OP-Z Review

OP-Z Review

OP-Z Review 680 245 Maye

The manual is a fucking good read. An example of pejorative advice is given to someone who is attempting to find an answer, usually one that is readily available. The OP-Z from Teenage Engineering does not come with a manual (although there is one available It is likely that you would not be able to know everything this box of secrets has to offer, even if you read it from top to bottom twice. There’s nothing else like it – a funny, unique, and mind-bending little studio that never ceases to amaze. With a price of $600, it isn’t outrageously expensive, so you are probably going to get a lot for your money.

TEENSENGINEERS has been making synthesizers for about a decade and they always come out with a quirky look. You might also encounter quirks that are in the design, or in the user interface. It is crucial to keep in mind that frivolity doesn’t mean they are only novelty items It is always a pleasure to watch them, and they are always musically talented. As a sort of successor/sibling to the longtime and well loved OP-1, the OP-Z is a bit of a new entrant. The only difference is that it’s smaller, and in some ways Despite this, I am prone to not R-ing T-ing F-ing M. The reason is that the process of discovering yourself at the same time is half the fun. As a result, I was arrogant and was ignorant of the fact that there are two volume controls. But if I had read it, however, I would have realized there are two One master for the mixer, one master for the master. The O.P.-Z nearly had a negative review complaining how quiet it was.

(Volume issue aside, I was already pretty enamored with the OP-Z even before I waved the white flag and clicked through the online literature. It is a delightful object in its own right to look at the small, gray slab (with flecks of color). Lights dance on the bright yellow dial on the left-hand side of the OP-Z as soon as you turn it. You can hear squelchy sounds when you poke some of the buttons. You are presented with a moody EDM track as soon as you press the “Play” button. Almost immediately, you realize what this thing is capable of if you could only figure out how to use it. When the OP-Z does not have a display, you will most likely interact with it by pressing combinations of keys. A total of four buttons along the top edge provide primary controls (Program, Mixer, Metronome, A round button covers most of the front of the OP-Z. You can select parts, instruments, etc. in the top row. There are also buttons on the left that allow you to play, stop and record. Most of the buttons in the bottom two rows act as a rudimentary piano keyboard, but each one also serves a secondary purpose, replete with small icons that indicate what it is and what it does. You have four flat dials on the right side of the unit (for volume, filters, etc…), as well as a spongy rubber button on the bottom edge, which controls the pitch. In the OP-Z there is a built-in speaker, but it is a bit underwhelming. A headphone jack allows you to jam behind closed doors, or hook up a decent speaker for a private party. With USB-C charging, you can charge the onboard battery in a matter of minutes, though it lasts about six hours. makes the OP-Z pretty competent as a portable device, but it’s not the only thing it does well. You can turn your phone into a display for the synth by downloading a companion app (iOS only). The app also includes tools to create videos and choreographed slideshows to accompany Does that not satisfy you? There is an expansion slot on top of the OP-Z (it really is inside, but it is visible from the top) that allows you to add hardware accessories (multi-voltage gates, for example). Furthermore, you can control the lights at the disco. I am blown away by how much creativity can be achieved within one box.

Taking a step back, let’s look at it from the beginning. When it comes down to it, making music with this is what really matters, and any amount of innovative apps or accessories won’t matter if the basics aren’t good. There are drum sounds, leads, and basslines that span a number of genres right out of the box. You will also find some samples and one-hit sounds to spice it up. There are not as many presets as you might think, and your options for molding them into a sound of your own (when compared to a dedicated synth) are slightly limited. A number of demo tracks are provided with the OP-Z software to demonstrate its versatility across a variety of styles and genres. OP-Z has a little bit of minimal and EDM besides electro, drum and bass, and general electro, but generally the synthesizer leans a little more towards minimal and EDM than anything else.

In order to manipulate the pre-loaded sounds, you can use either pitch/filter/resonance controls or the attack, decay, sustain and release (ADSR) envelope, as well as a few effects (delay, distortion, etc.). Although I’ve read the manual at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are hidden settings that you can use to customize the presets even more. Good news is the user can add more sounds to the onboard sounds by loading additional synth engines (via an external sound pack) or by loading external sound packs. The sound packs need to be in format OP-1 good news is you can download plenty of user-generated collections such as OP-1, often for free, since the OP-1 has been around for so long. OP-1s can, of course, be exported if one is owned by the exporter. Would you still do it if you didn’t? You’ll be happy to know that there is a handy utility that will let you convert almost any sample. The bottom line is that, despite the slightly limited built-in sound-creation features, you are still able to get a great variety of sounds on It’s hard to add samples, at least to my ears, since it’s a minor hassle. The most fun I have when making sounds is creating them from scratch. I start with a waveform, and then bend it into something completely It is also important to mention that in order to use samples, you must search for the samples or create the sounds you want on your own before bringing Despite all that, you could simply use whatever tool you were using to make the samples (such as a VST synth) — of course, that comes at a cost of portability.

Although I might be asking too much of the OP-Z, nonetheless. It is an incredibly versatile piece of kit it is great for making music on the go, and is endlessly entertaining. It isn’t meant to replace a fully-featured DAW or desktop-level software synth. Teenage Engineering’s stuff (and everything they do) is a unique combination of technology and sensibility and I think they’re worth checking out. The OP-Z is more of a micro groovebox than a synth. While it’s tempting to label it a synth, for the reasons explained above (and later) it is in fact more of a mobile idea machine. This means that in addition to its sounds and keyboard, it also doubles as a sequencer, so that it can be used for live performances. Then, once you get a good handle on switching between projects and patterns, you can start chaining things together to create songs. There are multiple options you can use – you can use single bars or change timing so that some elements are extended over more than one bar (unless you want repetitive loops). If you like the results, you can bounce stems to audio, use the 3.5mm audio out port to record into another application, or use MIDI with your main DAW to take the project to the next level. It is particularly useful for coming up with new ideas while jamming. A live punch-in effect can be added to the lower row of the keyboard. In the middle of each key, you’ll find a few icons that indicate what each effect is, but the labels aren’t always easy to read. Things like beat-repeat, double tempo, random pitch changes, and echo filters are available. The effects you put on different parts of your track can easily end up leading to an hour of wasted time as you jam out a few bars into something totally different. The step sequencer is a great way to record these selections, but it is also a great way to try out different flourishes you can later commit.

This is where the app comes in handy if you want to dig a little deeper into settings. Trying to pair screens is simple, and it automatically switches screens, no matter what you’re doing. If I select my kick drum, for example, I see a detailed view with all its parameters. It’s much easier to navigate the settings on the screen than to play toy with the OP-Z itself, despite the fact that you have to perch an iPhone somewhere to do so. In addition to the aforementioned video and slideshow functionality, the app adds interactive features that you can’t get without a real display. Although these two sections of the app are secondary “bonus” features for most people, they are still incredibly entertaining. My next step was to load some images onto a folder with iTunes (it’s a bit of a juggle with iTunes and file sharing), and I created an idly animated Tina from Bob’s Burgers to go along with my track. It looks like the video section could be immensely powerful, since you can create 3D visuals and then use a dedicated channel on the OP-Z to switch the camera view and punch in visual effects, all while keeping time with In the end, one of the things I love about the OP-Z is that it is very easy to pick up and use. My sessions with clients often resulted in an extended period, and the results were pleasing. It is important to sell this feature. With Ableton Pro on my desktop and a large collection of synthesizers and samples, I can play with many sounds. It’s rare for me to do so. Spending my free time in front of a screen in front of a computer is unappealing because I live a busy life mostly working at the computer. Using the OP-Z, I don’t feel like I am back at “work.” It’s also highly portable, so I can just pick it up and go. (I live in California) I recently took this to New York, and I had no trouble making the decision to bring my Kindle to New York The same is true for me I’m about to fly across the Atlantic, and what I’ll bring with me is also certain.

Some all-in-one gadgets can produce music, but they are either designed to be used at your desk, or they are too easy that they would be a fun time-waster. MPC live from Akai, or Deluge from Synthstrom, for example, are pretty robust but not as convenient to carry around in a backpack (or back pocket in the case of the OP-Z). Pocket Operators made by Teenage Engineering are even more portable than the OP-Z, however they lack the vast functionality of the OP-Z. To summarize, this thing is so awe-inspiring looking, so portable, and so much fun for only $600, that a few minor problems don’t make it any less of a wonderful And best of all, you’re likely to find even more secrets as the years progress.