Octatrack MK2 field report after 1 year of use (buying advice)


#42

Welcome to the jungle, we’ve got fun and games… :joy:


#43

Yeah, I was on the fence about the Octatrack. Nearly purchased one. I’m a Digitakt owner and I’ve tried every Elektron unit in my local synth store.

I think the main problem with it for me is that its just old. It was a very cool piece of gear when it came out but the MK2 didn’t improve it and modernize it, just gave it a new shell. Its one of those pieces of gear thats been around for awhile and people still recommend it but its just like the OP-1, theres a lot of hype and positive talk around it but I feel like the devices just haven’t kept up with the industry.

Both devices came out around the same time and both just don’t sound amazing anymore. Small self contained production machines weren’t too big in 2012 so having both of those devices come out was great. But now theres quite a few options that sound MUCH better.

I’m very happy with the Digitakt. Its the hardest hitting drum machine I have and just sounds incredible. But even the Novation Circuit which is like $250-$300 sounds better than the OP-1 and Octatrack.

I sold my OP-1 after having it for 5 years for the same price I bought it for. Its a cool device for what it is but that thing has such a trash reverb and the effects in general are mostly pretty bad. I found myself using it less and less as a portable music making device and more of a synth that I’d route through Ableton and layer effects on. To me, thats not worth $800 or so when a big selling feature was its portability. The 4-tracks used to not bother me that much, and it still wouldn’t if the tracks were actually stereo. Having 4 mono tracks that could be panned on to one stereo master is just so goddamn restricting. The sequencers, apart from the Endless sequencer that works like most hardware synth sequencers, were mainly trash.

I feel the octatrack hasn’t aged nearly as poorly as the OP-1 but the confusing work-flow just seemed too much. My best beats in my opinion were made pretty quickly. And having to dive into menus and stumble through an interface can really drop my desire to be creative.

I ended up ordering a Deluge by Synthstrom. I’m excited to see how that turns out. Seems like it will be the perfect replacement for the OP-1 for me and you can make full tracks with it.


#44

ok


#45

Well it’s clear you’ve reached a decision after a good amount of time and a solid understanding of what the OT is / isn’t. My take is the list of positives are really meaty and the negatives are smaller things that got to you over time. I think the second hand OT market means you can always buy another in future, I notice that a lot in threads, people rebuying after selling. Cheers


#46

I agree with your point on the OT MK2. Missed opportunity.


#47

Funny, I found the OT manual one of the more lucid I’ve ever read, and it’s pretty short, too.

The index is terrible, though.

But check out this typical page from the Roland D110 manual, for example:

That’s the second of 3 pages describing how to save a patch. I’ve been using the thing for a couple years and know exactly how to save a patch and the manual’s description is STILL confusing!


#48

Octatrack forever


#49

To perspective OT buyers maybe this will help you as it helped me. I got OT MK1 shortly after release and sold it within a few months cause I couldn’t get my head around the workflow.

Fast forward to last year I was chatting with Jim Stout about ARMK2, A4MK2, and the OT MK2 releases. I was hyped on the AR and A4, but not so much on the OT (thought I wanted to try again). Jim said the OT is where it’s at. He said something along the lines of just “loading in sounds and see what happens”. This flipped my perspective, which was very control and precision based, like what a DAW offers. OT for me has become the ultimate jam machine.

When you take sound/s and mangle it through OT, it’s nothing like anything else out there. It’s liberating to hear where OT takes you, not the other way around.

Just food for thought.


#50

I get that! That’s exactly what the Digitakt does for me.


#51

A look into history can be very interesting.

After learning about “Musique concrète”, which started after 1928 in France and grew to a group of international artists, who did experimental and contemporary music, I found some interesting analogies of their work and techniques in the OT.

Maybe this was not intended by Elektron. But what those artists had to accomplish with early electronics, partly mechanically, and manually done, which seems to have been a cumbersome work flow, can easily be done with the OT in seconds. If we open our view of the OT to those techniques, the OT seems no longer to be a groove box for beats and sound mangling only. It can be an experimental sound-design and composition tool for contemporary music … or anything in-between :wink:

That multi-verse inside the OT is, what keeps me using and loving it. And it has not to be perfect, because art is not depending on perfect tools, but only how the artist is using the tools.


#52

I get where folks are coming from but I never got the impression that the MkII was being marketed as anything other than a modernisation and standardisation of the materials used. Where I think Elektron shot themselves in the foot a little was that the A4/AR MkII’s went a little further whether it be sound engine tweaks, additional outs or, basically, a DT rammed inside an AR. Having said that, I would love a true modernisation and sequel to the OT. An OT with OB in it would be a dream come true for me (even after the 2 year wait for OB to work…!).

Again, this is something where I can appreciated someone is coming from but in many ways I’d actually flip the point and say that the industry hasn’t really kept up with what the OT/OP-1 specialise in. Or, at least, the hardware industry. Some apps get close.

This is something I think I need to try more. Sampling is a breeze in Ableton - especially with Push 2 - so maybe I should spend a day going through my shitty vinyl’s, chopping things up then dragging over to the OT. I get myself in a bit of a tizz when there’s cables everywhere in my work area so this way I can keep things super clean and have it as just me and my OT.


#53

Simon has been alerted to the break in the collective.


#54

The MKII was essentially Elektron doubling down on even after all these years the OT being the best sampling game in town.

I expect once they get OB stable were in for some shit.


#55

Just learn to sample with the OT. But, yeah, Ableton too. Do it.


#56

I do do that! And a lot of fun it is too. It can just be unwieldy at times


#57

Yeah, I hear you. But the more I do it the faster and more fluid I get. But yeah. Right now I am setting up my studio to go through Ableton, so that I can record long stems and regurgitate back in with (sliced up) OctaEdit. I guess I’m saying- use it all, as long as it gets it done.


#58

What you guys think, will there be octatrack mk3?
I’m secretly waiting for that.


#59

I doubt it but I still hope for it.

If something were to happen then my guess would be that it wouldn’t be an Octatrack MkIII. Probably a new unit or a full on OT2.0.


#60

maybe, but I would not sit around counting minutes for its release.


#61

I feel like I wouldn’t buy another OT if mine were to die at his point. While I enjoy it in some ways, in most of the ways I wanted to use it, it’s been a pain in the ass. The short 4 bar limitations, the lack of real MIDI polyphony, no sample polyphony, the time stretching, 64mb of RAM, only 4 parts and no kits, it all seems so limited at this point. If the OT2 had improved on those things, I’d consider an upgrade, but as it stands, my OT is basically just an expensive toy that I occasionally use for sound mangling and sample launching at shows. I’ll probably never sell it (unless I get a MPC Live and it ends up being more useful for me) but I def. wouldn’t pick up another MKI/MKII.