Teenage Engineering OP-Z




Okay, I got to spend some time with the OP-Z, and I have to take a few steps back with my previous comments.

I still think it’s kinda shit that, accessibility wise, TE basically shut their doors to those who are colorblind with the OP-Z. At the same time, however, their new device is basically the distilled vision of the OP-1. Many videos that came later out of the OP-1’s release showed off the capability range of the OP-1, but further got away from what the OP-1 was originally intended for: a portable instrument that makes it fun and easy to explore making music.

And the OP-Z is pretty much the original spirit of the OP-1 packed into a device the size of a television remote controller. With my memory capacity equivalent to Dory of “Finding Nemo”, a screen would be helpful (save the phone/tablet argument for another discussion), but I still found myself exploring and experiencing joy make music. The level of depth is there if you want it, but if you want a device that is super portable and fun to play or sketch ideas, the OP-Z is pretty rad.


For real dude…


Adaptive/assistive technology aside, I think the screen-less jammin’ thing taps into (no pun intended) some deep anxieties, as so many of us have become addicted to our screens. It’s hard to imagine using a digital device without one.


Screen-slave social-media-cancer zombie-apocalypse info-overload/knowledge-starvation self-orientated isolationism.

Or you know, something along those lines…


My dears, we’re here to talk about the OP-Z! :heavy_heart_exclamation:


I haven’t had the chance to use the OP-Z’s screen-sharing abilities, but that’s good to know that TE is at least addressing the colorblind issue.

And yeah, having no screen made things very uncomfortable at first, but then I started remembering old Casio keyboards, and jamming on them when I was a little bean. I don’t really see myself yet of using an OP-Z in a live performance, and I have other gear to do solid recording, but I see the OP-Z as a fun thing to sketch ideas in a cafe or bar. I can also see the OP-Z as a fun thing to bring to parties and link up to lights and give folks an interactive experience.

Like the OP-1, deep down, the OP-Z is a fun creativity device center around music. How far you want to take it is really up to the user.


^ it is really small enough that I literally pack it into my handbag every time I go out of the house :slight_smile: And it’s unobtrusive enough (no screen!!) that most people won’t take notice, which I find nice.


I usually bring my OP-1 to work and bust it out during breaks. Count me to do the same with the OP-Z when I have the funds for a unit.


Yes indeed. There are also social implications to its design. Teenage Engineering touched upon this (again, no pun intended) during the OP-Z’s preview phase. They anticipated that the size itself would be sure to upset some people. It’s a visceral thing.

I don’t think there are right or wrong feelings to have about this instrument. Criticism, both positive and negative is welcome. But unless someone is aware of the design intent of the maker, I think it’s much more difficult to judge it either way.


It just looks so cute that I’d be worried I’d dip it into my latte!
It looks like Scottish Shortbread with lights…


Now I’m craving a flour/butter/sugar ‘module’ or two. Time to put the kettle on again!


I think TE didn’t do a good job in marketing the OP-Z before and after its release. The messaging and description was a bit vague at the start, and the marketing upon release has been barebones at best. It seems that I, and many others, are by now accustom to the OP-1 capabilities, and naturally expected TE to release a product to be the next evolution of their original flagship instrument. But like I said above, turns out the OP-Z is just a smaller, more distilled version of the OP-1. If you keep in mind the products that TE releases, and their spirit when it comes to music, the OP-Z makes total sense.

Perhaps TE didn’t want to turn away a chunk of their fanbase, knowing that they must be expecting something bigger than OP-1, so they remain low-key about the OP-Z.


An SD card module for multi-stem recordings and import from large folders of samples would be nice to see.


Not sure if I’d agree with this description. OP1 was primarily a tape machine; OPZ appears to be primarily a sequencer. They might have similar synth and sampler engines but the approach is pretty different.


One of the big criticisms of the OP-1 was it had no undo tape record function(athough there are tricks that can workaround this). Does the OP-Z have an undo record function.? If so it is an improvement.


No undo for live recording, but copying a track to another slot is quickness.


Yep. Shocking design choice


You can save a copy of your project on the OP-Z then recall it to its last saved state. Not exactly undo but it’s a safety net.
The No Save mode is pretty awesome too :+1:


Another shortcoming is sequencing is pretty limited on the OP-1 is limited compared to the OP-Z: only 1 pattern at a time vs. up to 16, step components, polymetric patterns, etc.

Gross oversimplification:

OP-1 - Onboard sampling, resampling via Tape, limited sequencing, pretty colored display
OP-Z (base unit - no addons) - No audio recording, no onboard sampling, much more capable sequencing.

The two are different enough that it’s clear that TE wants you to buy both of them, not one instead of the other.