Octatrack only as a MIDI sequencer?

OT is pretty fun as a MIDI sequencer.
You can plock ARPs, don’t think this as been said already.
With 8 tracks x 10 plockable CC x 3 LFOs there are tons of things to do already.
@guga built a MIDI crossfader to fill the gap, lately he was talking about a new batch coming, iirc.

The fact that you can mix and add FX to 4 mono inputs is great, and you talked about needing such aspect.
And it’s pretty convenient to be able to sample some material and don’t need to bring your little synths for live performance…

If you buy a used OT (got mine for 800€) you’ll have no pb reselling it for the same value.
I’d say go for it.

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that is unfortunate, but you can get around this limitation by using several tracks I hope?

I was hoping the perf macro system on the OT (dunno what it’s called - scenes?) would be available for extMIDI, that would have been ideal. I can live without a crossfader otherwise.

Reading the manual some more, it seems the OT has no kits? So how are the CC mappings handled on the midi seq side? Are they global? As in, I cannot define a diff set of CCs for pattern 1 and 2?

Or are these CC configurations available per part (4 parts, right?)

Multiplexing a single devices’ MIDI control across two or more OT seq tracks sounds quite appealing in theory, with arps and polyrhythms etc. If only the MIDI control was internally relative so that one could cascade a bunch of polyryhtmic cc plocking and lfo data, but the manual states that a lower track will override CCs et al when overlapping data occurs.

Yes. Four parts per bank.

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Yeah, you only get 64 MIDI clips (“tracks”), and 32 mute groups (confusingly called “sequences” in Pyramidese) that you can launch manually or chain together. Each or all of those 64 tracks can be up to 384 bars long (maybe great if you want to write scores on the thing), so there’s plenty of memory in there – it’s just been designed to be used in long, dense chunks, rather than possibly many small chunks (Elektron’s patterns) that can be looped and chained flexibly.

I’ve advocated for a while now (e.g. here) to Squarp’s developers to learn from Elektron in this regard, specifically from the OT’s Arranger and from the control the user gets in the OT over how memory is allocated. (The 80pt font troll you mention didn’t seem to like my suggestions or enthusiasm for Elektron products.)

Anyway, I have a Pyramid and an OT, and I find that they work well to complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I do wish it were all contained in one box to minimize overhead. I use the OT as my primary sequencer, and slaved to it is the Pyramid, which I use 75% as some kind of MIDIpal on lots of steroids and 25% for sequencing polyphonic parts and >8 bar-long automations.

OT is still much better than Pyramid at:

  • Making arrangements out of smaller component parts that loop
  • Monophonic sequencing, in general – plocking and editing monophonic steps’ note length, velocity, pitch, simultaneous CCs, etc. is much easier on the OT, and you can’t even disable/mute steps on Pyramid without destroying the note information
  • MIDI LFOs and the LFO designer, which together can be used for intertrack modulation and producing very complex, evolving melodies in the league of Cirklon, Numerology, and modular stuff like Rene and Metropolis and analog shift registers. On Pyramid, any modulations have to be deliberately parameter locked or drawn with the touchpad, and you can’t adjust their playback speed, send them to multiple destinations, or “sample and hold” (as in Elektron’s HOLD LFO mode) from automations that change throughout the course of a step
  • Programming synths with CC messages – unlike the 10 assignable encoders per track per pattern on the OT, on Pyramid you get 9 assignable controls (5 encoders, X axis on the touchpad, Y axis on the touchpad, and 2 CV inputs) that cannot have multiple destinations and whose assignments cannot vary between tracks or sequences
  • Easier and faster to ratchet notes
  • Track lengths running at divisions or multiples of the BPM (not a Pyramid feature)
  • Transposing all incoming notes (e.g., if playing from an external keyboard)

Pyramid’s much better than OT at:

  • Polyphonic sequencing (nice chord modes, DAW-like piano roll, easy to add and edit overlapping notes, no practical limit to polyphony)
  • Recording or parameter-locking CC automations over arbitrarily long tracks and multiple simultaneous MIDI channels, with great visual feedback and none of the headaches and limitations of the OT’s “CC direct connect”
  • Creating >64 step “patterns” if you want to
  • Time signatures without having to do workarounds and mental Elektron-math
  • Parameter-lockable tricks for spicing up incoming notes, like velocity-modulated MIDI delay (like on the Yamahas), plenty of scales to quantize notes to, step/gate probability, microtiming-level randomization, note-to-CC conversion (if your synth doesn’t have keytracking modulation), etc.
  • I/O integration, including some iConnectMIDI-like MIDI-thru features and some really interesting CV => MIDI capabilities
  • Handling Program Change messages – you can plock them (as you could on the MD, but not on the OT), you get good visual feedback about their sequencing, and you can get some crazy things going with note-to-PC conversion and CV-to-PC conversion
  • Playability – the pads in live mode have some nice tricks and are very useable (much more so than the mini-keys on the A4 or the chromatic buttons mode on the OT), and the X/Y touchpad is fun

Some other remarks I have on the Pyramid:

  • Swing, rhythmic quantization, stick-to-scale, and “harmonization” (read: the 4-note paraphony available on every OT step) are treated as “MIDI effects” along with the more exotic stuff like step probability, note-to-CC, and delay. And you only get 4 of those per track, so it seems (based on the volume of feature requests) that many owners are feeling they’re underutilizing its potential
  • The Euclidean sequencing mode kinda feels like a party trick at this point, because you can’t parameter lock length or fill (you need to use up more of those 64 tracks for that!) and you have the choice between (a) all steps in the track sharing the same note or (b) randomizing which note is played per step. It’s handy for exploring new rhythmic ideas, though, and then recording them into another sequencer like the Rytm
  • You have to get used to playing Finger Twister on it, as there are some 2-3 part combos of buttons and encoders spanning across the panel that you have to do for routine operations. It’s not great and honestly an RSI risk – while the OT has more arcane button combos, Elektron at least reserves them for the less frequently utilized functions and offers double-tap alternatives
  • The “note2cc” MIDI effect allows me to select Rytm patterns on arbitrary rows of the OT Arranger by translating those notes into Program Change messages (like the Multi Map feature on A4/AK). So, it solves some headaches in keeping the OT and Rytm synced throughout arrangements

Much obliged for the detailed reply! Indeed as you say, something that combies the pyramid and the OT seq would be an ideal (if not ultimate!) sequencer solution.

I am almost sold on the OT already, just need to dig into the MIDI implementation a bit to see the limits of external MIDI control.

Oh yeah, almost forgot - the OT has no + pattern, right? That’s a big one, reloading a saved pattern after completely tweaking it to a mess :ecstatic:

EDIT: hmm, can’t find “reload pattern” from the manual? Surely it’s there somewhere?

Also, it seems that the audio inputs AB/CD cannot be unlinked? You can still gainstage input A differently from input B, right?

Without elongating that essay, one more thing to add that speaks to your concern about using Pyramid live: since you can actually dump MIDI files into it, it should be possible to program it up for long live sets. It’s just that when you sequence and arrange on the Pyramid, the 64 track thing lends itself best to those long evolving jams and single-song performances you mention.


Panning, IIRC
Seriously tho octatrack and mpc 1000 for live would be all you really need. 2 sets of stereo outs from the mpc into the octatrack for effects and there you go!

No, according to the manual:

All adjustments made to patterns are automatically saved. If you wish to alter a pattern but keep the initial sample trig placements you will have to copy the pattern to a new location and then use the copied pattern as the basis for the new pattern.

What you’re describing is a workflow improvement that the Analog line introduced, AFAIK.

Also, it seems that the audio inputs AB/CD cannot be unlinked? You can still gainstage input A differently from input B, right?

If you want to gainstage A & B differently, you’ll need to create two different THRU tracks, one for A and one for B.

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One major obstacle standing in the way of the OT being used as a serious midi sequencer is the omission of parameter slides on midi tracks.
Big fat WTF?!


Yep, I find that annoying too. Don’t know if it’s acceptable to your workflow, but with the LFO designer you can interpolate between steps, so you can set up 16 steps of parameter slides there and run the LFO at a speed of 128 (e.g., mult=2, spd=64) and in SYNC TRIG mode.


Yep, as is often the case with Elektron gear there’s almost always a way around a problem but building patterns in these machines is often time consuming enough without things becoming as convoluted as stitching together a possible four LFO designer patterns to cover a 64 step pattern with smooth parameter sweeps.

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oh dear, the reload pattern omission is a showstopper for me I’m afraid :sob:

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tsutek: What do you need reload pattern for, actually?
You can copy pattern, and paste it later (to get back original state), that’s something like that.
You can also reload whole project, although it’s not good for a live situation. (halts playback for some seconds)
And obviously you can copy pattern to a different slot as well.

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Reload pattern is good for doing just that, starting the patter off where you want it.
In a live situation you can tweak the sequencer all to hell then, “reload.”

does Function+Reload/Cue reload the pattern?
Never tried it on the OT.
You can reload parts though right?

Yes you can reload parts, that is what fn+reload does!

you have 16 banks of 16 patterns… surely you can copy a couple patterns to other locations…

you can reload the part, (like a kit) though

but yeh the MIDI sequencer has frustrating omissions, (like scenes… not even one simple CC parameter or two… HELLO! and yeh that excuse about it not being possible inherently is complete shit, plenty of other midi sequencers do such things quite well - it may not be possible with remaining cpu overhead in OT tho) … and parameter slide is one of them especially…as note slide is of particular use for me… not to mention sweeps, etc. yeh you can burn a LFO or two, three, but damn

best workaround ive found is to record a smooth sweep for the CC into the track by playing it back from an external sequencer like ableton, etc… but yeh, you wont be able to edit it or integrate that into the OT step-based workflow easily

good catch, didn’t think about pattn copy/paste. That’s not as elegant but will get the job done.

I love the pattn reload/kit reload on the AR, you can go totally off tangent during a song and jump back to the original form instantly!

Seems like elektron has matured several key components of their workflow for the analog series. The way trigs/trigless locks/etc are handled on the OT seems clunkier than the trig page implementation on the analog machines.

Researching into the OT’s capabilities is making me appreciate my AR even more. A shame the OT will never match all the features, but it still does many other things right!

if its possible for you to borrow one or rent a demo unit - that would be by far the best

for example i had plenty of ideas of how i wanted the OT to act, when I got it and realized it couldnt do certain things I was frustrated at first, but after banging my head on it for a while, I slowly realized what I wanted to do may not be the best way to go about it in the first place… and as I adjusted to the OT workflow I discovered how useful it really was on its own terms, and then when I adapted to that my skillz and abilitay grew as well - but I dont think it will necessarily happen like that for everyone

what i can say, is that if you are the type of person that gravitates towards step sequencers and live tweaking, if you use step sequencers in almost all tracks, and you gravitate towards devices with near-infinite black-hole-like amounts of possibility (which can be dangerous!) then the elektron stuff is really key - even if it seems wrong at first, before you get your hands on it and play around for a while…

when you accept it on its own terms, adapt to it, it empowers you in other ways… but like i said - not for everyone… country music, orchestral, free jazz (or maybe that would work swell) - you get the idea… it takes a certain type to unlock the tru powah