The latest OS update from Elektron takes the beloved workstation and adds a ton of new stuff – making it easier to randomize parameters, trigger sounds via MIDI, edit and perform.
Of all the Elektron kit, Octatrack may inspire the most passions. And it seems the Swedish maker have finally been hearing those enthusiasts. First there was the MKII hardware revision, which added the slicker look and feel of the Octatrack’s upgraded stablemates. Then there was the brief but enthusiastic celebration of the hardware’s legacy, with the limited Anniversary Edition. (Sorry, it’s already sold out, apparently.)
But I think it’s likely this free firmware update that will really win people over. It’s a big gift to Elektron’s fans, with a lot of stuff I know hard-core users had asked for. But it is also simultaneously a reminder of how nice the Octatrack is, at a time when more and more folks seem to be pondering hardware-focused workflows.
Basically, what you get:
MIDI Trig Modes. External MIDI keyboards (or pads or whatever) can now play slice and sample slots and record into the sequencer, for new performance options. And that to me is huge, in that it fights some of the potential claustrophobia of Elektron’s wonderful boxes – sure, they’re a great size and hugely powerful, but maybe you want to wail on a big 4×4 pad grid, MPC style, or use a keyboard, or whatever. Now you can do that as an input to the Elektron’s powerful trig modes.
That huge feature gets this tiny mention in the documentation:
“To enable this, set AUDIO NOTEIN in MIDI CONTROL to either FOLLOW TM or MAP/TRACK.”
Got it? So now you can trigger on those audio tracks with MIDI. (PS, you can also choose whether or not to record note lengths as you play, too, in PERSONALIZE.)
Tempo per pattern. Oh yeah, now you can change BPMs even inside a single arrangement.
Roll the dice. There’s now a randomization function for parameters, which works like this:
Press [TRACK PARAMETER]+[YES] to randomize
Crucially, though, you can also reload from a saved part. And obviously you could use these two together to scramble something live as you play:
Press[TRACK PARAMETER]+[NO]to reload from saved part.
Trigs can apply to multiple things at once. This includes “changes to parameter locks, sample locks, microtiming, copying/pasting/clearingtrigs, and converting multiple trigs to trigless trigs or trigless locks.”
Adjust brightness on MKII. Check PERSONALIZE.
Preview sequencer steps, including parameter locks, while you record:
Added the functionality to preview a sequencer step (including its parameter locks) in GRIDRECORDING mode. Press[TRIG]+[YES]to preview a step on an audio track on the MAINoutputs. Press[TRIG]+[CUE]to preview a step on an audio track on the CUE outputs. Press[TRIG]+[YES]/[CUE]to preview a step on a MIDI track.
There are also a bunch of bug fixes and little tweaks.
It all works on both MKI and MKII – so it just made a used MKI an even better deal. It is all very Elektron, you know – there’s a huge, splashy video, and then you’re one moment later digging through very technical documentation where each of those things requires five steps. But the results are just as cool. It’s like learning new attack combos in Mortal Kombat / Soulcalibur. (The soul still burns…)
1.40 release notes [PDF]
OS Upgrade: Octatrack 1.40 [Elektronauts blog]