Octatrack only as a MIDI sequencer?


#21

Might want to look into a Cirklon if you just want a hardware sequencer?
http://www.sequentix.com/cirklon.htm


#22

how’s the plocking capability with the pyramid? is it as advanced?


#23

I’m sure circlon would be killer, but the form factor is too wide for my needs, sadly. Also, isn’t a circlon terribly expensive?


#24

It seems to have full support for per-step CC automation: http://squarp.net/modestep#ancre08

Please note that I don’t own a Pyramid; it’s just an option I’m interested in myself. You might want to read the manual to figure out if it would be something for you.

Keep in mind that due to the limitations of the MIDI protocol and DIN MIDI bandwidth, you’ll never get parameter control as tight as you get with p-locking the internal sound engine on an Elektron box.


#25

Yah, been eyeing on the pyramid since it was announced, skimmed through the manual a few times too. It seems like a promising product, but have been on the fence (and still am). However, perhaps for my needs, maybe it is the best alternative.

It is fugly tho compared to an elektron box :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: like a bastard son of maschine and a DIY controller


#26

There are some great answers here already, but I thought I should add the following:

Pattern chaining is slightly different from the AR in that only patterns in the same bank can be chained.

Personal opinion: I think there is zero chance that this will happen.


#27

egad! just spent some time researching about the pyramid. I found badly behaving forumites bashing elektron devices, and TL;DR idiotism written with a size 80pt font. But what sealed the deal was this:

The pyramid can only play 64 discreet midi clips! There is no way I could realistically pull off our longer sets with it. Heck, even for controlling 4 midi devices, you could only have 8 discreet sequences for each - and if one song happens to be something like A-B-A-A-C-B-B-D-A, that’s already half of your midi clips there :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: So obviously pyramid is more for long evolving jams and single song performances - pass

What was interesting that the thread talked about OT’s song mode in detail - that ability to control loop points and iteration counts sounds good! So the :elot: is still looking like the best alternative :3lektron:


#28

How about the :elmm: ? (If you can find one)
Of the 3 :3lektron: boxes that spit out MIDI notes, it’s my favorite for melodic sequencing.
Yea it isn’t as fully featured as OT, but I found the implementation to be smoother.
Also, Program Change per step means sound locks on most other external synths. Powerful stuff.


#29

Well as someone who has both an MPC1000 and an octatrack I can tell you they work great together. And each ones strength is the others weakness, or at least for how I use them. For example I don’t sequence chords on the octatrack but on the mpc. I don’t play drums on the octatrack but I do step sequence othe percussions and monophonic samples and stuff. Basically if you get the octatrack with sequencing in mind I am sure you will also end up using it for sampling as well along side the mpc. I use the mpc as master when I am not using the computer btw. I think you should get one for sure!


#30

What kills me for sequencing MIDI on the OT is that there are no note overlaps. Every new trig on a MIDI track will send note offs for the previous trig. This means you can’t play a chord and then add a note on top a few steps later without cutting off the notes of the previous chord. That sucks.

If you’re doing mono lines - totally cool. Otherwise, MPC has the upper hand on the OT.

That being said, I use a MIDIBox Seq v4 as my main MIDI sequencer - the OT can’t hold a candle to it. I do miss having an MPC for ease of entry though.


#31

Yup, this sure could be a deal breaker for a longer set. Did you also look at the Social Entropy Engine? That one appears to be more traditionally pattern-oriented.


#32

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.


#33

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


#34

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.


#35

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.


#36

Yes. Four parts per bank.


#37

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

Squarp Pyramid [compilation topic]
#38

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?


#39

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.


#40

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!