I need voice recognition, because I’ve just covered my keyboard with drool.

The Teenage Engineering OP-1 (Operator 1) is a “pocket-sized” controller and synth. For once, it eschews the cliches of modern hardware design for a look that is truly 2009, influenced by the layout of classic Roland drum machines but made minimal and elegant. It’s a controller. It’s a synth. It has … an FM radio in it? (Yes, that’s FM radio, though it also has the FM synthesis you might expect.)


  • Controller functions: transport controls, 4 rotary encoders, 16 dedicated “quick keys”
  • Motion sensor so you can shake the thing
  • Stand-alone synthesis (no computer needed), with 8 synth models, 8 samplers
  • Synth models: FM synthesis, virtual analog, more (can’t tell what other synth models they intend)
  • Effects: Delay, Flutter, Filters, EQ
  • Sequencer — described as “at present time, secret.” A secret sequencer? Isn’t it already somewhat secret, seeing as the device isn’t shipping?
  • Arpeggiator
  • FM radio (so you can record Akufen-style radio samples?)
  • Built-in mic, speaker
  • Record to MP3
  • 12 mm thin
  • USB 2.0, minijacks for audio in / out+heaphones
  • Battery-powered using the power connector, which is “the same as used in robotic automation applications”
  • Holes for a carry strap

Don’t be a dream. Don’t be a dream.

All of this has an unbelievably beautiful interface.

Teenage Engineering Operator-1

The only real question is, is all of this too good to be true? Teenage promises an initial run of 100 to the “beta” list, with the project completion slated for 10-12 months and price TBA. Now, we’ve heard that before, and painfully, we tend to see a rough correlation looking something like this:



But note, this is only correlation, not causation. That is, the awesomeness of something does not prevent it from shipping. So I’m holding out hope that the OP-1 will indeed see the light of day, and we’ll be sampling FM radio and programming FM synth sequences on a bus. I can’t wait.

(I’ll amend the illustration, and we’ll put the OP-1 alone in the upper right-hand corner of this graph.)

As noted in comments, LSDJ creator Johan Kotlinski is on the team, too. That makes the “secret” sequencer all the more tantalizing. (It still makes sense that it’d be some sort of step sequencer, given the hardware interface, but what kind?)

Teenage Engineering are not new to truly brilliant designs. They created an installation of toy-like robotic singers for Absolut – the vodka company – called Absolut Choir. Heck, I want these, too. Brilliant work.

Photo: Sesse Lind.

Found via the wonderful True Chip Till Death.

More information

Operator-1 Details: The Casio VL-Tone of the 21st Century, Plus the Synth Alarm Clock!
High-Density Screens Due; OP-1’s Gorgeous Display