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:
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.