Elektron Octatrack as master MIDIclock/sequencer/workstation

Discussions on sound production outside the synthesizer such as mixing, processing, recording, editing and mastering.
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kushwonder
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Elektron Octatrack as master MIDIclock/sequencer/workstation

Post by kushwonder » Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:28 pm

I recently realized that my ASR-10 isn't cutting it as a master sequencer/MIDI clock (lagging, crashing system, etc) so I've been looking at alternatives...The 1st thing that I thought of as a better replacement was an MPC 3000 or 60, as I know their MIDI clock is super tight (as tight as you can get for MIDI), but then I came across the Elektron Octatrack on the inner clock systems website (as having a tight MIDI clock)...Now I am lusting after this thing bad!...In fact, if my flexpay would have went thru, I would have one already...haaha

...Anyways, I mainly "need" this as a master MIDI clock/MIDI sequencer to slave and sequence my drum machines and synths....I am slaving 5 MIDI devices at the moment plus have a EH 2880 looper slaved via MIDI for sound loops.... So I am wondering how this will compare with making songs on the ASR-10/EH 2880 in this fashion...

..Any disadvantages or weaknesses in the Octatrack compared with the ASR-10/EH 2880 combo, or any weaknesses in general for composing entire songs on the Octatrack?

...I will still keep my ASR-10 for a sampler and processing sound thru its effects....As a note, I would like to say that I like building music from loops in general...Plus, I am thinking ahead for when I start doing live shows again....So far, on paper, it looks like the Octatrack will excel for what I want. Any thoughts?

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Re: Elektron Octatrack as master MIDIclock/sequencer/worksta

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:47 am

Well it mostly depends on how many synths you're planning on using with it. The MPC60 and 3k have 4 midi outs so if you're running a whole lot of synths you can hook them up without needing a thru box or too much daisy chaining. The OT has only one midi output so if you want to use it to run lots of synths you'll need a thru box as well.

The other issue with how many synths you're planning on using is that the OT only has 8 midi tracks, and each track can only play 4 notes at a time. The MPCs don't have those restrictions so if that's a crucial thing for your music you should consider it. I've gone from an MPC to the OT and not had any issues though, cause I wasn't using more than that anyway.

Another thing to consider with the OT is that the sampler has a polyphony of 8. Each track is a voice, there's no chords, no way of playing anything polyphonically, although you can fake it by using the same sample on two tracks. If you're working with loops this shouldn't be a real issue, in fact it's preferable to the MPC way of working where sometimes loops can get cut off because the polyphony is being used up by drums or other samples. Note that the OT has 8 stereo voices but the MPCs have 16/32 mono voices so if you're using stereo samples/loops you have a polyphony of 8/16 anyway. With the OT it's always 8, mono or stereo.

The OT has some really good effects inbuilt, in the MPCs I've owned I've found the Akai fx to be pretty poor. The OT has a looper mode, I haven't used it on my one but it's called the pickup machine, have a look on the Elektron website for videos of it in use. It might even replace your 2880, depending what you need it for.

The coolest thing with the OT is what you can do with samples in real time. You have 4 inputs (2x stereo) which you can sample from at any time, with the sequencer playing or stopped. You can have triggers in the sequencer for sample playback before you've recorded anything to the sample buffer, so you can have the sequencer running and record audio in real time and then have it play back immediately how you've got it sequenced, changing pitch, filter, reversing, whatever you can think of. You can also have record triggers saved to the sequencer so you can have it set up to sample inputs at particular points of the song/pattern/loop which is a very powerful feature for live use.

Basically I think the OT is an amazing machine and it sounds perfect for what you want to do. It does take a little bit of manual-reading and tutorial watching to get to know how to use it properly and I know that some people have complained about that, but if something is as powerful and complex as the OT then it's reasonable that you need to actually learn how to use it rather than just muddle everything out.

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Re: Elektron Octatrack as master MIDIclock/sequencer/worksta

Post by kushwonder » Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:39 am

Stab Frenzy wrote:Basically I think the OT is an amazing machine and it sounds perfect for what you want to do.
thank you Stab Frenzy! ...I was secretly hoping you would be one of the peeps to reply, because I had noticed you've been using the Octatrack for a bit from some of the forum searches I did on this machine.
Stab Frenzy wrote:the OT only has 8 midi tracks, and each track can only play 4 notes at a time
so this wouldn't be great for jazz, huh? :lol: ....I'm wondering if you could assign a MIDI instrument to 2 different MIDI tracks and play four notes on one track, and more notes on the other MIDI track to build more complex chords??

so far, the 4 note limit seems to be the only turn-off for me.
Stab Frenzy wrote:f you want to use it to run lots of synths you'll need a thru box as well.
yeah, I have a MIDI thru box already (Kenton w/ 5 MIDI thru's), and probably will buy another one so that I don't have to daisy chain anything, as that could loosen the MIDI clock further.

does the OT MIDI clock feel as tight as the MPC's when slaving MIDI devices?...I also wonder if the MIDI clock will lag if you have 5-8 MIDI devices slaved to it...hmmm

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Re: Elektron Octatrack as master MIDIclock/sequencer/worksta

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:31 am

kushwonder wrote:
Stab Frenzy wrote:Basically I think the OT is an amazing machine and it sounds perfect for what you want to do.
thank you Stab Frenzy! ...I was secretly hoping you would be one of the peeps to reply, because I had noticed you've been using the Octatrack for a bit from some of the forum searches I did on this machine.
No worries! :D
kushwonder wrote:
Stab Frenzy wrote:the OT only has 8 midi tracks, and each track can only play 4 notes at a time
so this wouldn't be great for jazz, huh? :lol: ....I'm wondering if you could assign a MIDI instrument to 2 different MIDI tracks and play four notes on one track, and more notes on the other MIDI track to build more complex chords??

so far, the 4 note limit seems to be the only turn-off for me.
Yes you could have two tracks both assigned to the same midi channel quite easily, I've done that before.
kushwonder wrote:
Stab Frenzy wrote:f you want to use it to run lots of synths you'll need a thru box as well.
yeah, I have a MIDI thru box already (Kenton w/ 5 MIDI thru's), and probably will buy another one so that I don't have to daisy chain anything, as that could loosen the MIDI clock further.

does the OT MIDI clock feel as tight as the MPC's when slaving MIDI devices?...I also wonder if the MIDI clock will lag if you have 5-8 MIDI devices slaved to it...hmmm
The clock won't change at all depending on what's plugged into it.

I didn't notice a change at all in the timing between my MPC and the OT, but I did notice a big improvement in the sound quality. Samples which I'd been using in my MPC2500 sounded much bigger, better and clearer coming from the OT.

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Re: Elektron Octatrack as master MIDIclock/sequencer/worksta

Post by kushwonder » Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:17 am

thanks again Stab Frenzy!!
...I'll be buying one at the end of the week...sooo exciteD!...I haven't been so excited about something in a while...I'm sure any of the negatives of this machine will be easily overshadowed by the many positives and forward/progressive thinking that went into the design of this machine.

...just came across this video which blew my mind


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