Struggling Octatrack Newbie Needs Advice

So I have had an Octatrack for about 3 months now, and I’ve hit a wall in learning the machine. I feel like I’m not using it to its potential. I came to the OT after having (and loving) a Digitakt for a couple of years, and I have a good handle on the Elektron workflow. I do not have a specific use for the OT in mind, other than creating melodic or dub-style techno and generally messing around and creating fun percussive grooves out of mangled samples. But so far, everything I’m doing is pretty much my same old tricks that i’d do with the DT, except for a few extras.

I’ve been taking advantage of the sample slicing features, and sample locking different slices to different trigs. I’ve been having fun with the MIDI arpeggiator. I’ve been doing basic parameter transitions using the cross-fader (but nothing too fancy). I’ve played around a lot with the LFO’s and effects, and designed a couple of basic LFO’s. I’ve time-stretched and pitch-shifted, but neither of which ever sounds that good. I’ve found it hard to dial in the effects to make them sound good.

I suspect that the area i’m not getting the full value of is the sampling ability, using recording trigs, looping, resampling, etc. I’ve looked for videos on youtube of people explaining their process with the OT, but most of the videos are tutorials about how to use each feature individually.

If you don’t mind giving some advice to an OT newbie, what do you think is the magic sauce that i’m missing? What would you recommend that I explore? Do you have any suggestions of resources (youtube clips, etc) that illustrate actual workflows? I’ve mounted the bull, but it keeps bucking me off.


Stereo resampling. The digitakt is mono. Subtle difference but a big one.

Try this, take a stereo sample, LFO to pan, add effects, LFO to fx parameters of your choice.
Resample the result.
Then with that new sample add the spatialiser, widen the stereo image, turn the rate down, add reverb (play with the reverb, tweak the filters, shelf etc ) LFO some parameters, resample.
Rinse and repeat.

Do the same with filters.
You should smell the sauce already.

Also, try Karplus Strong Synthesis. Basically turns your OT into a potentially 8 voice KS synth.

Sample chains is an obvious key to Octabliss too.

Unless I’m using it as an effect, I always have timestretch OFF.

Oh, and the OT compressor. Shove that on the master and experiment. It is brilliant.


I’m 4 months in and it feels great right now. I actually took a break from it for a couple of weeks and something clicked after I came back. Most importantly I’ve stopped worrying about not using its full potential. I use it for what I need at the moment. At first I was constantly trying to use its more complicated and esoteric features hoping something good will come from it. But it should be the other way around mostly, I think. I use it as an amazing (and oh my god very fast) sampler. I sample my modular. I experiment with fx a lot. I resample the same bits for different parts. I build some structure and then jam with it using scenes and live resampling, feeding it all into my daw. I love it, feels like home.


A couple of controversial points about prepwork.

I don’t use templates anymore. I was constantly messing and setting them up again. Maybe that’s just me, but I think it’s not a convenient practice to use with OT’s file system. At all. And I don’t agree that it’s so time consuming to start with its blank state. I think it’s super fast and I used to change any template for my needs every time anyway. If you’re are not preparing some live improv jam, it’s faster to just turn it on as it is.

I also don’t use sample chains anymore. It’s nice to have a couple of good kits for quick sketching, but I don’t find them useful in the long run. Now I try to not overthink it when picking my samples — do it quick and whatever, you can change them later. Now I use chains only when I want to randomize my drum sounds. But I try not to overuse that trick.


Like @vasilymilovidov said, stop with the guilt trip! Take it easy, even take a break. You will never use it to it’s fullest capacity.


Also, this forum is packed with info on how we all use the OT

Search forum for octatrack workflow


I will try that resampling tip, thanks @Microtribe! btw: what are sample chains? I think I know, but I may not know.

Several samples compiled in one sample, with slices.
Octachainer software is really usefull to generate them with slices, different lengths.


That’s great advice, @vasilymilovidov, thanks. I’ll keep chuggin’ and just focus on integrating it naturally into my setup. I’m just being impatient. It’s a musical instrument, I’m not gonna unlock its secrets in 3 months. I do think I need to sample my other gear with it more. That will lead me down some fruitful paths.


I will check that forum thread out, thanks @thoughtstarZ!

i actually have a video on youtube that covers resampling

but honestly judging from your post it sounds like you have a solid understanding of the machine.


Awesome, @GirTheRobot! I’m going to watch your video tomorrow!


also, you will never feel like you’re using the machine to its fullest potential and that’s a good thing

do you pick up a guitar and say “damn, i can’t shred like steve vai, i’m not really using this thing am I?”

I mean, can you expect to do all of the following in a single session?
Use eight MIDI tracks
Use eight audio tracks
Use all LFOs
Use all FX slots
Crossfade fun
Playing with parts
Sample locking
Song mode
…on and on


No worries! You can take a 1 bar drum loop and transform it into a deep dark abyss of swirly ambient fear via the medium of resampling. Then take that same drum loop and turn it into a bleepy bloopy robot circus.

Sample chains are as mentioned above, I limit myself to 16 sounds ber chain now. 64 is too many for me.


I set up my OT so that my computer went through it when I first got it…This way I could watch movies or listen to podasts, and sample them, practicing setting up trigs and looping (seting up a recorder track is kinda the hardest part at first). Also, just a simple tip. realizing you are in record mode, or play is pretty important for a lot of things…And just realizing that recorder buffers are seperate little “tape recorders” behind your static or flex track, which are the “tape players”, so when you hit func-record, you are looking at the recorder (they both have their own separate sequencer). When you hit func-record again, you are looking at the sample player…Hope that doesn’t confuse you, but, thats something I had problems visualizing at first.


I actually am finally taking the time to learn scales, and it’s very similar to learning my way around the OT. If I don’t practice, I forget, or hit the wrong keys. The good thing about the piano, is it doesn’t stop making sound if I hit the wrong key :laughing:


Another personal favourite is scenes. I have two types.

  1. scenes that fade = move the cross fader to hear the effect.
  2. punch in/out scenes = hold down a button to hear the effect.

Fade scenes always live on the right B 9-16. Punch in/out always live on the left. A1-8.

A1 is always the dry signal.


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-If you have other instruments- bass, piano, whatever - get really fast at setting up record trigs and sampling them in.
-Use the Arranger, it’s good.

  • as others have said, resample. I like resampling a single track through a mixer for a lil saturation and EQ.
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