Some questions for OT owners


I have saved up enough money to purchase an octatrack and have found someone that can sell me one. I have watched many videos and have also read parts of the manual and another guide. My question ultimately revolves around if you think the OT is worthy of me for purchasing. I can come pretty close to the artists I like to emulate with Ableton. However, I find the process incredibly dull, and uninspiring. So I’m wondering if you guys think that I can create the music I set out to make with an Octatrack. I am fine with sending audio into Ableton to mix it better, master, and fix it up. However, I am looking to purchase the OT to become my rock and foundation.

The styles I enjoy producing in:

Ambient/Drone (Tim Hecker and Oneohtrix Point Never):

Microhouse (Actress, Laurel Halo, Nicolas Jaar):

Glitch (Arca and D/P/I)

Basically I’m just curious to know if the Octatrack is as capable as I think it is at creating any genre and specifically the ones I have listed. I am incredible grateful for any response, recommendation, or advice. Thanks for taking the time to read all of this and I hope you take it easy.


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Technically yes you could make stuff like this. The hardest part would be finding suitable samples to work with in the first place. I don’t think it will be easier on the OT though, but it might be more fun.

The tracks you posted don’t sound like they have hundreds of tracks going on so it should be possible.

I agree 100%, all of these artists use Ableton primarily. Halo and Actress use Elektron gear, I believe they just record little bits to Ableton, like tools in their studio, not the centre piece. You could make full tracks like you mentioned on the Octa, or to feed Ableton, it’s all good! Pretty sure DPI is just Ableton and Midi Controller and he get heavy! The old it’s not what you use thing (but IMO EleKtrons just make…making music more fun :slight_smile:

A quick (but not full) listen at all the links provided: yes, possible. But the question is how much this is about your dedication in tweaking samples/sounds/parameters until you get there (many of the sounds in each link sounded similar to sounds I´ve come across unintentionally by experimenting/learning the OT myself, not really having a source material that would be considered a ‘good start’).

But if you prefer to have the samples ready from start, then it´s really about finding the right samples as pointed out already.

In both cases, you´ll probably need to learn to use LFO´s and resampling etc to get what you are after. Perhaps not as easy as it might be in Ableton. You´ll need to learn the internal structure of the OT, what interferes with other things in this structure. You´ll get confused, because several times you´ll probably think you´ve got the hang of it just to experience something unexpected that proves you that you are wrong.

But if you keep going at it, seeing it as learning to play an new instrument. And being prepared to dedicate the time needed, being prepared that you probably will loose some stuff that you´d like to keep because of learning this instrument (even though that it have save functions). You will find that many (but perhaps not all) the sounds similar to those in your links are within reach in one unit.


Create the songs in Ableton and then use the Octa to play it back live. Many people use Octa to do live remixes of the songs they create using a DAW.

In my experience, the OT is almost ideal for creating glitchy stuff. I often start with a relatively tame loop and create 3 or more glitchy versions of it by mangling the sound and resampling it.

More generally, I find the process of creating music flows better with the OT compared to a DAW (I mainly used Reason). It’s just more immediate, and the scenes are very useful. There are some limitations but I am fine with them considering what I have gained.

There’s no guarantee that your experience will be like mine though.


Attach a rubber band to a nail, spread it with you fingers to form a triangle - you can pluck it with your other hand’s finger and create acid basslines. And if you alter the tension at the same time you can make those basslines wobble.
See this is my thoughts, this is how I think when it comes to making music, I am not bound by technique, only the result and process matters.

If you have specific styles in mind and you want to make your tracks sound exactly like those tracks, then get the same gear. Otherwise you might be disappointed and frustrated.

I like my gear, so I have to live with the fact that what comes out might not sound exactly like the stuff I like but to me it doesn’t matter but I enjoy working on my gear and I trade enjoyment for mainstream sound.

You seem to be set on very specific goals, so contact those artists and ask them politely what gear they use. If you can’t afford it then stick with software emulation. Money is hard to come by and the world economies are far from stable, play it safe.

I find the process incredibly dull, and uninspiring. So I’m wondering if you guys think that I can create the music I set out to make with an Octatrack. I am fine with sending audio into Ableton to mix it better, master, and fix it up. However, I am looking to purchase the OT to become my rock and foundation.

Quite frankly, I doubt the Octatrack is going to help you. If anything, you’re going to be just as uninspired and now also frustrated on top. No machine is going to give you a magical way to make music more interesting. It all comes from your dedication to the craft.

The OT is a very specific tool. Sure it can do many things, but it does them in a particular way. It’s not going to help you make any particular kind of music.

By all means, getting out of the box can help spice things up. But it’s not going to be a magic transformation.

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The Octa is a flexible beast so yes, you should be able to create something along the lines of what you want. But it is also it’s own beast and bound by it’s own limits, whereas something like Ableton is almost limitless.

I find making music with the OT a lot more fun and full of happy accidents. Tame those accidents and you have your own thing going on.

I have used Ableton a lot and for me the hardest part about using external machines like the OT is the bigger picture of song structure and breaking out from the loop mentality. It’s also very slow going when compared with Ableton in this respect.

A combo of the two could work but the lack of outs makes individual channel recording of a performance difficult.

Not sure where I’m going with my musings :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: Personally I love the OT. At first it was intimidating and full of quirks. But as others have said, it’s an instrument and once you learn how to play it, then a new world opens up. Sampling becomes an expressive, creative art form.

Good luck.

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I’m bumping this thread back to life because the OPs list of artists is basically identical to artists I’d like to rip off emulate. I hate.hate.hate working on the computer for inspiration (arranging/mixing is inevitable) so am thinking about an OT. So, OP, did you get an OT and how did you get on with it?

anyone want to chime in with their thoughts on the matter, particularly when it comes to a.) getting outside 64 step/4 bar loops and/or b.) sound quality (I’ve read some people on Muff Wiggler criticizing the Octatrackiness of the sound).

Thanks in advance.

EDIT: I perused the manual a bit more. Saw the track length settings. Much deeper than my AR. Nice.

The ability to use not only track length settings, but also tempo multipliers, one-shot trigs, and the malleability of sampling compared with synthesis, means that the OT is the Elektron instrument that is the most likely to get you out of repetitive 4/4 loops.

I know that some people are very particular about quality of convertors and colourization of sampled sound, but unless you have both super-golden ears and a precisely-controlled acoustic environment then the OT’s hardware shouldn’t inhibit you from being creative. Think of the many OT users who don’t need to post their critiques on muffwiggler.


I’ve been a professional mastering engineer for 15 years now, I think the OT sounds great. All gear has a “sound”, but the OT is pretty damn transparent for what it can do IMO.


id disagree that the OT doesnt excel at a specific genre - in my experience it definitely excels at creating the sort of 90s trip hop and downtempo stuff that features lots of cutup samples and juggling the bits and pieces of them (slices). the OT can destroy that genre, just crank it out all day long, and it sounds great doing it

its also pretty good for making any kind of electronic dance music - it has specific advantages for that, mostly for performance tho

basically, any loop-based music is a good fit for what OT can do

but it wont excel at classical compositions or anything with tons of tracks, also the whole mentality is just different - for example if i am sitting down to do some kind of soundtrack or long form linear song - i definitely go to the DAW because its just the easiest and most robust way to do that work in the quickest and most efficient way

yeh, its not as fun as just jamming on the elektron boxes - however that can also go sour if you get too caught up in polishing the loops over and over instead of moving on with the whole piece, as its very easy to get distracted by tweaking on hardware

Granted, their conclusuon later was that it had more to do with FX sounding similar. But yeah, you’re right.
@Tarekith good to know your opinion. Thanks.
Yeah I’ll keep digging through the manuals and videos. Thanks.

The styles I enjoy producing in:

Ambient/Drone (Tim Hecker and Oneohtrix Point Never):

I have similar aspirations, and would say that the OT is a great choice if you want to do this dawless and be confronted with hard times bu many happy accidents. :confused:

I believe Oneohtix used an OT live for a while although I know he did not compose with it. His main tools were a Roland SP sampler, a Juno and and an M1.

For those Oneohtix quirky rompler sounds you could get your hands on a old JV-1010 or similar synth for a few $.
Bought a beloved JV-880 after discovering R PLus 7 :joy: love the choir sounds.

Some pointers on the OT
-Yes you will probably get stuck working more in loops and its a tough pattern to break out of. Still is fun and inspiring.

-Some things are hard to program and way easier in a DAW such as long fade ins and long fade outs, so your gonna have to do some live tweaking even if you are working in song mode.

-I have come to the conclusion that the on board reverb and modulation effects are not up to par with what you would hear on these types of albums. They are useful and all, they just not creating that kind of stereo imagery to my liking. Might be worth looking into some good stereo pedals. (TC, eventide, Strymon) I have a TC hall of fame, sounds huge for the price.

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the real trick is not to hate the computer but use it as a weapon. the octatrack is insanely deep, but it’s only as strong as the source material. ive had bad luck with composing strictly with the OT. ableton is SO GOOD at composing and mixing. plugins are dope. so just get a start in ableton and then dump files to the OT, so powerful.

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Agreed, pretty much everything I use in the OT goes through Ableton first. It’s just such a quick and easy way to prep anything “loopy” that you might want to further mangle in the OT.


If someone is happy with general ableton workflow and results but just wants more hands-on/human interaction then just grab Push2 maybe? I don’t have one yet but seems the obvious first thing to try. Octa is amazing and I’d never sell but it’s a lot more stressful than Ableton if you want to make complete tracks inside it. Doable but you’ll feel the limitations. Rewards you in other, mostly unforseen, ways tho.

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I used ableton and push (1) and turned away from it.
Too much computer and mouse and shuffling around watching tutorial videos and trying to get my ideas done.
The moment I got back to hardware and the limitations of hardware I git more focused.
I use all kind of sources for sounds, my ipad, the microgranny,, selfmade drumloops and the moment they are in the OT they become different.

There might be a symbiosis between ableton and the OT. That might depend if you want to get things done like all the others or if you want to find your own way of handling sound.

For me the OT is a great way to pick up sound and make it different. I habe it since last september and still discover new possibilities.

Concerning Ambient and Soundscapes it is a valuable part and my center piece to create music.



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