Teenage Engineering OP-Z


Another bring your own screen, Pixii camera.


it’s funny - so far this has been framed as BYOS (bring your own screen), implying that you should definitely take advantage of that phone screen you have in your pocket, but given how much of the industry is starting to grow weary of yet more devices where we crane our necks to gaze into screens for hours all day, and how little of that information firehose is actually necessary when you get down to it, and given the dopamine feedback loops screens are trapping us in, maybe the unspoken non-consumer-friendly message is more like “bring your own screen if you absolutely can’t bear to interact with a thing without using a screen as a crutch, we’re offering this as an intermediary solution to the screen-addicted but we don’t recommend it. really, we spent a lot of time designing a beautiful screen-less experience as the primary use case and way forward, try it out”


plus, like, you can go to a forest with this little dude and actually look around at / be part of nature instead of being tempted to look at the pixels dancing around the screen or whatever, as if you’re an easily distracted house cat


I loved my OP1 but sold it because I wanted screens out of my music making experience so the Z is intriguing. Between work, school, and video games I already get enough screen time!


wait, you mean to tell me, I’m not?


dashes off


maybe, but also maybe there’s a meaningful distinction to be drawn between the screens of devices built for consumption and devices built for creation.

the OP-1 screen doesn’t quality to me as just another screen that we crane our necks down at. it not only adds to the interaction experience, it also becomes a way for the device to have a personality that it wouldn’t otherwise have. I feel the same way about norns’ screen.


Ok, this shows me no screen necessary.


And this…

I’ve only used mine with the screen when setting up midi, otherwise I don’t need it at all


This is brilliant. Are you recording into a DAW? post processing?


Sorry didn’t mean to give the impression this was myself in the video. Just showing another example of skillfully using the unit without a screen. I’d leave a comment on his youtube channel, thanks!


First impressions: finally got from USPS, iPod touch is too old to run app, kind of bummed out about it, had a free moment this morning before work, grouchily fiddled around with it expecting frustration and wanting to sell it right away, and had my mind blown. 30 minutes later, where has the time gone?

I was certain I’d need the screen to make sense of it, I don’t do well with menus, layers, etc, but it’s really intuitive and put together well. I was able to figure out pretty quickly how to change patterns, expand pattern length, etc. Still anyone’s guess as to what the different parameter pages do for the synths but theres that handy quickstart printout that I’ll unfold when I have more space in front of me (in my car at the moment).

A) I love it as a toy. Very portable, immediately satisfying. Could see someone with more patience than I programming something quite nice on it.
B) I hope those expanders come soon, want that CV control without needing the hermod, expert sleepers, yarns etc. My keystep stays for now.


First impressions - it’s super small, crazy light and feels nice. It effortlessly makes dance-hits, which thrill my kid and wife. The sounds sound good. The screen is helpful but not necessary. There’s a lot to learn here, really looking forward to discovering new bits and pieces over the next couple of months / years. I’ve had an OP-1 since…2012?..and I still find out new things.

I also plugged it into Bitwig and was able to sequence multiple instances of Aalto, which was super exciting. I didn’t doubt that that was possible, but…it was still exciting when it worked with zero hassle. Given Bitwig’s CV widgets and the ES-8, I look forward to it sequencing my modular soon.

The 11 year old was able to make solid sounding beats after ~ 2 minutes of instruction. Another big :100: in my book. We weren’t able to do a whole lot with the animations yet, but I get the impression it’s going to be fun.

Circling back to the screen - it really is neat to see how responsive it is. Maybe I’m just easily impressed but I thought there’d be a lag…Bluetooth is fancy and the status screen really does look cool.


Since the OP-Z can act as a USB host, I believe you could use your keystep as a MIDI to CV converter (by sending USB MIDI to the keystep)? You would probably just need the appropriate adapter cable to go from USB-C to a USB-A port.


An interesting idea! Will have to try. Thanks for the suggestion :slight_smile:


I’ve been cruising through DMX threads but would love to hear what’s the cheapest possible way to mess around with the DMX light control in the Z for complete beginners?

UPDATE: Googling “DMX lighting control for Christmas lights” was a rabbit hole of good cheap stuff.


Still waiting to get my hands on the OP-Z. Skipped the first batch to avoid potential early adopter flaws.

How does the preset structure work compared to OP-1? Is it possible to delete the factory presets?


i did not expect to want one of these but it is actually looking pretty good. can’t believe the reports of poor battery life though, since getting norns i have left my op1 on by mistake for 12+ hours a few times and it’s never actually died, and it has a screen…hopefully some software tweaks can be made.

also seems like a bit of a missed opportunity if the bottom button thing is hardwired to pitch. a reassignable expression button on this thing would be great.


How do you activate the microphone?

to activate the microphone hold and tilt the unit, so that this left side is facing upwards. the mic led will be green.

What? That’s clever. To activate the microphone, pretend it’s a microphone. :mage:

Well done TE.


Considering it’s half the size of an OP-1, I have a feeling the form factor had a big impact on the battery life.


It’s unfortunate. 4 hours on the OP-Z is a shock when the OP-1 seemingly couldn’t die. I would definitely have been open to a larger device with longer battery life. But maybe it’s one of the things they can address with these expander modules we’re hearing about? If they actually develop a proper ecosystem around that then maybe the device will be fairly customizable, and only as large as it needs to be for each user.