The Teenage Engineering OP-1 synthesizer has never failed to inspire strong opinions:
- When we covered the OP-1’s introduction at MusikMesse 2009, some readers thought it was a hoax, while others thought it was ‘sexy as hell’;
- When it got off the vaporware list, a lot of people still thought it was cool, but were put off by the anticipated pricing;
- And when the OP-1 synth finally went on sale, for US $799, the initial run sold out immediately – but it still had a lot of readers wondering who the market was for it.
We’re kind of amazed how polarizing this new synthesizer has been to synth fans.
It seems like half of our readers see the OP-1 as an ‘overpriced toy’. The other half, though, see it as something unique.
One reader had this to say about the OP-1:
The OP-1’s not designed to compete with a daw and a multitude of plug-ins. It’s meant to provide a new instrument that can help you map out ideas, and has some decent synthesis power, and a battery life and form factor better than any other synth on the market for composing on the go, something that might be important to someone who’s not yet making a living off of their producing.
This love it or hate it attitude seems to be everywhere. Peter Kirn put up a post about the new synth today at Create Digital Music today – and a reader immediately dismissed the OP-1 as “the ‘hipster’ of hardware synths”.
While I’m fascinated at the extreme responses to Teenage Engineering’s new synth, I’m also a bit surprised that so many people seem so ready to wholeheartedly reject it.
Teenage Engineering has created a very unique little synth in the OP-1.
If you look at what Korg, Yamaha or Roland are doing, you’re not going to find a synth comparable to the OP-1.
And if you look at what smaller synthmakers, like Dave Smith Instruments or Moog, are doing, you’re still not going to find a synth similar to the OP-1.
If you check out the OP-1 specs, you’ll see that it’s a quirky design that packs a lot of synth & sampling options into an extremely portable package. And, while devices like the iPad offer many choices for mobile music making, there’s still something very compelling about physical synths, all-in-one designs and dedicated hardware controls.
At $799, the Teenage Engineering OP-1 not a synth that I’ll be buying anytime soon. Realistically, though, I’m not going to be dropping $25k on a Buchla modular anytime soon, either.
How amazing is it, though, that we live in a time where so many niche synth options are actually viable products?
What do you think?
Is the Teenage Engineering OP-1 synthesizer only for hipsters?
Or is it time to give the developers credit for coming up with a synth design that, if not inexpensive, is at least original?