Examining the reasons for the original OP-1’s enduring popularity The functionality is basic but complete. A sampler, some wacky synths, some even wackier effects, and an FM radio are all included (yes, the kind for listening to radio stations). The four-track tape recorder is also included. But the real brilliance is in the way it’s all put together.
Teenage Engineering’s OP-1 is a masterpiece of user interface design. The interplay between these features gives the impression of complexity without actually being so. Despite common assumptions, it is always entirely normal.
True to form, Teenage Engineering’s OP-1 is a beloved lo-fi sampler and synthesizer among its devoted fanbase. After eleven years at the helm, it now has a replacement.
Almost everything about the original OP-1 Field has been updated in the new version, including the already exorbitant price. The magic of the OP-1 lies in its timeless design and user interface, so the new version should keep it going for another decade.
For whatever reason, the artist is okay with the OP-1’s reputation as one of the worst-sounding musical instruments. Bemo, a pioneering electronic artist and OP-1 fan,
By way of illustration, pressing the microphone button will activate the microphone (or the radio, or the USB input, depending on your current setting), and the user may then press a key on the keyboard to begin recording a sample. In order to keep recording, you must maintain pressure. Assume the sound is in the key of C if you press the C key, and so on.
You can record on the cassette whatever you like, and you can even sample from it. You can reverse the tape; however, doing so during recording will flip the audio track. Radio recording and the usage of a variable audio effect are also viable options.
In a nutshell, it’s totally bonkers, but many owners swear by it as a constant source of creativity. What’s more, the battery can last for a week, it can be operated on its own, and TE has spent the better part of a decade adding features to it through software updates.
So, the question is, why did TE create a new one?
Equivalent, but Superior
As a result of its lack of high-tech features, the original OP-1 stands out as peculiar.
The effects have a grainy, dated quality and are all monophonic (though you can pan sounds to the left and right). When it comes to plugging in, the OP-1 works best when it’s the only one in the room. The MIDI and USB audio support is rudimentary and unusual, but present.
Together with TE’s new TX-6 mixer, the OP-1 Field represents the launch of the company’s next generation of portable audio equipment in the “Field” category. It records and plays back audio internally at 32 bits in stereo fidelity and can handle high-quality audio of any kind. In addition, it supports the connection of a USB audio interface without the need for a computer, which is a feature almost never found in music boxes. Recently updated features include Bluetooth connectivity and FM radio broadcasting capabilities. And, of course, there are Velcro donuts (OP-1; never change!). Use this phrase in the sense that it means: and a passive subwoofer in the back.
The fact that nothing has changed is, arguably, the best innovation. Each set of buttons functions in the same way and has the same layout. TE didn’t mess with what was already the best.
Not everyone, however, is happy with the situation. Some people on electronic music message forums are concerned that the OP-1’s soul has been lost since it no longer sounds so bad, which has created a controversy about the device’s €2,000/$2,000 price tag.
“With Bon Iver [a vocal proponent of the OP-1] already in the game and so much other stuff out there, I’m not sure if there’s room for “another” OP-1.” “I’m not sure if this will become a classic like the first one.” Commenting on the Audiobus forum, Sevenape is an electronic artist who has made some interesting points.
Personally, I find this to be false. That it will be as well-liked as the original gives me confidence that it could replace a computer for some musicians.