The Teenage Engineering OP-1: If It’s ‘A Perfect Instrument’, Why Do So Many People Slag On It?

Teenage Engineering OP-1

Synthesist Jyoti Mishra shared thoughts on his site, Synthlover, today about his new Teenage Engineering OP-1 synthesizer. And just his site’s name would suggest, he loves it.

In fact, Mishra seems to have nothing but good things to say about his OP-1 synth:

This is one of the most musical musical instruments I have ever used. I’m working on a synth sound, the envelope is a bit off, press one button and then twiddle the appropriately color-coded knob. It is so easy, so intuitive.

All of that would be charming but rather pointless if the OP-1 was, as its detractors claim, an over-priced toy. It is not. It packs enough DSP to create full tracks, I’ve been hammering it and I’ve never had it give up on me like my Micron does when I try to sequence too many parts.

Remember the fun of your first synth, just fucking about on it and creating magical symphonies? The OP-1 is that again.

This seems to be the reaction of just about everybody that has tried out the OP-1.

When I covered the OP-1 synthesizer at NAMM, the Teenage Engineering booth was swamped with people, fascinated by the little synth workstation. And most of the OP-1 owners that I’ve talked to since rave about it.

So, I’m surprised that so many people seem to slag on the Teenage Engineering OP-1, on concept alone.

A representative comment:

“It’s a product deliberately aimed at people who have bought into a certain aesthetic, with plenty disposable of income,” comments one reader. “I don’t particularly hate the OP-1 (though the design repels me a bit), I hate what it represents and the reason it exists.”

What do you think explains the disconnect?

91 thoughts on “The Teenage Engineering OP-1: If It’s ‘A Perfect Instrument’, Why Do So Many People Slag On It?

  1. Well…to quote Goethe, “Music at its best is not in need of novelty; indeed, the older it is, the more one is accustomed to it, the stronger its effect.”. The OP-1 is new and trendy in a boutique-bohemian way…hipsters with large trust funds pining for an era that many of them were not even a part of…Nostalgia wrapped in ignorance. The OP-1 is imitation lo-fi. It looks like it would be kind of fun, but not for the price. What the synth represents, which in my mind has something to do with how rich kids want to pretend to be poor but wind up as boutique hipsters, complete with a river condo in brooklyn and a $4,000 synth couch..seem to leave a bad taste in many people’s mouths. Time will tell if the OP-1 is a mere novelty, or actually contributes something to music in the way that the 1st Moog did, the 1st electric guitar, or even instruments that weren’t ‘firsts’ but contributed something that lasted or change(d) how we think about, perform, or use music.

    My guess is that OP-1 will not leave much of a lasting impression beyond 3 years…but that’s just my opinion. We’ll see.

    1. Wow what a load of societal baloney, giant modular synths are representative of hirsute 70’s prog rockers, etc etc. gimme a break, a decent guitar costs at least what this thing does but you can’t make an entire track with just a Fender Strat.

    2. You really think there’s that many trust fund hipsters in the world? Sounds more like you just created a boogeyman to hate on. You’ve imbued this little keyboard with so many things that you hate about the world. It’s just a synth, dude.

    3. It has now been a little over six years, and the OP-1 does seem to have made a lasting impression! I guess the 3 year prediction was wrong! 😉

  2. Let’s face it: It looks like a VL-Tone and it costs a lot of money. It’s a digital synth with some neat features and a very slick design. Beyond that, most musicians are operating on a budget and would rather put that money toward a less novel purchase. I’m not saying it isn’t worth the money — production numbers are low and that ramps up cost. It’s not plastic either. The brushed aluminum case gives it an additional “Mac-like” feel — perhaps the cost, too. But for the money, a person could buy a semi-decent laptop and load it up with some synth software. That would give him or her all the functionality the OP-1 provides — did I mention you would have a laptop when all was said and done? As for myself, I’d rather use the money toward a nice piece of analog gear — new or old. In the end, I don’t care about fancy shit or hype — just sound. And full-sized keys :-]

      1. Right, but just because you don’t see it, it doesn’t mean it is not there 😉
        The OP-1 supports USB-Midi. So you can eigther send and receive Midi with the OP-1 while it is connected to your PC/Mac or you can buy an interface that converts USB-Midi to normal Midi and use the OP-1 in every regular Setup.

  3. I have one. It’s a novelty, to be certain. It’s cute, makes some nice sounds, and definitely tries to be the “imitation lo-fi” as described above. That said, it is a fun and musical device for toting around in a backback or lying in bed noodling with headphones on. While I would never recommend such a thing as anyone’s SOLE instrument, it’s nice to have a new set of limitations placed upon you once in awhile…it tends to spawn new inspirations. It remains to be seen if the OP-1 will show up on any of my tracks, or just remain a toy. My iPad does LOTS more and it’s even more portable, to be sure.

    Yes, I’m a “rich kid” with a studio and a room full of synths, a big computer, a wall full of guitars, and more. There’s not much point hating me because of it, but if it makes you feel better, then please be my guest.

  4. I don’t hate it, but I’m not a horribly big fan of it either. My impressions of the sounds are that they’re okay but not sufficient for me to get excited about them. The lack of a proper keyboard is off-putting for those of us who actually like playing the black and whites. It doesn’t have proper MIDI ports (and I’m not a big fan of using USB). Hell, there isn’t even a 1/4″ output.

    It is superbly and beautifully crafted, but to me that’s not enough. I wish that the OP-1 team would hire themselves out to the Korgs or Yamahas of the world to improve their interfaces and add a dollop of design nous to their instruments.

  5. No one gives a rat’s ass what the hardware was when you write a song. If the song sucks, your Moog that you used to write the turd has thus been useless. Write a good song and oh wow, people want to know what you used.

    This site attracts geeks with their heads up their butts on this matter. Write a good song and people will care about your hardware aesthetics…maybe. Otherwise, stop bitching, you’re just being one of those hipsters your complaining about.

  6. I think It’s a lot about cost, necessity and usability in a single package. I really think that they tried to squeeze too much into one little piece of equipment. While it’s somewhat of a technical marvel, it just doesn’t have much of a place in today’s market. People love cheap little instruments such as the Monotron that they can just slip into their pocket. If they want to drop a decent amount of coin for a portable device, an iPad would be much cheaper than the OP-1 and give the user quite a bit in return.

    The OP-1 just doesn’t really add much to one’s setup as whole. Being that it’s an all digital setup, there’s nothing that a computer couldn’t do at the same price. There are also various types of small midi controllers on the market that can find into a backpack if the user is looking for a tactile interface. I just feel that Teenage Engineering tired to reinvent the wheel as a jewel encrusted piece of art. Sure, it’s cool to look at but it’s just not very practical.

    1. A “technical marvel” that lacks basic 1/4 inch outputs & MIDI (which has been around since the early 1980’s). WTF is so technologically marvelous about that? That was a deliberate choice on the part of the designers. High end prices w/o high end features. A real musician would never take this thing seriously. They’ve create less of a musical instrument & more of an overpriced “toy”/novelty. Something that belongs in a Neiman Marcus catalog.

  7. I know I’m sticking my head in the fire here, but I feel compelled to risk it to stick up for a product that I whole heartedly believe in. I own an OP-1 (since June) and am inspired by it every time I pick it up. I understand the complaints about it, but it seems like they are by-and-large coming from people that have never used the thing. Just check out the forum and observe the overwhelmingly positive reactions. The thing really runs deep, and nearly every time I use it, I figure out another cool way to implement it. It’s not going to replace your Moog, laptop, electric guitar, or cocker spaniel, but it is going to offer you something new and different that the others don’t. It’s very hands-on and intuitive, and considering how fleeting creative inspiration can be, this is huge. The keys get a lot of flack, but I love the way they feel and how they lend themselves to your standard key pressing, but are also really nice to slide your fingers across, which allows you to play it differently than a standard keyboard. The OP-1 has some really awesome sounds too, sounds that I haven’t been able to replicate with any synth I’ve used. It is so easy to sample with and manipulate those samples. I didn’t think much of the included FM radio when I bought it, but once I started using it for sampling, it became a hugely useful sonic tool.
    I could go on about how awesome the tape recording function is (I know it’s not going to change the world, but it’s really freaking cool), or how easy it is to use and carry around… but I think I’ll just wrap this up with one of my favorite things about the OP-1 and that is its character. It’s a unique sounding, feeling, and designed instrument. It has carved out a spot in my workflow and even added a new subcategory of production workflow that is a refreshing change of pace to all the others I’ve employed in my life. Sometimes I play my guitar, sometimes I work in Ableton Live, sometimes I play the drums or piano, and sometimes I play the OP-1. It is its own thing, and a beautiful one at that.

    Don’t hate on me too bad, maybe I drank the Kool Aid or maybe I’m just happy cause my OP-1 came with the girl in the ads : P

  8. I stick my my argument that the OP-1 represents a sort of aspirational hyperconsumerism (perhaps best demonstrated by Apple), which just makes music technology less accessible to anyone not middle class, hip and wealthy, in the long run. It also sets a worrying trend where developers rush to create products that appeal to a sense of aesthetic rather than trying to actually innovate and open up music to people. It’s all well and good saying “I spent a grand on X, because the trendy design inspires me” – but it just leads to a tech culture that alienates those who do not (or can’t afford to) buy into that sort of nonsense.

    I wish people would simply think a little more critically about their purchases, if only for the sake of their own wallets. There’s something odd about technology deliberately setting out to be ’boutique’ before it even goes on sale. To me, it just seems, elitist, unnecessarily exclusive, horribly cynical and inauthentic. I’m not saying the OP-1 is the first piece of equipment to do this, but it’s certainly the most blatent. It’s just a shame many musicians aren’t above petty fashion.

    1. I agree totally with your comments and have posted a number of things recently in a similar vein.
      Good to see a critically astute voice.
      When music is the hands of the working class, be it rock and roll, techno etc that’s when it cooks.
      This bland techno fetishism is class based bollocks.

      The idea that music tech and music is apolitical is comical. Ken Macbeth (synth manafacturer) is happy to tell us his equipment is assembled by companies working in the arms trade!!Good to see criticism.

      1. Just look at how that Beat Kangz groovebox thing has been recieved by the (white, non hip-hop) electronic music community. It has been, quite rightly, ridiculed for being incredibly over priced and for exploiting a certain aesthetic to justify that. I also seem to remember the readers of this site reacting in an elitist, borderline racist, manner to a piece of (very reasonably priced) autotune/beatmaking software – seemingly because its market didn’t happen to fall into their own particular cliche.

        I don’t think it’s crazy or overanalytical to point out the massive amounts of snobbery and inequality that still exist in electronic music. I also think it’s fair to say that deliberately ’boutique’ pricing and manufacturing exposes and appeases that attitude.

    2. Your comments don’t make much sense.

      First of all, why do you think Apple has anything to do with the OP-1? It’s like you’re trying to make this into a Mac vs PC debate or something.

      The OP-1 may be nicely designed and attractive to some people, but it looks nothing like anything that Apple has ever designed, nor does it look like anything that they would design.

      Anyone that thinks that the OP-1 is overpriced simply has no concept about what it takes to manufacture something like this. It may not deliver good value to you, but that doesn’t mean it’s overpriced – it means it’s a niche product.

      I’ve got synth modules that cost more than the OP-1, and they don’t even make any sound by themselves. I don’t think that they are overpriced – they’re just expensive because you can’t make niche products cheaply.

      Do you think it’s ‘aspirational hyperconsumerism’ to want to have a nice modular synth or a vintage keyboard?

      I’d call it ‘enjoying life’.

    3. Jesus Christ. I don’t understand all this ‘societal baloney’ to borrow a phrase from another post. All this talk of alienating people is ridiculous. There are plenty of things out there that are affordable if you want to get creative, but not every manufacturer has to adhere to those principles, that would be like communism. Besides, creative people don’t need an excuse to be creative, because true creativity is backed by a ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ attitude, look at what has come out of the favelas in Brazil for instance. There are also plenty of instruments that are way more expensive than this little synth. How many aspiring musicians will ever get to own a Steinway grand piano for instance? Or even a Gibson guitar? Should they not bother making those because only the upper classes and rock stars can afford them? This OP-1 just another tool, another approach and when in the right hands (i.e. of non-judgmental creative people) it will be used to produce great things. Non creative people with crippling hang ups are the types that slag off a piece of gear before doing anything great with it, probably because they know they could never do anything great with it, so they just stick to what they’re good at – spreading negativity. All these bitter rants about rich kids and hipsters seems like a cover up for that. Also, the idea that ‘all of this can be done in a computer’ is the kind of over rationalised mentality that can make music boring and rigid, treating the art of music making as a sensible and practical endeavour. Truly creative people don’t bitch about gear, just like a good workman doesn’t blame his tools. Sure rich hipsters will buy into this instrument, but they also buy guitars, moogs, laptops and ipads… does that mean all of those are elitist tools too? Allowing the hipsters to taint your opinion of an instrument is counter productive, and totally defeatist. Teenage Engineering is a company making something new, forward thinking and appealing to creative people who enjoy an interface different to that of a computer, this isn’t some evil empire trying to take over the world, give them a break. There are so many non-productive whiners on the internet. Do something inspiring for a change. Remember people to this day still bitch about the Akai MPC samplers, yet it was used to produce some of the finest music to date when in the hands of someone talented, such as J Dilla. So listen to the music, not the whiners.

  9. I have one and I love it. I’m pretty poor FWIW, I put it on a credit card and I’m selling off some unused synths to pay off the bill.

  10. What? Nine previous comments and of them 2 owners who both seem to like the promo duct. The rest are “impressions” and opinion based on no actual experience with the instrument. Much the same as all of the Kronos bashing that happened here before they were even shipping.

    I must say that I find it curious that people can have such strong negative opinions about something they have never even played.

  11. Disregarding all the ultimately unnecessary baggage of what the synth may or may not represent, I simply have not heard anything that I personally like come out of that synth. If I did, then I would buy it. I don’t write off a synth simple because it is digital. Nor do I covet a synth simply because it is analog. I also don’t believe any synth is “just a toy.” Slapping that label on a piece of gear wreaks of limited creativity, imho. I personally know a few veterans that can make any synth sound good. Don’t get me wrong. I possess a fair amount of resentment towards hipsters and what they’ve done to synth prices, but that shouldn’t have any bearing on the quality of the product.

    The $850 price tag, however, does, and it simply isn’t worth it, especially since I think it sounds bad. I’m not going to get bent out of shape over other people spending their money on it, though.

    1. Excuse me, but I had the perception that since they were invented, synth prices have steadily gone down, not up. Nowadays buying a decent hardware synth, digital OR analog is cheaper than ever. Not sure that hipsters have anything to do with this, but if this is their doing you should be grateful. Unless you are a bad person, that is.

      1. From the 70s, definitely.. but I would argue that synth prices have been pretty constant since the 80s. Please remember that the Yamaha CS-01 debuted in 1982 for about $300, and it is a very capable synth. What I was referring to is the sudden spike in the cost of vintage gear. I’ve seen the cost of some vintage gear almost double in the past 5 years. Living in NY, I don’t underestimate the Power of the Hipster. I’ve seen what they’ve done to the cost of rent in Williamsburg since the late 90s, and I’ve also witnessed individuals coveting synths that are older than them simply because “it looks cool” with no idea as to what it can or cannot do. That is what I am referring to. Not the retail cost of modern synths. In the end, all of this noise about the OP-1 is just about money. I agree with the poster that remarked that if it was $300, we would not be having this conversation. My original point is let people buy what they want to buy and covet what they want to covet. If that makes me a bad person, then so be it.

    2. You don’t like any of the sounds from it? Fair enough maybe you need to get your ears checked and finally produce music people like.

    1. Oops, make that – I was delighted to discover that Mr. Mishra/White Town had such a synth-tastic (if sparsely updated) blog. I’m now officially a fan.

      And whoever owns – you should stop wasting it! 😀

  12. I think it looks cool and it’s workflow seem very instant and inspiring.

    However, all the demos and user tracks I’ve heard sound like utter shit! So much nonsense being made on this machine. Please, someone, pin point me to at least one awesome catchy song made on this machine..Also I think the synth engine sounds a bit thin and too metallic.

    But as I said, it looks super fun to play with and if I was a rich hipster kid (like described by a previous poster) I would probably buy it.

  13. thats ridiculous, its only two octaves, cheap plastic korg-like look, but the prize ???? are you kidding?

    we are in 2011, everyone knows thats just a logicboard and some DSPs in a fancy plastic housing, and they charge how much for that ? 800?^^

    but the biggest complain is the sound, please someone upload a song thats made with it, because what i heard so far from it sounds like i rather by an ipad2 and buy every music app available inthe app store and still have money left for a cheap midikeyboard ^^

    1. I owned one for about a week. It’s NOT made from plastic. It’s an aluminum unibody and is quite heavy for its size. The build quality is the best I’ve ever seen in a synth. I sold it because my cat racked up serious vet bills just after I bought it, otherwise I would have held onto it. The sounds are quite nice and very tweakable. The tape feature is just a little too inexact for my tastes.

  14. I can see that this thing lands in a few art and design museums like some other pieces of not so modern anymore technology did. To me it’s a design study and an art piece. Obviously a great conversation starter as well. It certainly looks like it’s great publicity for Teenage Engineering. Being compared with Apple in terms of design or success in certain segments of the population that have disposable income is not the worst thing that could happen. I wish them luck and perhaps we’ll see an instrument using similar technology for the rest of us “brought to you by the makers of the infamous OP-1.” 😛

  15. I believe that Teenage Engineering is trying to create a strong pro/against feelings in their marketing in order to build some kind of fanboy/cult status of the OP-1. Witch is probably the wisest thing to do since they are a small actor with a premium product directed to hipster street musicians.
    If they succeed or not will be interesting to see. My next hardware purchase will not be a OP-1 but probably an Octatrack, another piece of expensive premium hardware from a small swedish actor. (The hipster factor is smaller though).

  16. Hey, thanks for the mention! Obviously, the OP-1 is the Marmite of the synth world. And I love Marmite! 🙂

    One thing though: I’m in no way a hipster. I’m a middle-aged, porky Indian bloke. Lifelong geek and, yes, synthlover. Hipster ~ no. 😛

    To each their own, eh?

  17. There’s an adorable level of “teenage engineering is waging class warfare against me” in these comments. Nobody cares to mention how moog could sell their products for 1/2 the price?

    I really think the design aesthetic and workflow, combined with the price, rubs (some) seasoned producers the wrong way, because they cant picture paying anything over $50 for anything because it’s not a VST that integrates with ableton.

    Just because something is expensive doesn’t mean the world hates you.

  18. Anyone have any links to music they have made with the op-1? I would love to hear it since I have never used one. However, it seems that the most innovative aspect of the device is the unique and almost effortless work flow. As for all the individuals crying ‘hipster’ this, and ‘hipster’ that, maybe you should spend less time getting angry over an entirely abstract label and spend more time being creative. 🙂

  19. if you’re Richie Rich, and need a synth / conversation piece to put on your designer coffee table, the OP-1 is the synth of choice considering its aesthetic and price. You can even brag to your stockbroker turned ‘artist’ friends, about how much you paid for something that looks like a casio VL-1.

    personally, i wouldn’t have such venom for the OP-1 if it were reasonably priced for $500.

  20. I never had an OP-1 in my hands so I’ll only say that I’d love to try one, since it looks like lots of fun.
    Actually I believe that these kind of instruments shouldn’t be dismissed as toys rather praised as such. But that’s only the subjective perspective of someone who’s never tried the actual device.

    This said I think the discussion here is more about another topic. It’s about aesthetics, about what is hip and which visual language represents someone or doesn’t. Teenage Engineering like Apple chose to apply a very trendy, slick, fashion conscious design to their instrument. This makes it end inevitably in the hipster corner, and from a certain perspective rightfully so. The problem is that’s what hipsters like, I can imagine some hipsters I know buying an OP-1 because it looks cool and so they can play electronic music artist at home. The other problem is that the visual language of the OP-1 is also widely used for expensive and utterly useless lifestyle accessories, which again makes the instrument look like that.
    On the other hand, these aesthetics are what made a lot of people buy a mac, and still this doesn’t mean the mac con’t be a computer you can do useful things with, or that you need to be a hipster to buy one. Sure it is a lifestyle accessoir for some people, but in the end it’s just what you do with it.
    So I think many people just don’t like the looks of the OP-1 and jump to conclusions a bit too early.

    1. Stop right there, i couldn’t give a rats ass about ‘aesthetics’ you tell me a fun/expansive sounding synth that is portable not made of cheap crap and can make songs on with a lot of cool effects.

  21. It is bizarre how an electronic instrument can become the catalyst for a socio-political debate. Some here make it sound almost criminal for Teenage Engineering to create a beautifully engineered product and market it as such. What on earth would these folks have said in 1981 at the introduction of the Fairlight CMI? Elitist? Over-hyped, over marketed? Just a computer with a keyboard?

    As for the comments of “hyper-consumerism” and calling out Apple as a company that has helped forward a trend that puts music production out of reach of the everyman, that is hogwash. Music production is more accessible and more affordable today than any point in history. A $300 laptop and a pile of freeware of coverware is enough to produce a solid demo or indie track. A $200 iPod Touch and a few dollars worth of software puts a studio in your pocket. “Hyper-consumerism” certainly has its evils, but being a barrier to entry for producing music is not one of them.

    Finally, for all the people railing at the price of the OPC-1, you’re missing the point. It isn’t a Casio. Have you read the specs on this thing? The grade of materials and engineering in this device warrants the price tag. The actual users of the thing seem to back that up and then some. In the end, what does it matter anyway? You vote with your own wallet. Buy one or don’t, but it is silly to call it out just because you don’t want one.

    Peace, Love, and Music

    1. The Fairlight was extremely innovative, not to mention massive and complex for the time. But as I said previously – the OP-1 certainly isn’t the first piece of equipment to exploit musicians’ sense of ’boutique’.

      My problem with the OP-1 is simply that it set out to be a ‘premium’ product from the start. Would they really have compromised all that much in terms of quality and design if they used some slightly cheaper to manufacture materials? I’m pretty skeptical.

      I don’t think hyperconsumerism is a barrier to music creation – but I think it serves to reinforce a sort of economic and cultural division in electronic music, where people buy into an aesthetic with their equipment, and end up quite stubborn about it. As I mentioned above – look at how the Beat Kangz Beat Thang was recieved. They made an unnecessarily ‘premium’ product, because they know there is an audience who will pay for that design … and it was torn to shreds because of that …on this very site.

  22. Obviously, people have problems with the price… people with little to no understanding of the cost of production, or value of physical hardware. Basically, the unemployable, stolen videogame generation. Which explains, in spades, their lust for inexpensive plugins and shitty apps, of which are in abundance.

    Oh, ‘booo’, yourself… that’s my generation!

    1. that’s a pretty big assumption. probably true in some cases, but definitely not all. perhaps others are opposed to the price because they have used premium gear. what can it do that a $400 VA cannot? I would take a $400 Blofeld over it with absolutely no hesitation….and it’s made of metal, too.

      I would argue that it’s actually the video game generation that is willing to shell out close to $900 for it. I was interested in the synth. I signed up for the beta. I have not heard anything I like come out of it, and all interest rapidly died when I saw the price tag. It’s not worth it.

      1. Where have you seen a Blofeld for $400? And have you noticed it has no user interface to speak of compared to the OP-1? I’ve been looking for a good tool/sequencer I can manipulate on the fly for a long time and in that regard the OP-1 looks drool-worthy. Something is lost in the act of programming a sequencer like my old RM1x. *Intuitive* is my holy grail.

        But for $800, the OP-1 is out reach for me too, at least for the cost/benefit ratio.

    1. Hmm, that’s clearly where your money is going. It reminds me of the legend of a silicon valley company that was considering a $200K+ marketing campaign, but decided instead to blow the money on a Ferrari that the employees could borrow and drive around. Some would complain and say “stupid company – they should have just given everyone a $2000 bonus instead” but hey, company Ferrari that I can borrow and drive around? That’s just cool.

  23. dogz b off da chain in dis mutha! i bin wanten de OP-P sence foever. i gonna sell some chainz and pimp dem hos to by me som OP-P anda Beatkangz. I is gon b da badest gangstar on da blok wit my tight-azz expancve equipmant. h8ters h8te but da playahs win da game.

  24. I just recently got one and I think it’s great! I’ve owned many varieties of synth big and small many boutique, but thats what it is. It’s a niche synth , that’s particular features are appealing to peoples sense of nostalgia for squrkie and unique, its not promising to replacing your entire synth collection. Many of my first home studio purchases share similar likenesses, and in many ways the same gear lust emotion. The OP-1 is what you wish you first synth could of been if you were playing with video games and cheap mass-market musical instruments during the eighties.and that why its cool,but…why it’s awesome is that the OP-1 takes you into a different zone of working than other modern synthS, and that is it’s fun…it’s inviting to noodle with and come up with new and unique tones and aproaches to sound ideas. It sounds like a futuristic chip synth! It is expensive, but for me it’s worth it, I love different synths for different reasons and I love this simply because it’s really pleasing to my ears and a real blast to interact with… Isn’t that the whole reason to playing with electronic instruments in the first place…

  25. The best music isn’t about tech specs and price tags or whether or not you look like a hipster. I own several other synths and normally play on an Akai mpk 49. Would I use this over my laptop with ableton + komplete 7? Hell no, it doesn’t have a built in eq or compressor. Do I use it to sketch out song ideas when they come to me? Hell yah, good ideas can be fleeting in music. The op-1’s generative midi capabilities are novel and pretty damn awesome as a computer midi controller. The amount of times this feature alone has pulled me out of musical ruts and is already more than 30.

    My best work doesn’t come from having every sound imaginable at my fingertips or being able to reroute midi/sound into anything I want, it comes when it wants and always when I feel the groove. The op-1 FEELS great.

    I made this track on my first day as an op-1 owner after only doing 4 months of music.

    Is it the best song I’ve ever made/could make, fuck no, that bar raises every day. But I was able to noodle this out in record time because of the unique work flow, and that counts for something.

    Bring on the trolls.

  26. The best music isn’t about tech specs and price tags or whether or not you look like a hipster. I own several other synths and normally play on an Akai mpk 49. Would I use this over my laptop with ableton + komplete 7? Hell no, it doesn’t have a built in eq or compressor. Do I use it to sketch out song ideas when they come to me? Hell yah, good ideas can be fleeting in music. The op-1?s generative midi capabilities are novel and pretty damn awesome as a computer midi controller. The amount of times this feature alone has pulled me out of musical ruts and is already more than 30.

    My best work doesn’t come from having every sound imaginable at my fingertips or being able to reroute midi/sound into anything I want, it comes when it wants and always when I feel the groove. The op-1 FEELS great.

    I made this track on my first day as an op-1 owner after only doing 4 months of music.

    Is it the best song I’ve ever made/could make, fuck no, that bar raises every day. But I was able to noodle this out in record time because of the unique work flow, and that counts for something.

    Bring on the trolls.

  27. I don’t understand what the issue is, really. I know a couple of people with op1s and they love them, but it’s not for me. An iPad and a hundred bucks worth of apps can do waaaaay more (nano studio, ims20, animoog, bm2, meteor, multitrack daw, etc)

    As for “aspiraional hyper consumerism” – be grateful you live in the technological wonderland you do. I came through the music industry in a time of giant studios and analogue tape. Where I used to work, a day in the studio cost about three grand. An engineer was another grand. 48 track analogue tape (2 reels of two inch) was 800 bucks for 15 minutes recording time.. For the equivalent of one days recording time you can buy a laptop, logic/cubase/tools, a few soft synths, an interface, an okay mic, some monitors, and a crummy guitar . If you’re careful, you can make a totally amazing album with that.

    The op1 is pretty expensive (as pointed out elsewhere this is because it is a low volume niche product), but generally speaking music making has been democratised by technology to an insane degree.

    And, not to start a flame war, but apple makes products that are actually pretty cheap for what they are. A mac pro is insanely expensive compared to its pc counterpart for sure, but the laptops, iMacs, etc are not that much more expensive, especially when you consider resale etc, and the iPad Is the same price as a Samsung or Motorola tablet with the same specs. The apple tax is kind of a myth. Please don’t respond with “look, I can get this dell with the same CPU for half the price” because it doesn’t wash. you don’t get the os, you don’t get the ease of use, an yep, you don’t get the design. that may not important to everyone, but it is to some people. and not all those people are dicks.

  28. Yeah, for what it’s worth, if we are talking about hyper-consumerism surely buying a laptop or ipad is a far worse choice. You are buying a very expensive electronic device knowing as you buy it that this is not goingto bethe last one you will buy, hell it may only last a few years, and will then be next to worthless and you will buy another. The computer industry is fickle, yes Steinberg recently rereleased some “classic” bits of code, but what about people that bought notator for the atari? How has the value held up for their purchase?
    Yes, this is not a plugin, it’s an actual physical object, why should it cost the same as a software product. You could buy it, make an album worth of material with it, then sell it for as much (in some cases more) then you paid for it.
    In terms of it’s worth as a musical tool, it’s creative, unique, beautiful, elegant to work with, imposes healthy creative limits, can be used anywhere, and sounds great. That sounds like all the winning characteristics of a great (possibly timeless) musical instrument.
    It doesn’t fit everyones expectations of what a synth is, but it’s also redefining what a synth and the role of a synth, can be. Sounds great to me.

    It’s just a fun box. You play it for 10 minutes, and you get some quirky sounds out of it. Just like any other instrument, I suppose. For sound design, it’s been a handy tool for me. The synth algorithms are just plain odd, it has no proper filter emulation, and is a bit pricey. But after playing it for the first 15 minutes, I knew it was special. An iPad can do everything the OP-1 does, plus lots more. But the OP-1 definitely has it’s own mojo.

  30. It looks like it would be a lot of fun. I love the design and the groovey programs I’m seeing. But my iPad can do most and more than thi, so for me and my tight income to justifie a buy like this it would have to be like half what there asking.

  31. I sense much projected anger in this post…much anger.

    I had one, now I do not. Like a wolf driven from it’s valley by the cold lick of a shotgun, technology had come between me and my feast.

    It may bear fruit to those who value its limitations, but those who seek comfort in it’s beauty will be engulfed within the cold, dark breath of oblivion.

  32. So I bought one of these used on eBay, still spending well over what I would usually pay for any piece of hardware. As a matter of fact, I’m the type of guy that likes to push cheap plastic boxes to their limit (Roland D2, Korg EM-1, Zoom ST-224). I don’t know, there was just something about the OP-1 that appealed to me. It was like a Yamaha QY10 on steroids. I thought the built-in speaker and built in microphone were cute, but ultimately useless. The internal battery is great…until it inevitably dies on you at some dark point in the (hopefully) distant future. The build quality is excellent, a very important factor in my decision to buy something so expensive. It sounds great to me. The synths are rich and varied enough to squeeze out pretty much any sound I want and the drums are fat and gritty (I only wish it had mute groups for the hi-hats). I’ve been looking for any excuse to throw it back on eBay, but the bottom line is…I’ve made some really interesting music with it. Not to mention the fact that I can set a loop range, run my little mixer into it, and loop guitar, bass, vocals…Did I mention the tape recorder yet? The tape recorder is just amazing. Speed things up, slow things down, record in reverse, then resample the results and make a new polyphonic synth and/or drum kit instantly! Plug it into your computer and you have four tracks ready to be edited in your DAW. It’s funny, right before I bought this, I had just purchased a Korg PadKontrol to use with Reason on my laptop. Sure, that’s the affordable route, right? SO WHAT! HARDWARE IS FUN! I sold three or four old pieces of gear that were just sitting there, gathering dust and I’m not looking back. I don’t want a “collection”, I want to make music. Teenage Engineering has seemingly read my mind and created a product that helps me create music…weird, beautiful music.

  33. The fact the design nods to the toy aesthetic seems to make people angry that it’s not cheap. However thing thing has tons of character and potential way beyond making hipster music (what’s that? I don’t know actually!).

    Take one element (experimental sequencers, tape rec emulation) and put it in a big box with wooden end cheeks for the same price and it would be coveted as a bootique item of gears lust.

  34. Just got mine today, and to all the haters out there.. shove it, cause this thing is actually amazing. It’s priced higher than the electribe style grooveboxes out there, and there’s a good reason for it, the sound engine in this thing, from my first few hours of use, is nothing short of brilliant. It’s got some real oompfh to it. The device itself is VERY impressively designed. It’s heavy and feels solid and durable, the screen is beautiful (way better than what you get on most high end workstations, although much smaller, ofcourse) and easy to understand. The way everything on it is layed out is so intuitive, never owned any product that made this much sense right out of the box. And it doesn’t even do stuff the way most synths do, which makes it even more impressive. It kind of has the feel that I got from my Waldorf Blofeld($699 on sweetwate as of writing), only way more intuitive and with TONS more features. Sure, the Waldorf has a more flexible sound engine in certain aspects, but it’s still just a module that you can’t bring with you to any extent. You can, but you’ll also need a laptop and a keyboard to use it.
    As for the keys on the OP-1 itself, they aren’t awesome, but they are totally functional, and take noe space and are (seemingly) indestructible. When you get home and need to use some “real keys” you just hook it up to your DAW of choice and have at it. Works like a charm. This thing is the perfect piece for any tiny portable studio setup. This, an ipad with TouchOSC or Lemur and a macbook/PC Laptop with Ableton or whatever you like.. You’re pretty much set to go. Add a Microkontroller style keyboard if you feel the need for some pressure sensitivity, which you probably do if you’re making anything but trance and house.

    I think that the reason so many people are passionately hating on this thing is the same reason people are passionately hating ANYTHING that actually looks good and has been laid out with some forethought. The parallel to Apple isn’t a bad one, they also put some thought into how they design their stuff, and people hate them for it, no idea why that EVER became a thing. One would think that excellent design would be something people would crave, not ridicule… But it seems like people would rather buy a bunch crappy component crammed into a crappy case and sold for $100 bucks less than something designed properly.. Just look at Behringer, they copy other products, sell them for next to nothing and people go “meh, that’s allright.”

    I’d rather skip the boozing for one weekend and buy the deluxe model of ANYTHING rather than buy the klunky less functional version.. Guess I’m spechul.

    Also, to the guys dissing apple, I am a PC and Apple user. I use Windows for EVERYTHING aside from music creation, which means I spend 90% of my time at my WinPC because of gaming/browsing/movies/etc. – I bought a mac after a few years of super sketchy audio drivers on Vista (wonderful OS..) and I’ve never gone back to the PC for audio ever again. The fricken built in imac soundcard has lower latency than I managed with a firewire M-Audio interface under Vista.. That pretty much says all you need to know about how well the audio API worked for that OS.. They say Win7 is smoother but I really don’t care. They’ve screwed me, if apple screws me I’ll go back, but Core Audio/Core Midi are just.. You know.. Well designed.. So I went for the deluxe version, yet again.

    PS: The built in imac sound card does not work well with many tracks, that’s kinda obvious, but for small projects it’s fine, especially if you’re doing VST based stuff where you don’t need preamps and whatnot.

  35. Casio VL-1 sold for $150 back in the 1980. If you account for inflation, the same product would cost $400 today. The OP-1 does way more than the VL-1and is probably worth the $800. It looks sexy.

  36. This object is a tool, but it’s also a work of art. The simplicity and design are so intuitive, so beautiful, that long after its creators have died, humans will continue to use it to make new and original music. It stands alongside the mini moog and the tenori-on and even the Les Paul guitar as an innovation AND an object of lasting beauty. I would invest in one with confidence that it will gain value and be useful to many generations to come. Tell me which Korg will be in a museum? Which Waldorf? Which iPad app? If you can’t see the brilliance and merit of this device, instead of saying “I resent it and everything it stands for”- how about saying “I’m just not ready for this. My brain cannot comprehend the full implications of this object. ” which happens a lot in history and it’s still happening now. If you don’t understand this device, don’t blame it!

  37. What aload of shite some of you guys write.
    Comparing the op1 with vintage gear, iPads & daws.

    Most people make music using multiple amounts of different gear at the same time.
    The op1 rocks for portability and strange sequncers etc.
    It’s the ear not the gear:-)

  38. What people may be missing here is that the unit runs on a chargeable battery like the ipad and can run for quite a while making it unique in that it is a portable music making machine that you can use on the sofa, in bed, on your travels etc..
    I think in a few years the big companies will be making rechargeable battery powered grooveboxes for music making on the go.. I don’t own one of these because I haven’t got that excited about the sound of any of the demos I heard and also it is quite pricey but I think the premise of the machine is valid and definitely usable for many.

  39. Schnüff. The new Krome 61 is 999,-€ and the OP-1 is 795,-€ :p
    I wish it would be 399,- like the Novation Mininova. I would buy it (OP-1) because it´s amazing.
    And some M50 are now 799,-€ Of course I am comparing Apples with Oranges.
    I love both.

  40. Bought one. Is it the greatest sounding synth ever? Hardly. Does it take some time to understand how to use it? Yes. There is a learning curve you have to climb (RTFMb) but there is definitely something about it that is just fun to use. It’s like experimenting with my old Casio sampling synth in the 80’s. “Let’s go sample me banging on the camp stove.” Then mangle that sound into something fun and start laying down (basic) tracks. It’s a great music sketchpad. As for the cost, it’s expensive because it’s definitely over-built. Someone was complaining about the 3.5mm line out on it…I’ve seen a lot of flimsy 3.5mm jacks and this is not one of them. The plugs on this thing feel like jacking into medical equipment. Very *very* solid. I’d spend a couple weeks with one before slagging on it’s “concept” or “value proposition.”

  41. its funny that most people dont even slightly get the point. its about the limitations that chalanges your creativity. its about being crative and not about endless routing filtering and other technical stuff you tend to do on your computer.

    1. yes! i guess i have my most creative moments when i just have a cheap yamaha synth, my guitar and a 4 track tape recorder. endless fun. nowadays after i start up ableton i just stare at the screen for 5 minutes and shut it down again … 🙂

  42. The OP1 is truely an innovative digital synth. I had some good time with it , altho’ i deciced to sell my OP1 & went for that old Jupiter6 which costed me as much as the OP1.

    1. So then you got a Jup 6 for around $800ish??? Did you buy it from a crackhead? LOL Jup 6s go for $3,000+. You got a really good deal.

  43. On one hand the OP-1 feels like it could be a device that democratises the music making process.

    On the other; it’s an expensive, over engineered, luxury item – marketed exclusively at hipster douche-bags.

    I wonder why people hate on it?

  44. The Beatles made Sergeant Pepper’s with a Fourtrack.!
    King Tubby and Lee Perry changed everything with Fourtracks…
    The op-1 is an embarassment of riches…
    The message is the important thing but the OP-1 is one hell of a medium!

  45. Look! T.E. Listened to all the whiners looking for handouts and produced some budget analog synths. They will complain about those too, because, after all, it’s not really about making music as much as it’s about criticizing/bashing tools you don’t even use.

Leave a Reply