Uninspired by the Octatrack MkII

I’ve got to say it, I know it’s probably the wrong place to voice it… but I find my experience with the OT so far to be really tedious and uninspiring.

I have an AR mkII, an A4 mkII and a DT… all of these I can switch on and have things going that I like within minutes.
But when I come to use the OT it’s like a brick wall for creativity/vibe.
I don’t know if it’s the screen, all my other Elektron units have similar screens and workflows… the OT seems to different to be able to jump on it and find my way around.
Then, most of what I do ends up sounding generic OT (which to me is flipping between scenes with the cross-fader).

Anyone else been at this point with and hit a eureka moment?
Anyone else been at this point and bailed on it?

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How long have you had the OT MK2?

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A couple of months. Not really intense months with it either tbh…

The Octatrack really shines as a live hub recording audio in real time and mangling/texturizing it. you need to have a game plan as to how you’re going to use it. I set up a few templates for FX/Sub mix, Midi sequencer/mixer, sampling day, etc. so I have the tedious setup work mostly done once. then I can load up what kind of instrument I want it to be. the other instrument are definitely more focused for specific tasks which gives a better overall “feel” Octatrack will give what you give. I’ve had one about 5-6 years now as the center of my bands live rig and can fly around the interface pretty quickly now. still, it’s better to have the use cases planned out before sitting down with it. I think that’s the biggest hurdle to feeling inspired by it.

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I have bailed on it (twice) but not because it isn’t amazing. Just put LFOs on everything, give yourself the mental space to just experiment with no goals in mind, and see what happens every now and then. It can take you in unexpected directions on the regular.

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If you decide to give up on it, let me know. I’m on the look out for another one. Especially if you’re interested in a trade for an SP16 and getting some money your way too?

Adam :slight_smile:

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Sold the OT multiple times. The last time for financial reasons. Was certain I’d keep that one!

I approach music fairly “traditionally” (for want of a better term) and, being honest, trying to shoe horn the OT into helping write the synth pop type shite I generally do has never worked. Not even when I got pretty fluent and capable with the machine.

For me to “get” the OT definitely required time but perhaps more than anything it took me basically deciding to just Fanny about with it with no end goal in sight. Almost like with a toy. It also helped to focus on only one or two things. I pretty much completely ignored the midi side of things and rarely used parts.

So when I started to bend to the OTs whims I started to get some success, a lot of smiles, and a fair few moments I sat back and thought “wow”. You might never get there and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I would definitely encourage just mucking about with it for a few hours. Record absolutely anything and just mess with it.

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If you sell it you’ll never know what you could have made.

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…well, give it some more time…it’s endless and it’s only real fun once u start diving deep…

…if ur not into realtime sampling, it’s all about some stuff u prepare upfront…

collect some of ur audio snippets, freeze them into chains…get them over to the card, slice them and start to mangle…

don’t try to make sense in first place and right away…

give ur ot a chance to surprise u…

how about some sessions, were all ur other swedish boxes stay off and u focus on ot only…
that will do the inspiration trick for sure…

drop some trigs, reverse some. stuff…get the lfos flowing…run the comb filter…

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I felt the same way with the MPC live after using it for 2 years. It does a lot but nothing mind blowing. I got shit for saying it’s uninspiring, but thats me. It only plays what you put into it. I had an Octatrack and put about 4 hours into it a day for 2 weeks before It died, I absolutely loved it. My point though is not every device is for everyone.

You have an AR, A4, and DT, that’s a lot of power. Perhaps the Octatrack is just overkill for your current flow? Make a track from the other devices, bounce em into the Octatrack and play around. It is the easiest device to get so much variation out of 1 loop.

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So I should just see what happens, but have a game plan? :partying_face:
I do get both points. :+1:

My main intention/idea for getting the OT was to live resample my other gear (mainly AR, A4 and Peak to ‘free them up’), use it for playing various stereo samples and then as a live mixer (scenes, etc).
My frustration with it mainly comes from using its midi sequencing side, and not having the live resampling down.
I find it’s too easy to sit there stuck with the same 4 bar loop going.

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That’s exactly it, particularly with the AR and A4 together, it’s so quick and intuitive to get things moving on the other units, it’s like running on asphalt and hitting the OT mud for me right now.

I think if it’s going to work for me I’ll probably have to sit with it in isolation, throw a bunch of loops in and get to it…

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I understand your point.

I have AR Mk2 and a Digitone and they are so quick, so inspiring, super immediate.

This is why I have not yet jumped on the OT wagon.

I think it is super powerful having three machines with the same interface.

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A bit of both. Yes, Octatrack has the best results when used in a limited fashion and I can attest to this line of thinking. Then there are other times when you think, I’m going to push this thing into oblivion and see what happens.

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I find I get the best results – and have the most fun – with the Octatrack when I approach it without trying to build a song I already have in mind. While it can work that way, I more often than not bumped up against workflow quirks or got overwhelmed.

Throwing a few samples on a flex machine, slicing and re-arranging them before drowning the sequence in conditional trigs/LFOs and FX often led to some fun sounds I wouldn’t have come up with otherwise.

I mostly use it as a mixer for my Rytm and A4, but found approaching it without output expectations the best way to use it. Templates help a lot, and avoid your inspiration getting quashed in set-up or menu diving.

When I use the OT, it’s like going for a long walk where I know only vaguely where I’m heading.

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This.

The OctaTrack, on paper, is the machine of my dreams.

But in reality, it just isn’t.

It is OK not to like the OctaTrack.

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Pair the Octatrack with one very basic piece of gear.

I learned a lot about the Octa just using Casio VL tone.

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Stick with it and it’s filled with rewards. I probably use 10% of what it’s capable of after 18 months.
Start with one aspect and hammer it. For instance after spending a couple of weeks learning my way round some functions, I spent easy 6 months just using it as an FX box and mixer. Then I switched over some MIDI sequencing from my MPC and so on.
There are so many possibilities I’ll never sell it. It’s really like having a new machine every time you step forwards!

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Use it very simple in different ways on repeat. Forget about YT, find you own OT voice(s).

I have been playing back old long fieldrecordings in static machines, 4 or 5 at the same time while live recording my wife talking on the phone and our son playing a dinosaur ncluding great kid voice fx :joy:. Not taking it seriously has a flow to it too.

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That’s an expensive tool for that job though! :joy: