Friday, September 11, 2015

The Complete Unknowability of Pickup Machines

I've been working with the Octatrack's pickup machines lately - this is the part of the Octatrack that wants to be your looper. Or my looper. During my first go-around with the Octatrack, it was the Pickup Machines that threw me off the couch, stepped on my head, and spit in my gaping mouth (or at least that's how it felt).

But now I'm more comfortable with the machine, and have decided to tiptoe into the P.M. neighborhood again to see if I'd get beat up. Luckily, a lot more Elektronauts postings have shown up since I first tried, and I've learned that One2 is my best friend, followed by LEN = off. If you aren't an OT-head, that won't mean much - but it should tell you about the level of obscure that exists with this thing.

So what I'm finding is that, if the sequencer is off, and my LEN settings are all off, and I use One2 for the input triggering type, I can record all sorts of different loop lengths. But somehow, magically, the system adjusts everything for me, giving me nice hospital corners for looped content - even if that's not what I wanted. I want messy, dammit!

I just ran across this posting:

Elektronauts Posting

...and it gives yet another alternative for odd timing loops. So I'll give that a try. I do notice that if all the LEN setting are off, the whole idea of master and slave tracks goes bonkers in kind of a good way, and the result is pretty cool (if rather straight-forward); I did a hell of an interesting track last night with the input being only a running podcast. Capturing and looping little phrases turned out downright spooky.

So my work continues, but at least I don't feel beat up. But if you are an Octatrack user and know of a good way to deal with odd length loops, please drop me a line!!!



  1. You can get odd timings and messy if you just sample into separate tracks rather than using a pickup machine. Or perhaps, you use a pickup machine to build a loop, then resample the pickup machine track into other tracks. See p. 51 on SRC3 resampling on the target track you want to record into. Then hold the track number + the MIDI button down to resample from the SRC3 input.

    A few ideas on how to create different lengths for each flex machine track.

    1) While you are NOT in record mode, press [FUNCTION][EDIT] and set PAT to "per track". This will allow you to run tracks with different step lengths for each track. So if you put a trig on step 1, then manipulate the length of the track steps or change or modulate the Len parameter you can certainly get things to end at different times - as long as you don't hit hit hit the max length of the pattern.

    2) In Flex machine setup, you can set the stretch (or turn it off) setting per track. If you combine this with a one shot trig and arm and re-arm it on the fly - then adjust the Start and Len params on the fly you can play back samples that are longer than the pattern length. If the sample is longer than the pattern it will keep going till you re-arm the trig. Super messy.

    1. Ultimately, the pickup machines are doing too much thinking on your behalf. Use them to build the loops, then hand those loops off to flex machines for further manipulation.

  2. I hear you on that, Mark. After several hours last night, I came to the conclusion that Pickup Machines are great for realtime single-track layering, but I'm not going to get the poly-loops I crave. But Flex Machines are perfect for that, so all I have to do is learn to muscle-memory the transition from one to the other (even if they are different tracks).