling all sorts of stuff and learning how to save and manipulate the files[/li]
[li]really get a thorough understanding of the various trig types and where and why you would use them[/li]
[li]learn the crossfader transition trick[/li]
[li]experiment with live sampling and transitioning between patterns [/li]
[li]get down and dirty with lfos - as per secretmusic’s excellent tutorial on them [/li]
[li]learn about and make some sample chains[/li]
[li]learn about and experiment with slicing chains and trigging slices[/li]
[li]learn about scenes[/li]
[li]have fun with scenes, chains and slices[/li]
[li]check out biologik’s transition trick[/li]
[li]start to consider whether you’re a song per bank or song per project kind of person[/li]

should keep you going for a while…


and then finish your first track in 2019 :stuck_out_tongue:


I’d start with some tutorial vids, see what you come up with yourself after that, and THEN look at the manual when you want to know more. There is nothing more depressing than reading a thick manual without knowing where to place all this info imho.

I am an OT noob.
I read Merlin’s Thoughts in order to have an overall idea of architecture and concepts.
I then read a few bits of the Manual and then try stuff out. After I can perform that task, I look for videos that show more in depth usage and tricks regarding the same subject.
I keep at it, even when it is hard, I have to use it every day. When I have more time available, learn a new concept. Less time available, I have to at least jam on it. Otherwise the button combos will become harder to recall.

I look at the Octatrack as something that can be used in several major/powerful ways. So I am trying to learn each major mode separately.


like zeropoint said, at first you will lose patterns and accidentally overwrite stuff you’ve sampled. at this stage, don’t get too attached to your tracks. you will eventually create something mind-blowingly better.

  1. grab your favorite beverage and sit down with the octatrack. things won’t make sense until you try stuff while in front of the machine.

  2. learn the basics by reading pages 9-21 and pages 48-59 of the manual.

  3. read merlin’s “OT Thoughts” in the Files section. reread the section on parts.

  4. bookmark the octatrack mind map , an index of video tutorials. when you’ want to learn about something, watch a video twice to let the concept sink in. on the third viewing, use you octatrack to imitate what you’re seeing in the vid.

  5. bookmark the static void’s octatrack wiki, a nice collection of tips and tricks from the old elektron-users.com.

  6. learn to use the comb filter:
    [li]load any sample. different samples yield different tones[/li]
    [li]use the AMP page to turn the sample into a blip[/li]
    [li]load comb filter in fx slot 1 and filter in fx slot 2[/li]
    [li]in the comb filter, mix=127, fb=nearly all the way up. set lpf to taste[/li]
    [li]in fx slot 2, set filter to taste.[/li]
    [li]p-lock the comb filter’s pitch, or live-record knob twists.[/li]
    [li]alter the tone with start, the comb’s lpf, and retrig+rtim.[/li]

  7. learn to use and create sample chains. search the forum for guidance.

  8. read the posts here while sitting with the octatrack. try what’s being discussed. you’ll learn so many cool tricks, shortcuts and — most important — new ways of thinking about the octatrack.

  9. ask for help here (but search for the topic first!) answer questions if you can. the more you give, the more you receive.

  10. don’t give up.

before you love the ot, you will hate it. when that happens, listen to what the octatrack can create with just 2 seconds of noise. get fired up because that will be you soon!

so get to work. and have fun!


Start simple. The keystrokes and modes and whatnot come natural after a few weeks if you add them one by one. If you try to bite the whole apple, you’ll get frustrated. Plus, folks on the forum are seriously patient.
Try giving yourself a little task and master that. Then build on it.

maybe it’s me but I found that pre-reading the manual before I actually got hands-on didn’t help all that much

once you start spending time trying to accomplish one thing or another, everything you learn along the way just continues to build on itself…you may even run across a cool sound/result by accident that you find yourself using quite a bit

example…early on, I was messing with playback and LFOs to automate a scratching effect…when combined with delay/lock and scene/fader it became something that I find myself using quite a bit and interesting rhythms can be created when combined with other effects

I’d say, at the beginning, don’t bother with sampling.

Load some sounds unto the OT by USB, and have fun with tweaking and p-locking.

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Hello everyone,

this has been extremely helpful. I will be following all of your recommendations. What a fantastic forum we have here.

thanks again


does anybody know where

“5. bookmark the static void’s octatrack wiki, a nice collection of tips and tricks from the old elektron-users.com.”

has gone? Did anybody safe it offline?

Thanks and all the best

The OT videos by SB-Six helped me immensely, start with this

And program a song along the video, then move to part 2 and so forth.

Plenty of good tips for composition and workflow, most useful OT videos I found.

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Thanks automageddon but I m talking about “the static void wiki” - it was a nice second little manual for the OT & it’s gone from the web :frowning:
anybody made a copy?


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Great stuff here i need to look at…

Almost 4 month part time OT user, my tips:

[li]Have some prior experience or it can be overwhelming[/li]
[li]Be prepared to get lost. [/li]
[li]Don’t expect it to be everything.[/li]
[li]Always have the suspicion there’s something you haven’t yet checked out. [/li]

One more. Find an Easter Egg!! Playing around last night hit the wrong button combination (funct plus </> and accidentally discovered the trig nudge function. Oh yeah, it’s in page X of the manual somewhere but there’s so much stuff to get your head round that i missed it. Great for jamming drops and fills.

Create a new test project and just play.
Don’t expect anything, just play and break things :slight_smile:
You will learn a lot that way.
Once you learn your workflow you will have a few ideas what to do next.

I have to admit, I never read the whole manual.
I just had a look in the beginning to learn the structure, how to load sets, projects and samples and to understand what the different machines are for.
For me the best way of learning was to watch all the tutorial videos on youtube, especially the videos by Secretmusic and then experiment on the OT. Learning by doing.
I just look at the manual from time to time, when I need a certain function.

I never hated the OT, but loved it from the beginning :slight_smile:
Sure it’s deep, and there are still many function or ways to handle things, that I’m not aware of. But to have fun with it, you don’t have to learn everything at one go.

But reading the manual won’t hurt for sure :slight_smile:

I have my OT only since a few weeks but I don’t know how anyone in their right mind can recommend to read through the manual and even to do it several times. I NEVER read it and i don’t intend to ever do so.

It’s nice that Elektron gives you a printed copy. It’s great for reference but not for learning the machine and getting a grasp of its concepts. The written word was has never been Elektrons strong side. Merlins guide is MUCH better for learning the OT.

That said, I’ve been working with lots of hard and software before and with samplers and with Elektron boxes. So maybe it comes a bit easier to me. But even to a beginner I would recommend Merlins guide and youtube tutorials first.