I thought the promo video from Elektron perfectly explained, in practical terms, how their recent Octatrack sampler works. You plug it in, push some buttons, turn samples into techno, and then everyone turns into squids and dies. (Hmmm… that does suggest something perhaps a future firmware update might want to address.) But it seems some readers wanted more than sci-fi short films and inscrutable jams – they want to know how this beast actually works.

Happily, reader Genjutsushi has obliged us with a video that explains its functions; see top — it’s shaky, but useful, and no squid are in sight.

Matrixsynth also picks up on a couple of videos that show how to use the Octatrack’s flagship feature, its powerful slicing functions.

Not all users are happy, as evidenced by our comments. A friend of mine had an Octatrack fail on him within hours of it arriving, though to Elektron’s credit, they’re sending a replacement. Other users are apparently not satisfied with the reliability or functionality of the current firmware. Now, all user complaints should be taken with a grain of salt, but just so you’re aware, yes, I do read comments and forums when I can. We’ll see if the Octatrack catches on, and satisfies users, as it evolves. I have to say, it’s a terrifically ambitious and promising project, and at least some users are very enthusiastic. I look forward to getting some sounds out of it myself if I can beg, borrow, or steal some loan time, and continuing to hear feedback from users.

More videos:

Updated: Synthtopia has its own round-up.

Doubly updated: genjutsushi adds another video, now with 100% more tripod!

Previous post

Hand-Built Bass + Ableton + SoftStep Foot Pedal: Diego Stocco on Playing, Recording Live

Next post

Official Kinect SDK Coming This Spring for Research, on Windows; What Might it Mean?

  • That's what i dislike about Elektron : You plug it in, push some buttons, turn samples into techno, and then everyone turns into squids and dies.

    Their website is too skint on details. I know they make kickass machines and i'm sure they are a joy to use but for some people who can't try one in a store the web is pretty much the best option to learn about them.

  • dtr

    i don't understand this. i own both the machinedrum and monomachine and i knew pretty damn well what i was gonna get before ever touching one, mostly from info on the elektron website. invaluable piece of documentation: the manual…&nbsp ;http://www.elektron.se/support-and-downloads

  • Random Chance

    Those two videos were actually informative. I had mixed feelings from the first announcement of the Octatrack on about whether it would be an Elektron instrument I really wanted to have. Now I'm reasonably sure that the Octatrack does nothing to excite me in the way the SIDstation, the Machinedrum or even the Monomachine did. That might be because I don't use loops that often (if at all) and for such stuff as the Octatrack apparently does (or will do in the future — besides, would be interesting to see whether there could be something like JJOS for Elektron devices; and thinkin about that: How awesome could an open source beat workstation (for lack of a better term) with an active community be?) software samplers are still the weapon of choice for me. But if the Octatrack is as usable as the Machinedrum I guess they have another hot product on their hands. Congratulations to Elektron on the good work!

  • I had given some thought to making a few simple 'how to' videos, especially I found things like sample recording very confusing at first (the manual irritates me, as I don't think it's all that well put together *yet* to be honest, I'm not entirely sure how I would improve upon it), however, I can't get the screen to show up on my cheap little camcorder. What it ultimately boils down to is that the sampler is fairly 'instrument-like' in a lot of ways, and it takes some small amount of practice, dedication, and experimentation to get neat stuff out of it.

  • dajebus

    I tried one at Moog music in Montreal
    And I will say one thing about it, It sounds bad.
    I have no idea what sample rate or how the audio signal is processed but it just sounds "not great". Thin? Harsh? Not sure how to quantify it. The sales dude at the store backed me up and said he was very disappointed in the machine.

    It also has a painful user interface as you can see in the videos.

  • genjutsushi

    The videos on slicing a loop are really useful. Watched them yesterday. As the 'slice' point is a mappable pararmeter, it can also be automated using a track LFO to get some automated IDM madness!

  • @ dajebus i have to disagree with you. I played all my MD and Mono loops through my mates Octatrack and have to say it sounds amazing. It felt like running it through mastering effect. Really nice quality. Its not funboy talk, I liked what I heard. It all depends what you put inside. I'm definitely getting one some time this year, once the OS is more mature.
    Coupled with MD it will be killer live setup.

  • genjutsushi

    Ive made a second video at 
    and this time used a tripod!! Lol.

    Also this guy has done a great example vid for the slicing functions:
    Plus he has a super smooth presenters voice!

  • grindfish

    something thats bugging me, the knobs, looks like a hell of a lot of twisting for minute change. Im hoping theres fine and course control? I'm used with my emx-1 doing big sweeps and wobbles and what not with effect and cutoff knobs, having to spin and spin would kill this technique.

  • donfuan

    i don't see why you would get this if you can have maschine, which does almost everything that this thing can – just better, and more intuitive. hmm

  • I don't get it. Why do people complain about the presetsamples. It's a sampler no???
    I'd prefer it empty anyway to do my own sounds…

  • Tension

    Like any sampler, it is what you feed it in terms of samples.  First thing I did was delete the stock content and load some of my favorite recordings, and after some initial issues wrapping my head around the structure of the instrument I have been getting fantastic sounding results.  This is by no means as intuitive to pick up as the machinedrum was, and there are some definite issues with the beta software (missing functionality, USB connection to the computer is pretty flaky, live recording has some kinks that need to be sorted out) but what is there is VERY promising and VERY fun to use.  The instrument sounds great… if you are getting thin sounding results you should probably find some better source samples to use.  

  • Electronic instruments, just like any other instrument, require countless of hours of practice before you become fluent with them.
    The Octatrack seems like it has a steep learning curve, but I'm sure we'll see talented sampler musicians like Skwee people and such have a go at it.
    That slicing video gave a hint of something that sparked some interest in me. Can live audio streams be buffered and sliced that way too?

  • ben

    Yeah, it can be a bit confusing at first, it's designed to allow it to be used in loads of perhaps not yet imagined ways. But it sounds amazing and is a blast to program on. It's a bit like a hardware tracker and who wouldn't want one of those! You can use it as a loop machine, you can fill it with one shots and use it as a percussion and melody sampler, load it with single cycle waveforms and get mad wavetable synthesis, or you can set it up to do automatic resampling craziness. Somethings are a little harder to figure out then they could be, and I'm hoping that version 1.0 of the OS clears up a bit of that but it's a very interesting workflow and has definitely inspired me.

  • ben

    @cuckoo, You can setup a track to automatically sample from an incoming audio stream and then use the same track and/or other tracks to play back and manipulate that buffer in creative ways. 

  • ron

    what other hardware boxes does this best compare to. which roland mc? or which electribe?

  • eek. I know this post is old but these videos are using the beta firmware and considering this post comes up 4th after I just googled search for "Octotrack Tips" it could throw some people off. I just scratched my head for a while trying to follow the Slicing tutorial before I realized the workflow is totally different now.

  • effsixtyfour

    ……….because the maschine only works when plugged into computer……. o.O

  • Tmwilson

    do you know when the oractatrack looper machine will be released?  I want to use this as a live looping machine but I’ve heard that it’s not possible with their current OS.

    • Jesse Mejia

      This is a fairly old post/comment- but the octatrack live looping (“pickup”) machine was recently released if you’re still interested. . .

  • Tmwilson

    do you know when the oractatrack looper machine will be released?  I want to use this as a live looping machine but I’ve heard that it’s not possible with their current OS.

    • Jesse Mejia

      This is a fairly old post/comment- but the octatrack live looping (“pickup”) machine was recently released if you’re still interested. . .