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Teenage Engineering OP-1 Portable Synthesizer, Sampler, and Controller with Built-In FM Radio
- CREATE MUSIC ON-THE-FLY - The Teenage Engineering OP-1 features 13 unique synth engines, 7 high-quality stereo effects, and exchangeable LFOs. It offers physically modeled string synthesis and frequency modulation.
- OFFERS "TAPE RECORDING" - The 4-track tape feature lets you record any beats you create, play, sequence, or tweak. You can overdub with pitch change by matching the tape-speed with the sequencer clock.
- PROVIDES UNIQUE SEQUENCERS - Easily arrange notes in different ways using one of the four original sequencers. While the Tape function produces pure audio recording, the sequencer stores note data.
- SAMPLES SOUNDS FROM DIFFERENT SOURCES - You can sample a sound using the onboard microphone. The built-in FM radio allows you to sample local radio stations or music. You can also feed tracks plugged from a recorder in the 3.5mm line input.
- LASTS LONGER THAN OTHER DEVICES - The tiny OP-1 packs 16 hours of battery life. You can travel and play the synthesizer without worrying about running out of power. The OP-1 can even last for 2 years on standby mode.
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From the manufacturer
Teenage Engineering OP1 Portable Synthesizer / Sampler / Controller Keyboard
Enjoy power-packed performance with the OP-1 Portable Synthesizer from Teenage Engineering. This powerhouse packs a synthesizer, sampler, and controller into a simple and fast interface. The synthesizer features 8 built-in engines (with exchangeable architecture) with 8 quick-selection keys, and 3 great sequencers, enabling instant live tweaks.
- Eight synthesizer engines with exchangeable architecture can be selected between the T1 to T4 keys, thereby allowing you to switch engines and retain envelopes.
- 8 dedicated instant keys for sound selection.
- Built-in 24-voice instant live sampler lets you sample from onboard music, FM radio, 4-track tape recorder, etc.
- Four-track tape recorder with variable tape speed provides you with an instant way to tweak your recordings live.
- Six minutes recording time (up to 24 minutes) on both sides of the 4-track tape recorder.
- Four-track mixer with EQ, effect, and drive for adding texture; master out for fine tuning.
- Mixer features dedicated VU meter for displaying sound levels, and control over pan, L & R.
- Multiple effects with exchangeable architecture.
- Multiple exchangeable sequencers for instant live tweaks.
- Classic Pattern sequencer to change direction on the fly or shorten the played sequence.
- Tombola sequencer (drop notes & spin) to adjust bounciness and gravity.
- Endless Step Sequencer: Quickest sequencer with features such as random order, reverse, and pattern for instant live tweaks
- USB MIDI controller lets you receive external MIDI Control Change (MIDI CC) from other hardware, or from your computer's music
- Two-way USB file transfer (Mac & PC compatible) for exchanging data between your synthesizer and computer
- Color-coded, vector-based user interface consists of 4 color encoders
- Operation of color encoder is indicated by a color change on the graphical interface of display
Op-1 comes loaded with great kits, but if you feel that you want more just press the mic key to sample anything. And if that's not enough you just connect your OP-1 to your computer and drag and drop any .aif file straight to the OP-1.
Top reviews from the United States
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Here are my favorite things about it:
- Full end to end music production. Is it a synth, a step-sequencer, a 4-track or a production workstation? It's all of the above! There's very little competition in terms of anything else so complete yet portable at the same time (except for possibly an iPad).
- Portability. I can compose and arrange from just about anywhere. So far: on the bus, on the subway, on a plane, in a doctor's waiting room and in a train station concourse.
- The synth engines. They produce a great "low-fi" sound, if that is an aesthetic that you like.
- Sampling / Line-In capabilities. If the synth engines aren't what you are looking for, you can sample or record from the line-in (or the onboard microphone, but I recommend the line-in option)
- Versatility with external hardware/instruments. You can place the OP-1 just about anywhere in the music production cycle depending on your work flow. You can use this as a midi controller, or you can use it for its synth engines sent as an audio signal to an external DAW, or you can use it as your main work station, with external instruments recorded to the 4-track as line-ins for mixdown and mastering on the OP1.
- The cow...
Many reviews of the OP1 break its features down into individual "modules", and then compare those modules to other products. For example, its synth engines aren't on the level of other good soft synths on the market, its mixing capabilities aren't as good as a full DAW, etc. However, each of these criticisms misses the point of the OP1. It is deliberately designed to have relatively few bells and whistles to get your creative juices flowing and make music, all while being able to fit in your pants pocket!
I'm barely scratching the surface of what the OP1 is capable of, and I could go on for several more paragraphs, but I'll end by saying that I have never purchased an instrument that has brought quite as much joy as this one.
EDIT (September 2018)
6 months after writing this review, I am still having so much fun with my OP1, and its capabilities continue to amaze me. Here are some "hidden" features that allow you to keep as much production / mixing on the OP1 as possible without "giving up" and finishing the tracks on a DAW:
- You can use the built-in gyroscope to "wobble" the pitch of the note (similar to a Roli seaboard)- because "wobbling" the note causes the whole OP1 unit to physically move!
- You can achieve sidechain compression using an external drum beat as the sidechain signal through the line input
- If you pan one tape track all the way L, and another tape track all the way R, by recording identical parts into each and altering the relative volumes between L and R, you can place an instrument anywhere you like within the stereo field.
I'm pretty sure i'll discover even more "hidden" features as i continue to use my OP1.
EDIT (November 2018)
I can see a lot of price gouging on Amazon. DO NOT BUY THIS UNIT FOR MORE THAN 900 BUCKS. Wait and they'll come back in stock.
P.s. I'm still having **so** much fun with the OP-1. As I write this, the OP-Z has been released, and many people on social media are (1) complaining about the OP-Z's battery life (3 hrs max at the moment) and (2) regretting not buying an OP-1 instead.
EDIT (December 2018)
I take back the disparaging things i said about the OP-Z. I own one now, and it's a joy to play.
If anyone is considering the OP-Z instead of the OP-1, i now have the knowledge to distinguish them here (in case you are interested):
- The OP-Z is a sequencer, not a 4-track tape recorder. It has fewer synth engines and tweakable synth parameters than the OP-1.
- The OP-Z does contain 8 tracks, and many people think this is "better" than the OP-1. However, the truth is that 4 of those tracks are separate percussive elements (kick, snare, cymbal and sfx), 1 of those tracks is a monophonic bass, 1 is a chord track with 4-note polyphony per step, 1 is a lead track with 3-note polyphony per step, and the last one is an "arpeggiator" track, which is highly annoying and a bit useless. With the OP-1, you can layer an infinite amount of polyphony onto any track you desire, the OP-Z is definitely much more limited in what you can do (even though it has more "tracks" on the surface)
- The OP-Z is definitely a lot more portable than the OP-1. Don't get me wrong-- the OP-1 is highly portable, but the OP-Z just blows it out of the water with how tiny it is
- The OP-Z does not contain a sampler, or a line-in, limiting its role as a "full production work station".
- The OP-Z does not allow you to export the finished songs as a .wav file.
In conclusion -- if you're looking for an all-in-one portable workstation, the OP-1 is your best bet. Furthermore, I believe that the OP-1 will hold up far better over time as a unique instrument. The OP-Z is great, but it's a portable groove box that you're unlikely to actually finish a track on.
EDIT (September 2019)
The OP-Z now has line-in and microphone sampling capabilities in the latest firmware.
EDIT (February 2020)
Teenage Engineering appears to be committed to updating the firmware for the OP-1, which is great for a decade-old product. The latest firmware allows the user to further slice up the tape track into half-measures, quarter-measures and even finer slices, making it easier to execute the sequencer in smaller increments to keep your tracks tight.
In addition, in an earlier post i advised potential buyers not to spend more than $900 on an OP-1. However, this is now outdated advice, as the price of new first-hand OP-1 units has increased to $1,300 (presumably due to production costs going up as a result of now-obsolete parts being replaced.)
So, would I have spent $1,300 dollars 2 years ago for an OP-1, without the knowledge and experience of the unit that I now have? Perhaps not. But with the benefit of hindsight, I would spend another $1,300 on an OP-1 in a heartbeat if for any reason my unit breaks.
With that in mind, please please protect your OP-1 if you have one already. I'd get a decksaver and an official OP-1 case, and use both at all times when not using the unit. In addition, if you are comfortable with electronics, buy replacement parts on iFixit- you never know when you might need them!
* It's battery powered. The advantage here cannot be overstated. This thing will operate for 16 hours on a charge, allowing you to take it anywhere without concern.
* It's got everything needed to make a song - there's bass, synth, you can record your voice into it, and it has drums. If you have an idea for any of these you can plink it out on the cute little keyboard. You can then fiddle with the other tracks and lay down some other ideas and try things out.
* It's very intuitive - it's easy to learn to use. It's hard to master though.
* It's quirky - The unusual effects and synth parameters lead to unusual sounds which can spark inspiration and take you places you wouldn't necessarily intend to go with your music.
* It's expensive - enough said about that. It costs nearly a grand, and since production paused good luck finding one for even that price.
* It doesn't have velocity sensitive keys - I don't miss this as much as I would think, but it is a disadvantage to expressiveness. It just means you have to find other ways to make expressive sounds.
Overall, I don't think you can find anything in this size, with this battery life, and with this range of ability. A synthstrom deluge might do something similar, but it is much larger and I can't imagine dragging one through TSA. A Novation Circuit might also do well, but again, there's no traditional keyboard.
None of the other portable synth workstations come close to the ability of this thing. Not even the OP-Z.
Edit: It's now back in stock from Teenage Engineering for $1300. I bought mine for $850.
Don't buy it for $1300. It's not worth it.
Top reviews from other countries
The worst thing about it is the internal speaker, it sounds like it’s made from tin foil and the highs make your ears itch, it’s nasty.
Can't fault it, it's everything n more I'd expected; soon to be diplo.