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Does the Octatrack really sound so flat?
Old 14th January 2018
  #1
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steelyfan's Avatar
 

Does the Octatrack really sound so flat?

Man, I've been studying this machine for a few months now off and on, but a couple of weeks ago I said "F it, I'm just goung to get one". So I've been watching tons of videos here recently to get excited and purchase the new MK2. However, after watching @ a hundred videos of this machine one thing I noticed is that EVERY video I've heard sounds... not so great.

From young kids just starting out to guys with a massive room full of gear, the audio quality always sounds flat and pretty dead in these videos. It's not YouTube compression because other demos of gear sound fine and what I'm used to hearing. And there's NO way all those guys were just simply bad engineers.

I've read folks who LOVED the Octatrack, considered it one of the most amazing machines they've ever used, but sold it because of how it sounds.

What's going on here?
Old 14th January 2018
  #2
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Elektron gear sounds like poop. You're not crazy.
Old 14th January 2018
  #3
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Exactly the reason I sold mine..
Old 14th January 2018
  #4
Gear Maniac
yes, I found that listening to demos it is not a good sampler, the sound has no punch at all. ...but of course you can do stuff with it....
Old 14th January 2018
  #5
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shreddoggie's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by drxcm View Post
Exactly the reason I sold mine..
Me too.

However: I think the sound quality thing is a bit overstated. Using it to do crazy things to some audio in a track in the presence of other instruments never bothered me in the least. It was when I built entire tracks in it that a certain character started to emerge that I was not pleased with. Very similar to using an expensive pre or eq - use it on one track and it is hard to notice, but use it on all the tracks and .... cumulative.

It does some really unique stuff, and it does not sound horrible at all. As long as it is being 'the sampler' in the company of synths and drum machines it is fine, cast in the role of the 'does it all performance device' not so much IMO.

The MK II is supposed to be cleaner / clearer due to improved op-amps and consequent head room improvement. I haven't heard one.
Old 14th January 2018
  #6
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ArtFluids's Avatar
I was considering getting one and I am worried about the sound of it too.
For such a highly spoken of box there's a lot of really horrible demos of it.

If it's transparent I'm okay with that, if it colors the sound in a bad way then that's not okay.

My ASR-10 colors stuff, but in a really good way.

Digitakt videos sound really good. But the OT seems to lend itself to really sad and flat music.
I wonder if the sample sources are better then the OT sounds better. Or does it just ruin everything that goes through it?
Old 14th January 2018
  #7
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It sounds fine. It is not a "character" piece in terms of raw output, but is clean and transparent and wonderful to work with.

The mk2's extra buttons, while only seven, improve the OS handling quite a bit. The improvements of the UI are more important than sound improvements. I've seen international techno acts using an Octatrack in a live setting and never once felt anything was lacking. If you're a hobbyist, and stuck to listening to your work at home, and want to project this "raw, analog techno" aesthetic onto your work the Octatrack is terrible, but that"raw" sound is pretty overplayed and tiresome.
Old 14th January 2018
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hairbow View Post
The mk2's extra buttons, while only seven, improve the OS handling quite a bit.
I'm too lazy, what are the new buttons?
Old 14th January 2018
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtFluids View Post
I'm too lazy, what are the new buttons?
Dedicated buttons for saving and managing projects, saving/editing parts, the audio editor, the recorder/looper systems

https://www.elektron.se/wp-content/u...Top_e0e0e0.jpg

All of the commonly used things that used to be a function+button now have their own button, and most of the things inside a menu now has their own function sub-press. Seems insignificant but pretty massive for people who use the OT constantly
Old 14th January 2018
  #10
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would have been nice if they had added two more knobs and had a mixer mode to fade the 8 tracks.
Old 14th January 2018
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtFluids View Post
would have been nice if they had added two more knobs and had a mixer mode to fade the 8 tracks.
You can use an ext controller for that. Launchcontrol XL is great for this as long as you have a USB MIDI converter box.
Old 14th January 2018
  #12
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That's the tricky part. It just sounds "fine". Hard to justify the cost. For a 1,5k sampler it better sound great and futureproof. Not something that can be outmatched easily in some vital function(sound quality) by half priced samplers (digitakt).
Old 14th January 2018
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steelyfan View Post
Man, I've been studying this machine for a few months now off and on, but a couple of weeks ago I said "F it, I'm just goung to get one". So I've been watching tons of videos here recently to get excited and purchase the new MK2. However, after watching @ a hundred videos of this machine one thing I noticed is that EVERY video I've heard sounds... not so great.

From young kids just starting out to guys with a massive room full of gear, the audio quality always sounds flat and pretty dead in these videos. It's not YouTube compression because other demos of gear sound fine and what I'm used to hearing. And there's NO way all those guys were just simply bad engineers.

I've read folks who LOVED the Octatrack, considered it one of the most amazing machines they've ever used, but sold it because of how it sounds.

What's going on here?
I am afraid there is no general consensus on this matter.

I have read quite a bit about this too, and own a mk II. I used to own a mk I.

All that I know about this issue is

- seems like the octatrack uses a fixed point summing engine internally - this means that you can clip the masterbus internally, among other things. This might also be why ot automagically lowers vol of your recorded samps by (was it 6?) dB

- The LED level indicators on the ot are misleading and redline way before the AD is actually clipping. This can cause you to record/sample/monitor at suboptimal levels, and can degrade your signal, especially if using 16bit mode

These two things contribute to the sound q issues in some ways. But its not all there is to it. So, unfortunately, you need to demo the ot yourself before you can be sure if it works for you or not..

Some people also claim that it takes experience/getting used to ot’s gain structure before good results can be achieved. I think this ties down to those same two things outlined above though.

As for my opinion? I traded off my mk I because I felt like the audio inputs made my ext synths sound bland. The mk II audio inputs seem not to cause the same issue, so I am happy for now. However, when I still had my mk I, I was not aware of the fixed-point summing issue or the extra headroom with the LEDs, so I probably gainstaged my ext synths too low when I still had my mk I Probably only used 16bit too, cant remember now..
Old 14th January 2018
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by souljahh View Post
That's the tricky part. It just sounds "fine". Hard to justify the cost. For a 1,5k sampler it better sound great and futureproof. Not something that can be outmatched easily in some vital function(sound quality) by half priced samplers (digitakt).
Nothing about Digitakt is better, audiowise, and OT offers a lot more flexibility.
Old 14th January 2018
  #15
Gear Nut
 

In my experince, with the mk1, the sampling quality was fine, but as soon as I would start to mangle the audio, the thing sounded lifeless. Hated the pitching and timestretching. Some of the effects were actually cool, in weird way, but I was still happy, the day I traded mine for a Machinedrum. Now THAT is a classic piece of art
Old 14th January 2018
  #16
Gear Addict
 

digitakt is the first good sounding elektron device imo,I have had 3 A4's and 1 AK and sold them and kept buying another one because of its awesome sequencer, yet the actual sound I didn't really like

I have a MK1 octatrack and think it depends what kind of sounds you are feeding it,i wouldn't use it for drum sounds tbh,i leave that to the digitakt and I wouldn't use it for deep analog bass but for everything else its still good sounding

the only thing lacking for me is multiple outs
Old 14th January 2018
  #17
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I also strongly disagree regarding the Digitakt being no better in sound quality.. I think it sounds a lot better than the Octatrack, it's very good.
Old 14th January 2018
  #18
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Gee, could have fooled me, the Digitakt seems to really sound much better in demos.
Perhaps the lower price point is putting it into the right hands, people who are much more capable?
Old 14th January 2018
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtFluids View Post
Gee, could have fooled me, the Digitakt seems to really sound much better in demos.
Perhaps the lower price point is putting it into the right hands, people who are much more capable?
No, it really just does sound better.
Old 14th January 2018
  #20
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ArtFluids's Avatar
Can anyone post some GOOD Octatrack stuff here?
Like what are the best possible examples of the OT in action.
Old 14th January 2018
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drxcm View Post
I also strongly disagree regarding the Digitakt being no better in sound quality.. I think it sounds a lot better than the Octatrack, it's very good.

I also disagree that the digitakt doesn't sound better, its a massive difference on sound over the OT

its not that the OT sounds bad though
Old 14th January 2018
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtFluids View Post
Can anyone post some GOOD Octatrack stuff here?
Like what are the best possible examples of the OT in action.
"Good" might be a wee bit subjective, but I always quite liked this one:

Cloud Labeling | Ink Jet

Entire album was created using only the OT and a bunch of classical cassettes for sample fodder.
Old 14th January 2018
  #23
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Bach666's Avatar
 

This thread is so 2016.
Old 14th January 2018
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bach666 View Post
This thread is so 2016.
Lol. The MK2 came out a few months back. New machine ( or is it?).

Right, so I saw the video ol boy with the beard did and he shows the gain staging steps. I can see how one could get a bit confused. Being that though, I agree that a $1,400 machine should be effortless to sound great. Thing is, with all the examples of what people go for as an over sound vibe.. "clean/crisp" , "full and punchy" etc, I'd say mine is ""warm and smooth" , but not flat and mushy.

Kinda a bummer, I was looking forward to getting this Pandora's box and taking a vowl of dedication to really learn its language, but I can't be fighting against that sound AND trying to learn the machine at the same time.

I was looking at the MPCX, 8 outputs with nice sampling options and a wicked controller with pads, but man I've just heard too many stories of build quality and a cumbersome operating system. I guess my machine hasn't been created yet. Dammit...
Old 14th January 2018
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steelyfan View Post
Lol. The MK2 came out a few months back. New machine ( or is it?).

Right, so I saw the video ol boy with the beard did and he shows the gain staging steps. I can see how one could get a bit confused. Being that though, I agree that a $1,400 machine should be effortless to sound great. Thing is, with all the examples of what people go for as an over sound vibe.. "clean/crisp" , "full and punchy" etc, I'd say mine is ""warm and smooth" , but not flat and mushy.
Mixing eight channels of audio requires gain staging, and OT is not mushy. It's transparent. What goes in, goes out. For gear like this you want it that way. Run it through something like the Erica Acidbox 3 if you want "vibe" at the end. You're really overthinking it.

I work as a sound engineer at venues with Funktion 1 and Meyer sound systems that cost more than most people's entire studios. I have heard the OT, and recently the Digitakt, in numerous ways and settings. Maybe they could tell the difference, but I couldn't and I was sober/on the clock.
Old 14th January 2018
  #26
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Shadowkast's Avatar
 

I have felt this way about most of the Elektron gear that I've heard. I was reluctant to share the opinion because I'm new to this stuff and just figured it was in my mind. That may still be the case, but I feel a little relieved that people with vastly more experience also hear this.
Old 14th January 2018
  #27
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A.I. Batule Chee's Avatar
Well this girl makes it sound very good! You may not like her music but it doesn't sound bad at all. Plus it's really ballsy to make a performance with just an OT!

Old 14th January 2018
  #28
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by steelyfan View Post
Lol. The MK2 came out a few months back. New machine ( or is it?).

Right, so I saw the video ol boy with the beard did and he shows the gain staging steps. I can see how one could get a bit confused. Being that though, I agree that a $1,400 machine should be effortless to sound great. Thing is, with all the examples of what people go for as an over sound vibe.. "clean/crisp" , "full and punchy" etc, I'd say mine is ""warm and smooth" , but not flat and mushy.

Kinda a bummer, I was looking forward to getting this Pandora's box and taking a vowl of dedication to really learn its language, but I can't be fighting against that sound AND trying to learn the machine at the same time.

I was looking at the MPCX, 8 outputs with nice sampling options and a wicked controller with pads, but man I've just heard too many stories of build quality and a cumbersome operating system. I guess my machine hasn't been created yet. Dammit...
You want a second hand Pioneer SP16. It has its limitations, but it sounds amazing.
Old 14th January 2018
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A.I. Batule Chee View Post
Well this girl makes it sound very good! You may not like her music but it doesn't sound bad at all. Plus it's really ballsy to make a performance with just an OT!

Man, that video has the SAME characteristics of everything else I've heard. It doesn't sound "bad" but that machine definitely has a sound, even in that club environment, it sounds pretty flat. It's like the sound is being filtered through a thick piece fabric, you can hear that there's mid range content, it's just not present in the sound, like there's a threshold keeping the dynamic range from breathing.
Old 14th January 2018
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coleman Young View Post
You want a second hand Pioneer SP16. It has its limitations, but it sounds amazing.
Wow, this is very interesting. I was JUST reading up on that box a few minutes ago. I'm superstitious like that, ha! I'm trying to understand what it's workflow is, if you can play single cycle wave forms with a keyboard polyphonic, and if you can multitrack your loops.

I'm not a techno or dance music guy, I record synths and guitars, vocals etc in real time. I just looking for a box I can multitrack my loops and do some mangling. Those 8 outputs would go through my mixer and hit effects, eq, compressors, etc. Yes, from what I've heard so far this machine sounds very good.
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