Octatrack Experiments #01 B: Tape Machine

Apparently Pick Up machines do not record and play at the same time without overdubbing, so after quite a bit of headaches trying to use a flex and a PU to make this work, I realized that I didn’t need a Pick Up machine at all and in fact only need 1 machine total.


Flex machine on T1 set to record AB and CUE for 64 steps. T1 outputs to CUE at around 100.

A playback and a record trigger are placed on step 1, some effects and some modulation can be set up but pitch has to be at 0 and not modulated for some reason. I think setting a small amount of compression, SRR, BRR, AMD or distortion here might help simulate the sound of tape, but finding the right numbers might be tricky.

That’s it. You can now play around, for example sending small amounts of other tracks you have going to incorporate them into the repeats can sound nice, specially if it’s not a static sequence.


After setting up, play a few minutes with the idea and went straight to recording so as before, this is not meant to be an artistic statement of any kind, just an example of the idea in use.

I again used the ringing rocks sample plus a Hydrophone recording with the same setup to fill it up a bit. The “tape” track is looping a mix of drones and short melodies from the ms20. The ms20 runs through a ms 70 cdr with Tape Echo -> Space Hole -> Church reverb. T1 has a compression with some RAT and Lo-Fi with just a bit of everything dialed in.

Going a little heavier on the Lo-Fi would probably be a good idea since the texture is neither close to tape nor really that interesting. Also ending the track 6mins in would have ended up better.

Going forward

Instead of setting T1’s CUE to 100, one could set it to close to 0 and use another muted Flex machine on T2 pointing to R1 and set that track’s CUE high, then you could have effects set #1 on that track and effects set #2 on T1. I’m not sure if that’s any different than having a neighbor track and the effects inverted but one thing this allows is parallel processing by mixing T1 and T2, which might be useful. You could also feed back a small amount of random slices of the loop. It’s a real shame that you can’t assign an LFO to CUE volume nor use p-locks with it.

Another interesting idea is using playback triggers to start the loop before one whole measure is recorded. Some interesting feedback appears but certainly needs to be tamed.

Finally, as I said, more work is needed to match the tape dirtiness or at least find some interesting new texture.



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