Ten years ago, Teenage Engineering fabricated a splash with the quirky, “boutique” OP-1 synthesizer. The b-word gets quotes because the OP-1 would go along to be a huge hitting, enjoying a x yr run and several re-stocks along the way. The success of the OP-1 and the equally unique products that followed saw big brands lining up to collaborate in the hope that some of that design magic might exercise wonders for their ain products. Today, Teenage Engineering’due south unique style can be establish in everything from adorable gaming consoles to living rooms and pant pockets across the world.
Dorsum hither in 2022, the company recently unveiled the sequel to the synth that started information technology all – and it’southward called the OP-one Field ($1,999). The new “Field” line besides includes the TX-6 mixer ($1,199) and it looks like the company is repositioning itself with a new pattern artful and… price range. Teenage Technology has ever charged a premium for its genre-angle, playful design but given that the original OP-1 cost around $800 at launch and that the OP-1 Field is largely based on it, it’southward understandable that some loyal fans are feeling a trivial… priced out this time effectually.
Perhaps the bigger question is, will the new Field series offer enough magical music grit and Nordic design please, to not only justify the expense, merely to besides keep Teenage Engineering’s unique arroyo to making music relevant to new and existing artists akin?
@Random Mcranderson (
– I think what TE missed is the overall negative effect on their reputation this has had.
Introducing the TX-6 and OP-1 Field
Before we can attempt and understand “Field” and what it ways for the company, we should probably get a feel for the latest two products that are dividing fans in comments sections and on forums. We’ll start with the TX-six as that’southward an entirely new product for Teenage Applied science.
In the most unproblematic terms, the TX-6 is a tiny bombardment-powered mixer and audio interface. Despite its diminutive size information technology has 6 stereo inputs, a born synth, 8 effects, “DJ fashion”, an instrument tuner and wireless/Bluetooth MIDI control. For something as portable as a deck of cards, that’s quite impressive. The TX-6 could exist your main desktop audio interface past twenty-four hour period and the beating centre of your hyper-portable (or not) multi-synth studio by night.
Unsurprisingly it’s particularly well suited for connecting and mixing smaller studio gear. Not only Teenage Technology’s own products, but Korg’due south Volca range or Roland’s many compact synths and pulsate machines are also a good fit. Ultimately, anything you lot tin can wrangle into a 3.5mm line-level output is fair game hither. Anything with either an XLR connection or that requires phantom power is going to be a claiming of course. For outputs there are: main, aux and “cue” (for DJ mode).
(Gear Space) If I had enough money to buy one of these, I would probably buy something else. Just I practice beloved TE and the built in sequencer and synth looks interesting.
As is frequently the case with Teenage Technology products, there are some features that one might not normally expect. On the TX-six that would be the synth engine that includes drums sounds. Without a MIDI controller you can’t play it chromatically, just it’southward unusual to come across creative tools like this in most mixers and provides a way to poke out ideas right on the device. The inclusion of Bluetooth MIDI really feels in keeping with the portable form cistron and a recent firmware update immune for recording the mixer’s output directly to USB drives, which means you tin lay down tracks without even needing a phone to record into. One might argue some internal storage could have been included for the price, but we presume the density of the hardware doesn’t allow for it (we hope).
The OP-1 Field, on the other paw, is very clearly a successor to the decade-sometime OP-one. The launch was sold every bit the new synth being “100 times” amend with a listing of 100 new features or improvements. In practical terms, the main upgrades seem to be much improved on-board storage, new “tape” modes (more on this afterward), full stereo bespeak chain, a new synth engine, a new reverb effect, an improved brandish, longer battery life and 32-flake bladder recording.
(OP-Forums) not everything needs to be aimed at the lower end of the market. This is a massive update for an already very capable instrument.
With the Field, the OP-1 has been refreshed to bring it upwardly to date after a decade of user feedback. And this includes squashing some long-held limitations of the original. Most notably, the ability to piece of work on multiple projects on the device without the hassle of bankroll them up to a PC. Yep, the original OP-ane only had the ability to tape one song (or more than accurately, one “record”) at a time. Another large one, particularly for the synth and pulsate engines, is the introduction of stereo.
To testify this off, there’s a new synth engine chosen “Dimension.” Information technology joins the other 10 that were on the original (which already covered about bases). Dimension is a subtractive/analog-style synth with a variable waveform (it gradually changes from diverse pulse styles through sawtooth and and so noise).It too has a chorus feature for a fuller stereo sound. Information technology does a pretty proficient job of replicating more analog style sounds as well as lush pads and even some horns and wind instruments.
With so many different synth engines you’re not brusque of choice, merely the OP-1 is sometimes considered as having quite a colder, digital sound. This is true to a degree, but – equally with nigh things on this synth – there are creative ways to get effectually that if you know where to look.
Instead of in that location being an internal sequencer, Teenage Engineering science decided to imitate recording to tape on the OP-1, with just four tracks, including a physical time limitation of six minutes for each track. The illustration is taken seriously with no “disengage” or “re-create/paste” instead you “elevator” record and you tin drop it back elsewhere. There are modern concessions and then that it’due south not just about making life needlessly hard – instead it’s a very different way of making music that urges you to build songs in a style that most software’south infinite options and endless tracks ironically doesn’t.
But information technology’s precisely this unusual approach, anachronisms like “record” and imitating physical limitations in a digital environment that arguably makes Teenage Engineering products stand out. Nigh electronic music product these days likely happens in software on laptops. As computers became powerful enough to mimic outboard gear, often the just hardware yous might see producers using was a MIDI controller for playing software instruments with. In the last decade, at to the lowest degree, there’s been a steady re-emergence of hardware at the heart of the workflow. But most don’t use such a restrictive workflow equally the OP-1.
(Reddit) Love information technology. Everything cool about Op-1 to me simply minus the things I didn’t like. I love the new additions.
“It favors those that accept playing skills” YouTuber and OP-ane expert Cuckoo told Engadget referring to the OP-i’s alive tape recording approach. “Like if you want to be incredibly immediate, and you lot appreciate that, then it’southward for you,” he added.
Cuckoo, like many fans of Teenage Engineering, sees the lack of things like a MIDI sequencer or the ability to add and remove furnishings at any phase in the creation process as a proficient thing. A typical DAW lets yous motion single notes around or change virtually anything at any time which “feels” more useful (and it’s how
modern product tools work). The OP-1, for instance, is just a lot more committal. Once that idea is recorded to record, yous’re express in what can exist done with information technology. Just for some, that’s what makes it so exciting. Everything you do nudges yous frontwards in the song-making process or, at the very least, avoids you jamming abroad several hours as you trawl through VST presets as oft happens in something like Ableton Live.
“Teenage Engineering, they’re very good at minimizing your options, and in a good way. Like on a computer, everything is possible. But because everything is possible, it’s not like 1 optimized workflow. You need to notice that workflow for yourself. And virtually people probably don’t create like, a tight workflow.” Cuckoo said.
While this alternative way of working does have its fans, it tin can almost feel similar learning a new language if you’re used to a more conventional DAW+MIDI situation. This will likely mean, at the outset at least, you’ll almost certainly spend every bit much time googling for answers equally y’all do actually creating. Before long though, y’all’ll start noticing the exciting things yous can do that your faithful old DAW may never have put in your mind (even if information technology’s something it
Have the born FM radio on the OP-ane, for example, as Cuckoo illustrates. “Sometimes I’ve been performing with an OP-1, and been sampling from the FM radio, chopping up a [drum] kit, making a song, making an improvisation in like, maybe seven minutes or so?” Making a song based on sampling the radio in nether x minutes is not something well-nigh gear inspires you to practise.
Most don’t take an FM radio to be fair.
You lot can as well apply that radio in other, weird creative ways. Yous could utilise it to attune an LFO, for instance (and then the song on the radio is controlling a filter or other parameter). Or you can create synth sounds using a random FM sample looped and twisted in creative ways. You lot tin can also broadcast over FM (albeit incredibly brusque distances), which works perfectly with Teenage Applied science’s OB-4 speaker, which as well has an FM receiver.
(Reddit) But what is a tiny low powered FM transmitter for?
This is really where Teenage Engineering excels: calculation playful touches that open up creative opportunities you might non observe elsewhere. Along with the FM radio, the OP-i Field has a gyroscope that tin also be used as a modulator, which makes it exciting for live performances.
And while MIDI Bluetooth LE is condign more common, it makes so much sense in the portable form-gene of both the TX-6 and the OP-1 Field. Using the TX-6 wirelessly with the OP-1 Field was easy to setup and felt very natural. In fact they both play nice with iOS natively besides, so if you have a suite of mobile apps you savour using already, you can cleave out quite a capable mobile studio with a good mix of hardware and software alike.
Using the OP-1 Field together with the TX-vi does experience decadent. The three.5mm inputs on the mixer naturally makes you call back twice about what y’all might plug into it. I
plug a total-size synth into it, or possibly something like the MPC Live Two, merely this would also be a bit bizarre. A relatively comprehensive mixer it might be, simply its size begs you to, well, have it exterior nosotros suppose?
“I retrieve ‘Field’ leads my mind to think well-nigh field recordings and to be out in the field, work outside of the part… music that is portable. And I think it’s very obvious particularly if you lot expect at the TX-6 mixer […] this affair is and so incredibly well designed. And it’s hard to convince people that go angry when they see the price tag that how incredibly well engineered it is.” Cuckoo said.
(YouTube) The personal aspect of buying the OP-1 and what y’all become out of it is actually the only justification you lot need to overpay for an instrument.
But if portability is the key behind the “Field” moniker, Teenage Applied science has to convince people to part with thousands of dollars when in that location are apps and even mixers that tin can combine to do something like for a fraction of the price.
“A lot of people say, well, ‘you tin can practice all of this with Ableton Live and a reckoner that costs one-half the price!’ Just it’s not the point. It’s, I think, if the outcome is all that counts, the end production you can do a lot of stuff with an iPad, and some apps are complimentary even. The event is not everything, it’s also mastering a device. Like, playing this alive is a joy.” Cuckoo said.
Take a look effectually on YouTube at who is actually using the OP-i or the TX-6. If you look (and listen) long enough you lot’ll possibly start to see that there has possibly long been a corner of the music making world that doesn’t feel at domicile with the pads of an MPC, or the countless expandability of Ableton Live. A grouping that doesn’t want to go pulled into the world of modular synthesis or circuit bending. People that have a fondness for alternative methods but with an appreciation for well-designed hardware. Equally long as they have the ways.
It’s hard non to get sucked into the OP-1 Field. I personally struggled with the workflow initially, but I observe it curious. Something tells me that if I stick with information technology and break my former MIDI/DAW habits, great rewards await. The TX-6 mixer on the other hand is a harder sell while still somehow incredibly appealing. Especially if you are already flush with portable gear, it makes a lot more sense. Perhaps the of import question is: What is next in the Field series. An OP-Z Field? Some high-end Pocket Operators? Something completely different? Whatever it is, information technology could be the company’due south most crucial device yet, or what ultimately alienates the company’s loyal fan base.
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