Octatrack Techno/House? thread

I have had the OT for about 2 years now and I think I understand maybe 30% of what it does. This is owing in large part to also owning a DT and DN and since they are far more easy to comprehend, I had been mostly using the OT as a live looper/effects processor.

Recently though I have been looking to simplify, so I have been coming to grips with using the OT like a standalone groovebox.

For me the expression comes largely comes from setting up scenes and muting and unmuting tracks. So I have been experimenting a lot with stuff I can do with scenes. Slices have come in handy for this, as they can lead to variation in drum tracks without sounding like a slewed effect. The same can be done with one shot synth samples as well.

I also like to make loops with the start points mapped to the slider. This way the slider will change the relative phase of the loops and create wildly different grooves or cadences, which I can refine by playing the mute buttons and resample. It’s easy to go overboard and get really abstract with this technique, but I have definitely gotten some “happy accidents” with it as well.

Preparing slices for the OT is also a way to extend a single project. 128 slots isn’t a lot if you are trying to make an hour long set with them, so a lot of my recent experimentation has been how to intelligently use each static and flex track.

@loopdude @DanJamesAUS Just curious how you guys went about making your sample chains?


Does anyone perform livesets? 1hr long or so? How do you manage to keep people dancing

There is a chainer app cant think of what it’s called right now,
Just look up Octatrack chains on here and you find it, it’s free
You just load samples into it and it’ll make a chain and ot slice file


LOVE this record.

I have no real feedback on first-hand use (I use it but I’m more electro, I guess) but one house/techno artist I know that loves the OT is The Field. uses it a TON. live and in the studio. but it’s not the only thing he uses. which is what I’d say my main advice would be: don’t rely on just the OT. figure out what it’s great at with what you’re doing, augment it with other stuff to fill out the rest of your sound.

oh, this guy does some pretty cool stuff with it too:

and here he appears to just be using it, midi controller, and a TR-909:


This leads back to that at what point is your setup excessive thread. I am trying to rely on just the OT, Virus, and H9 so 1. my setup is manageable for live use and 2. I actually learn and master my equipment. I understand the octatrack may not always be the best tool for a job but as soon as I can get the octatrack to do what I want it to do rather than right now where I do what it wants me to do, I’ll be happy.

Thanks for those links, I scour the web for octatrack live videos and thought I’d seen them all :smiley:

Yeah it looks good, but I don’t have a spare $100 for such a tool. I’ve been just making scratch ableton sessions and using the grid there. I have also been using the modular to generate a bunch of random drum samples.

Me too, the best guide I found was the Merlin Guide, which is written in a more accessible fashion than the manual.

Here I found the one I’m using it’s free…

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Yep, 1.3 has also AR/DT chain mode, and Megabreak! :loopy:


I have my samples organised by type, would it be worth making a chain of every hihat sample I have for example?

I have probably ~200 samples per instrument type, how are other people organising their sample chains?

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This is really what I would like to know as well.

I’m still figuring out how to make interesting chains and how best to use them

I’ve tried making chains of bass or synth sounds just in C then creating random locks on my patterns to get a choppy bass line with different sounds,
Also made chains of bass notes of a scale…
I have had some good results a couple times with suitable sounds
And you can use the cross fader to create fills in the bassline with the start point

I’ve made a few of just hats or kicks / percussion and that works well.

Slices organisation is a matter of taste. Think about what you need. It’s possible to do your chains in OT with resampling. Simpler if all the sounds have equal length, to apply Slice Grid, or use 128 start points in Start mode, for closed hihats for instance. Adapt the tempo.

You can use some longer samples, delete some slices after a Slice Grid.

You can make chains of similar sounds, only kicks, snares, etc, or make several drum kits in one chain. Well prepared, you can change the kits with the crossfader (lfo offset).

You can make a chain with 1 sound with X variations, randomize. Concerning random variations, random lfos being bipolar, you may choose “odd groups” : ex with 5 slices, select slice 3, randomize with 2 slices range…

You can make wavetables, even with OT audio editor. Select a sample portion with multiples of root note : ex with C = 674 samples. Multiply by 128 to get the right length in Trim…


Over the last 10 years I have found I actually need way less samples than I thought I would use. And I actually use far fewer samples than I think I need. Not saying this works for everyone.
But, I have one Hihat chain in my OTwith 64 different hihats. Thats all I need for hihats. Same for kicks, snares etc. The sample library in my hard drive has literally thousands of drum samples. I just dont use them. OT is so good at shaping samples into something new everytime, you can recycle the same sample endlessly.

I organise folders in my OT audio folder.

My own Techno stuff is done with OT plus one other synth or drum machine. 1 bar patterns, I write them first then tweak as I go for gigs/ recording. Works for me.


Octachainer as mentioned. You’ll love it if you have been doing it in a daw. It’s really easy to use.

I have my chains separated in sound categories. Kicks, hats, rides, stabs and so on. I also have some categories like “disco hats” or “foley” if I am looking for a little more specialized. For more specialization I find it better loading a single sample, so no need for a chain.

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I use OT for kick sample, and the rest of the tracks mostly for long sample chains streaming off the CF card, which is its strength that can’t be replaced with anything else in hardware. Think individual slices which are 32/64 bars long, using individual track multipliers to slow down step speed. Rest of drums from another drum machine, additional synths sequenced via OT midi tracks, or with Monomachine in tow.

Sample chains usually recorded/built in ableton live.

OT scenes always song specific, and usually have 4 or so scenes dedicated to breakdown, and scene 16 as crossover transition back to scene 1 for circle work

Use scenes to travel and progress the pattern, and usually only need 3 or 4 patterns (1 part) for an entire track.

If live performing, useful to learn resampling techniques for song transitions.

Often use neighbor tracks, or double tracks of same sound for panning / different fx chains.


My favorite way to use the octatrack for techno (I make dubby kind of stuff for the most part but do more straight ahead and ambient stuff too) is to treat it like a super powerful delay machine / looper. I have an aux send from the mixer sent to prefade so I can send stuff even when it’s not “in the mix” I also have a turntable set up so I can sample in real time. But you can make some really great techno with just a single synth and some good drum samples. I’ve been doing a new project lately that is predominately improvised. One of my favorite tricks is to downsample a loop I have going to get different rhythms out of the same sample and use that as the next signpost for the upcoming section.


Downsampling? What do you mean by that?

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Playback rate rather I find that going from 64 to 48 can take a straight 16th note pattern and turn them into triplets. Or go down to 32 and now hour lead is turned into a halftime bassline


Also I found a way to get randomness without using conditional trigs (I do like conditional frogs but sometimes you want to go another route) is let’s say you have a clap on two and four. Set the last snare on bar four to plock an LFO depth that is modulating retrig amount. (I like to use a square wave set to free so that it only sometimes catches the positive modulation) and then have a triangle LFO modulating time. Gives a fun clicks ‘ n cuts glitchy randomness


Is there a good way to get flams on snares? Ive tried fill mode but then I only get snares to be on the grid, whats a good way to create another division?