A Bunch of Questions and Ideas

I’m wanting to buy an OP-1, and since resistance is futile I will probably buy one regardless of learning things I never wanted to hear. Regardless, I’ve got a bunch of questions if anyone fancies answering some, so prepare for an epic-length debut post!

I almost completely decided against buying an OP-1 after noticing it has no built-in card slot for storage. I started telling myself “It doesn’t matter, just deal with the fact it needs its hand holding with a computer in order to be viable”. Fact is though, it does matter, quite a lot actually, and I’m curious if Teenage Engineering have ever hinted at fixing this limitation with an update?

Now you might ask, but how can they when the machine has no card slot?

Well here’s how: A firmware update could give OP-1 the same ability they gave to the Pocket Operators. The PO-33 and PO-133 samplers, for example, are able to back-up their contents and load them back into the device using audio input and output. The OP-1 also has an audio input and output so I cannot imagine why this ability could not be added to the OP-1 in a firmware update. If they did this, suddenly, every OP-1 user would be able to make back-ups of their OP-1 wherever they are, you just hook it up to a hand-held digital recorder or whatever. The storage permitted on these recorders would allow you to make masses and masses of back-ups on a single card.

My second question, again relates to a limitation the device has, but could be remedied in an update. The OP-1 has Stereo In, Stereo Out, and an internal Stereo Mixer, right? Imagine you had just mixed down to the Album using the Stereo Mixer, but then wanted to capture that back to the Tape. The problem is you get a mono recording when actually, since there are four tracks in total, there is no hardware-limiting reason why you could not do it in Stereo. To do so, all you would need is an option to choose which two of the four Tape tracks you would like occupying with the left and right channels of the Album. All the Album is is two channels of audio, so having this option would fix the limitation.

Same when sampling from the Line Input; just add the option to sample to any two selected tracks instead of summing it down to one. This means the digital recorder you would have with you if they fixed the back-up limitation mentioned earlier, could also function as a way to grab ‘Stereo’ samples of environments, and have the samples retain their Stereo image when recorded onto the OP-1’s tape.

Third thing, when a product like the OP-1 displays such obvious genius and finesse in design, you’d think those same developers would have thought of a creative way of enabling you to name your presets on the device, and of course, have the ability to delete them.

So that’s it really. I love the OP-1 dearly and don’t even own one yet, but seriously, some of the limitations seem a bit, well, wrong. As I said at the start, I’ll probably end up buying one anyway, but it would make my decision to purchase a heck of a lot more enjoyable if any of the suggestions above have ever been hinted at by Teenage Engineering for a future update. Just seems wrong that such an expensive device that benefits from being portable, is needlessly lamed by these limitations.

We’re talking £1200 for an OP-1, yet only £85 for a PO-133 which puts the OP-1 to shame when it comes to storage, and that surely should not be the case on their premium product. Would really love to hear from anyone if they know anything, or maybe even Teenage Engineering themselves if they get to read this.

I hear it’s the OP-1’s 10 Year Anniversary this year, so congratulations to Teenage Engineering, but please, if you can, please add these features in a much needed update!

I’ve changed the title of the thread a little since although the above are likely not deal-breakers for me, I might as well add a few specifically non-deal-breaker stuff that I wish it had.

Would love to see more in the way of reverb. Can’t help thinking that a Hybrid Convolution Reverb capable of Shimmer like Ableton just got would be ideal, even if it means it would need to run at a reduced processing resolution to be viable in an OP-1.

Would love to see a Physically Modelled Wind/Reed engine for Brass and Flutes etc. Would also love to see a dedicated Organ engine capable of anything from a full-on Pipe Organ to a humble Transistor Organ and anything inbetween, including weird hybrids.

Would love to see the ability on each LFO screen to press Shift to access parameters for a second LFO that basically mimics those parameters available for LFO 1. Having two simultaneous LFOs would make sound design more detailed.

Would love to see the ability for the LFO to modulate the tape speed. Unless I’m misunderstanding something, there is no way to modulate tape speed, for example, with the Random LFO. After seeing the way the Modulation and Tape was designed in OP-1 I thought wow, brilliant, and modulating the tape speed like that was the first thing that came to mind. But unless I’m misunderstanding something, you cannot do that.

Seems like they really missed a trick there with the modulation routing.

Well, if we calculate how much storage a PO-33 uses for samples, it’s around 8MB (assuming 8 bits at 23kHz and 40s memory). A PO-33 backup can run nearly 4 minutes, so it’s roughly half a MB per minute that it manages to store.

The OP-1 looks to have 512MB storage. So an audio backup would run for roughly 250 minutes.

I’d rather have an USB backup in a couple seconds than an audio backup in over 4 hours.

Not informed of the technical implications but even if that is the case for a full back-up, I would still rather have the option than not. Bear in mind that when you enter storage mode you would be presented with a new mode ‘Audio Backup’, which could offer various options. You could choose to back-up the whole unit, just the Album, just the Tape, just a Selected Sample or All Samples, just a Selected Preset or All Presets.

Another thing to bear in mind is that the POs have a much less capable processor than the OP-1 does (at least I’m assuming so), so no doubt the OP-1 would be able to ‘Modem-Out’ this stuff to audio a heck of a lot quicker than a Pocket Operator can. As long as the recorder is capable of capturing the necessary data fast enough, there is no problem.

One final thing regards this is the recorder itself, because a recorder capable of 88,200Hz would be twice as fast as one that can only handle 44,100Hz. A 192,000Hz-capable recorder on the other hand would be four times quicker than a 44,100Hz recorder. You just spin a dial on the OP-1 to tell it what sampling rate you’re backing up at. So when you consider that you can pick and choose what you back up, and add to that the different sampling rates available, I reckon backing up your synth presets for example, would be so quick I doubt you’d barely be able to blink before it’s done.

Would definitely rather have this ability than not, that’s for sure.

It’d certainly lead to a million disgruntled customers that record or store or play back the audio at rates incompatible with whatever settings were selected on the OP-1. If I were TE, I’d stay a million miles away from a feature like that. It’d only be useful for the 0.05% of users without a computer, and people without a computer are exactly those that would get technical stuff wrong (because they’re the ones who consciously stay away from technical stuff, or they’d have a computer).

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One can only hope then, dear haslo, that you are not part of the Teenage Engineering team, and that some cool hipster among them feels it in their soul, the need to implement this feature in the OP-1.

For what it’s worth, if setting the sample rate of a digital recorder is something of a challenge, I doubt they’d have an OP-1 in the first place, or even a digital recorder for that matter. After all, the makers of both devices must naturally assume the IQ of the user is high enough to press a button or spin a knob.

And what about us poor hermits, hipsters and lost souls, eh?

I doubt there’s a hipster, hermit or lost soul out there who doesn’t dream of heading-off into the wilderness for weeks or even months on end with their OP-1, capturing sounds (in stereo), sampling it into their OP-1 (in stereo), and at the end of making the perfect track, use that same digital recorder to off-load their OP-1 data, making room for the next track the following day!

But since you don’t like the idea I’m gonna be really hipster now and suggest that Teenage Engineering not only do this, but also add a sample rate suitable for backing up to actual cassette tape as well as digital recorders.

Fun stuff, but hey, I’m really counting on Teenage Engineeering being the true hipsters I think they are, because if they’re not, we’re fucked and won’t be getting any of the features I mentioned, let alone the hipster ‘Audio Back-Up’ thing. I shall now crawl back under my rock in hermitude, and whisper secret messages into the wind, hoping they make it over to Sweden intact, and full of hipster goodness!

Yours Truly,
A Potential OP-1-Owning-Hipster-Boi-Hermit-Sort-Of-Lost-Soul

With regard to the sample rate, I guess you’re in luck. The PO-33 backup works when it’s being transferred through a speaker, the air, and a microphone - I’m sure they built plenty of redundancy into the signal.

I hope our wonderful cassette tape wielding hipster gets their feature, finds cassette tapes with 4 hours on one side, and a power plug in their cave for charging their OP-1.

You know very well that back-ups, when performed by an OP-1, would not take anything like the amount of time you suggested, and you also know very well that I have no mains socket in my cave!

Just for that, I’m not sharing this leg of Woolly Mammoth I was about to share with you!

u know u can connect your OP to a phone, tablet nowadays.
backup, manage & reload projects.
manage, rename and delete your presets that way too.
don’t have to be tether to a computer anymore for that stuff.

personally i find those audio backups semi annoying & mostly unreliable.
what if u made tons of backups and then foudn out
that some or none them worked when u tried to load them back in?

the USB method is basically foolproof for all levels, drag n drop.

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But why would an audio back-up fail? Just to be clear, I’m not talking about using the microphone method, I’m talking about using a basic audio cable between the OP-1 and a digital recorder.

Regards using a phone, well normally I would not mind doing that, but when our phones are at the mercy of tech giants who break anything and everything whenever it suits them, the option to use Audio Back-Up mode is actually quite liberating. Doesn’t matter what the reptillians at Apple or Google do to your phone and its USB compatibility now or in the future, because with Audio Back-Up you get to give them the big finger. As long as you have an audio cable handy they can never break the ability.

I just like the technology: it’s good, honest, simple and liberating, and I can’t even describe how pleased I was to see it apppear on those Pocket Operators. Honestly, I just smiled and the first thing that went through my mind was, you know what, I really like these Teenage Engineering peeps for doing that!

I have a phone out of necessity, not out of any desire to own one. It’s an iPhone (unfortunately), the most restrictive pile of garbage I ever had the misfortue to own, and I’ve read on this very forum of the hoops people have had to jump through just to use it as a way to off-load their OP-1. What a farce: cables, power adapters, wireless receivers, special apps that Apple can break at any time and God knows what else, just to transfer a file. No thanks, I’d rather just plug in an audio cable and let rip, and Audio Back-Up allows you to do that!

Surely people can see why Audio Back-Up (at least as an option), would be a good thing. All I can say is that if we don’t get it, then personally I’ll have to build myself a little Raspberry Pi computer with a touch-screen shield on it. That way I have a proper Linux-based computer that would connect to the OP-1 without issue, dragging whatever file I like wherever I like.

If I could just buy a Mini-USB to lightning cable and connect direct to the iPhone, I would, but Apple being the reptillians they are means I cannot do that. So I get how you see the suggestion, but I can’t help feeling that its importance isn’t appreciated enough. I happen to think that TE should add the ability to all their music-making devices by default, that it should become a sort of trademark feature you get on all TE music-making products.

You can never be caught out with such technology whereas you are at the mercy of others with USB and the compatibility crap that will always go hand in hand with it.

Apologies for interjecting in this argument, as I feel everyone involved posting here, have legitimate concerns. It seems that you have answered your own argument in regards to implementing that feature you’d like to see in audio back-ups. I personally feel it would be helpful for the community if you’d share your Raspberry pi idea in greater detail.

But I honestly can say that I wouldn’t use that feature. And thats down to my personal preferences in how I make music and store it - and not to devalue your argument. Tech nowadays is, regrettably, almost always obsolete as soon as it’s created, it’s just an unavoidable reality of production.

And I’m far from completely happy with with my TE products but honestly, it’s demoralising getting hung up on features I want- I just try to get on with it and treat it as any other tool in music production. If I’m really stuck then I look to forums like this one to help me achieve something I cant figure out by myself, or to folk like you, who seem to have the knowledge to make helpful 3rd party devices.

Consumers give value to products when they are willing to spend stupid amounts on money on them. These days, it’s really up to the community who make the most out of the products to find work arounds, and share hacks to help each other out be it it in repair or integration. And if you feel that linux-based, raspberry pi connectivity can help you and the members of this community out, then by all means, please share it.

Trying to implement a Trademark for all devices feature is, I’m sure a lot more complicated than just stating the fact. And yes, I agree that it’s really regrettable when big tech pushes out newer and newer devices into the market and and don’t offer retro compatibility to our old devices…But I feel thats the nature of the beast that drives the market. It’s called consumerism and we are all guilty. Everyone loves to rag on Apple and Google-I do too believe me! And carrying a phone at all times can be a bummer, but also, I have a portable computer/phone in my pocket at all times- shit’s convenient. Everyone has a phone out of necessity. We live in the 21st century. I also own Portable electronic synthesizers these days. Shit’s really convenient.

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It’s convenient enough, I just wish they would bloody-well work by connecting the cable which is how it should be instead of all that jumping through hoops.

It’s not the case that we need to accept being pushed around by tech giants with their planned obsoletion etc, and funny enough, the Raspberry Pi you asked about is a perfect example of why you can rid your life of the tech giants, give them the big finger and tell them to fuck off.

Best way to describe what I meant by using the Raspberry Pi with the OP-1 is to explain the basics to you first. The Raspberry Pi (or RPi for short) is a complete computer made on a tiny circuit board that comes in various formats. It comes as a bare circuit board with no case, or fully enclosed with a built-in keyboard. Regardless of which of those two you choose, they always come with built-in USB sockets, usually four, a network connector, and Wi-Fi.

They all use Linux as their operating system, completely (and permanently) freeing you from the clutches, manipulation, privacy abuse and restrictions of the tech giants. Connect your OP-1 to a RPi and it will work, guaranteed, just as it should be. PRi computers also have in common a most important feature, this being the GPIO connector which allows you to connect what is callled a ‘Shield’, to customise the RPi for your intended purpose. In my case, I would connect a 3.5" touch-screen shield to the top of it, so in other words, it means I have made myself a tiny pocketable computer with full-size USB connectors on it, that also has a display attached to it.

An RPi itself can be powered through a USB power bank or whatever. To give you an idea of how it would look, here’sa picture of a standard RPi that has a 3.5" touch-screen attached and is housed in an acrylic enclosure. As you can see, easily pocketable, full-Linux OS computer that costs less than £50 total.

You cannot see it in that photo, but there are also audio and HDMI connectors in case you want to use it as a main computer attached to a full-size screen. In addition, it recently became available as an all-in-one unit with built-in keyboard. This version needs an external display, but is essentially the same machine in a nicer form factor for those who are wanting to replace their Apple and Microsoft garbage with a desktop replacement running good, honest, Linux.

The official Linux-based OS it uses is called Raspbian, which itself is based on Debian, the largest and most respected verion of Linux (Debian is the big daddy version of Linux so to speak). I suppose the only other unique thing really is that the RPi stores its OS on the SD card as default, so you can even swap and change your OS by simply swapping the SD card. That means you could even have one for surfing the web, and one for musical projects with your OP-1 as seperate OSs if you wanted.

The official Raspberry Pi website:

One of many official retailers of RPi products (including various shields etc):

Can’t really be any more help than that I’m afraid. What can be done with a RPi is endless, it has become a world-wide phenomena, it even rated as technically the most popoular computer in the world a few years back, since they sell so many of them and they’re so bloody cheap. lol

So don’t ever think that you’re bound to doom by the tech giants. You most certainly are not thanks to RPi and the fact that it uses an Open Source operating system that can never be taken away from you or be bought out by tech giants. Once you get into RPi and start watching stuff on YouTube about it, you’ll quickly come to realise you just entered a world of freedom, and the sheer amount of people who are into it will come as no surprise to you whatsoever. Most of them are into it because they’re sick and tired of being abused by tech giants, and use the RPi as a permanent desktop replacement (this is why they released the more photogenic keyboarded version).

The image above shows what I had in mind, but follow this link for the fancy new keyboarded version:

To get an idea of how small the computer in the first image is, bear in mind that’s only a 3.5" touch display, so that’ll give you an idea of how small a true, liberating, personal computer can be, one the owner actually has control over and the tech giants cannot touch :wink:

Regards the OP-1, don’t worry, I’m pretty sure I’ll be buying one regardless of its shortcomings, but still, I’d rather these suggestions were out there than not, and to be honest, I would not be surprised if TE already thought about Audio Back-Up on the OP-1 the moment they thought of it for the Pocket Operators. But yeah, that little computer right there with the touch-screen shield slotted on top, that’s how I intend to manage my OP-1 out in the wild.

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Woah, thanks for sharing…though,It’ll take me a while to digest! You’re quite knowledgable for a cave dweller! I totally agree with you about big tech being bullies in the modern hellsphere- especially with the ‘right to repair’ discussion thats happening all across the world. Glad you’re still thinking of getting the OP1. I think you’ll find, like most of us who own one, It’s flawed but fun. A universal truth. Keep us posted on your cave activities!

It’s a piece of cake mate, nothing clever on my part, just buy one, plug it in and switch it on, no need even to install Linux, it’s already on the card for you, especially if you buy one of the kits :grin:

Without going into any other part of the argument, I want to explain this bit from a technical point of view. And it importantly falls together with this bit here:

Just for the very reason you stated: The sampling frequency has to be high enough for the restoring device to be able to discern the information after it was transferred from the device itself to the recorder (signal loss through DAC, wire), recorded (ADC), stored (compression can break things), then back to the restoring device (decompression, DAC, wire, ADC). If transferred through air, “wire” becomes “speaker, air, microphone”, and varying distance means varying volume.

All these mean that the PO-33 backup is probably indeed many times longer than It’d have to be in a perfect world, because it needs redundancy everywhere for imperfections and mismatches in every part of that chain - but we still regularly read of failed backups, and the one thing you read / hear in every tutorial about the feature is “test your backup after you’ve made it, to be sure it works”.

I just don’t see why they’d want to be any less safe for an OP-1 backup. The processor in the POs is strong enough to synthesize 12 oscillators in the OP-32 with heavily optimized code, it absolutely could also provide backups in a less lengthy format. The point is that all the things that break backups don’t change for an OP-1. Processing power is not what makes the backups as long as they are.

And if backups only have a chance of working wired both ways with 128kHz recording frequency or something, the target group for the feature is again much smaller. The PO-33 backups are awesome because they just work, even when you’re not even using a cable and when you’re recording on a cassette or even when you’re compressing the backup as an mp3 (sometimes anyway).

Partial backups could be shorter of course. That means much more engineering for UI/UX of the backup selection though, and another source of complexity and thus implementation time and sources of error for an already complex feature.

I do love your Raspy by the way :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Haha good humble brag, but I beg to differ, I’m the ludite who struggles at setting alarm clocks! But thanks, I’ll have to deep dive into the Raspy community- I see cool things in DIY Modular being made every time I open my laptop!

I also want to point out that I think the other suggestions you’ve made are all perfectly reasonable! Particularly the organ one, considering my OP-Z does have an organ synth engine, and the two devices are very similar indeed.

No worries, haslo, I hear you. Like I said, not really up on the technical implications myself but to be honest, even if it took as long as you reckon it would, I would still want it. Maybe I’m just a sucker for punishment, but I dunno, would rather it be there than not.

Intersting to hear they have an Organ Synth for the OP-Z. I’ll have to check it out on YouTube since I’ve not really been interested in the OP-Z, it seems a bit too minimalistic for me, and that’s really saying something cause I’m a big fan of minimal.

Anyway, it’s god to hear you like the other suggestions and that you have the hornies for RPi. You can help yourself to some Woolly Mammoth now if you want, and save some for HotAsianGarbage as well.

HotAsianGarbage, if you really are interested in RPi then I highly recommend watching both these videos from start to finish. He’s a very professional presenter, explains stuff with crystal clarity, and as someone once pointed out in the comments, he looks pretty hardcore as well.

These two videos are all you need to get a grasp of both format versions of the RPi, enough to make you buy either and use them correctly without fail :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

If you do end up buying one, I highly recommend subscribing to his channel and others like it.

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Found a video demoing the Organ Synth on OP-Z and not a fan of it to be honest. I like that it’s FM based, but it doesn’t give anything like the sort of grandeur of majesticness a full-on pipe organ gives. Doesn’t seem to have any way to do transistor organ either.

If they decide to port it over to the OP-1, I hope they improve it, give it more sonic potential. I remember reading or hearing somewhere that the whole point of the engines in these devices is to be dumbed-down in order to remove distraction or whatever. I agree with that theory, and the popularity of the OP-1 proves that it’s a good one. At the same time though, considering there is a shift function, a lot of the engines feel a bit too dumbed-down and lose a lot of sonic potential because of it. There is quite some potential to remedy that by making use of the shift function adding a second parameter to each knob.

I can’t imagine having eight parameters instead of just four would in any way damage the hands-on concept of OP-1. In fact, I noticed they do already use the shift knob function with at least one of the current OP-1 synth engines, so it would make sense to give more sonic flexibilty to the others and any future additions they might add.

With that Organ Synth on the OP-Z for example, I doubt it would be hard to program a shift knob function if brought to the OP-1, one where it morphs between different organ types. You could morph from Pipe Organ through to an oldy-worldy Fairground Organ, to Transistor Organ, or something to that effect.

Anyway, just wishful thinking here again :smile: