Elek­tron Oc­ta­track

Computer Music - - Make Music Now / Old-School Sampling -

Few com­pa­nies per­se­vered with hard­ware sam­plers af­ter the in­tro­duc­tion of pow­er­ful soft­ware op­tions in the early 2000s. The mar­ket for ex­pen­sive stand­alone sam­pler boxes seem­ingly dis­ap­peared overnight – at least un­til Elek­tron re­leased the Oc­ta­track in 2011.

The Oc­ta­track tore up the rule­book. It’s a de­lib­er­ately com­plex and multi-faceted piece of kit, re­quir­ing se­ri­ous in­vest­ment of time to get to grips with its po­ten­tial. Un­like most other hard­ware se­quencers, it also pri­ori­tises live per­for­mance and sound man­gling above all else.

A lot of peo­ple find it hard to get into the Oc­ta­track’s com­plex and multi-lay­ered work­flow, which is a per­fectly le­git­i­mate com­plaint: this is by no means a sim­ple in­stru­ment. You can scratch the sur­face of the fea­tures and un­der­stand how it works within hours, but you won’t get the most out of it with­out truly study­ing the man­ual and ex­plor­ing the deeper func­tion­al­ity. Those who put in the ef­fort got a fan­tas­tic in­stru­ment just as ca­pa­ble of re­work­ing loops and hits in the stu­dio as be­ing the cen­tre­piece of a live setup.

Elek­tron up­dated the model to the Oc­ta­track MKII in late 2017. It wasn’t a rad­i­cal over­haul so much as a re­fresh. Aside from a new look and up­graded com­po­nents, the most no­table dif­fer­ence was a smat­ter­ing of ded­i­cated but­tons, help­ing smooth out and speed up the work­flow.

The Oc­ta­track re­mains one of the best choices for ded­i­cated hard­ware sampling. Such is its unique ap­proach that it’s hard to name a soft­ware al­ter­na­tive. Sim­i­lar things can be achieved us­ing DAWs and plu­g­ins, but the fo­cused ap­proach of the Oc­ta­track is hard to repli­cate.

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