Teenage Engineering OP-Z


Oh, dammit… I think I’m going to have to get one. I was going to ‘go modular’ with a Morphagene but all this lovely music and your cracking Z commentary has steered my hand.


I’m saving for an Op-z to jam when I’m away from (and with) my elektrons… long story short: I’m wondering how do you feel the synth engines, some people say they are a bit limited (that’s quite vague…), what are your thoughts? Thanks in advance!


They are limited, but they’re not as bad as some make them out to be. The presets basically suck, but it’s because there’s not many of them and everyone has different taste.

I hate the presets personally but I find the synth engines completely workable. Between the two parameters, filter, resonance, and effects I don’t find it to be too limited. It just forces you to make decisions faster, which is really helpful for actually making music. The distortion in particular can really wake up a sound and add some harmonics. Almost all of the presets are really chip tune sounding though so be prepared to tweak if that isn’t your thing.


I think the limited synth engine comment is just something that’s picked up traction and been parroted a bit. They are limited only by your imagination as there’s a load of ways to affect the sound :+1:


To me personally, the synth engines are definitely limited. You have four parameters (P1, P2, Filter and Resonance) to change the timbre of the sound. Then you have a parameter page for the mandatory ADSR amp envelope. Page 3 with the LFO/Arp is interesting again but page four is basically just channel controls for volume, pan and sends.

I think we have to be honest here that there is not much space for intricate sound designing. I really like to use the randomize-parameter-function on my synth tracks and even after minutes of randomizing the synth engines I often get same-ish kind of sounds and not a broad range or a sound that surprises me.

The amount and quality of synth engines is also very lacking for my taste. It’s a subjective thing but I just wish there were more, like basic virtual analogue bread and butter sounds instead of harsh, cold, digital, freeware-vst-like sounds.

They should’ve definitely put more development time into the synth engines/sound instead of niche features like Unity-integration and DMX-light-controls, then this could be a much better device.


True, many people say that the synth engines are limited on the op-z. I think that’s because on paper, they are, especially in comparison to elektron synths or even the op-1. On some engines, there is hardly any change to be noticed when turning the dials for synth parameters 1 and 2, for others the changes are more drastic (e.g. the one that sounds like the digital engine of the op-1). There is only 1 lfo, with a very limited amount of destinations and shapes. The arp track doesn’t even have an lfo.

However, the device as a whole is limited only by your imagination, I’d say. The ways you can sequence and alter the tracks with parameter-lock, step components, fx, tape tricks and transposition is truly where the op-z shines. I wouldn’t worry too much about the limits of the engines, because they are only part of the picture. The drum sample engines are also very limited in comparison to other machines, but all that doesn’t really matter. I think TE really hit the sweet spot with the simplified sound shaping capabilities and the immense freedom the op-z offers to twist and turn everything on its head again. Lastly, if you think you run into a corner where you can’t get the sounds from the op-z you have in your head, you can still sequence other devices with it, which is a whole other realm to discover.

For me, the op-z is a keeper and is even more flexible as a portable device as the op-1.


But it’s not just about the 4 pages of synth parameters. There’s numerous ways to alter the sound with the sequencer parameters.

Also looking at Youtube videos a lot of people seem to use the OpZ sounds in their standard form and as laid out

You could for example have the lead as a second bassline. Put it into Polymode for a bit of extra beef. Apply various parameter locks to alter the sound over the length of a long sequence. Change the various sequence lenghts to add a different feel and sound. Use the ARP as a lead. Apply multiple effects and layers with the chord channel.

The samples can be tuned to be played as a separate track and not just a random sample. And there’s endless percussion options

To summarise :thinking: it’s down to the user to get the extra mileage out of what’s there by applying a bit of thought.


I only use a couple of the engines as I don’t like most of them, same for OP-1, but obviously the OP-Z has even less parameters, I mostly use my OP-Z with samples, but obviously it depends what you like and what you want to do.


Yeah, you can get creative within the limits and work around them by using other techniques besides changing synth parameters but the point stands that the synth engines themselves are pretty limited because of the lack of parameters and the overall amount of synth engines available. It’s also too easy to say that people dont know how to use it just because they feel that the sonic capabilities of this device are kind of crippled :upside_down_face:

It’s one of the weakpoints of this device and people are not parotting it (like somebody above said), if so many users feel this way, it’s probably a viable point of criticism :man_shrugging:


For me the synth engines are too limited. I really like the OP-Z but i hope TE will put in more engines in the future. Every time i use it i feel like my synth sounds are very similar to the ones i hear from other op-z users. It would be nice to make more strange and extreme sounds like i did on the OP-1. And i would love to have more sample slots and less synth slots. Still a great little device though.


I don’t like words like “weakness” when thinking about the OPZs synth engines. It never set itself out to be the final say on digital synthesis. They are definitely limited in what they can do, I won’t argue that, but other than some early adopters, everyone knows this when getting one. And with some graft and care you can take these limited engines into all sorts of varied directions.

The random function is really useful in mixing things up and gives the engines some legs.

I’d expect a new engine or two by the end of the year but plenty in the OPZ now to get some great little tunes on the go.


I wonder if the OP-Z would’ve made more sense without the synth engines, replaced by sample playback tracks across the board.


I think most OP-Z owners would agree the sum is more than the parts, whilst I’d definitely like to see some more synth engines even if nothing else major was added to it I’d still be perfectly happy with it. The fact remains though that as a synth it is a bit basic, but don’t get too hung up on it as it is kind of awesome regardless of this.


I’d like more synth options, but you can add your own samples and they act just like synths. I’ve added samples from the Moog Model 15 app, for instance.

The main point of the OP-Z though, is the sequencer. It’s just amazing.


I’m surprised there hasn’t been much more activity from TE in

  • turning the iOS app into a bigger library of additional instruments (or just releasing a few other instruments for that matter)
  • user instrument/pack creation, storage and upload tools

What would be nice is an ‘instrument builder’ like the Novation Circuit: present a number of building blocks on screen (osc, filter, env etc) and allow the user to assign various controls to the OP-Z controls (macros), name it, and save it.


I’m a bit afraid that TE won’t really follow up on expanding the OP-Z universe… From what I’ve read, it seems that many users have troubles with their oplab modules, and no word from TE about it. The battery replacement is unheard of, and that was, IMO, one of the selling points when compared to OP1. No official tools from TE to cook drumkits or chromatic samples either… Don’t get me wrong: I love my OPZ but I’m kinda wary about TE.

Regarding the synth limitations: it’s limited indeed… but so are the PO, and the OPZ clearly was conceived as one mega PO on crack. But I don’t care too much, I like limitations, and even more when the whole package is already so feature rich. Were the engines richer, I would lost myself in it and ignore all the other wonderful possibilities.


Don’t be afraid @Kuro! There is clearly development ongoing on multiple fronts. The videolab toolkit and library is being actively maintained, and you can see some demos from keijiro which were last updated just a month ago. You can follow those projects if you want to keep a tab on them.

The last OP-Z OS update was released in February, and it contained a lot of fixes and improvements, and the one before that was just as interesting.

Edit: Also keep in mind that TE updated the OP-1 for years after releasing it, adding an arp and new synths in 2018 … wait omg they released a new version in 2019! haha cool I’m gonna install it … it fixes a bunch of stuff! <3


Reading OP-Z official product page says:

OP–Z comes with 8 synthesis based sound engines. more sound engines will be released continuously and made available through the configurator in the OP–Z app.

And same for FX:

OP–Z has two separate fx-buses […]. future firmware upgrades will expand the OP–Z with even more fx.

Also we will see how many (and which) modules TE release in the future :man_shrugging:


@tengig @mutt True, true… but how many products were sold with the promises of future uber-cool updates that finally never came…? OPZ is still young, though, so I’ll wait and see before raging.


To be fair, TE did a good job continuously updating and adding new synths and fx to the OP-1 for free…