Purchase Octatrack in 2019?

I would like to purchase a sampler / sequencer and have been looking at the Octatrack, since its combination of expressive features seem way cool. On the computer I use Samplitude, Max, Reaktor, etc. so complexity doesn’t bother me. But I hate having arbitrary limits and I fear that some of the Octotrack issues might be show-stoppers.

So what am I looking for?

  1. no limitation on pattern chaining and song creation
  2. no arbitrary limits on number of tracks
  3. ability to create polyrhythms and polymetric patterns
  4. probabilistic control over events, volume, panning, CC, etc.
  5. probabilistic selection of patterns (e.g. choose one of three patterns randomly)
  6. easy transfer of projects to/from computer over USB
  7. no arbitrary storage limits (SD card)
  8. able to stream long samples
  9. unsynchronised tracks for ambient sets
  10. kits defined independently of patterns (so they can be swapped)

So I have read extensively here and elsewhere. I know about the Octatrack limitations. I think I can live with only eight tracks each of audio and MIDI. I can live with 4-note polyphony. I don’t need ultimate sample editing… can do that on a computer.

I would buy an Octotrack immediately if it was more reasonably priced. Or if it was still 2011. :slight_smile:

But at €1300 the Octotrack has various limitations: low sample memory (128 samples in 80 MB), use of legacy CF card, lack of USB transfer, no MIDI over USB, no USB hub, etc. I am worried it will be far too frustrating for someone coming from my background.

I do love the dual stereo outputs and inputs. Every sampler should have that. The looper features are intriguing but not my main priority.

I have found little information on the MIDI features and generative possibilities using probability. All the jargon around p-locks and trigs hurts my head. I guess few people use this as a central sequencer for other gear?

I have also found little data on performance. Can I be streaming four large stereo files while using four tracks for samples without the machine crying?

So, I am looking for advice. Either a) convince me to buy Octotrack in 2019, b) sell me one for €500, or c) recommend something else?

you can get mk2’s for around €900 second hand. we’ll worth it imo :slight_smile:

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I bought a MKII second hand for £800 a few months ago, and have been using it as a DAW replacement, alongside a Virus TI Snow. It’s full of limitations, it has an incredibly convoluted and complex workflow, and some of the MIDI implementation leaves a little to be desired. Having said that, it is a wonderful piece of equipment and as I become more adept with it, I am starting to really love it.

My background is in producing hyper-technical dancefloor drum and bass, with which I had some success, before deciding to quit the labels/scenes/DJs vibe and focus on creativity instead of engineering and networking. I understand what its like to have very technical requirements and be left short. IMO, the OT is super capable as long as you’re willing to embrace some limitations.

The CF card isn’t a big deal at all - it works well, and I’ve not had any issues with it. The lack of Overbridge is genuinely terrible, and I have yet to decide how I’m going to get stems out of this thing to mix down my tracks in a DAW.

The MIDI implementation is such that you can’t control MIDI parameters with scenes, which is very frustrating, but workable.

P-Locks and conditional trigs will get you to a place where you can do generative and randomised sequencing. It’s very capable in that regard, and you can have per-track pattern lengths, to create polyrhythms etc.

The performance is great. I’ve got plenty of projects where I’m using all 8 sampler tracks running 5-minute long stems with loads of FX and modulation, plus 4 MIDI tracks all going at once. I’ve not run into any problems with performance yet!

IMO, if you’re going to buy one, make sure you’re ready to work for it - it’s not easy to learn and takes some time to get your head around, but I’m learning quickly that it pays off. It’s a great machine!

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I use the OT mainly to sequence other gear. Only live and loops though, I never touched the arranger yet. The MIDI arp is really fun and direct. 4 note polyphony is a bit limited (same vel, length etc for all 4 notes), but it’s OK. I use the OT’s sample part mainly for long ambient unsynced backing tracks and as a looper for transitioning between songs. I stream 4 tracks from CF without problems.

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I bought mine 2 months ago brand new for only £1025.

Where? Cheapest I see used is €1100+ But besides this, I wouldn’t want one out of warranty, given the hardware issues.

P.S. Am considering the Synthstrom Deluge. But as I am photosensitive, I worry about all the flashing lights. Also, the lack of a screen and limitation on I/O seem to be Achilles heels.

But the rapid development of the software and responsiveness of Synthstrom is a huge PLUS in my book. The Deluge is a device still growing, whereas the Octotrack is end-of-life. And Elektron don’t seem interested in making anything that sophisticated again. Was checking out Digitakt but it doesn’t even have a song mode, let alone the generative possibilities.

Actually while the DT doesn’t have song mode, it does have conditional trigs, p-locks and scale-per-track, so it can do a lot of the generative stuff that the OT can do.

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they do pop up for around the €900 Mark from time to time. gotta keep an eye on the marketplaces.
I got this yesterday. 2 years warranty remaining. :+1:t3:

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OK! That’s good to know.

The lack of streaming playback limits it for my own applications. It makes sense though, since the Digitakt is not billed for such tasks. Maybe I can rethink my needs and use something else for that particular function.

Oh wait. Checked my doc. Mono samples. :frowning:

Not sure how you did that, since I have had an alert on for two weeks and this didn’t show! But… congrats!

sorry bout that :upside_down_face:

id sold mine for €900 recently due to lack of human sponds :money_with_wings: and missed it terribly, so as I’ve come into something of a windfall (got paid :pound:) I jumped on that one.

ive seen em come up for sale on adverts.ie for 900 - 1000€ from time to time too. pot luck tho.

I’ve bought cheap pedals off musicians on Adverts, but no way would I chance that sum of cash on some random seller. if anyone in Ireland is interested, there are two Mk I units for sale currently at €800.

I n France, you can find it for 800€

https://fr.m.audiofanzine.com/sequenceur-sampleur/elektron/octatrack-mkii/petites-annonces/

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For photosensitivity you can lower the brightness of the leds.

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Thank you, yes. However it is the flashing, not the brightness itself, that is the issue. I wouldn’t know if it irritates me until I try it. Wish I had a grand a pop to keep trying all the cool gear!

Another reason I avoid techno gigs. Unless I am playing. :smiley:

I’d buy Octatrack in 2020. It will be much better.

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You mean the MK3 thats just around the corner.:joy_cat:

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any day now :pager:

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OK I had no idea that the four notes had to have all the same values? I would always be adjusting velocity at least. Also pan is very useful. This makes the polyphony even less appealing. :frowning:

EDIT: I guess we should call it “paraphony”.