Tip for handling the OT learning curve


Thanks for all the replies. It really shows how there are many ways to approach the OT learning curve and I’ve learned a lot! Still a huge amount to digest, but the OT is like eating an elephant…one bite at a time :elephant:

Some things others may have mentioned that I find especially helpful:

  1. Keep a laptop nearby with a PDF of the manual. Much quicker than searching the paper copy and super easy to find every reference to something in all contexts.

  2. Knowing a bug from user error. This is why I didn’t post questions to the forum my 1st 2 weeks of struggling, I didn’t know if the odd behavior was the machine or my lack of experience. I figured it was me and I just had to dig deeper and experiment more. While I didn’t post to the forum, I sure used the search function a lot!

  3. Write your own procedures to accomplish difficult or non-intuitive goals. Break problems/goals down into smaller chunks and document how to get them done in a way that makes sense to you. I’ve read on this forum that the manual isn’t perfect so writing your own step-by-step instructions guarantees you can get things done. Especially useful with this machine because it casts such a wide net of uses and often changes the functions of buttons depending on the context you’re working in. Another reason this works for me is I often move between music projects and groups of gear. If I’m away from the OT for 6 months on some other project, I don’t have to “relearn” when I return :sunglasses:

For me the “keeper” moment, was when I learned/documented how to concurrently record and run 8 flex machines of different length samples while mangling the sounds in real time with effects, LFO’s and altering the sample wave…everything else beyond that is gravy :wink:


Kinda neat to see all the approaches/techniques/solutions presented here. I’m less than 3 weeks into my OTMK2. Never intended to return it, though early on I did fear something was wrong with the machine many times :slight_smile: I also knew it was just me not having a clue. Haven’t used a hardware only rig in many years, so I was never shocked to know there would be a learning curve. I’m glad I spent a few months on my DT before getting my OT. I happen to love the overall Elektron vibe and there are so many amazing DT jams on YouTube it inspires exploration. The OT has been a different beast. I’ve written tons of jams I quite like on the DT. The OT…still learning and so far all of my jams range from ‘this sucks’ to ‘this has potential if I don’t accidentally destroy it like the last one.’ :slight_smile: I just don’t find this machine even sorta intuitive, but I totally get the potential, so I’m soldiering on!
Personally, I printed up the manual and placed a bunch of tabs to make sections easier to find. I keep a highlighter with me at all times and I read sections of the manual every day. I’m out in LA rehearsing for a gig with a rock band (my day job), so no OT for 4-5 days. Just reading the manual on my off time and hoping to return to the OT a tiny bit wiser. This forum is a huge help!


One thing I neglected to mention earlier that has been useful in helping me to deal with the hectic situations that sometimes arise during a performance - be methodical about your sample placement. What I mean is that you should do something like this as if it is a rule to remain unbroken:

Track 1: Kick drums
Track 2: Snare
Track 3: Hats
Track 4: odd percussive bits
Track 5: synth pads
So on and so forth.

I find this is important and very helpful for performance and improv scenarios.


I’m far from a master of the OT but as far as getting comfortable with the basics, what worked for me was saying yes to a show offer the day after I ordered it and having three weeks to go from opening the box to being ready to perform something. It definitely helped cut through all of the different possibilities because I had a really specific goal - be able to perform something live on a specific date. So rather than trying to learn everything it could do, I stayed focused on learning a few areas well enough to get through the show, and that kept it a lot more manageable.

EDIT: also seconding the previous post, settling on a basic track layout can be a big help.

Usually for me, tracks 1-4 are for samples or messing with the contents of record buffers, 5-7 are the inputs (two mono and one stereo, usually, and if I’m using a drum machine it will always be on 7) and 8 is a reverb send. AS much as possible, if I’m messing with the contents of a record buffer in one of the tracks on the left, I’ll use the one that corresponds with the track on the right that’s playing that input (so if I have input 1 going through a thru machine on track 5 and I want to live sample it, I’ll use track 1 for the sampling).

EDIT: just to be clear, this wasn’t any kind of big show or anything, I think there were around 30 people not counting other performers. Nice, low key thing that was just enough motivation.


Never pictured you as a bible reader… :rofl:


I read it for the cool special fx scenes. :angel:


Personally I like the search function on the forum over the manual.

I found this person a few weeks ago. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=polxezNhuMY&t=1s


those ask audio tutorials are great!


How’d the show go? How complicated was your set? How did you find difference in the gain staging from when you were learning it at home then plugging into the house system? I feel that this experience should be shared more. I almost did the same thing but chickened out. :rofl:


Just got my Octatrack this week. Mind sharing your guide to doing this? Sounds amazing.


Yup I plan to keep it very simple as a brand new OT user. Master what I need it to do, then learn one new thing at a time.


I’ve had an Octatrack for maybe half a year. I learned a bunch, stopped using it for four months, then someone at a meetup asked me to bring it so I did and realized that I didn’t know how to use it anymore, so now I’m back to learning and re-learning the machine. The things that I’ve found helpful to internalize:

  • What is a machine? (Hint: Until you know better, stick with Flex) How do you load samples? (Double-tap track button). Other basic stuff like that
  • How to set up the track parameters (use the buttons under the screen. Double-tap them to enter setup mode)
  • How to enter the Step and Live recording modes and trigger samples. One of the hardest things for me to get around was triggering one-shots (press the trigger until it’s red, THEN press FUNC-Trigger and it’ll turn yellow).
  • How to use the cross fader. (Hold A, press a trigger button, while holding A, turn the knob for the parameter
  • How to trigger slices (Slice up your sample… MK2 has an “Autoslice” mode if you’re lazy), Sound setup, Slice mode On, then Func-Up to change the trigger mode to slices. Or, you can choose your slice in the Grid mode.
  • How to record samples manually. This still causes me grief, I need to continue practicing.

Of course, goof off in between these steps, and there’s also a bit of a rule of garbage-in, garbage-out with samples in my experience. Octatrack has some editing capabilities but isn’t going to remove noise or background music from your vocal samples.


I’ve been away from the OT for a few months doing other stuff. Checked my old notes for how to accomplish this multiple real time FLEX looping thing and found it didn’t really work :blush: Guess I didn’t have it figured out as well as I thought I did! Anyway, dove back in and credit where credit’s due, learned a huge amount from Cuckoo’s youtube tutorial on OT sampling at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJT_JoWO2tU&list=LLsBdsA3Vl__uM_ckEvhJnmg&index=2&t=0s

His excellent guide is on sampling and using those for grid playback, but the concepts directly apply to FLEX looping as well. I highly recommend watching his tutorial even if my steps below work for you! Also thanks to Mistercharlie and Open_Mike for a couple improvements to my process :wink:

Anyway, here’s a step-by-step guide to Live Flex Looping/Mangling. This is written as if you already know how to get a sound source plugged into the OT’s AB inputs and get those signal input led’s flashing. Above that, I tried not to assume too much or stray too far from the simplest, most direct way to make this work so hopefully this will be helpful without being too hard to follow :wink:


This is a quick guide to making it work with the default setting of a very short sampling time. When you get deeper in there are many other things to learn to increase sample time, change the samples from loops to one shots, alter the timestretch of the samples, etc…but the purpose of this guide is just to prove the concept of live looping and mangling with multiple FLEX tracks. There are a lot of options to refine this approach for your specific uses but I found this to be a good foundation to build on.

Setup OT from Scratch

  1. Hold FUNC and turn Power On
  2. Select 2 “Empty Reset” so you begin with a completely blank slate
  4. You could see a “No Set is Mounted! Please Mount One” window
  5. Press OK, select CREATE NEW SET
  7. Set MIX->DIR = 127

Setup Track 1

  1. Select T1
  2. Make it a FLEX machine
  3. Assign it the R1+RECORDING1 buffer
  4. FUNC->REC1 set TRIG=ONE2
  5. Activate RECORD key and press button “1” to set track 1 play trigger

Setup Track 2

  1. Select T2
  2. Make it a FLEX machine
  3. Assign it the R2+RECORDING2 buffer
  4. FUNC->REC1 set TRIG=ONE2
  5. Activate RECORD key and press button “1” to set track 2 play trigger

Repeat for however many more FLEX tracks you want to loop with (making sure
you’re assigning the proper Rx+RECORDINGx buffer: eg T3 gets

Record Track 1

  1. Select T1
  2. Press REC1 to begin recording
  3. Press REC1 again to end recording
  4. Press PLAY key and T1 should begin looping

Add More Loops Without Stopping Playback

  1. Select T2
  2. Press REC1 to begin recording
  3. Press REC1 again to end recording
  4. T2 should begin looping the next time the steps come around to trigger position ‘1’

Repeat for as many tracks as you like. Since you’re stopping track recording with the REC1 button NOT the main “STOP” key, the loop will continue to play while you record the other FLEX tracks. Also, since you’re manually stopping the sample with a second press of REC1, each sample loop can be a different length within the overall framework of the longest sample.

Now select whatever track you want to mess with. At this point you have access
to all the AMP, LFO, FX1 & FX2 options to alter the samples in real time while
the loop plays on. You can also hit AED and mess with the wave, some AED wave changes
happen in real time and some when the loop is next triggered.

Hope this is helpful :sweat_smile:


Why not just PLAY?


Tip for handling the OT learning curve :
Quit job and family.
Read the manual carefully and practice.


I didn’t want to be the one as there’s an A+ for effort in that post, but yeah no need for record+play, just play, record+play enters live record(for recording trigs to the sequencer). And I don’t quite get the press rec1 once to start and rec2 twice to stop? Normally it’s track+rec(1 or 2 depending on input source) and the same again to stop… :thinking:
I think the pressing twice thing is a bug in latest OS, sezare noticed this but I don’t have to do it on 1.25H which follows the manual. But still it should be the same rec button unless I guess either of them work to stop, the first one to start recording selects recording source, bit confusing to mention the other rec button as it can be either. You have to enable quick record mode to just press the record buttons, in the video he’s using track+rec…


OT learning curve:


Sinking in Octatrack’s limbo?

That learning curve is reversed in the south…


While I owned a OT (stupid to sell) the best advise I got from here was to start simple. treat as a sampler and basic needs till you get em. Then move on. I’m not a manual guy, my mind wonders after the first paragraph but having a searchable PDF to read specific sections was key as well.


Pdf search! :slight_smile:

Funnily, OT is a really bad sampler on the paper :
+/- 1 octave range
Not velocity sensitive
No layers

But there are some workarounds…:wink: