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Spring cleaning in my studio - why I bought the Elektron Octatrack

I tidied up my rig. It was about time! I'm pretty sure you know that situation very well: you buy something exciting new, and the old stuff goes into the cupboard or collects dust on the shelf.

I did the last big clean-up when I switched from the Push to the Digitakt. At that time, my idea of a musical future evolved very quickly and in the last few months, this has become even more solidified and, as a current consequence, I decided that some devices had to go again. Since I am pursuing some long-term goals with my music, I have now thinned out and adjusted my equipment park somewhat.

This article gives you an idea of why I think it's important to have a goal in music making and why you shoud choose your gear following this goals. Also read this article about my ordeal towards the Digitakt - might be interesting for you.

Alright, let's start with a list of stuff I kept and sold!

The devices I have sold and why

Novation Circuit Mono Station - I found the operation complicated and therefore never used this otherwise nice synth (the sound is pretty solid). I guess if I would have taken some extra time for learning it, I could have been happy with it. But I had to make a decicion about stuff that has to go. This was the first victim.

Korg Kaoss Pad Quad - I got this piece in a deal when i sold my Deluge, but never used it because of its chinch connections (I think it's more a device for DJ rigs).

AKAI MPX-16 Sampler - as much as I liked the idea of having an external hardware sampler in my setup, the AKAI turned out to be completely unsuitable for my sets. It can only very limited long samples to a limited extent, it reacts sluggishly to Midi commands and loading a new set takes an extremely long time - too long between tracks when playing live. The sample handling is just shit and in addition, Midi is implemented in a very rudimentary way.

E-MR Multiclock - I have never used this extremely expensive clock.

Elektron Model:Samples - I'll replace its functions with the Octatrack / Digitakt combo in the future (the same goes for the AKAI Smapler) so I made the decision to give it away too.

Machines that have remained

Digitakt - I don't need to say anything I guess. I love the device, know it inside out and besides, my online courses are based on this device.

Roland TB-03 - I simply love the sounds of this synth, a real Classic (even it's not the REAL 303).

Novation Peak - my main source for creating sounds. I love the digital sound combined with the analogue filters and its great effects.

Arturia Keystep - a small keyboard is always an asset in each setup, even i can't play it properly.

Various effects pedals - including a Big Sky Reverb, Freeze Reverb, Chase Bliss Mood and Grand Canyon Delay. I usually use them to alienate the sounds from the Peak and then sample them.

Waldorf Streichfett - just I wanted to give it another try :D

Mackie Mix8 - no studio without a mixer

And which devices are new?

Octatrack - I'll go into more detail below.

Candidates on the hit list

Squarp Pyramid - bought a few months ago, but not used much so far. The Octatrack also comes with Midi support and is a hot contender to act as the hub for my setup. We'll find out as soon as I get more familiar with the device. Right now, the Pyrmid feels like it forces me to think of my productions in Ableton structures and I don't like that.

Nice list, isn't it? If you're a newbie in music production, let me tell you one important thing: start small and master your gear before you add another machine!

The setup for my long term strategy

All my musical activity can be roughly divided into 3 goals and everything I do is assigned to one of these. And yes, there's a little strategy behind :D

The first of these goals is the production of scores for theatre and performance projects. This form of music will - if my plan develops as I imagine it today - play a big role for me in the future. I am currently toying with the idea of training in this field at a university next year.

So far, I produce the soundscapes on the computer and then they are used as soundtracks for videos or during a performance. In the future, however, I would like to perform more live together with the ensemble of a piece and thus bring another level into the relationship between performer and the music.

This is exactly why I bought the Octatrack. It offers me much more possibilities for this purpose than the Digitakt.

Live performing is the centre of my concept

Which brings us to the second topic. And that is live performances in general. I want to perform my music live, in front of an audience, and then respond to the mood with my equipment. I'm not really into Spotify streams and stuff.

This was also the main reason why I decided to make the switch from DAW to DAWLESS. My idea was and is that performing is something unique that people want and should experience live.

That's why Digitakt came along and after that I changed my whole way of working to it. Unfortunately, the pandemic has now lasted much longer than we all thought at the time, but I have used the past months and made myself fit for the day when I will actually perform live - through my weekly jams, which I have uploaded to YouTube.

To achieve this goal, the Octatrack was again the device that seemed like a useful addition to my set-up. Even I need to learn this machine completely from scratch again.

Expand my educational offers

Last but not least, I would like to expand my educational offers in the future. I have currently decided on the Digitakt as an anchor point, but I am of course already thinking further ahead, and in the medium term I would like to continue the vertical expansion of my offer on electronic devices.

Some words about the rig routing

I really wanted to write about the routing guys, but at the moment, the setup changes very often. Right now, the Digitakt is routed to my Mackie Mixer. There's one effect pedal hooked to the send effect channels. The other synths are also connected to the Mixer, and its output are routed to the Octatrack input.

The Midi-Part is fairly simple: The Keystep goes into the Octatrack In Port. From there, I've build a Midi chain: Ocatrack Out > Digitakt In, Digitakt Thru > Peak In, Peak thru > Roland TB-03. The Waldorf is not hooked up yet, and the Pedals are also not connected. I Plan this for future setups.

So, these are some insights :D Maybe it's helpful for some of the blog readers. What about you? What's your goal and how to you want to reach it with your hardware setup? Let me and the others know in the comments :)

Learn how to make your own house tracks with the Elektron Digitakt!

Have a look on my Digitakt Online Class! It's a video course focussed on creating tracks with the Digitakt. It covers LFOs, Arrangement, Performing, Digitakt FX and many other interesting topics, plus it's upgraded with new lectures frequently.

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Dec 05, 2022

Hi! Thanks for talking through your setup. How do you like the Mackie Mix8 as a mixer? Haven't seen many reviews on its performance/sound. Have you tried others and how would you compare it? Thanks so much!

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