Talk me out of an OP-1 :)

I’m THIS close to pulling the trigger on an OP-1 finally. Been reading their forums, watching youtube vids, groked the manual, feeling confident I understand what it can do.

So what things does it not do well? Any annoying issues I should be aware of (aside from the headphone noise)?

Oh, and one question. Do you get 8 synth parts AND 8 drum parts at once, or is it 8 parts total? The manual was a little unclear on that.



By 8 parts do you mean multi timberal? Because you can only play one at time. Sorry not sure what you mean by parts?
I had an OP-1, it was great fun. I ended up swapping it. It was great for sketches but I never used it on anything serious. The synths were fun but ultimately limited. Its great as a sketch pad, and would be fun as hell with the OT (I didn’t have an OT at the time). If I had more money to spare I would have kept it, but it was very expensive and there were more pressing things I wanted like the OT.

I never seen anything about the OP-1 being multitimbral. I’m under the impression that it has 8 different synth engine types, but uses one at a time.

Yeah I think there might be 9 now as there was a new synth cant recall off the top of my head. And there are two drum machines, the sample one and the drum synth one. but all can only be played one after the other and multitracked with the tape.

It’s fun but not really a useful part of a hardware chain. First of all, you need to use a USB->MIDI converter. Second, yes, you can use as many parts as you want- there are 4 layers you can record onto the reel-to-reel tape-like recorder and you can overdub those into clipping range as much as you want! But the keyboard will only play one synth, one drum pattern (or one sample you recorded and mapped to the keys) at a time- along with whatever you’ve already recorded.

The sequencers and arps are great. Most of the synth modes are pretty good (the FM and the sampler are the most useful) , but some are pretty useless. The FX can be great, and it is possible to apply them to external stuff if you sample it and put it in, but the singe 1/8’’ out is kind of limiting in a hardware setup and you’re going to end up pulling the files out of the OP-1 as samples for the OT or for your DAW more than anything. Sampling through the line input is fun, but the time-stretching and beat syncing isn’t very conducive to just pulling samples and syncing- it takes a lot more thought than it should to (for me, anyway) not destroying an hour of work by trying to sync something up and it messing everything else up in the process. But, it can act as a tiny little MPC-like sequencer by pretty quickly and painlessly mapping out a 12 second sample (in the drum sampler, 8 seconds in the synth) across the keys and letting you trim the slices and putting together a sample kit VERY fast.

In fact, the best thing about it is probably the easy sampling and ease at building a kit out of a sample- and then outputting the files to the OT or a DAW.

It’s a fun little piece of kit but it’s really best used as something to bring with you out in the world and make music wherever you want. It is best used 100% by itself or as a way to build loops and samples to feed into other sources. It’s not going be something you find sitting in front of your Elektron boxes and being an integral part to what’s going on- at least, not something you couldn’t pay a whole lot less to get the same uses out of. Honestly, if Teenage Engineering makes a slightly larger version with MIDI I/O and a step sequencer that could be synced into a chain, I would probably buy it. But I sold my OP-1. I miss holding such a solid piece of engineering in my hand more than I miss the way it sounds or the music I made on it.

EDIT Also, I don’t know what kind of sounds your arsenal is lacking that you are looking to add in, but I can think of 5 new products that cost about what the OP-1 costs that I’d rather have right now (Pulse 2, MFB Dominion X, MFB Tanzbar, Sub Phatty, Bass Station II, for $500 more you could get a Studiologic Sledge if you’re looking for a digital synth, and I could probably keep going =)

There you go, got there before me. That should be enough to talk you out of it :slight_smile:

Just to reiterate, you definitely don’t get 8 synth parts and drum parts at once! It’s not multitimbral at all. You can only play one engine (drum or synth at a time). The only way to get around this is by laying different parts to tape, which is a different thing entirely.

I agree that it works best on its own, rather than part of a hardware chain. That is to say, I don’t sync it with my Octatrack much. I do make loops and record them to the OT, though.

Anyway, as others have said, it’s a really fun sampler. It’s biggest weakness to me is the synth engines. There are some good sounds in there, but overall I find the synths pretty limited. It’s not like the Monomachine where there are lots of crazy sweet spots to find. Some of the newer effects do help out, but by and large things are kind of dinky. I do find I can get decent bass out of it, which is nice.

I still use the synth sounds because they’re fun and immediate, and I can often get close enough. They’re just not inherently inspiring, which is too bad.

I still recommend the OP-1 - nothing beats playing with it on a train or in bed or at the beach. But I’m not sure how many full tracks it’ll inspire…good luck!

How I talked myself out of it : mono resampling. And the biggie, no removable storage.

I mean , I think it appears to be a fun sketch pad, at least , so if I had to worry about running out of space while jamming and then recorded things won’t necessarily sound the same. …

It’s important for me in terms of getting things done to get instruments that I could finish a song on, if I wanted to. It’s unclear if I could do that on the op1.

That said, it looks more fun than iOS, in terms of portable music making which is great, but the lack of tactile interface gets old…An op1 accessory to use ios for storage and wifi MIDI would be neat.

Should be a safe buy used? Build quality is nice, I think? I’m sure even if you loose cash as a “rental fee” you’ll get usable sounds and enjoyment from it. Every bit of gear has at least one track in it. :joy:

I love my op1 and would not try to talk anybody out of it. I use it in tandem with OT, a4, and MDUW. That said, I don’t often put it into the chain, although I’m working on it. The op1 is a huge part of my live perforce and is always next to the elektrons even if I decide against other tools in my rig. I use it as a live instrument, meaning I actually play it live. The pads and strings sounds are amazing and the ability to get some insane noise going is intense. The effects are not the best, although the CWO is in a league of its own. Typically I run the op1 into my a4 via fx track, and then a4 into my OT for further altering. It can be great on its own and since I’ve owned one, I haven’t traveled without it. For production based setup, it will become sample food for OT or daw (or whatever), but if you are playing live instruments it can go a long way. Works especially well for my improv sets (all my live sets are improv).

The synth engines are slightly limited, but it allows you to focus on playing a lot more than tweaking parameters, although you can take patches from one extreme to the other with little effort,

As far as the patch saving, you get 8 stored patches in synth mode and 8 storedatches in drum mode. Yu have to switch modes to go back and forth and you can’t layer, but this is not a concern as I have so much other gear going on.

It’s not for everybody, but if you have the money to spend, I recommend it.

Thanks Ihated, that answers my question on the 8 parts thing.

I’m mainly interested in it as a standalone sketch pad and for out and about music making. I plan to mostly use it self-contained, and I have no problems just grabbing the samples off it in disk mode if I need to use them with the OT. Likely that’s the best sounding way to do it anyway.

The mono-resampling thing is a bit of a bummer though. I read about that in some older posts, but hoped maybe that was addressed since then in an OS update. Oh well.

Thanks everyone, keep 'em coming!

IMHO the OP-1 one is one of the strangest, simultaenously brilliant & frustrating instruments I’ve ever owned. In the end she & I didn’t get on, purely for the way in
which I worked & the sort of music I was producing didn’t match up with the OP-1 scheme at all…

But that was down to me - not the fault of the synth in anyway at all.
You’ve only got to listen to the work of other cats - I’d thoroughly recommend Daren Ager’s ‘De La Sol’ ( check Bandcamp ) album that he’s just dropped - to hear quite how incredible the OP-1 can be.

In another life, or if I live long enough, I’m sure I’ll give that little rectangle of possibilities another go…

Sorry - not a ‘technical’ answer at all - a purely ‘human’ angle on this little beast I guess.
If you’ve got the cash - or can get one for the right cash - & are looking for something to impart its own workflow & rules a bit, & not necessarily to play along with all your other current gear in the way you might normally, then do it. You won’t regret it.

Sold mine 6 months ago… Have been craving it ever since… Will soon buy another one :joy:
It’s just SO much fun…limitations - yes for sure…that’s part of the strength!

I’ve been craving a new hardware ‘synth’ for awhile now, but the whole subtractive method of synthesis just bores me to tears these days. Even the A4 sort of falls in this category, so at the moment it’s just not on my radar.

The OP-1 seems like it’s one of the few bits of hardware working with a new method of synthesis, ala Synplant or some of the newer iPad apps.

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Honestly, don’t buy it if you’re looking “new methods of synthesis”. The modulation of the synths is very limited and the sound quality is higher on iPad aps, to be perfectly honest. It’s basically a bunch of iPad apps in a box that all work together very well.

Buy it if you want something to take out of your house with you and think up some ideas- but not necessarily as something you end up using on recordings a lot of the time. The iPad+OP-1 combo has some serious possibilities, though. In fact, sampling synths from the iPad into the OP-1 is great-it’s a pretty simple workflow for building synth loops from the iPad and fitting them to bars @ a certian BPM, dropping the files in the comp and then onto the CF card for the OT. This was my overall plan for the OP-1 I just couldn’t justify keeping a $800 synth just to pull samples from my iPad (because I’m too lazy to record from one app to another with Audiobus and then drop it iTunes- same amount of steps…).

Based on what you require of it, I think you will be happy with it. I like to use mine as a standalone portable production centre mostly, doing whole songs just on the OP-1, the limitations are very much part of the strength of it for me, and it lends itself to getting me moving in a different direction. I don’t use it all the time, I can go a few months without using it, but always have fun when I return to it.

Here is an album I made using just the OP-1, no other gear at all.

Thanks Daren, I had booked marked that after seeing on the Ohpeeone forums too. Looking forward to giving it a listen.

Darren I suppose I’ll take this opportunity to say your “Retro Italian House Disco” tune you posed on YouTube 6 years ago was so far “ahead of it’s time” (by reaching back before 99.9% of other producers were). I listened to it probably 5 years ago and I am still amazed by how forward thinking it was- it was right as “Disco” was starting to be tacked on to the front of different types of music (“Disco-Punk”, etc.) and just as producers like The Chromatics were starting their dark Italian Disco revival, and long before Daft Punk decided to make a disco record. And it was even before the whole early-80’s revival peaked across all forms of music.

Now classic house and disco elements are finding their way into everything, and I always remember your videos as being there first time I thought, “man people really need to start getting back to the basics- and find this…joy that’s been lost composing music exclusively in front of a computer screen.” I credit you (and my personal hero James Murphy!) for making me realize that.

I have owned one for like 2 years and still like it.

Sat down with it yesterday and a tune came up.

There is a novelty factor to the sound in my opinion and it did start to wear out on me a bit. But yesterday, I really liked the sound of it again - so it is a decent bit of kit!

And it goes very well with Elektrons :slight_smile:

I had fun with it. I’ve kept gear laying around for years that I enjoyed a lot less than the OP-1. But the OP-1 is cool and thus easy to sell so it’s gone =)

I don’t regret it, but if I still had it it would probably be sitting right next to me on the couch.

Sold mine with no regrets. The deal breaker for me, mainly due to the way I work, is the lack of a patch management system.