Teenage Engineering OP-1

I’d argue it’s real value is as a standalone music making device. It doesn’t play well with others, but it plays very well with itself (erm…)

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As I mentioned above: I sold mine long time ago.

BUT

last week, I had a dream, for TWO consecutive nights (!) that I bought one again…

The dreams were so intense, that they made me seriously consider getting one again! I didn’t do it though. And will not. Unless someone tells me just how amazing it works with their modular (like ansible in midi mode for example: anyone finding that combo especially solid/productive?)

Anyway. It was weird. I have never had a dream like this before, about a specific piece of equipment.

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I did not get on with it. Sold mine after 6 months. Got a Circuit and Roland System 1m (plus cash in my hand). Far more enjoyable experience.

I wanted to love the op1, i love TE and their pocket operators. I like how dedicated they are to their vision. But the tape paradigm got to annoy me! Also having to find/learn workarounds to do basic stuff really grated. I did not find it liberating, or allowing me to be creative.

Full disclosure - i love grids of buttons!

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I’ve had one for a few years now. I’m definitely in the cult. It would be the last music-thing I’d give up. I’d be perfectly happy if it was the only piece of gear I owned. I bought an Octatrack thinking it was an OP-1 with more pro-grade features, I was totally wrong (perhaps you’ve seen my Octatrack for sale?)

That said, I haven’t spent much time connecting it to other gear. I plan on picking up an Ansible soon, one of the reasons I’m excited for it is the midi-host capability and good reports that the OP-1 connects to it. I look forward to applying the OP-1 sequencers to my modular without a computer as the go between (I’ve never thought the op-lab seemed like a piece of equipment I’d like).

Also a fan of the pocket operators, the new OP-1 / PO sync feature is super fun.

Not sure its been mentioned, but kids love the OP-1. My nine year old has been playing with it since he was 5. We’ve made rap songs together, he’s recorded noise, learned to play with the sequencers. It’s definitely gotten him interested in music as play.

I understand it’s a divisive tool. It’s the most playful piece of hardware I’ve used, musical or otherwise…ever? I’m realizing more and more that I want all my music gear to be OP-1 in nature. I’ve tended towards quirky modular gear, am very excited to dive into the monome grid and teletype, I want to play with this stuff, enjoy the experience, value the creation over the finished product. It took me a while to figure out the OP-1 perfectly explains and represents my attitude and philosophy of creativity. I love it.

Ahem. Got a little gushy there. :heart_eyes_cat:

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I think you’re embracing what it does well, which is what more people could probably stand to do with electronic instruments. So often, at least on music forums, it seems filled with people moaning about what things can’t do rather than appreciating a tool’s strengths. No instrument can do it all, so it’s just a matter of whether you find use in what it can do well.

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It’s hard when stuff costs hundreds or thousands of dollars. I envy cities with good synth stores in them (I’m looking at you Portland and Brooklyn) that let you try before you buy. It’s hard to have to pay a bunch just to find out you don’t like something. Luckily the resale market for most of this stuff is good enough that you can effectively “rent” equipment for a while. Still…would love to casually visit Control and try before I buy.

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I had one and sold it a while back…didn’t use it enough to justify keeping it. I think it’s worth the money and is really unique, but what bothered me about it was the fact that it uses a lithium ion battery. I wasn’t sure how future proof it would be. This is something that’s just a reality with phones and laptops these days, but I hold my music gear to a different standard. Maybe I was shortsighted?

I didn’t know op-1 can be connected to Ansible :scream:

Now I’m sure I will buy one… again.

Interesting! Its actually the thing I loved most about the OP1. Just sold mine though as I just was using it for the tape lol. Wish there was a standalone machine for 4 track digital tape.

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I’m somewhere between you guys. I love the tape paradigm/analogy, but I too found the op workflow very annoying for general sequencing duties… I loved the op 1 as a plain instrument device though. interestingly, the thing that I intially was most worried about, the unusual keyboard, is something I miss a lot. I guess because the overall feel of the device is so good.

edit: also, I found the minijack out rather noisy for such an investment

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The idea was good, and I love teh “tape tricks”. But sequencing was painful. The lack of undo/redo I found unhelpful. I guess I prefer more precision.

I keep going through phases. Right now It is the modular but if I had to let go of everything but one device i would always keep the op-1. It is such a master piece in design. And for me nothing beats having a single “instrument” with so much creative potential (especially because the limitations).

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I’m still learning my OP-1 and I find myself needing to reference the manual quite often. That being said, I bought it with the purpose of travel and portability in mind. The limitations are what make it so great - there are a few things that could easily be included in an update (undo/redo, sequencer function, quantization) but generally speaking its a fully formed and integrated instrument, sampler and DAW. Its just not those things in the way you are used to which is impressive when you think about it - it kind of stands on its own.

My one and only hardware gripe is that the keys aren’t velocity sensitive. Maybe there will be a way to remedy this in the future or some sort of mod that can be done.

The tape function opens up so many possibilities for me that I have yet to firmly grasp. I have an idea of constructing a desktop housing for the OP-1 with a built in DC motor controlled by a eurorack module like a Bastl DC motor. The DC motor would have belt which would drive the tape turn knob on the OP-1 for “manual” playback and I could patch various inputs/outputs to it for recording. Maybe will dedicate some time to this idea soon…

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Have you looked at the Lego attachments?

I had not seen these - thanks for the tip! Would make construction a lot easier it seems.

I had one on the aforementioned “permanent loan from a friend.” Some notes:

-I found the synthesis engines to be very limited and disappointing. I appreciate alternative approaches to synthesis, but I want to have actual control over the parameters involved rather than the deliberate (yet very visually attractive) obfuscation.
-Effects are poor for sound design, and the (only) filter takes up one of the two possible places to insert effects. Most are delay-based. Modulation capability of parameters is very limited.
-The tape functionality was too indiosyncratic for me to care about. It isn’t something that fits into my workflow at all.
-It was great to have parked underneath my modular system for sampling. Sampling is wonderful.
-The actual hardware feels great. No velocity sensitivity whatsoever is the biggest hardware bummer.

I personally would have felt very burned had I paid full price for it. I’d rather have an ER-301 in that price tier.

It does not make too much sense to compare OP-1 with ER-301. They’re totally different animals.

That’s true, to an extent. But the price point comparison is relevant. Plus the fact that both share a lot of recording and processing functionality.
Key difference being that op-1 is s stand alone all-in-one kind of thing, and we-301 needs the modular context. For someone who already works within the modular environment this comparison becomes more applicable/relevant.

I didn’t notice we were talking about the OP-1 only as a modular “add-on”.

We aren’t only talking of that, but that was the context in which I found the OP-1 most useful and enjoyable. It was great to be able to make very fast sampled polyphony out of monophonic synthesizer output.