For lovers of the simplicity and fun of the Casio VL series, a successor seems is finally here. The Operator-1 (OP-1), even in prototype form, has us hot and bothered more than anything we’ve seen recently. We’ve been able to snag some additional details.
MusicRadar got a video with the creators, though you won’t learn anything new from that. In the interview, Teenage Electronics are just as tight-lipped as they were on the website, and the video “demo” is basically watching the OLED screen light up inside a glass case, with no sound – the prototype just isn’t ready to do more out in public yet.
However, our friend Nostromo did manage to get some other details.
- Swedish All Stars: The team includes veterans of Elektron, the ACNE design firm that worked on MachineDrum and MonoMachine packaging and UI, and Johan of LSDJ fame.
- Casio love: The inspiration is, not surprisingly, hardware like the Casio VL-1.
- Pricing: It’s unofficially expected to be “under the 1000 Euros mark." Note that the target price is EUR600, which is pretty far under EUR1000. Anywhere near that, and it’s a steal.
- Production: They do plan to put this into production. (I believe that, despite my awesomeness vs. shippingness graph – I’d love for them to be the exception.)
- The “mystery” sequencer: It sounds as though it won’t have a tracker as a sequencer, but may bring other “Swedish surprises” as Nostromo puts it.
Back from the messe [nostromo@noisepages]
And a friend of ours also sent along some impressions from the booth (with an even more encouraging target price, if they can pull it off):
The Operator-1 was under glass, so I couldn’t touch it. It is made of solid aluminum, and about an inch wider and longer than a nano controller (have you gotten yours yet, btw?). The OLED [Organic LED] screen is predictably gorgeous, and you really have to be off-angle for the contrast to be affected. It has a USB-rechargeable battery,
It has a rechargeable battery, but no real indication of what battery life is yet. There’s a 1/8” in, and I was told It will apparently have sampling “in the future.” They’re looking to hit a price of around 600 Euros, but who knows. They’re currently working very hard on the sequencing bits.
Also shown by Teenage Engineering are these concept alarm clocks. When they’re not just empty boxes, they’ll have 16×16 LED displays, and the internal synth workings of the Operator-1. Wake up each day to a different synthesizer sound! This would last 10 seconds in my apartment, before I throw it across the room in a groggy haze.
Keep in mind, nothing here should be considered official or on the record. This is stuff that was overheard in the booth, and for a design that’s in-process. I can tell you from having worked with designers that finding price points is incredibly hard, so I feel their pain – even if you want to charge x amount, you may have to balance that against other design compromises you don’t want to make, to say nothing of scale.
Official information from their blog on the beta:
The Beta sign-up is non-binding and all of you who has signed up, will get a confirmation email when the time is right. â€¢ The Beta release is scheduled (very) late this year. â€¢ The hardware dev. is on schedule and will be finalized before summer. â€¢ 4 synth modules are completed and 4 more are under dev. â€¢ We will mail more information next week to all Beta prospects.
But I can certainly say, the thousands who signed up for the beta and I are very, very eager to watch this evolve.
And I want to wake up to those alarm clocks.