Teenage Engineering has lately made headlines for assisting Panic in the development of the Playdate handheld, but the business is best known for its outstanding OP-1 portable synth and sequencer. Instead of fully recreating an electronic instrument that has been a favorite of musicians for 11 years, the company has given it some substantial feature changes and a sleeker design with the new OP-1 field.
Teenage Engineering devices, like the tiny Pocket Operators,
remain a popular choice among musicians for the simple reason that they feature physical buttons and knobs that can make performing easier and more enjoyable than tapping a touchscreen.
The TX-6 portable mixer from Teenage Engineer is a superb representation of what the firm does best. It’s the size of a Game Boy but packed with all the functions a music mixer would desire, and despite the small size of its knobs and sliders, you can’t help but toy with it for hours on end.
The new OP-1 field looks remarkably identical to the old OP-1 field eleven years later, which is a monument to what Teenage Engineering’s designers accomplished the first time around. Although there are some minor color changes and a new aluminum casing, anyone who is familiar with the original OP-1 will feel right at home with the new version.
The most significant changes to the OP-1 are on the inside,
with Teenage Engineering claiming that the device has over 100 improvements, including an upgraded speaker for louder sound, 32-bit stereo audio throughout, a USB-C port, Bluetooth MIDI, 24 hours of battery life per charge, an all-glass OLED screen that now sits flush with the rest of the interface, 160 minutes of recorded sampling storage, four styles of tapes to record to, and an FM antenna.
Teenage Engineering appeared to be turning its attention from affordable audio toys to more powerful tools for music composition when the TX-6 portable mixer was introduced with a price tag of $US1,200 ($1,666), and the OP-1 field maintains that trend. The original OP-1 costs $US1,400 ($1,943), while the new version costs $US2,000 ($2,776), making it less of an audio toy for beginners and more of a serious piece of music-creating gear for experts.
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