Teenage Engineering OP-1 Gets Price Cut For 10th Anniversary

Teenage Engineering OP-1 SynthesizerTeenage Engineering is celebrating the 10th anniversary of their OP-1 synthesizer, and has cut the price of the portable synth studio to $1,121, inspired by the device’s 2011-2021 life.

Here’s what TE co-founder Jesper Kouthoofd has to say about it:

“it all started with two prototypes. a clock radio and a synth. well, we decided to go with the synth and i guess we were right.

it was only david, me and jens back then, but we were soon joined by johan and david number two.’

i remember how we built the first prototype – an empty shell with a screen mounted on the inside. we squeezed into my honda element and drove all the way down to musik messe in frankfurt. and if i remember things right, emil was also with us at this time, but we really didn’t have a proper company yet so i guess he just joined the trip for fun.

the trade booth was just a black fabric backdrop and a table where we had placed the OP–1, under a thick piece of plexiglass. a computer under the table processed the graphics on the little oled screen.

it looked very real and the illusion even fooled ourselves as we estimated the launch just a couple of months away. (guess it was my fault, i am always a ’super-optimist’). well, it took us another two and a half years to complete it and here we are now, ten years after unit no. 01 was shipped.

the dream was to create a machine that lasted at least 20 years. we are halfway there… so big thanks and hugs to all of you. let’s celebrate ’halfway there’!”

The OP-1 inspired interest and controversy from the start, because of the way it combined a user-friendly, almost toy-like user interface with minimal design and powerful capabilities.

But 10 years later, the OP-1 is won Georgia Tech’s Margaret Guthman Award for instrument design, is part of the permanent collection of the San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art, and is still being sold.

10 years is a pretty good run for any synthesizer or other piece of consumer tech. Or as Kouthoofd notes: “Halfway there!”

Details on the OP-1 are available at the TE site.

61 thoughts on “Teenage Engineering OP-1 Gets Price Cut For 10th Anniversary

      1. nah! i’ve played with these before and even my old ipad air is capable of so much more musical possibilities let alone my ipad pro for sooooooo much less money!

      2. I wander why users on synthtopia are so bitter. Every single ad. Is it because you don’t need to sign up to join discussion? Use a legit email? Is it because it’s based on comments and not forum? Is this other brands disguised has a users? Is it like that on facebook too?
        I will never understand…

        1. Synthtopia comment sections, like most comment sections, become places for people with anger to let it out. They would be better served by going outside and taking a walk but it is easier to anonymously vent bile.

        2. As one of the occasionally grumpy ones, — but also a generally positive commenter most of the time- many of my negative comments might come from trying to balance out what I perceive to be “over-hype” in some marketing (or just general grouchiness about the B-word).

          That said, if I ever said anything critical about the OP-1, it may have been about the price– and perhaps how it would stack up against an iPad with a small controller.

          However, I continue to be fascinated by the OP-1, and the enthusiasm of many who have owned them convinces me the hype is warranted.

          1. I can see the grumpiness. For many, I’d say they have to try on out to get the idea. It’s built incredibly well (solid aluminum, great encoders, great screen) and its interface is one of the most clever I’ve ever seen in a consumer product. It emphasizes fun, experimentation, and creativity. Whenever I’m stuck on other equipment, the OP-1 helps break those logjams. I dig iPads for making music, but the OP-1 give a hands-on, tactile experience. It’s fun, and almost a piece of art. Andrew Huang’s video on whether you need one or not sums it up pretty well.

  1. The original price was 950$ so this is still way overpriced. Adding hundreds to the price and then ”cutting” it still over hundred dollars over the original does not seem so generous..

      1. Can you explain why you are adding in a G in your mind? Maybe you are the one with issues…His name only does harm if you alter it.

        1. Admin: Comment deleted.

          You’re using multiple names to spam the site (a N what?, Rug Peer). This leads to your comments being held for moderation, which is a waste of time for you and the admins.

          Use a consistent user name, contribute constructively and don’t waste the admin’s time.

          1. To be fair, if you choose to have a comment section that doesn’t require registration and install a system that flags any comment by anyone that doesn’t use a consistent username, you’re kind of asking for it

            Why not do either fully? Now you have no registration but expect people to behave as if there were, you can’t really fault your users for that or blaming them for ‘wasting your time’ when you’re the one who created the system that is wasting your time..

            PS I can’t even remember what bs I fill into the username field last to begin with! I don’t see the point in giving my actual e-mail address when there’s no need for one to begin with.

            1. sisyfuss

              Thanks for the feedback.

              We don’t require registration because we don’t want to force people to share private info when it’s unnecessary.

              Comments from first-time commenters are always held for moderation to ensure that they’re not spammers. We’ve done this for more than a decade, and Synthtopia’s comments are spam-free as a result.

              When commenters use multiple user names in order to post comments on an article as if they are multiple people, it’s often obvious and this sort of comment spam can be misleading.

              On the other hand, we’re not trying to penalize you or anybody else if you just can’t remember your username.

              If you use a new username on the site and there’s no pattern of maliciousness, your comment will just take a little longer to show up.

      2. It’s pretty obvious to everyone isn’t it?

        Aniger is a surname, originating from Ireland.

        And it’s not uncommon that people accidentally hold the shift key down too long and capitalize the first two letters of a word when they only meant to capitalize the first.

        1. I dunno Bat, and maybe your not being entirely serious, but as an irish person I’ve never come across that surname. There’s an Aungier Street in Dublin. At the same time I’m not an encyclopaedia of Irish names and there may well be a perfectly harmless reason for the name Aniger. I wouldn’t have thought twice about it if someone hadn’t pointed it out. And prob I shoulda saved my long winded reply for my head ?

  2. I sold mine about 4 years ago and have no regrets, it looked and felt amazing to use, but I never really bonded with the basic sounds or the sequencer. Replaced with iPad and Drambo, MiRack, Gadget etc. No doubt a desirable and successful synth, I enjoyed.owning it and sold it for the same I paid for it!

  3. Price cut? I don’t see it!
    All I see is a ridiculous jacked up price that they themselves created and that’s still higher than the original price.

    Would be nice if all these Youtube influencers stopped hyping this company and just called them out for their shitty marketing nonsense.

  4. The Op-1 is still one of the most versatile pieces of music gear you can have in your arsenal. It’s either pride or cost that makes people want to trash it. It’s always been expensive but worth it then that price hike was silly. I bought it at the original cost and never sold it, it does too many things to get rid of it, even down to plugging it into an iPad with a single usb cable and playing apps back onto its 4-track or using its many sequencers to control iPad apps.
    Don’t really need to understand why people hate on it, folks hate on everything, it’s 2021. I’m more suspicious when folks are surprised:)

  5. People are bitter because TE is a BS hipster marketing outfit who are not even ashamed of presenting a price hike as a “discount”. Hardware design and build quality are abysmal, knobs come off, buttons get stuck etc. etc. The OP-Z is worse, but the OP is not much better – aluminum or not. TE is a scam, period.

  6. Fantastic little machine, really fun and creative, but they really need to improve on the four-track recorder paradigm which is painful to use and sync with in practice.

  7. wasn’t it $600-700 when first introduced? It was still too expensive but today’s price is nothing like that! I really should have bought then, it was only possibly affordable..

  8. Had one just before the price hike. Bought from gear4music. It bricked after a firmware update. I contacted TE through their support portal and waited 22 weeks to be told that they had accidentally found my support request in the trash. Jerks. Anyways I told gear4music about their shitty support and they said they too often had trouble trying to get in contact with TE support. So they replaced it immediately with one of the newer pricier units. I immediately sold it on my local buy & sell and made a wee profit.

    It’s a lovely piece of gear to look at and hold. It even makes some surprisingly cool sounds. But the non utilitarian nature of many of the apps drove me away. I found the tape recorder infuriating to use. All I wanted was to be able to quickly loop ideas – but it was always a rigmarole with that thing. Loop always a bit off – chopped and clicky at end – no crossfade loop. If it had an alternative, more straight forward sequencer I might have kept it. But as with all things in the OP-1 – how it looks is more important than how it functions.

  9. they should celebrate by returning to it’s original price… then I might actually start to respect their company again… … maybe.

  10. I recall meeting Jesper at Musikmesse some ten years ago and seeing the OP-1, and when I did not hear from them again for some time, I thought the project had run its course as it does for many of these fledgling audio makers. However there was one unmistakable impression, teenage engineering was anything but sophomoric. There was a sophistication to their engineering and whilst many of the concepts and capabilities existed in many other equipment, it was yet to be seen, certainly in a hardware format.

    Whatever misgivings some may have about this instrument, this is a clever design and even more impressive that it remains in production to date and they have continued to support it. More than I can say for some venerable “classics”.

    This has never been for me however, I have derided it as a toy, and I have been wrong. I still do not like the sound, nor necessarily the controls, or even some of the design choices, yet it is an instrument unlike any other. Yes, an iPad is capable of far more, however this is a dedicated device with dedicated controls. It will not become obsolete based on its iOS. Congratulations to TE and their enterprising vision.

    1. It definitely looks nice and no doubt a future classic, but I wouldn’t consider them to be physically well engineered, there are lots of odd idiosyncronous design choices that just don’t fly, parts that are in positions just begging to be broken off (Think OP-Z Volume knob) that shouldn’t have passed any radar.
      Their products generally look lovely, but that does sadly seem to come at a price..

  11. I have one of the original OP-1 units. I was an early adopter. It’s sitting in a drawer, uncharged. I tried and tried, but never really got into it and actually gave it to my teenage kids to use. It is solid and beautiful, though.

  12. Most that have bought this at some point either sell it (which is good because it keeps its value or increases) or it just sits unused.
    A remarkable piece of design, hardware and creative operating system…BUT it does not integrate into your larger ‘system’ very well. You end up make “OP1 music” with it. Sure there are some hat have used it more serious….but why? Other tools are just better and easier…
    As it stands I use my Sonicware ELZ1 much more …as its synth engine is just more straight forward and useful.
    Even the Pocket Operators get more use/love than the OP1.
    Wonderful for a collector or for one that needs all the toys.

  13. Seems like false advertising to me. These used to be about £750 and that was at Gear4music a few years back before the price hike/rip off came down the pike. I considered it then as I was still wet behind the ears. A ‘return’ to celebrate would be to that price and i’m not seeing it. Probably a decent item for the ‘right’ price but as it currently stands it’s a hipster item at a rip of price and they know it.

  14. > The Op-1 is still one of the most
    > versatile pieces of music gear

    lol, sure. a backgammon board for chess players. /irony off

  15. Glad some like making music on a touchscreen (I can’t stand it), but I’m not going to come here and take a dump on their choices. And for those who think the OP-1 is limited compared to an iPad, it is, that’s the point, focus, avoiding the tyranny of options, for my workfrlow, it’s the most useful device I’ve ever owned. It’s not for everyone but it’s not a piece of junk either. Some of the criticisms people have made are very valid statements about how it doesn’t work for them. But it’s sad that some people seem to only feel good about themselves when ridiculing others. We should be positive, even when we disagree.

    1. I have mixed feelings about iOS/touchscreens. On one hand, the available software is impressively powerful and diverse. Working with a touchscreen is the worst part and it still just feels like a gimmick (even after over a decade of plugging away at it). Using a mouse with iOS certainly helps.

      I don’t feel the same way about “tyranny of options” but I get your point. Having hardware controls (vs glass rubbing) is appealing. Now these little keyboards with velocity and a few knobs & buttons are a pretty sweet spot. I think anyone can build a consistent system and put together their favorite hardware & software. At the end of the day it’ll be a loose pile of gear held together with gaffers tape (literally and/or figuratively). The OP-1 is a tidy little world.

      I’m curious how awesome that TE clock radio would have been. My current clock radio as lots of i/o and decent, front-facing, stereo built-in speakers.

  16. I generally prefer hardware to software, but I haven’t fallen in love with how the OP sounds. At that price point, a drum machine and a synth are way more fun. Apps are cheaper and easier to navigate, a tablet more useful.

    My Kaossilator 2 is quirky to use too, but sounds better to my ears, more portable, and far easier on the wallet.

    Knock at least 50% off the OP and I’d be interested tho.

    For now, I’d agree it’s overpriced and overhyped.

  17. I guess the main idea men left TE. They make one beautiful product, the OP-1, then keychain junk of the Pocket Lint series, tin junk synth that you do all the bending and breaking on, and a Sharper Image radio. I suppose they don’t make OP-2 because they can’t.

  18. It’s rare that a ten year old piece of gear causes such intense emotional reactions, and that it still polarizes as much now as it did when it was originally released. OP-1 is at number 8 of the Thomann sales charts today and is the third longest running synth in the top 100, only surpassed by Microkorg and Virus. That’s a remarkable achievement.

    1. > the third longest running synth in the top 100,
      > only surpassed by Microkorg and Virus.

      aah, the virus. i´d love to see a virus snow ti3 upgrade.

  19. Bought my OP-1 a few years agon on a Black Friday deal and would never sell it.
    It´s a special piece of hadware in my collection and always happy to play on it.

  20. Jesper and team, congrats on 10 years of a game-changing, desert-island synth! The best synth is “the one you have with you”, and this little guy has been everywhere with me, nearby and always ready to explore musical ideas or just tinker with the sounds and effects. It’s not the most capable, or most powerful, or best sounding piece of kit in my or others collections here, but it packs a lot of capability in a small energy-efficient package and has style and personality. Clearly others believe so or the price (new or used) would have gone down some time ago.

    For the haters, this may not be your instrument, but it’s not exclusively for hipsters. This is also a design fetish kind of object, same reason why people spend too much on sneakers, or cars, or Apple products. It also sets a high bar for portable music gear, and has influenced countless products since its release.

    So, TE dudes: go forth and release a more powerful version of this in the same footprint! the core tech is getting dated. Keep the price point and enhance the feature set (processor, memory, bluetooth, digital I/O, etc.). Your “Hipsters” are waiting.

  21. I did the math according to yearly inflation in Europe based on the category “All”, with inflation varying between approximately 2.6% and -0.3% anually. Counting inflation, given the OP-1 cost 750€ in 2011, it would cost approximately 860€ in 2021.
    I have no opinion on the hardware, gui nor sounds. Looks nice, is all I can say.

  22. I did the math according to yearly inflation in Europe based on the category “All”, with inflation varying between approximately 2.6% and -0.3% anually. Counting inflation, given the OP-1 cost 750€ in 2011, it would cost approximately 860€ in 2021.
    I have no opinion on the hardware, gui nor sounds. Looks nice, is all I can say.

    1. While this is fine and dandy.. The technology that is used in this product also gets older and thus cheaper (of course up to a certain point when it gets so old that it becomes more expensive again).

      Also the R&D should have been covered by now and the Chinese factories that produce these units can just churn out more and more without additional costs to setup a production line.

      All in all, the price should have been lowered by now. Taking into account the inflation, would result in roughly the original price of 750 by now. That’s the maximum I would pay for it now, if I was interested in buying one.

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