Preparing For First Live Show w/ Octatrack


Thanks! I gotta sift through all this as I’ve messed something up badly. Can only trig songs in Slot mode at the moment. Not idea what I’m doing here!

I’m sure, soon enough I’ll figure out what little clam I made trying to sort this :slight_smile:


Got what I think is an ok first live show rig put together today. I can play synth and live bass guitar with just a single stereo out to the sound guy. Everything mounted to a pedalboard. Not the most elegant thing to look at, but everything seems to be working so far


two things that I learned working with bands:

1- metronome for everybody makes it groove a lot more. and give freedom to the electronics have silent moments, dynamics

2- the more channels you send to the pa, better to the sound engineer mix with the other instruments of the bend… a separated kick makes real difference, for exemple.

so, I use my playback tracks programed in the sequencer, mixed in 4 to 7 stems and each stem sliced so I can program different patterns to different parts of the song. in that way I can improvise, apply filter and fx, send metronome to the band and send more then a stereo to the pa mixer.


I pretty much agree with everything you just said!

For this first one, there is no band…it’s just me. So that’ll make things easier. My actual band that is playing later in the night doesn’t currently use any electronics.

I do kinda wish I would’ve done a few more stems to separate some things, but I think I’ll manage on this first one. As I get more into this I will certainly take every bit of advice you gave, so thank you!


This is the topic I’ve actually been waiting for. It took me almost a year to get things sorted, and now it’s time to share my expreience. Initially I was buying Octa in an attempt to completely get rid of a computer with Ableton setup which has been my longstanding ‘heart’ of live band rig; even though this was Mac it was giving me up from time to time, and the initial goal was to replace the machine which could play multitracks of already finished songs. Besides succeeding this goal, now I can do much more with Octa. Playing from a single keyboard on tour, I can switch between synths, switch presets on hardware and even switch the projecting visuals, all in a perfect sync.

I play keyboards and sing vocals in an electronic live band called Electrolith, you can check it out on YouTube:
We’ve got lots of devices, e.g. external vocal processors, synths, guitar FX and drum sampler, to handle with. You know it’s neverending mess to remember all the toggles and tweaks during the gig, to balance everything beforehand and hook it up to self-made visuals which is important part of our show. But I was surprised that with Octa can handle all of this tasks, and much, much more. But, first things first.

Well, I’ve started the same way the OP did (pretty common way getting to know Octa as a ‘playback machine’, I guess), gathering my Ableton multitracks into 8 submixes a song, placing 8 static machines and oneshot trigs on the first step of each track. Every song resided in certain bank back then. There was also a demand to send MIDI program change messages to switch presets on vocal processor at some moments in each song. In Octa you only have 4 parts and thereby 4 program changes per bank, so I figured out numbers of bars for each verse and chorus, switched on ‘per track’ mode so each pattern didn’t cycle after 64 steps and could play on for the specified number of bars (‘master length’ value), and then switch to next pattern automatically. That worked fine, but was clumsy because of the disability to stop/play the track at certain point. Moreover, I had to make pattern chain every time I run the machine as this is kind of ‘manual’ procedure. The inability of instant BPM changes was also a thorn in side.

The next step was getting to know Arranger (volia!). It solved immediately the BPM change problem but led me to idea that I should somehow split my tracks to get some ‘points’ not only to be able to play the song from, but also to lock MIDI program changes and send MIDI notes to a computer for automatically synchronized switching visuals in Resolume. Giving up the idea of physically splitting my stems, I knew Octa has the ability to set slice points on long tracks. As it was clear to me that I could spend months trying to carefully assign all the slice points manually in Octa, I’ve found a tiny freeware utility called OctaChainer (OctaEdit can do similar work btw). Some of its modes allows for creating .ot files that contain a ‘slice map’ based on BPM information, automatically putting slice points at given ‘resolution’ (e.g. every 64, 48 or 32 steps) till the end of audio file. The rest I had to do was two things: 1) define a ‘resolution’ for each song, which could cover all of my MIDI switch points but NOT exceed 64 resultant slice points limitation, and 2) prepare a template project in Octa, turn on SLC mode on each of 8 tracks, set all patterns’ lengths to match my chosen ‘resolution’, put trig on the first step of each track of each pattern of each bank from A to D, with STRT parameter locked to slices from 1 to 64 (as Octa can handle maximum of 64 slices per track as I said above), and finally make an Arrangement with consequent patterns from A01 to D16. After that, I was able to create a separate project for every song out of that template via ‘Save to new’ command, set BPMs for each of those, save, and import my stems along with .ot files to each project folder inside Octa. Then to assign stems to static machines, and hit play.

Yes, I’ve lost the ability to gather more than a one song inside a single project. But in a live situation, 7-8 seconds needed for loading the next project in list, not so critical especially when you have a bunch of external effects to fill the gaps (or to put yours two cents worth, or to let the audience cry for a little more :smirk:). For improvisations, you can instantly Fn+Pattern at any point of Arrangement, thus turning the Arranger off and therefore going out of pre-programmed sequence on the fly, making any desired piece of your song loop. Turn on the Arranger again and you will move the song ahead.

Indeed, the more tracks you spread to different outputs, the more possibilities you will get. Octa has 4 outputs so theoretically you can send most of your stems to stereo pair of Main outs, leaving Cue outs for kick and metronome. Separating kick drum from stems is a nesessary thing especially when you play electronic music with lot of dancy sidechain things. The nesessity of spreading metronome hardly requires elaboration. Actually, that was tricky to map the metronome to only one of two Cue outs, because built-in metronome in Octa does not have the pan parameter. Finally I had to spin off all of the kick tracks into separare stems, and also make a custom metronome track, then to remove them from main outs by simply muting it or decreasing their Level to 0 (in this case remember to repeat it for each part and each bank because they store Level parameters independently), cue them and apply separated panning to the left and right respectively (so the kick resides in out 3, and the metronome in out 4, allowing for independent routing in mixing console). Yes, you lose one more track on Octa, but you forget it right after you know that you can put everything you want in the metronome track, e.g. some warning chime signal right before the dramatic moment in the song (which is urgent when you improvise and no one of your musicians know when it happens).

I haven’t used the Master track before. Now I doubt this idea even more, because I already spend certain track for kick drum and metronome, one more backing track for all the stuff we play live (for emergency purposes) and the rest is only 5 tracks to spread between stems. But the idea of using two compressors on a Master track seems interesting to me; maybe I’ll give it a try.
We’ve got Behringer XR18 mixing console, it has built-in dynamic processing per channel which allows for all the tricks, plus the ability to implement sidechain things, making kick channel the carrier signal for any other channel coming to console. It has 6 auxillary outputs so apart from main outs coming to FOH it can deliver 3 independent stereo mixes for each musician. Plus, it can internally store snapshots with all the assignments, fader levels, effects settings for each channel, and more. Magic box, I highly recommend it.

In conclusion I’d like to say that the Octatrack can be a Self Esteem Wrecker only until the time when you get to know it closer, after that it turns things upside down and successfully boost your self esteem to unprecedented heights. I know many people being distracted by the limitations the Octa has, in contrast to traditional ‘unlimited’ DAWs, and that limitations have made them to give up this unique device in favour of buggy computer or third-rate playback devices like SPD-SX or RC-505. It’s true, Octatrack has a nasty temper and it grabs a lot of time and effort to understand it. But the most important thing every new user has to internalize, is that EVERYTHING in this machine is premised on inventing workarounds, which can be different for every given situation. Just be a man of ideas, think out of the DAW box and it will become your best friend, for sure.

OP, wish you a thousand hours of fun with Octa and tons of unforgettable gigs in the upcoming year :muscle: Feel free to PM me for the template project if need be, I’d be glad to share it to save the precious time.
Happy new year Elektronauts! :3lektron: :clinking_glasses: :champagne:


Excellent post! I am about to plan my live OT set so this information is very timely. HNY2019 :slight_smile:


Wow, thanks for all the great detail in how you prepare your shows! I watched your YouTube clip and your band is terrific too!
Playing this first gig solo offers some short term advantages because I won’t need to worry about how to make everything work with other musicians yet.
Until I started preparing for this first show, I’d never used a static machine or played back any long form samples. I do a lot of live sampling/mangling in the writing stage, but lack confidence in pulling it off live still. I’ll continue working on this because it’s really why I bought the OT in the first place :slight_smile:
My initial thought when buying it was that it would be a ‘Digitakt on steroids’ kinda thing and it certainly is. It’s been really fun to join this forum and see all the different ways others see/use the OT. Many use it in ways that had never occurred to me, which is the beauty of that machine!

Thanks again for being so generous with your time to give insights to your workflow. It means a lot!


Ok, first Octatrack performance done a dusted! Went pretty well. Did a bit of live bass and live synth playing and only had a couple very minor hiccups while improvising. It was a lot of fun. One guy tried to bust me for “using a computer to organize everything.” I didn’t have a computer, but I used an iPad synth app for some live playing. It was just used as a sound module, but the guy seemed suspicious :slight_smile: It’ll probably be the last time I use an iPad live.
Aside from that guy (who said he liked it a lot), I got a really good reception from the crowd and had a blast. My rock band managed a pretty good set too :slight_smile:



Been waiting with baited breath on the outcome of your gig! Read through all of the posts.
You are soooo cool!

Great job, fella! :wink:


Way to go, you pulled it off!
Now, back to the manual! :joy: (Just kidding… kind of, haha… :smile:)


Back to the manual for sure! Funny how just playing the first show gave me so many ideas of how I’d like to do things in the future. I’ve hit the point where working with the OT isn’t a baffling mess anymore, but am excited to learn new ways of working with it. I like having the OT. You can make pretty cool jams in a few days, but keep digging and discovering for years. That machine is worth it’s weight in gold. Useful on so many levels


Alors bravo !
Beautiful bass ! Do you play it with 2 hands sometimes? :tongue:
Any audio recordings of your live show?
Happy new year.


Happy new year! Playing bass with two hands? That’s just crazy talk :slight_smile:
I really like that bass a lot. 2002 Gibson Thunderbird with Lollar pickups. It sounds nice and chunky. I have 3 T Birds at the moment. Wonderful instruments. May sell one of em to finance a new synth, but I have way more basses than I need at the moment anyway and there’s no way I’m gonna use an iPad synth ever again onstage


Thanks for sharing your experience. Very happy to hear that the show went well and learned some great tips from everyone who chimed in. :slight_smile: