This is one product that has been getting a lot of people talking of late and very few have even had a chance to see one. In fact, I wasn’t even able to get my hands on one until just this week. To be honest, I wish I had more time with it, as I have barely been able to scratch the surface of the capabilities of the Teenage Engineering OP-1 synthesizer. Some of you may be wondering what it is, and if you have been living under a rock you may not have heard of it, but all the cool kids will know about this and will be lining up to get their hands on one as they start to become more readily available in stores now. Let’s take a brief look.
A BLAST FROM THE PAST
I know I was a little sceptical at first when I saw the promo shots and the videos of the OP-1 as it really does look like a toy. In fact, it has a real 1980’s Tandy kit look about it, which is what is getting it a lot of attention to begin with. I was very surprised when I finally got my hands on one to discover just how solid this unit it. It is built so well, with a machined steel case and knobs and buttons that feel sturdy when you touch them. It’s exactly what you want from a piece of gear that wants you to tap away at it and always be making adjustments. So, let me cast aside any fears that may have been out there about the build; the OP-1 is not a toy, it is a serious piece of kit with a very funky look. It is a little unconventional and doesn’t give too much away on the surface, but the engine within is a beast.
CREATE AND PERFORM
The OP-1 is at first a synthesizer, but also a sequencer and a very powerful performance tool at that. The synth engine has some incredible sounds in there and plenty of ways in which you can build and create new sounds. The colour screen is incredibly detailed and allows you to clearly see what is going on as you work with the buttons and knobs that have basic labelling and give very little away. Every sound can have effects added, LFO modulation, ADSR envelope and all number of ways in which they can be adjusted. There is even a funky gravity sensor that allows you to control certain elements of the sound by shaking the unit about, if you feel so inclined.
The sequencer – or tape recorder section – allows for four tracks that can be looped and layered and is capable of delivering a complete performance without the need of other devices. It gets better, you can sample from external sources, including FM radio, and it will run on batteries for music making on the go. It also has a built in speaker for annoying everyone around you. Drums, bass, lead and groovy samples all come together for a really cool synth that is so much more than myself, and a lot of others, first imagined. I just wish I had more time to get to know it better.
For more details on the range of Teenage Engineering products, head to innovativemusic.com.au.
Hits and Misses
Seriously tough build
Wicked array of sounds and sequencing possibilities
Offers a new approach to electronic music creation
It’s a little unconventional, like all Teenage Engineering designs