Hey guys! This time we are going to be reviewing the Teenage Engineering OP1 Synthesizer! We got sent this unit from the guys out in Stockholm, Sweden to review, and we were so impressed, we went ahead and made a few videos for you guys! Check out the videos below, and then read on for our brief review of this awesome little synth!
Teenage Engineering sent us an OP1 to review, and I must say, this is an impressive piece of hardware. The first thing I noticed was how easy and intuitive it was to just pick it up and start pressing buttons with little symbols. Everything just worked. The feeling was overwhelming, and immediately I had to change the type of review I was going to do; I wanted to convey the feeling I had when I opened the box and was making music 5 minutes later.
I approached two groups of musicians who I respect greatly, and are good personal friends of mine. I brought them the OP1 and said not to read any tutorials or anything, just take the instrument, and make a track with it while I film the process. It took a bit of scheduling, but we made it work, and this is what we made.
We were so thankful for OP1 to show faith in our blog, and as musicians and hackers alike, we greatly respect the product they have made, and fully endorse the work they have put into it. Its all there; the craftsmanship, the materials, the attention to detail and the software support are second to none. The staff were very quick to answer our emails, and had everything mailed to us all the way from Stockholm, Sweden in only a few days.
Without babbling, I just want to thank everybody for checking out the video, and be sure to check out the musician videos too!
OK! So now, on to the review! This part will go over the features and attributes that makes the OP1 so special..
First we have the 8 synth buttons at the top right side under the four knobs. Each synth is different, and is described on the web site as:
- Dr Wave – Raw 8-bit yupe sound engine
- FM – Easy to tweak FM synthesis engine
- Pulse – Square wave type engine
- String – Physical modeling with a twist
- Digital – Raw digital type of engine
- Phase – Phase distortion engine
- Cluster – Multiple Wave Cluster
- Sampler – Sample playback from presets or recorded samples
My favorite was the PULSE. It has such a raw sound that got my head bobbing pretty quickly. Once you throw some effects on it it really jumps out there and gets in your face.
It is important to note the top 4 knobs at the top, above the 8 synth buttons. These knobs are what change the different envelopes or qualities of the sound or effect that you are using at the time. They also do nifty things like the red one allows you to change how drum hits play whether it be once or repeatedly or one time solo’d.
Next up is the drum machine, which you can access by hitting the little green drum symbol on your right, which is directly under the speaker. I might as well mention now, that there is a little shift button beneath the tape controls, and if you hold it down and hit the drum button, it allows you to pick from a few different kits, which is nice. You can also transfer WAV or AIFF drum hit
files directly onto the OP1 by the USB cord which was included.
There are effects located beneath the screen. Here they are, as described by TE:
- Delay – Classic delay type
- Phone – Hacked phone effect
- Punch – Adds punch to your sound
- Grid – Grid based echo
- Spring – Spring reverb type
I really enjoyed PUNCH, not only for the cool little boxer guy on the screen urging me to “beat up the beat” but because it actually does what it says, it adds some serious PUNCH to your drums. My advice is to put this on a snare, and pitch it down for the trippy hip hop type kick. Might just be be, but there is magic in those effects. You can hear this effect in the video that I recorded with the Logical Operators, which is linked through the video above.
The crowning jewel of this machine, and the part that Spoiler Alert loved the best, is the tape machine, 4 track recorder. As a cassette junkie (hipster moment:I still do all my recording and tracking out with cassettes -james) I love this feature as well because it is reminiscent of an old reel-to-reel set up which is highly coveted for its linear process of creating music and ease of use. There is something about a 4 track recorder that just forces you to put your best into every take. We used the metronome a little bit, but I didn’t feel as if it were necessary, and just let the track ‘flow’ instead.
Overall, this synth has been a serious pleasure to have, as it has not left my side since I got it. It is so easy to carry with you in your backpack, with or without your laptop. You are free to do anything you want to with it, and have all of the features to allow you to accomplish that quickly, no matter what language you speak. If you choose to involve other equipment, it does not restrict you and allows you to integrate other hardware and software easily and seamlessly. The battery lasts for several hours of hardcore use, and it charges quickly through the included USB cable, which conveniently was able to charge it in my truck as well.
In the beginning, the price of this machine scared me. As it was sent to me for free, I was able to approach this instrument with an unbiased perspective. I took care not to watch any reviews or tutorials or anything other than a few promo videos for the OP1. I wanted to have a clean, untainted perspective on this instrument.
This machine is worth EVERY PENNY of what they ask for it, and after having it, and using it religiously for the last few weeks, I can totally see where the money went in producing this synth. You can just feel the quality craftsmanship from the machined block of aluminum it is made of, to the feel of the buttons and knobs, and all the way to the screen, which is something like a retro-futuristic game of synth Galaga.
I give this synth 5/5 stars, which means I find zero faults. I have not been able to break it, it has done everything it advertises, and the people who made it are just so damn nice to me when we talk.
Stop staring at the pics and GO GET ONE!!