Standalone OT DJ Setup

Out of curiosity, how do you set up the OT for DJing? If you don’t use the OT for DJing, maybe think about it with your OT knowledge - how would you set it up?

I found a setup that works well for me. As the OT is so flexible though, there might be a lot of space for additional creativity on the OT. I think the OT’s morphing power is really unique for a DJ setup.

My OT DJ setup:

  • Filename preparations: bpm, key (small for minor keys), artist name, album abbreviation, index on the album, track name. Example: 128c#_Name_TA3_Track.wav for a 128 bpm track in C# minor of artist Name, third track on album Test Album. When setting up the OT filename display with “begin only”, you see the 128c# in the display, which is the most important info. The infos I just take from the infos displayed in Traktor (not always correct but a good starting point).
  • Audio preparations: I currently do that in the tiny audio editor, which is much more efficient than it seems to be. Set bpm in the attributes, set the start point, set the end point such that the length in bars shown in the display equals 128, 192 or 256 bars. Afterwards slice the trimmed track into 16, 24 or 32 slices. Cutting off audio after 128, 192 or 256 bars is a limitation of my current approach. I’m still searching for a workaround.
  • OT Track Setup: T1 - Deck 1 (HP/LP + DJ filter), T2 - Sampling/Remixing of T1, T3 - Deck 2 (HP/LP + DJ filter), T4 - Sampling/Remixing of T3, T5 - Deck 3 or Thru, T6 - Sampling of T5, T7 - Sampling of T8, T8 Master Track with a Filter and a Delay or Reverb. T7/T8 may be replaced with something else, but with two OT’s atm I have no need to save tracks.
  • OT Scenes: the scenes blend between the inputs, e.g., Deck 1 only, Deck 1 lows and highs with Deck 2 mids, Deck 1 lows and mids with Deck 2 highs, etc pp. plus FX + LFO settings.
  • OT Patterns: The patterns play segments of 16 bars of the decks, with different positions in the different wav’s. For instance, in a two-deck setup, the first pattern plays the 1st 16 bars of the wav in T1 but the 9th 16 bars of the wav in T3.
  • OT Arranger: The arranger automatically cycles through patterns 1-16 and loops infinitely. Of course, you can easily skip forwards or backwards or leave the arranger in between. When just letting the OT play and changing nothing, the arranger plays the currently active wav from start to end and cycles the last 16 bars when reaching its “end” (as trimmed above).
  • Timestretching: I use the internal timestretching for transitions from one bpm to the other and try to always play the tracks in focus in the correct bpm, because I respect the original bpm’s of the tracks. Alternatively, one could save different bpm versions of the tracks for instance prepared via Wavelab Pro, but I see no need for this additional overhead.

The main challenge lies in the preparation of audio files (start/end points, slices), especially with synth intros or unconventional lengths. Inside the OT, this setup works really well and is a lot of fun.

I’m very interested to hear what you think and how other OT DJ setups look like.

EDIT: changed the thread title from “OT DJ Setup” to “Standalone OT DJ Setup”, as I’m interested in approaches using one or two OT’s as sound engines, not just as mixers or FX units etc.

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Like this:
https://www.elektronauts.com/search?q=octatrack%20dj

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@PeterHanes Thanks for the useful search query, right at the top of this thread so that everybody can find it in case the thread might become longer.

I’m well aware that this is an “old” topic that has been discussed over and over again, in most cases from a gear-purchase point of view, though. It’s not that I’m a new user who just found Elektron & this forum.

Knowing that it’s been discussed before, I’d like to start a fresh discussion focused on workflows/setups.

What works best for you? How do you set things up when using only one or two OT’s for DJing, in OS 1.40? How exactly do you cut & slice your files? Is there an easy way to slice a file into, e.g., 29 8-bar slices?

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One thing to be aware of, the bpm calculations are not precise as they don’t cater for fractions of bpm, just whole digit.

So, it might be worth knocking up a spreadsheet to calculate exact sample lengths for a given number of bars/beats/bpm? Or alternatively prep them in a software audio editor.

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Good point, @darenager, thanks. I remember @sezare56 posting the formula somewhere. So far I just used the rounded bar numbers from the OT display plus optical checks (trying to spot the start of the next kick), but I might try your spreadsheet idea with precise numbers per bpm and per 128/192/256 bars.

Sezare56’s formula post:

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I’m looking for advice on how to DJ with the thing. I can’t get my head around it. Have I been looking in the wrong places?

Look at “Octatrack as a DJ deck” in the manual or look here:
https://www.elektronauts.com/search?q=octatrack%20dj

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The manual @PeterHanes refers to describes a basic OT DJ deck setup, where you just fire off tracks and cross-fade volumes. Such a basic setup is very easy on the OT. Some users in the previous threads @PeterHanes refers to describe that they just use the basic approach and sample nudging to DJ.

A major question is whether you want to mix inside the OT or on a DJ mixer. Opinions differ very much on this point.

  • When mixing inside, you have a very compact setup and/or have more mixer tracks available for drum machines etc.
  • Mixing outside of course makes mixing much easier, you easily see what’s going on and you don’t destroy the sound as easily because DJ mixers have a lot of headroom and typically sound nice and round even when cranking the levels up, where the OT ends in a very muddy sound. Inside the OT you have to be very careful and disciplined with gain staging and keep the levels/AMP levels low.

I use both approaches, but typically the first combined with other stuff on the other channels. The mixing inside the OT then works like a sub mixer.

Another important point is whether you want control over the timeline positions. If you’d like to have control over the positions in the tracks you need to slice the tracks. I described one way above, some other users just use 4-8 slices as cue points. Maybe there are other good ways to slice. Some people also mention that they slice tracks in Ableton (and save separate files, I guess). Maybe there’s an easy way to slice tracks in @Rusty’s OctaEdit which I’m very interested in but haven’t purchased yet due to those V2 infos.

I think the slice management for a DJ setup is the most interesting design choice, that’s why I wanted to start a discussion here.

There are different ways to select slices. The first two of the following I find most useful for a DJ setup:

  • Link slices to patterns, as I described above. STRT parameter p-locked on trigs and LEN set to 1. In this case, the patterns work like a timeline on which you can jump back and forth, or which you can play continuously using the Arranger.
  • Manually choose the slice using the STRT parameter and set LEN to 64. In this case, the STRT parameter works like a start point. You can also jump back and forth inside a track by twisting the knob.
  • You can also link the STRT parameter to scenes, maybe to spice up the manual approach. For instance, scene 1 might be “free” for manual selection (STRT not assigned to a scene), scene 2 might force playback from the start (STRT=1, LEN=64), scene 3 might force playback of a loop in the first part (e.g., STRT=5, LEN=1).
  • In Non-DJ setups I often use LFO’s to select slices, sometimes very slow LFO’s that change playback positions arbitrarily after each 32 or 64 bars.
  • You can also have different positions playing back on different tracks, which allows for even more creativity, but I wouldn’t recommend this approach when you’re still wrapping around how the OT works.

Good luck. I’d be interested to hear what setup you end up using.

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…if u wanna play full stems, THAT’s the way to make it work…
make the ot an 8 cd decks at once player and ur good to go…

but…that means also, playing already existing, prepared and finshed trax “only”…
128 static slots, that’s ur tracklist per project…

while one fast usb stick in a standard club cd decks/dl mixer setup will do that same thing, even unlimited in track count, with not even half of the preparation amount needed…

if we’re also talking about ur own tracks…i’d hardly recommend to separate low ends…

i perform tracks basically pretty much that way u do, with the difference, that i split them into 4 stems…one dedicated kik track…one for the bass…one for sn/clp/hat…one for harmonics…and one for all the rest that there might be like leads etc…

i never compete with a dj job…i have a pack of tracks prepared, perform live for an hour max and that’s about it…