Our friends at Teenage Engineering were back at NAMM, with the latest iterations of the OP-1 and OpLab.
The little screen on the OP-1 continues to delight, with one of the most unique interfaces from a non touch screen. They added a new module that allows one to use the device as an Etch-A-Sketch and draw out pitch contours. It even includes the shake-to-erase gesture. The little cranks that go on top of the knobs are also new.
The OpLab, including some branded sensors, seems to finally be ready for prime time.
The OpLab does allow one to use alternative sensors, and outputs control voltage suitable for analog modular synths in addition to controlling the OP-1.
Teenage Engineering is always fun. That goes for both playing the instruments and visiting their both at NAMM. We remember the OP-1 from the previous show:
Teenage Engineering introduced Oplab this time around. It’s a DIY system with a small versatile connectivity hub and variety of available sensors, including this shoe:
The heart of the system is the Oplab device itself, with CV inputs and outputs (in a format that connects easily to Eurorack format modules, the OP-1 and other devices), MIDI and USB. The USB can used to connect to an iPad to control synth apps or receive control data. Similarly, the analog CV and custom digital connections serve both directions. In addition to the shoe, they have several available sensors, including pressure, tap and rotation, though they strongly encourage users to bring their own.
The little eviscerated hard-drive on the right is an example of the DIY spirit of the system. It turns out one can spin the disk inside a hard drive and generate useful pulses for temporal control. I had never thought of using a hard drive as a controller before.
The Oplab and its related devices should be available later this spring. I’m definitely intrigued.
Among the attractive features are its small size, the tape mode (shown in the picture above), and the user interface which uses color coding to visually map the parameters being edited to one of the four colored knobs. The color coding was present in all the modes, including the tape mode, the sampler, the pulse-wave synthesizer, envelope generator and others.
I might have bought one had it already been available.