Few synths in memory have created the amount of pre-launch buzz that the Teenage Engineering OP-1 has. Looking like a futuristic, luxury spiritual successor to the Casio VL in its compact brick form factor, the OP-1 combines computer-like synthesis features with a unique approach to virtual tape sampling and step sequencing, all viewed on its high-resolution OLED screen. We’ve been covering it for some time, and got some hands-on at NAMM in January. It’s even the surprise star of a Swedish House Mafia music video, above. (It’s perhaps a non-speaking role – I need to verify if there are any sounds actually coming from the OP-1 in the video. Sorry, this is the one video we haven’t yet featured, for now. Also, while I didn’t initially actually make it through the whole video, I now know to warn you the end of the video is a bit disturbing. And, not, this is not an official promo video.)

I’ll hopefully be at Teenage’s workshop in the next couple of days as I get to Stockholm, but today, they’ve at last revealed launch information to their mailing list. In case you aren’t on that list, here’s the information.

First off, the project is nearly done – no, this isn’t vaporware – and the functionality of the modules is now (mostly) public. All those details:

Project status
When it comes to functionality, 90% percent is completed and working.
Some parts of the system is still being fine tuned and optimized. Overall we are extremely happy with what we have.
The OP-1 will be shipped with 6 synthesizer engines and 2 sampler types. Pulse was shown at the NAMM show, the other synthesizer engines are DrWave, FM, Phase, String, Digital, Cluster. Further it will include 8 effects, 3 LFO types and 3 original sequencers. The Mixer section has a dedicated EQ and Drive as well as Master Balance and an additional Master Effect slot. The Sequencers can be matched to the tape speed with a feature called Beat Match.
The Tape also have additional ONE-KEY features added that will be revealed at launch.

The first people to be able to buy the OP-1 will be part of a limited “beta” list; that list is now closed. You’ll be a “beta” tester in the sense that you’ll be one of the first to be able to buy the machines. The “beta” aspect of it means you’ll see firmware updates prior to the final launch, and get a chance to provide feedback along the way. (That beta list will also get a mention in the manual.)

So, what’s the timeline? Unfortunately, that depends on sourcing the parts. With the global economic slowdown, I’ve heard a lot of complaints about part sourcing. It’s never much fun, but it seems even more painful than usual. Here’s what the Teenagers say in their newsletter:

We just received the golden sample for the keyboard module / plastic parts from the factory. And we are very satisfied with the look and feel of it.
The complexity level of the OP-1’s electronics makes component sourcing a bit tricky. As soon as we get the missing chips we will go into production with the first beta batch. Shortly after, the first full production run will be started. So keep your fingers crossed that all this works out.

They’ve also announced pricing.
Estimated street price: $799 / Euro 799 (includes EC-VAT — note that the added tax means that’s not a big difference US vs. Europe)

Go ahead, complain about it. Right now, the OP-1 is about the only thing I’d consider spending $800 on, so I’m not complaining. Updated: A friend described that as “a steal,” and I’m inclined to agree. Sales will be initially direct-only.

Stay tuned for more on the OP-1.

  • I saw what was a demo at the Musikmesse and had a talk with the guys from Teenage Engineering and I can only say great things about both things.

    I am with you on this one: If I get to spend €799 this year in personal gadgets it will be on the OP-1.

  • Josh

    too expensive for me, but totally worth it.

  • Chad

    I'm still excited about the OP-1.

    When I say "still," I mean "I have watched that terrible Swedish House Mafia video and I still want the OP-1."

    – c

  • If I had even €80 to spare I'd be a happier poverty-stricken musician, never mind €800! Having said that, it really does look delicious. Food, or OP-1? Hmmm…

    I remember the first time this was featured on CDM, I think a lot of blogs were swooning at the time but were simultaneously suggesting that it might never make it to the production line (Wasn't there a graph that illustrated that the more awesome something looks in alpha stages the ess likely it is ever to get released? πŸ˜› ) Anyway, it's great to follow a project from its near-beginnings and see it actually getting released into the wild. Congrats to the teenage engineering folks.

  • livemau5

    my v-station is much better than this sh***t

  • i think this will be the sleeper hit just like the microKorg helped a new audience discover Korg products. 6 synth engines? do the math…that's 100 bucks per engine. plus the sampler? another hundered. buying this is the same as buying a 599 cheapo Dell, installing OS X on it, getting a midi controller for another 100, down loading free AU's/VST's, and you still need another 100 for a decent USB audio output.

  • BC Thunderthud

    I guess I owe a mea culpa, this is cheaper than I expected. Not by a lot, but cheaper.

    Personally I'm more of the mindset that if something's worth making it's worth contracting out to someone in China who can make it cheaply but there's definitely a smaller, wealthier market who will keep these guys busy, assuming that $799 is profitable for them.

  • electronic_face

    When the OP-1 was first introduced on CDM, I was one of the people thinking, "oh man, that's way too much money," but now that we have more details on it, I think it's just about reasonable.

    It will also be the same price as the DSI Mopho Keyboard. Two completely different beasts, but y'know, when you have an extra $799 bucks in your hand, you can't help but compare what's available for that much. Choice is a good thing.

    BTW, I've read the OP-1 wasn't actually used at all in that Swedish House Music song, just as a prop for the music video. If you can confirm this, you may want to just add a note saying as much.

  • Wow, 799 is still a big price to pay

  • hardw@re

    Wow, what a promo video!! Nice one!

  • As the OP-1 moved from publicly announced concept (aka vaporware) to actual hardware demos that could be touched and heard to it's present almost released status, it really filled out in specs and detailing.

    As the Vl-Tone for the 21st century (where *everything* is more capable, seemingly more expensive even if it's not, and way more sexy) I think 799 is a perfect price point.

    It's going to be great with my Droid-3.

  • Chapotle

    799 seems about right, what else in this price range offers comparable features? i get kinda bummed when people whinge about prices, seems either you have no concept of value or you shoulda studied harder and got a better paying job. lol

  • Emu

    If there's a lesson to be learned from this music video it's to get the name of your attackers before they take off with your OP-1.

  • Jeff kausler

    this video is actually kind of disturbing at the end…

  • monokit

    Can it also output CV?


  • so wait… it is $799 or €799 (€799 = $1,078)

    if that's right… BIG win for americans.

  • autoy

    I was going to link the promo video but found it embarrassing and plain awful.

  • JAN

    No. We have to add 19% TAX to that 799 Dollars here in "old europe"… (19% in germany) Here we usually announce pricings as price incl. VAT.

  • Right, precisely. Us Americans, fans as we are of all hidden costs, prefer not to even mention sales tax. So here in NYC, that $799 price should actually theoretically require another $71 in tax – and our tax is only 8.875%.

  • Yes, everything about that video illustrates how NOT to gig with the OP-1. *Do not* allow people to put drinks near the OP-1. *Do not* allow people to murder you, then take your OP-1.

    Uh… and also, our party Wednesday night in Stockholm will not look like that.

  • Chad

    Another lesson learned from that video: the OP-1 will not help you if you have bad taste.

    – c

  • Damon

    Had to look up "golden sample."

    Ya, the OP-1 is expensive, or maybe it is not, depending on what you get out of it.

    Ya, the video is disturbing. Times we live in.

  • gbsr

    well, im sure as hell am not going to complain. tha op-1 is so incredibly sexy it hurts. it does look a bit plasticky though, but hey, im pretty sure that you could mod it if thats such a big of a problem. but.. look at that oled screen man. the price isnt really that much either considering what it can do, imo.

    im still curious if te audio is from the op-1 or not.
    also: the end of that video was awesome.

  • strunkdts

    WOW, that vid and song sucks!

  • faber

    hey, the price makes me consider buying this.

    I wonder how it works together with a computer.
    Is is "just" a midi controller or is it also possible to sequence and control the synths through midi?
    Please find out, Peter, an let us know!

  • Spazmatron

    I'm not sure I understand how it's supposed to be played? Is the little keyboard just for programing? I'm sure it can make some fantastic sounds, but I'm curious how painful/painless tweeking it is. I'm guessing this isn't really supposed to be a "synth" in the way that I'm used to.

  • @Spazmatron:
    Don't go by this (admittedly odd) music video. It's very tweakable in a traditional synth sense. Yes, that's a small keyboard – ask a Casio owner. πŸ˜‰

  • I am soooooo picking one of these up… I hope I made the beta list.

  • Mr Ecklie

    The Swedish VAT rate is 25 % (!), so for business owners or freelancers who run their own company in the EU, that's quite a big price deduction…
    The vat-free price is 639,2

  • niko

    this thingy is way too expensive, and the promo video way too cheap, music just sucks – i was expecting more creative promotion for it. for me it seems like this tenori-on toy – i took it from a friend, i had fun for 3 days and gave it back. musicians needs real instruments to make music, not toys. sorry guys, im not getting one.

  • what i still don't get is the way it interacts with a comp. the hp says "Connect it to your computer and control your DAW with the common play, stop, rec, forward and rewind." so it's basically a midicontroller, but how do you get your stuff out of the device?

    "When plugged in to the mini USB port the OP-1 shows up as a mass storage device. Ready for you to drag and drop audio files between your computer and the OP-1" oneway? two-way? does anyone know?

  • SO looking forward to this!

  • goofy priest

    that video has to be some sort of a put on. if you are sophisticated enough to design something like the OP-1 you can't think that is the best way to promote it.

    it's a goof.

    i hope.

  • @donfuan: It's two-way. You can load samples to and from the OP-1, and you can also load stored preset files from the OP-1 to your computer for backup – rather than having to do something silly, like an old-fashioned sysex dump.

    @everyone: The Swedish House Mafia music video is NOT a promo video. It's a music video for Swedish House Mafia. They apparently wanted to use the OP-1 as a prop. I only run it here as people have been emailing me tips about this video for the last couple of months, and… well, it's a different look at the OP-1, at least until those beta units ship.

  • anechoic

    for $799 you could buy a a very nice netbook, load it with all sorts of cool Linux audio software and have some money left over for food…ditto for the Droid3

  • The song contains no op-1 sounds. it really is just a prop (although, what is the benefit of such product placement? aside from monetary, I presume?).

    I like the design of the OP-1, and it's mix of features. Time will tell if the interaction is right between the different elements to make it feasible as an instrument to be played and not just drooled at.

    Personally, I cannot justify buying one, although I think the price-point is fair.

  • leakeg

    I can't imagine a product would play such a huge part in a music video like that without being a deliberate product placement by the manufacturer.

  • @leakeg: I'm guessing it went down more like this:
    "Hey, can we have your OP-1 to use in a video?"

    I'm not having a hard time imagining that. I'll ask.

  • s ford

    @Peter Kirn
    If it's being shipped from Sweden if the OP1's VAT rate is excluded then pre tax price would be 600 Euros. If the the post sales tax NY price is converted into Euros it's 644 Euros, which is a much better price than the European price! If however you convert 600 Euros to US Dollars, then you get $809, which shows the price set for the US market is bang on.

    Americans pay peanuts for tax in comparison to Europeans which is why the American price is a lot more attractive.

    Tax comparisons aside, I think the OP-1 is a really great looking tool. It looks powerful, fun and easy to use. I hope Teenage Engineering continue making new products.

  • @ Peter: thx for clearing that up, do they plan to create an op-1 plugin for better daw integration when connected via usb? that would be awesome.

  • Gelvis

    The responsiveness to keypresses of the integrated "tape recorder" is phenomenal. Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X40fCDc0_xA

    Come to think about, any software on any modern computer of the last 5 years could easily accomplish something as striking. But they don't. Why? Because they're lazy, or don't consider instant responsiveness as important. My software often tells me "oh you wanted to do x? Yeah, tough luck, let me mess around with your harddisk for a few seconds first, then we might be talking…"

    If the OP1 is a success, it's not because of great hardware, but because of great software.

    Or, more to the point: decent software while the rest of the industry is napping…

  • Well, or look at it another way… if you designed a computer capable of doing quick DSP, fitting into an efficient, portable, low-power case, with controls dedicated to the task… you'd probably wind up with the OP-1. πŸ˜‰

  • lematt

    i don't get why while it's not really pro-made: i mean why making another small gadget with 3.5 mm jacks when they could have made a solid synth + samplers with real jacks outputs ?

    the 512 mb sample memory is really tempting though…

  • I think the price is just right on this, think about the cost of an ipad. This is a very specialized niche unit with high quality parts. The fact that they still managed to put in somewhat in line with the price of an ipad is great! I will grab one as soon as they're out!(Gotta start selling some stuff now though haha).

  • I'll definitely be picking one up ASAP.

    and wtf is up with that sweedish house mafia video?

  • Peter says:Few synths in memory have created the amount of pre-launch buzz that the Teenage Engineering OP-1 has.

    I don't remember any synth ever having the lead-time and kind of goofy Apple-like mystery that this thing has. So maybe it's that. The buzz seems more from people dissing it as a toy (my modular has 3.5mm jacks, big deal) and from people thinking Christ used it to slice bread. When it's out there, people use it, and we can hear sounds that we don't have to pay for (what is UP with that?), then actual buzz can begin. Until then, this huffing and puffing all seems kind of silly.

  • This is a synth you really have to touch in order to get the full experience. I liked it from the time i saw it. However… When i got to play with it at NAMM, I had to have it! It just has so many features and has one of the nicest and slickest interfaces that I have ever seen on a hardware device. I definitely think that at 799 it is a steal. There are bigger, and more expensive synths that aren't as well designed and are considerably more expensive. Don't let the outer shell fool you.


  • Tobias
  • electronic_face

    For me, it was very cool to find out Johan Kotlinski was one of the guys working on the OP-1. For those who may not know, he's the guy who programmed the gameboy tracker, LSDJ (Little Sound DJ). He's also the founder of Bleepstreet Records, and has released a number of chiptune albums under the name, Role Model. Nice.

  • veta

    style over substance, and even more overpriced than the elektron gear.

    this is a 'lifestyle' gadget. everything this thing does can be done better & cheaper by other gear / software. what you are paying for is the flash and the coolness factor. i expect a lot of rich hipster douchebags will be all over this thing.

    i'd be much more forgiving if this was priced as the fun little toy that it is. it's nicely designed but given it's capabilities should be no more than $300 or $400 tops. but $800?! come on…

    …and how many times can they use that 'tape stop' effect in their demos? i'm sick of it already.

  • 8===D

    that is some terrible "music" in that video. is that what guidos listen to?

  • @veta: Now, wait a minute. Let's say the thing had been large and ugly — like a lot of conventional hardware. Then it wouldn't be a "lifestyle" gadget, and wouldn't be subject to the same criticism. I just have to wonder how much of this is pure perception. Have you ever priced out building this kind of hardware in relatively small runs?

    If you're making an argument for not being superficial, then referring to people as "rich hipster douchebag" isn't a fantastic start.

    And yes, we need some new demos; it's capable of doing more than you see here. I think in terms of actual sound capabilities, it's in line with other synth hardware in the $700-800 range, I'm sorry. And it's clear to me that decisions they've made about the enclosure and form factor, and using that kind of high-quality display, increased the price.

    I have no problem with 3.5mm audio jacks, necessarily, so long as I'm using a good cable and put in a little extra effort to ensure they're kept clean.

  • goofy priest

    i may just buy this. it seems promising.

    but judging it's value is tough. it's hard to compare this thing to anything else. it's unique. i think it will come down to sound quality for me. is this a real synth or a novelty?

  • vinayk


    I can do everything that my NI maschine does with other programs – but its soo much easier and slicker with the maschine! This OP-1 looks much the same – a really intuitive gadget for synthesis and sequencing. Will wait to see how it really sounds before making any decisions.

    For now its Little Phatty time =P

  • Side note: I partially wish I were a rich hipster douchebag. I may only be able to reliably pull off the latter two. πŸ˜‰

    And yes, I'm glad at least most of us aren't getting sucked into a hardware vs. software debate. You really don't *need* either one to make music. You don't even need electricity. They're all just tools.

  • definitely will buy one! would love some free bonuses though, like pouch bag, for example, cause 800$ is still pricey.
    nevertheless, can't wait!!

  • thenullset

    …seems like a whole lot of substance packed into that stylish package. I'm not sure if they've changed the physical dimensions, but according to my last calculations using data from the TE site, the OP1 is almost small enough to make guitar mounting feasable (without looking too ridiculous that is). ;0

  • Fedor

    This stuff worth a half of it, not more

  • thenullset

    Oh, and to the TE guys: I'd be willing to pay up to $45 for that telecaster mounting bracket. It could affix to the strap peg or it could be a replacement for the pickup switch/knob mounting plate. There's gotta be a way to do this.

  • Asterox

    Sounds a lot like the Mac vs. PC debates with regard to price point and value.

    One thing to consider is that TE may not be that interested in total mass production, or that, if they are, it's lower on the priority list. They may desire profit but not immediate explosive growth. Specialty items like this are absolutely expensive and time consuming to construct, and don't gain the efficiencies of a mass market item. Hopefully that means better, tighter quality control as well.

    As to what is suitable pricing or what the device is worth – I think the market will decide.

    It seems like they wish to create something truly unique and special. Many will assume that a "sensibly" priced product is neither. For examples, see nearly every premium luxury item ever made.

    I have no use for this device really but I applaud the choices made in its creation. What they left out is at least as important as what they included. It asks for a specific type of interaction and looks like it will shape user behavior. If it does so favorably (like learning a new instrument will often lead to new inspiration and new abilities) it will have succeeded as great design. If not, (frustration and gnashing of teeth) it will indeed feel like an overpriced toy.

    Then again, not many of us have even used it. There are a handful of products I own that I never thought I'd buy until I actually handled one. Then I "got it", and then I …well, got it.

  • al

    hey peter good news
    the thing is
    will this have some sort of developer kit
    for a way to make your own fx and synths
    and sequencers

  • just to let everyone know, SMH did not make the drum beat roll on that, It was used from a daw and almost 7 different plugins.

    SOURCE: Future Music 229

    However still looks good, and sure it can work some wonders for 799

  • veta's right. i was born and raised a hipster douchebag, and i want one. looks like a vss-30, but from the fuuuture maaan.

  • vltone

    Oh, it's an expensive groovebox.

    Since they developed and made the Monomachine, COUNT ME IN!

    Seems like the only unique, forward thinking machine since the Otamatone excluding the Octatrack πŸ™‚

    As an anti-software musician… This is going to be incredible!

  • uh, they use 7 plug ins to make a drum beat roll and then let op-1 pose for it. Now that's real creativity.

  • Teenage eningineering for teenage esthetics??! AWFUL music video. I think there also being WAY too pretentious about their algorithms, they just scrapped a lot of good coding from other people together in some kind of hands-on toy. It's interface does not connect to this generation and for the sound quality the first things I've heard are really really awful, certainly as they refer to "having all the analog" quality etc. Boycot!

  • neutral

    Interesting to compare to the critter and guitari pocket piano. Whereas the OP-1 seems to be trying to define the bleeding-edge of euro-design chic, the pp seems to be more or less resigning itself to fun for its own sake…and at an affordable price.

  • Am I the only one who thinks $800 is a steal for this thing? Those who think this is a toy should spend more time researching it rather than bashing it. Check here:

    plus, the OLED display is gorgeous!!

  • Flplx, I'm pretty sure the general consensis has been that $800's a steal for this thing. But personally, I really wish there was a "rent-a-synth" kinda program out there; not just for this thing, but for any slightly pricy piece of gear. Like, I might really want one, but $800's a lot of dough for me. I can see how it's worth it, but I'd love to like try it for 30 days and see how it fits in with the rest of my gear before making any kind of decision.

  • JMD

    @Peter Kirn
    I have to agree with veta a bit. I see your point though Peter but I honestly have to say if it was big and ugly I'd feel no different.

    I just don't see the justification for $800 on this machine. I'd much rather see other artists upgrading their signal chain with that money, or a good hardware synth, etc. I have read into the features and it's one of those things where i'm not convinced unless I'll be sitting down with it. The features sound good, but again as you said, it's just a tool as any other piece of gear.

  • boya

    Wait, does anyone know what is up with MIDI on this thing? They tease something about it having some sort of wireless sync, but I assume that is for other Teenage Engineering units?

    Are you only able to sync it to a DAW with USB? I don't see how it's going to be very useful in my outboard setup without MIDI.

  • shim

    uh…i was totally jazzed on the op-1 until i say that uber weak swedish meatball vid…and then the ending?! for shame. i know it's not TE official vid but gasp.

    reminds me of a date with someone i thought was very hot only to find out that #1 on her reading list was harry potter and teen vampire romances.

    perma soft. and the deal breaker of all deal breakers.

  • shim

    oh and $800 seems quite steep. perhaps to justify it being in dev for waaaaay to long?

  • shim

    ahh just remembered what that swedish house mafia (wow great name btw) vid reminds me of: AXE BODYSPRAY ADS!

    dudes, your song is so "pits to chesty"!

  • Well, all prices are relative; music gear prices, doubly so. A piano for $100,000? A kazoo for $2? A plug-in for $2500? Hardware for $50? Software for free?

    I just don't see name-calling going anywhere. And while the OP-1 may have temporarily dropped off the freezing end of the Cool Wall over this Swedish House Mafia thing (which, incidentally, happened over the summer and was blogged almost everywhere *but* here)… well, it can make its way back. It has to start shipping, and someone has to do something cool with it, and it'll then recover.

  • Low Resolution Sunse

    I still think there's still something really appealing about small, portable devices for music making.

  • I simply LOVE the posting that said (paraphrasing) "make it for cheap in China and I'll buy it".

    That kind of attitude is why we can't have nice things, or at least reliable things, and completely ignores the cost in hours that the people who devoted (I'm guessing) a fair portion of their lives spent in bringing this to production. How much of your life are you willing to sell for around $1k? Even $100k split between the engineers/designers (if they were to sell 100 of them at 100% profit) isn't much money.

    I've no doubt that this will succeed in spite of any negative publicity garnered by that video; I'd much, much rather have this than a netbook or laptop or any allegedly more powerful or useful item precisely because it is limited to the purpose for which it was made. I'm also pretty sure that when you're using your netbook as a coaster in a few years this will still have its inherent value as a musical instrument.

  • yeah guys, c'mon, there's even fm radio inside for crazy sampling goodness!! and those waveforms sounds beautifully (on this oscilloscope vid at least)

  • goofy priest

    i guess this video is a little negative vibe to counter all the hyper buzz. now maybe we can just judge it for what it is.

    i wonder if, as a beta tester, you can return it within a certain period. i'd jump on it then.

  • jonah

    Maybe you should remove the video since the op-1 is just a prop(it's not even for the actual song) and a bunch of people don't seem to realize that.

  • Polite

    I'm still pretty psyched for this thing, toy or otherwise. It just looks fun to use.

    My hope is to convince a couple of other people near me to get them as well, and meet up for a jam.

  • swedish mafia sucks

    i just want to say how much the swedish poop mafia sucks.i hope you guys read this and then go jump off a bridge.your music sucks donkey….

  • Greg

    I knew everything this thinger could do over a year ago.
    Toy for people richer than I.
    Ditto on the netbook+linux with a cheap midi controller.

  • nick chan

    would love to buy one if I have the extra cash. but if I “only” have $800 to spent, I’d spend it on a used v-synth

  • hausland

    This thing appears to have its limitations, for sure, but in many ways it's exactly that (together with the well thought through interface design) which will allow most of its users to get creative with it.

    Also, the ingenuity and care that has been put into the design – and the fact that it is NOT outsourced to China – are good aspects in my book.

    That's worth $799 to me.

    Plus, this thing should look great next to my fixed-gear bike and my WELCOME TO HACKNEY poster… πŸ˜›

  • rob duro

    Really expensive!!. what a disappointing ugly video. You are paying more for a "cool" design than anything else. No thanks!

  • Kim

    I’m buying the Octatrack instead.


  • Okay, I'd like to know where everyone is buying synthesizers.

    Quick Google search —
    Korg M50: $700 — ** street **
    Korg R3 is even $600 at BestBuy
    Roland GAIA SH-01: $700 — ** street **
    Dave Smith Mopho — $800 street
    Little Phatty — $1300 street
    Nord Lead — $1500 street
    Yamaha MM6 – $700

    What are people pricing this against, exactly?

    Yes, those keyboards have (entry-level, bare-bones, synth action) full keyboards, but even the sound module versions, if you can find one at all, are in the same general territory. (Look at, for instance, the Tetra module from DSI.) And if people are making an argument for software, they'd have to concede that the keybed itself isn't worth that much on these machines (which is why I suspect few of them even ship as a module these days)

    $799/EUR799 direct from a manufacturer corresponds to what's essentially list price.

    And it's not a fair comparison. With the exception of the Moog and DSI, these are all mass-market machines. With the exception of DSI, good luck even finding a low-volume, boutique maker who will sell you anything useful under a grand. And none of the keyboards above function as both synths and samplers.

    All I can think is that people assume bigger means better, or somehow the passing resemblance to the Casio is getting people really confused about the capabilities here. (I love those old Casio machines, but let's face it — they were made with cheap components and underpowered *when they were released* in the 80s. This is a fairly high-spec machine in 2010 we're talking about.)

  • I think this piece will become legendary! You can't compare the OP-1 and its price to other synths, this is future stuff.

  • jonah

    Peter, what about the Korg radias?

    I agree it's a fair price for equipment for a boutique manufacturer. I'm interested to see demos used to make a full song rather than just jam sessions.

    If you use gear and have fun it's priceless. I don't get all the hate. Could we have a left and right column for comments, one for hate and one for love?

  • @jonah: Ah, Radias is going in its rackmount version for $600. And I did leave out the R3, which is probably the best bargain out there at the moment.

    On the other hand, my early impression of the OP-1 is that it offers an experience and workflow I haven't seen before. The honest truth is, for me personally, I'd almost always pick software over these other options. But the OP-1 does seem different.

    And, in a way, it doesn't matter what I think. With any of these things, you're going to choose what inspires you on a level you may not be able to rationally explain to anyone else — even if it's our job as reviewers to try. And I think that's okay. I'd be utterly bored if we all agreed.

    I just have to point out, this is a new entry that's nonetheless price-competitive with long-established names, and that's refreshing.

  • Wafu

    Did someone mention wanting to rent synthesizer gear? It does exist, not only for synths but a lot of things. Dreamhire is located in NY but they apparently rent to other states as well. I say "apparently" because I've not wanted to test something bad enough to pay as much as they ask (they're a bit pricey). But, if you need something in a pinch, they're a good source. FYI: I heard about them from the Home Recording Show podcast.


  • veta

    i'm not against small boutique companies, quality components, out of the box thinking, smart & attractive design, refinement & obsessive attention to detail. these are of course all very good things we need to see more of in hardware design.

    the PROBLEM is that when the fruits of such labor comes to market, they are inevitably priced well outside the range of those that would use & enjoy them the most, mostly due to economies of scale. so the truly creative people get to sit on the sidelines while the rich hipster douchebags fiddle around & pose with these things. Swedish House Mafia… how perfect is it that these wankers aquire the OP-1 and then don't even bother to USE the damn thing! they just want it as a PROP to promote their vapid garbage.

    yes, take time & care with the design & prototyping, but when the unit was finished they should have taken it to someone who could manufacture it in quantity. Elektron is another perfect example of this. having been in the game for many years now, they are long past the point where they should have stepped up their production by an order of magnitude & got their prices down. both the machinedrum & monomachine should be well under a grand (they should be priced right where the OP-1 is, in fact).

    there is also an element of elitism and snobbery in the promo materials that i find quite annoying. it reminds me more than a little bit of Apples marketing schtick: the device is presented. it's so simple. so clean. stripped to the essentials. the interface is friendly, intuitive. it's shown how efficient it is. you see people using it & having a blast. it makes everything so much easier. you really should get this. there is no doubt it will simplify your life. it looks great. the whimsical indie music is playing in the background. i'm sold! i'm definitely going to get one! then… the price tag:

    BAM! you're excluded. this just isn't for you i'm afraid. so sorry. come back to the Apple store some other time. have a nice day.

    Teenage Engineering & Elektron both seem to revel in this form of cutesy snobbery a bit too much if you ask me. how much did Elektron spend on those recent promo vids with the announcer demonstrating their hardware? those videos look expensive! they made these elaborate little art films about their noisemakers yet can't be bothered to get their prices down after 10 years. got to keep that club exclusive, i guess.

  • goofy priest

    somehow more than a few folks figured out how to buy an iphone/ipad/machinedrum. a lot of rich douche bags out there i guess.

    it's strange how you get so upset over someone trying to produce something. let me guess you never ran a business. let me tell you, it ain't easy. rule number one: you can't make everyone happy.

    i wish them luck. the world needs more funky products. can you imagine a world where everything is sold by the boatload from china? yikes.

  • BARF

    Wait, musical instruments aren't cheap!?!? Guess I won't be getting that Buchla I wanted…


  • DD

    What are the other kind of sequencers? No MIDI in? At least do the basics…

  • Oh man these pretentious music machines! Really though lets not be ridiculous, I think $800 is a very inclusive price. Anyone buying a new hardware synth will be able to consider this. Some people will be able to just grab it, others will have to save up and sell some gear, but it's not a Buchla as BARF mentioned.

  • Yeah, I'm sorry – I don't understand.

    $800 is a typical price point for synth hardware. Has been for a long time. I'd actually love to see the age of super-cheap synths (hello, Casio!) return. This isn't that. That's fine. We'll likely get something else that's simpler (as the Casios were, by the way) and doesn't have this kind of high-quality screen (or, likely, any screen, period).

    But I find the repeated reference to "hipster douchebags" to be offensive. I mean, whatever – I joke about this. I laugh at "Look at this f***ing hipster" — and wait in fear that I'll see myself there one day. (Well, I'm shaving and staying out of Indian headdress, etc. When I ride bikes, I like them to have gears.)

    So, I'm probably being wildly hypocritical. But I think there's more than enough name-calling and overblown sense of what qualifies as credibility. I'd like to judge gear on its own merits, and it makes me uncomfortable when people direct this much energy into judging strangers.

    I believe in building an inclusive community, and you can't do that if you're calling people names or stereotyping based on superficial assumptions, I think you can't do that. I'm sure I've been guilty of that at times, like I said, but — well, I'll try to be better.

    But looking at this the other way — if the OP-1 is getting discriminated against ** because it's pretty **, you're reading the wrong site. I love stuff that's hacked together with duct tape, but I also love things that are beautifully designed. If you give a job to talented designers, they're likely to apply their design aesthetic to it.

    I'm really frustrated that a lot of the stuff in our industry looks like it came from the early 90s (or earlier). Hell, some stuff has actually regressed. It kind of makes me think that our user community has a narrow view of what "credible" gear should look like, which operates on a superficial level. When people start railing against hipsters or designers, that kind of confirms my fears.

    But don't get me wrong —

    I understand that the fundamental problem here is this:

    1. This is a music video that everyone finds somewhat perplexing, that features sounds not from the OP-1. (Just found out what that sound IS — it's the Synplant. Swedish engineering, but not the OP-1)

    2. The OP-1 hasn't shipped.

    3. The "hype" a lot of you are hearing is coming from some of us who have been excited by this from the beginning.

    4. It's a design that's different, so some people are going crazy for it, and other people hate it.

    And, please, *go ahead and hate it*. That's totally cool. If we want gear that isn't boring, we're going to have gear we disagree about, and that's a good thing. I think we can be passionate without calling people names.

    Even hipster douchebags, and damn, those people are annoying. I know last time I was in Williamsburg, I saw thi–

    Oh, yeah. Hypocrisy. I'll stop. πŸ˜‰

  • veta

    Peter, you are very diplomatic. you run this site so you have to be. i have absolutely no problems with that. fortunately, i am merely an anonymous forum commenter and can voice my opinion in a more direct manner, thus:

    1. hipster douchebags are very real. they exist. we all know who they are and that they must be eradicated from the earth (or at least quarantined in some manner & prevented from breeding).

    2. Swedish House Mafia makes tons of money creating vacuous generic crap for people whose critical faculties have been destroyed by excessive & repeated ecstasy consumption. their use of the OP-1 as a prop in their video casts the device in a bad light before it is even released.

    3. the OP-1 is a toy. it's small form factor, limited physical controls, & lack of MIDI (!!!) render it as something that you have on your coffetable. maybe fiddle around with it a bit on your couch. show it off to your friends, etc. you would never have it as an important part of a home studio or a live rig.

    never would i use this thing as my main sampler or synth. it has elements of both and would be fun to play with to generate 'sketches', but for any real power/interactivity with other gear/in depth editing… you would look to other options.

    as such (an advanced soundtoy), $299 would be a great price. even $399 would be workable tho hitting the upper range. at this price i would find this a fun little thing to have around and might even consider getting one when i had a little extra money kicking around. when you hit $799 you start placing this alongside pro gear and it just does not belong there (i bought a Nord Modular G2 engine for $750 on ebay. try a feature comparison with the OP-1).

    an example of a company getting it right? try Dave Smith Instruments. a VERY small company (Dave, his wife, and 3 or 4 others) who manage to make top quality gear in quantity at great prices. look at the prices of their desktop synth models… and those even have analog circuitry. no super-slick promo materials, tho.

  • count.cholo


    1.) Yeah they're real but they also buy the products. Also it's tiring seeing that people think that only a certain few deserve certain products… the incredibly tiring high brow and low brow argument. Who is a DJ now? What is a producer? What is music? It seems like "hipsters" bring out these questions. Though I think i'd say this is the future of music where technology is accessible (not the op in particular) and i like the idea that a 5 year old can make whatever.

    2.) Yeah, but like someone else said it's marketing it's their approach. Not everyone is interested in marketing this way or that way.

    3.) Lack of midi in midi out sucks but i'm a laptop musician and there are probably others that are interested in that this seems to shake hands with a laptop well. My monome is pretty small but it's far from a toy and it doesn't have midi in or out? Again, we don't know everything about this device yet.

    Maybe you're right veta maybe it will just be a toy but we don't really know for sure yet. But as a laptop musician I'm interested.



  • hausland

    I like the OP1 at $799 and, also, I like my bikes fixed and I live in Dalston…


    People, if you're on this website chances are you'll be considered to be hipster douchbags by 90% of society…It's a fallacy of our scientific age that we consider ourselves outside the sample group at all times…but you're in it…you're all in it and you know it…. (dramatic music)

    The OP1 is in it too. It is hipster gear. So what? So is your Macbook Pro. Or your iPhone. Your Launchpad and your copy of Ableton Live are so as well. Hell, even Logic Studio is!

    I recommend those of you bitter about the the beauty and stylishishishness of the OP1 to read Nietzsche's Geneology of Moral…that should straighten you out.

    I for one am off to prepare a dazzling pitch for daddy in order to secure those $800 for the OP1 once it hits the lofty streets of Hipstertown – and maybe I'll ask him for a new Range Rover as well, in white with red leather inside and a 2000W sound system…


    P.S.: TE, well done!!

  • Here's a sinful confession: I've come to like, in a horrible way, the Swedish House Mafia video. I have watched it several times now. There's a conspiracy between the red-masked man who hands the girl dj a pill, the (red?) masked man who flexes his muscles (and smashes a beer bottle on the dj's head later), and the dancing woman with the yellow mask.

    The role of the 80's dancing lady is it unknown. Is it the female DJ? Is it her temptress, sent to distract her from the ensuing conspiracy?

    Who are the people having sex? Was the nitrous sprayed a spontaneous act, or part of the plot?

    Plus, you gotta love the real-time handclap sampling.

    @all the people hating on Teenage Engineering for having their product in the video: It's a business – this is great publicity to a wide market, and anyone who knows enough to harp about the OP-1 being associated with such 'pop' stuff is probably already in – or out – of the bag, when it comes to buying the thing.

    peace y'all. Watch out for fire-breathing dudes in red masks handing you light blue pills.

  • Oh! And the incidental sounds – zipper zips, button clicks, gear plug-ins, shiftings, mouse squeakings, are really cool!

  • BARF

    These first world problems are really quite the conundrum.

  • Mike


    It's clear that you hate hipsters. Perhaps it's because they have more style, fun, sex, drugs, and friends than you. You also seem to hate rich people yet the $799 OP-1 is hardly an expensive instrument by any stretch of the imagination. This leads us to believe that you must not work at all because even someone who has a low paying job can save the $799 to purchase one eventually. It sounds like you have an excessive amount of insecurities and need to vent that frustration anonymously. Why do you even bring the hipster reference into a conversation about a musical instrument? Did a "hipster" steal your girlfriend, bang your mother, and kill your pet all in the same day? Are you a well known performing electronic musician? If so then you are saying that you hate your fan base because, as many of us know, the electronic scene is filled with hipsters. You would get laughed out of any EDM party in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Miami, Chicago, etc. if you were to go around and spout about how you can't stand hipsters.

    Save it for your soap opera. The show that no one watches where only you can dictate how people dress, spend their money, and behave.

  • Dirk


    It seems that he struck a nerve? Perhaps he's right about Hipsters being douches.

  • rob duro

    I totally agree with veta

  • BARF

    I totally agree with these comments being done.

  • Bonobo

    There is not any hardware being able to do what the OP-1 will be. And there is not any keyboard with that design with that synth capabilities, sampler and sequencer. 799€ is its price, every one of us will consider if its worth or not, but don't judge it by the demos, the OP-1 will do a lot more.

  • pete

    I think part of the apparent overpricedness comes from them not explaining all the features yet. The few sequencer demos I've seen look like something new, but I have no idea how you make a whole song with this, if there's some equivalent to parameter locks/automation or if the whole idea is just to record one at a time into a tape deck… That kind of thing is gonna make the difference between hipster toy or hipster recruiter. And jeez, get off the hipster thing – doing it or criticizing it – and enjoy how much is possible these days.

  • Mike


    I'll back the conversation up to where it ought to be. The value of the OP-1 should not be decided by the type of people that veta perceives will be using them. It is an $800 sampler, sequencer, and synth that hasn't even been released yet he is hating on it because he thinks every "hipster" will be toting one around. I can tell you that I don't exactly fit the hipster definition to a tee. The skinny jeans leave no room for my junk and I don't ride a fixed gear bike or wear thick rimmed black glasses. I do like seeking out unique clothes but that really has nothing to do with Teenage Engineering.

    The product should be judged by what it can offer at the set price. I do not think $800 is a lot for what is available on the OP-1. That is certainly up to debate but even at $800 it is still offering a lot more options than other synths in its price range and brings true portability to the table. Anyone who buys hardware should know that instruments are not cheap.

  • veta


    my problem with the OP-1 is not the 'hipster' connections (i think it should be obvious that my hipster comments are a bit tongue-in-cheek… no matter how vile those people may be.)

    no, my main problem as i stated previously is simply the feature-to-price ratio, combined with the fact that this overpriced gear is being presented as if it is some sort of Jesus device. it seems more attention & effort is being spent on the presentation & appearance as it is the nuts and bolts of how the thing actually works.

    i really don't give a damn about the promos, the videos, the slick website, the high art pretentions… it's hardware – so just give me something that WORKS and is usefull and don't rip me off in the process. they can keep all the extra stylistic nonsense that they seem to feel is so important because that won't be worth a damn when i'm in the studio actually trying to use this thing and i realize i just dropped $800+ on something with no MIDI, tiny little plastic keys, limited realtime control (only 4 knobs and can't plug a midi controller into it), etc…

    in other words: hype overload! time to deliver & deliver well to justify that pricetag. everything i've seen so far doesn't even come close to doing that.

  • pete

    At this point it kind of is all hype because it doesn't seem like they're done making it. I don't understand how anyone has a sense of what it's worth, because there doesn't seem to be any info on a lot of basic features like polyphony, sequencing, memory etc, just all these demos without a sense of how it fits together. However, as far as hype over features, at least their demos are better than the Beat Thang.

  • Bonobo
  • Galkake

    These are made in China, everyone thinks there Swedish made but there not.
    I email teenage engineering yesterday and this is what they sent me:

    The OP-1 is designed in Sweden and manufactured in China. We ship worldwide out of Stockholm, Sweden.Kindly,TEReply with #ignore to stop receiving notifications for this discussion.

  • Galkake

    These are made in China, everyone thinks there Swedish made but there not.
    I email teenage engineering yesterday and this is what they sent me:

    The OP-1 is designed in Sweden and manufactured in China. We ship worldwide out of Stockholm, Sweden.Kindly,TEReply with #ignore to stop receiving notifications for this discussion.

  • Galkake

    These are made in China, everyone thinks there Swedish made but there not.
    I email teenage engineering yesterday and this is what they sent me:

    The OP-1 is designed in Sweden and manufactured in China. We ship worldwide out of Stockholm, Sweden.Kindly,TEReply with #ignore to stop receiving notifications for this discussion.