Octatrack only as a MIDI sequencer?


#1

Hi,

With some saved cash burning a hole in my pocket, and with elektron’s sadistic tease campaing messing with my head, I am constantly looking for ways to spend that €, and being the elektron fanboi that I am, would like to give my money to them.

So basically, I have two needs for my rigs that I have yet to fulfill - getting a MIDI sequencer and a mixer I am content with. So, have been thinking about the octatrack a bit.

Would you recommend the octa as the king MIDI sequencer for a rig? I already have 2 MPCs, es2 and the BSP, but dunno, all of them are lacking in one way or the other. Mainly, I have a hard time recalling stuff on anything else except the MPC1000, but modulating CCs with the MPC is not super smooth in terms of workflow. It’s a fantastic MIDI seq for simple progchng/midi note duties, but yknow - plocks!

My main concerns with the OT are:

  • Does it have a pattn chain mode like the AR?
  • Do you reckon trig conditions will ever come to the OT?
  • What is the max polyphony per MIDI track on the OT?
  • Is there nondestructive quantize per track like on the AR?
  • Is there note offset (func+left/right) like on the AR?
  • How many MIDI CCs can one plock on one track?
  • Dumping MIDI patterns via sysex works fine? (ie. backups)
  • Can you name MIDI tracks (memory aid in recall)?
  • You can mute/unmute MIDI tracks on the fly, right?
  • Can you make stuff like AR perf macros for MIDI CCs?
  • How much can you control the sequencer remotely via MIDI?

I love the build and form factor of my AR, so the OT appeals to me physically. However, if a squarp pyramid etc would be a better MIDI sequencer, then I guess I’d have to consider against the OT.

TIA for any thoughts on these!


#2

Hi, will answer what i know,

Max poly 4 notes
There is note offset
No midi cc plocked
No midi pattern dump via sysex
Can’t rename midi tracks
Can mute/unmute easily
I dont think you can remotely control the midi seq

Hope this helps


#3
  • Does it have a pattn chain mode like the AR? yes, you can chain patterns
  • Do you reckon trig conditions will ever come to the OT? I doubt it, don’t hope for this as part of your purchasing decision
  • What is the max polyphony per MIDI track on the OT? 4 note paraphony
  • Is there nondestructive quantize per track like on the AR? not sure
  • Is there note offset (func+left/right) like on the AR? I believe the functionality is there, I don’t remember the exact shortcut
  • How many MIDI CCs can one plock on one track? I’m not aware of a limit
  • Dumping MIDI patterns via sysex works fine? (ie. backups) Backups on the OT are done by connecting the machine to a computer via USB and copying the folder for the project to the computer
  • Can you name MIDI tracks (memory aid in recall)? no, MIDI tracks are named only by the MIDI channel they are assigned to
  • You can mute/unmute MIDI tracks on the fly, right? yes
  • Can you make stuff like AR perf macros for MIDI CCs? Be aware that the crossfader does not affect the MIDI tracks.
  • How much can you control the sequencer remotely via MIDI? See the appendix of the OT manual. You can control only the active tracks MIDI pages remotely via MIDI. You can play mutliple MIDI tracks (and Audio tracks) at the same time via the mapped channels, but you can only record the active track.

#4

thats wrong… you can assign 12 midi CCs… and they can be p-locked, also recorded live

fun fact - the AK wont record the joystick movements into its own sequencer… but it outputs standard MIDI messages (pb, mod, breath) - so you can record them into the OT midi sequencer… then you can mute/unmute that track as needed, or manipulate the data with LFO, etc.

btw - with this same kind of loopback idea, you use the OT crossfader to manipulate its own MIDI tracks, but you need some kind of software or hardware interpreter/controller manager to receive the MIDI from crossfader and to send it back to the OT as MIDI CC per track/channel/etc

OT is not a standard midi sequencer… more like a funky step sequencer, same as the audio side … 4 note poly per track is enough for most electronic music, but definitely not orchestral stuff or anything like that


#5

You can use multiple OT tracks for the same MIDI channel. So you can multiply the poliphony.

Note offset/microtiming is there, fn+left/right, afaik the same as rytm (I don’t own a rytm).

You can get 3 years of warranty for OT many places, not sure about the Pyramid on this regard.


#6

Thanks for the replies guys!

It’s a darn shame that the crossfader doesn’t work with ext midi on its own…

is the 12 MIDI CCs for plocking the global amount or 12 CCs per track?

so, 32 note polyphony in total, eh? that would be enough for me.

Is MIDI CC (volume) supported? Thinking if I could use a launchcontrol XL for controlling volumes of the 8 MIDI tracks somehow…


#7

is the 12 MIDI CCs for plocking the global amount or 12 CCs per track?

Per track.

Is MIDI CC (volume) supported? Thinking if I could use a launchcontrol XL for controlling volumes of the 8 MIDI tracks somehow…

Sure, on each of the MIDI tracks you can assign one of their encoders to CC#7.

The OT is a great MIDI sequencer, so I think you’ll be happy. The OT has some sequencing features that I wish the AR had, and vice versa (conditional locks) of course. IMO, it has a handful of powerful tricks up its sleeve that put it a head above the entire crowd that’s under the price range of a Cirklon or a wall full of analog sequencers.


#8

Oh man, the OT is starting to sound tempting indeed!

I actually had an OT on loan briefly, but only used it for a short time as an 8-track looper. In that brief time I didn’t even scratch the surface of what it can do tbh.

I’ll dig into the manual and give this a lil thought, but right now I’m leaning on getting an OT 2nd hand sometime in the future. Thanks again!


#9

I bought the OT a few years back for use as a combined MIDI sequencer and 4-channel mixer with effects. I was never really comfortable with it in that role.

The MIDI sequencing capabilities are fine, but it is still a step sequencer, which can start to get annoying for polyphonic parts, or for when you’d like to capture complex CC movements.

I also found switching between the “internal” and the MIDI tracks a bit awkward. It felt too much like switching the whole machine between two distinctly separate modes.

It’s also annoying that you can’t crossfade scenes in MIDI mode.

I’d take a look at the Squarp Pyramid and the Engine if you want a hardware MIDI sequencer.

Also, the Modstep iPad app is a really interesting choice as a sequencer for a hardware setup. It also runs well on older iPad hardware, so you don’t have to invest a lot of money to give it a try.


#10

yeah, been using the modstep a bit lately. I like it for writing but for performing I need tactile controls


#11

Yeah, MIDI mapping suppory in Modstep is pretty good, but I’d really like the team to do some proper launchpad integration…


#12

Couple things that haven’t been mentioned.
Polyphony on the OT means all notes hit exactly the same time, no subtle variation per step.
Midi sequencing is really simple to understand on the OT compared to everything else about the OT.


#13

one of the things nobody mentions is lack of 32nd note resolution - which is actually something i use a lot when making beats … but you can workaround with LFOs, and/or retrigs

its just not inherently in the step sequencer as it is


#14

that can be overcome by microtiming, retrigs and using double tempos ie. not a problem for me


#15

It’s actually only 10 user assignable midi CC’s per track, the other two fixed encoders offer MIDI Pitch bend and MIDI After touch

FWIW, I wouldn’t say that buying an OT for the MIDI side alone was a financially wise strategy, first and foremost it’s a sampler, make sure you want that side of it enough to justify the outlay, just my 2c


#16

Yes, but can’t you use microtiming to get two steps almost next to each other? This is how I’d program strums, “humanized chords” etc


#17

can’t it be run at twice speed, the way iirc you can on the audio side, i.e 2x or 1/2x 1/4x etc etc
Okay you’ll only get two bars, but it’s still a possibility, no ! Can’t say I’ve tried it mind you


#18

I am a bit picky nowadays when it comes to sampling. When I had the OT briefly, I wasn’t overly fond of the sound (which is why I let it go). I guess the sampling side would be used eventually, but only alongside other sound sources (and certainly wouldn’t be using the OT as a mixer for anything more ambitious)


#19

exactly. this combined with pattn chaining is the way to go for 32nd note heavy stuff IMO


#20

Hm. If you’re not interested in the sampling aspect at all, then the Pyramid or the Engine seems like it would make a lot more sense to me.