Teenage Engineering OP-Z Coming In May For $599

We haven’t seen an official announcement on this yet, but, it looks like the long-in-gestation Teenage Engineering OP-Z is coming soon, with some retailers listing it as available in May, priced at US $599.

The company says it’s smaller, but more powerful than their earlier OP-1:

With the introduction of the all new OP-Z, we will push the boundaries even further. this time the machine is so small we guarantee it will upset you.

it’s about half the size of OP-1, but comes with more dsp power that consumes less energy so now you can fly the atlantic 4 times back and forth, sequencing complete songs on 16 dedicated tracks before you run out of power. when ready to land, just slide it in your inner pocket.

still, OP-Z is about a lot more than just composing music. the Z stands for the third dimension, the depth, the creativity involved in making music. imagine animated art and videos that accompany your live show, or sequenced lighting, all the way down to composing your own interactive software. some people would call a device like this a dream machine.

we call it OP-Z.

Here’s a video intro to the OP-Z, from lead software engineer Jonas Åberg:

67 thoughts on “Teenage Engineering OP-Z Coming In May For $599

    1. Ahahaha, you MUST work for T.E. This little plastic toy is no where near worth $600, I’d be cringing if I even broke $100 for it in a shop.

      1. The value of a modern synth is the code it runs, not what the case is made from. It’s running a Blackfin DSP and sports a 16-track sequencer and versatile synthesis engine. But if you want to talk about the case… It’s made from IXef 1022, which is 50% glass fiber. Very tough, expensive, but gives the designer the flexibility of injection molding.

      2. Bob! I should have known you’d spot me! Clever you, eh? Spoiled! Ho ho. Of course I work for TE! Ha ha ha. I really will try harder the next time, you big spotter ya. He he he. You rock Bob! You rock! Yeah! ;P

  1. no screen doesn’t make much sense. this kind of falls in nowhere land imo. pocket ops and op-1 are stand alone, with this you might as well be using Ableton on a laptop.

    1. Respectfully disagree. Because it only needs a device for rendering part of the UI (and, critically, it looks like the performance-focused/playing parts of the UI are in the buttons), you can use an inexpensive device – such as a smartphone. And smartphones are pretty ubiquitous. And small. And tablets are getting smaller and cheaper.

      Ableton, on the other hand, and applications like it need a relatively powerful computer and usually attendant MIDI controllers.

      1. you can’t just use a smartphone, you have to use a iOS device. Currently Apple is the only device you can use with the OP-Z and I suspect you will need the latest iOS for it to run also.

    1. Hahahahaha, great addition to the conversation. My guess is your over 18. So many other things to dislike about beside an age gap.

  2. Exactly the price point I was predicting. Which, to be sure, is high for a screen-less, plastic-clad device, but it’s TE and they always hit premium price points.

    At a price higher than an iPad + a bundle of iPad software, it’s absolutely a niche device, but so was the OP-1.

    1. > At a price higher than an iPad + a bundle of iPad software, it’s absolutely a niche device, but so was the OP-1.

      Was initially thinking the same re: iPad. Could even get a used iPad, software bundle and a decent MIDI controller for around $600. But, your ‘but’ is spot on. This has always been true as compared to the OP-1 and they’ve had no problem selling those to many many happy/satisfied customers.

  3. For those concerned with the screen, Cuckoo did a great overview of using it without a screen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuzMG1Wt_pE

    One thing I just saw that I haven’t seen mentioned before: it will record without quantize and then allow you to use one of the encoders to dial in *quantize strength*. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that in a step sequencer like this.

    I’d rather have MIDI ports though. :/

    1. I really hope the OP-Z will be able to sequence external gear one way or another. If it can support something like the Circuit’s 3.5mm -> MIDI DIN connector, that would be ideal, but I’m guessing it’ll need something else to mediate.

  4. Teenage Engineering is one of the few companies that excite me. Extremely powerful, innovative, portable, and beautiful devices. I was watching Cuckoo’s demo on YouTube and in one of the comments, someone asked him how this device compares to the Digitakt. He said, if i’m not mistaken, that they have some similarities, but that the OP-Z is a more powerful device. I can not wait.

  5. Huh! A guitar doesn’t have a screen either but still performs..

    If you want a screen, stick to your Pokémon iPad terminal…

    To me, the opz should have a real keyboard, like the nord synths. Then it would be an obvious buy ..!

  6. TE has worst ever after sale service: any question? They won’t answer. Any request? Nope. No answer. They are worst ever company once you buy and need an advice. Their fancy looking “synths” are beated by cheap 5 usd apps on Ipad. Shame on this fancy hype beaten by less then 10 Usd apps on any platform like mobile Samsung and Iphone. TE is dead.

    1. Hmm maybe they ignore bitching. I contacted them twice. They got back to me, it took a few days but oh well, they were to the point, fair, and helpful.

  7. I guess the sequencer is quite powerfull but the haptics of the tiny buttons are crap. so whats the point of putting it into hardware? why just programm the stuff in a software app?

  8. “It has a guy dancing to the music.”
    Since it seems to rely on a device for part of the interface, how about a version with no buttons that just provides the programming and processing power?

  9. Everyone asked for an upgraded OP-1, this ain’t it.

    OP-2 with upgraded DSP and pressure sensitive keys would have made it for me. Perhaps midi sequencing on the “tape mode” as well.

    I’m not interested of pairing my phone with any devices.

    1. > I’m not interested of pairing my phone with any devices.

      Well said. I was (a) expecting an even more ridiculous price of €800+ and (b) a more independent device. There’s a bit too much childPad going on at the moment for my liking.

  10. I feel that this product will either be a hit or miss for T.E. it seems that either people hate it or people get very excited about it. I think the OP-1 has a high appeal (although never owned one, but I can see why I might).. It has all the components that make a great hipster synth. But the Z is very different, no ‘keyboard’ keys, no screen. Personally I think it might be a disappointing year for T.E. but we will have to see how it turns out.

  11. I find the idea great, we all carry pretty decent screens around with us. What would be nice and not expensive to make is a holder of some sort for the smartphone or tablet.

  12. I don’t pander to Apple so I have no Apple products to use with this. Do you think there are plans for an Android version? After all, there are a hell of a lot more Android products out there compared to Apple ones…

    The price of the OP-Z is a lot higher than I was expecting – TE mentioned a while back that it would be “competitively priced compared to the OP-1”.

    With both the display issue, the price and the gestation period of an elephant it’s all starting to be a bit meh to me at this point in time.

    1. I think a lot of people are missing the point. If you don’t want to spend the money, then don’t buy it. If you don’t want to pair it with your iPad (a fantastic music creating tool by itself), don’t get it. If you are interested in a powerful and unusual little synth from a company that is constantly trying to find where the edge is, this may be for you. People did the same amount of complaining about the op-1. I own one, and it is one of the most fun and inspiring instruments I have ever played.

      1. While some people are moaning about the high price I didn’t actually state that I wouldn’t buy it because of this. However, I did state that I was expecting it to be cheaper. I don’t own any Apple device and the OP-Z only pairs up with Apple products and no one else. This is what is giving me pause for thought, not the price.

        So in my specific case your statement should read “If you don’t have an Apple device then don’t buy it”… LOL

  13. I can appreciate the philosophy of BYOS but this has the potential to create a ton of service issues. I have an OP-1, several POs, and an OD-11. The OD-11 I bought second hand and learned the wifi didn’t work – this is pretty damning because there is otherwise no way to control the unit or update firmware. It depends on your mobile device or PC for everything and there’s no physical connection to do this, just wifi. I contacted TE support and they were of no help. I even asked if I could purchase a new MB to install myself – no dice. I asked if there was a way to reinstall the firmware directly but no. There are no service centers in the US either. In the end, I’m not blaming TE – I didn’t buy from them or one of their dealers. But the dependency on a phone or tablet is enough to scare me off but I can see why it appeals to so many.

    TE: you really need to contract with a service center in the US.

      1. I just got a new UI PCB and a new battery in my OP-1, from their repair service in the US for $140.

        That’s good. It came back in perfect shape.

  14. Surprised Apple is doing this but they say the iPad is the future of computers. I would like a VR synthesizer and I would climb inside and grab those sounds before they hit the keys.

  15. Seems like a cool device and concept. This is really on some “how music will be made in the future shit” But the price…TE has never really represented great value. Their gear is cool/kawai/inspiring yes all that, but overpriced for what you get.

  16. bring-your-own-screen is a pretty clever idea. anyone in the market for this certainly has a smartphone or tablet with a hi-res touchscreen better than any screen they would have put on it.

    the question is what happens to app support 5, 10, 20 years from now? i think it’s reasonable to expect that kind of durability from a $600 musical instrument.

    i like how the critter quitari organelle included an hdmi port, seems like that would be a good solution.

    1. Yeah, my original iPad is stuck on iOS 5.1 (meaning no security patches, so don’t connect it to the internet), the screen stopped working, and Apple won’t repair it, but there are certain music apps that run on it that won’t run on newer iPads that can’t run iOS 5.1! This is actually a legitimate concern. A mini-HDMI port wouldn’t be bad, but HDMI doesn’t support multitouch *input*, only video *output*.

      I think one solution might be to give the OP-Z an Ethernet port and enable you to control it via a web interface. Then you could control it with a web browser on any device, and it would probably keep working for a long time (consider that many old web pages from the 1990s still work in 2018, that it’s also easy to find old web browsers if you need to, and that Ethernet from that era also still works. WiFi would also work as it’s backward-compatible to 1999 but it tends to have security flaws and even HTTPS/TLS seems to have a short shelf life if you care about security.)

      1. Another idea might be to release open source control software for the OP-Z; then you might have a chance of porting it to whatever platform you might have in the future.

        1. As I noted, assuming you don’t care about security or reliability, or if you’re not playing live, wireless may be a good option.

          Unfortunately, wireless doesn’t provide great security, or reliability in the face of interference. Remember all of the failed, obsolete WiFi encryption standards? Remember WEP? WPA 1? Oh, but you can use end-to-end encryption, right? Remember SSL 1.0? SSL 2.0? SSL 3.0? TLS 1.0? All flawed. Security baked into firmware, and wireless security in particular, has a terrible shelf life. Regarding interference, 2.4 GHz WiFi and BlueTooth have serious interference problems – even from microwave ovens, and 5 GHz, while it has many more channels, still suffers from interference issues and increasing channel congestion. WiFi/BlueTooth also tend to introduce higher latency and jitter.

          Sure, WiFi and BlueTooth are great and all (except when they suck) and I’m not opposed to including them, but a wired Ethernet cable doesn’t have any of the problems I just described, so it’s going to be more secure and reliable for live performance and less susceptible to a host of very annoying problems. Moreover, it’s likely to work consistently and reliably for years. That’s why it’s a good option for music and audio applications.

          p.s. “Silly girl?” Seriously? Commenting on a writer’s presumed sex, youth, or levity isn’t a logical argument.

          1. this conversation makes me think of the guys from the Avalanches who had a bazillion samples and stems etc. on an old amiga (or maybe old apple II series). tech marches on. it takes a lot more skill to engineer a lasting modular box than it does to engineer a self contained unit. and even then it’s never going to have infinite longevity. anything with gel electrolyte capacitors has a ticking mortality clock too.

  17. Some my thoughts on this, I can say for sure that DSP code and algorithms invented and developed by TE are top class, sound and design were always great, but op-z and op-1 are based on same ideas – powerful synth engines, effects and innovative workflow, but after Cuckoo’s demo I feel that it’s much more complicated than op-1 and offloading visual features to another device (ipad, iphone) adds more complicated workflow. Learning curve will be long. Why to release similar product with reducing basic features?
    If they release upgraded op-1 with more memory, better/newer CPU and better keys, maybe with touch bar like in new macbooks will be a killer product and that’s what people wanted and ready to pay.

  18. I suspect that you will need an Apple device of some sort to upgrade the firmware on this. What about people who don’t want anything to do with Apple?

    What I want is a dedicated portable composer device that enables me to do music when I’m on the move – train, bus, coach, plane etc (No Laptops’s, might consider a mobile phone app). The OP-1 is almost there. The OP-Z would have been ideal if it wasn’t for TE’s fixation with Apple. The closest thing I’ve found to what I want is this: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/709332004/kdj-one-the-next-generation-portable-music-studio but it seems to be vaporware. Oh well, the search continues…

    1. I agree with you. It’s surprising that Apple don’t buy out TE or at least buy a good percentage of the company. Would be a smart move.

    2. I’ve actually found (and purchased) a dedicated portable composer device!!! It’s the Synthstrom Audible Deluge which has been mentioned on Synthtopia before. I just didn’t twig what type of device it was until last week. You have to order it from Synthstrom Audible who are in New Zealand but it only took 4 days to get to me here in the UK. It is EXACTLY what I was looking for and is fun to play/experiment with. Wholeheartedly recommend this to any electronic musician.


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