Am I missing something about the OP-1?


#1

Hi, about 2 months ago I purchased an OP-1 and have been trying to get into using it but there’s just something about it that I can’t relate to. It just doesn’t make musical sense to me like my other instruments. I really wanna give it a chance. I have tried several times to write music on it but just come up with one minute snippets of music that I later come back to and dislike and delete.


Compared to my other instruments, it is really disappointing. On my other instruments, I will come back and have a completely opposite reaction when I play something I recorded earlier, like “Wow, that’s good. I wrote that?” I feel limited using it, but I know that makes no sense.

I don’t know if it’s a learning curve thing, or the tape mode, or the instruments on the OP-1. It’s “fun” to use because of the wackiness of its visuals for synths and effects, but doesn’t seem to inspire me. It seems that it should have the capability of enhancing creativity and making people more creative, but I just feel like I’m borrowing someone else’s synth.

Any advice on how to love the OP-1?

#2

If you don’t feel inspired by it, maybe it’s just not the instrument for you. People have different workflows and some of the constraints of a particular device may really hinder that.


#3

I was hoping someone else had a similar experience when they first bought it and they had a eureka moment and discovered something about the OP-1 that made them want to keep it.


Something I feel like is a problem is being “forced” to put something on the tape for two or three minutes to have something as a background for another track.

#4

Why not try the Pattern Sequencer (or Endless Sequencer) to put down a drum pattern, bass loop or arpeggio, leave it looping and try playing over that, leaving the tape alone for a while.

CB


#5

maybe sample you other instruments whose product you enjoy into the op1. that is what i do. For me i use it mostly as a sketchpad. either a really small simple device to sample something im working on (piano, synth, guitar, vocals.) some small amount of arranging on the op1(tape) mangling(reprocess your audio yo,) adding more tracks and layers from the onboard samplers/synths. These little sketches make there way into all of my music sometimes being the backbone, sometimes just ambiance. Dont be afraid to do wacky things on the op1. process a bit of audio through cwo 30 times. or keep running a drum track through the adsr, compressor, and eq! The op1 is extremely open to interpretation. some people make METAL others ambient. all on the same device and the op1 really leaves it up to you. Its truely a great sketchpad. for me. I also use my ipad in a similar fashion.


#6

Taking part in one of the Battles will really help to focus your mind on creating a song to a deadline.

Or why not set yourself a specific task or get a friend to write you a brief with a deadline

#7

Learning Tape is a new way of working.
I had this curve.But it also doesn’t make creating music too easy for you.A lot of music tech stops us from having to play or develope arrangement skills,by doing it for us…or so it seems to me.
This machine suites players.Having said that ,there is endless depth for things to explore and it helps me work on my weaknesses.


#8

It’s definitely changed the way I start an idea, it’s my go to instrument right now. I did spend a solid week exploring the manual and message boards before I really got the hang of it though. Don’t give up!


#9
Learning Tape is a new way of working. I had this curve.But it also doesn't make creating music too easy for you.A lot of music tech stops us from having to play or develope arrangement skills,by doing it for us..or so it seems to me. This machine suites players.Having said that ,there is endless depth for things to explore and it helps me work on my weaknesses.

I think this may be one of the issues I’m having. I do come from playing a classical instrument, and then when I got into electronic instruments, the thing I enjoyed was being able to loop different instruments in and out freely. Something about the tape makes me feel trapped, like I must keep the track. It seems such a chore to put down 3 or 4 minutes of something and then throw it totally out. Then I get worried about throwing out something in case I may want it back later. That’s what I mean by it seems like a strange workflow. Maybe I just need to go completely nuts with it and stop worrying.


#10

Yeah, it is portable and is actually great to play, especially if you set lfo to element Giro and find some good target to modulate.Try FX or synth destination.


#11
Taking part in one of the Battles will really help to focus your mind on creating a song to a deadline.

^ This!! Some of the early battles really got me into areas of music on the OP-1 that I’d never considered.


#12

It really took me a while to figure out how I would bond with it and was going to move on from it. Now I keep finding new ways to use it and I can’t find anything quite like it for inspiring me and forcing me to kind of let go, if that makes sense. I am a programmer and sometimes with music I force things to be too precise. The OP-1 helps me feel the music in a more creative way. I couldn’t see myself parting with it now.


Funny you should say that about feeling like you have to throw things out. The tape on the OP-1 made me better at making music. I find that with other electronic instruments and DAWs that I would go over and over my sequences, sound design, etc, trying to make things perfect. I find it easier to just create on the OP-1. I can go back later and use what I created elsewhere if needed. Of course, I backup everything before clearing out the tape when it is full.

#13

Could you provide some more specifics of what you don’t like about how the OP-1 works and how you would prefer your instrument to work? Your voiced discontent is rather vague, which is understandable as some aspects of the user experience are rather abstract, but if you can give some details we can be more specific with our advice.


You mention your dissatisfaction with the Tape. Are you using it as a DAW replacement? If so, I can empathize with that. I absolutely love the Tape, but using it as a DAW is simply not for me. It can be used as a device that opens up a vast variety of sound manipulation. It can also be a sketch pad, always there to save your ideas, no matter where you are. That’s primarily how I use it and love it so much for that.

#14

I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with the way you are used to working. For me, I was stuck in Ableton land for years, where the infinite possibilities were actually stifling my creativity. From the minute I picked up th OP-1, I was instantly creating things I’d never heard before (often by accident), and it just blew my creative instincts wide open, like magic. I found the quirky interface and ‘limitations’ to be super intuitive to navigate, and within a few days I felt like I could make whole tunes with my eyes closed. I can’t even really explain it, but it somehow taps into my right brain directly like no other instrument/machine. Even when I think I’m getting bored with it, and put it down for a week or so, when I pick it back up again I am reinvigorated. Maybe it’s just not right for how some people’s creative flow works, but it certainly works for me.


#15
Could you provide some more specifics of what you don't like about how the OP-1 works and how you would prefer your instrument to work? Your voiced discontent is rather vague, which is understandable as some aspects of the user experience are rather abstract, but if you can give some details we can be more specific with our advice.

You mention your dissatisfaction with the Tape. Are you using it as a DAW replacement? If so, I can empathize with that. I absolutely love the Tape, but using it as a DAW is simply not for me. It can be used as a device that opens up a vast variety of sound manipulation. It can also be a sketch pad, always there to save your ideas, no matter where you are. That's primarily how I use it and love it so much for that.

OK, I think one of the problems is tape, because it’s not a loop of four tracks where you can have the same notes played but randomly change the instrument or drum sound. Looping on my other (hardware) instruments provides me with a background to come in and out with different loops as a way of experimenting with new ideas. With tape, I feel this sort of obligation to make “tracks”, which seems to inherently mean “tracks of a song”. I know there are looping possibilities for the drum sequencers and synth sequencers, which are actually not bad, but you can’t run both at the same time. Also, you have to record something, like a drum loop, so you can experiment with adding a synth sound to it, which seems to block creativity. I know I could also record one as a track and then loop the other one or ones, but it doesn’t “flow”, right?


Unless there’s some other way to do this that I have totally missed!

I’m not using tape as a DAW replacement. As a matter of fact, with my other instruments, I mostly play live and don’t record anything or even use a computer. I just have them all hooked up via a mixer and play with knobs and buttons and my samples and instruments and fun stuff like that. I figured that I would have a similar feeling using the OP-1 as on the outside it appears to be sort of free-form, but I feel really boxed in. If that makes any sense!

#16

For me the tape is by far the best aspect of the OP-1, although not necessarily just to finalize “tracks” but to create layers of sound which can then be lifted into the drum sampler (my other fave aspect of the OP-1) and further modified. You do need to think of it in a different way from traditional gear to get the best from it, because it is quite different from other gear it can take a little while to gel with it, and whilst it is not for everyone I think it deserves to be explored and allowed to guide you along paths less trodden. I guess what I mean is that it is not always an instant gratification machine, and it can be limiting, quirky and sometimes a bit inflexible, but it can also be an endless source of enjoyment and great way to encourage creative thinking.


Have a look at some of the tips and videos and music made by forum members to get more of an idea, but also note that pretty much everyone works in a different way with it :slight_smile:

#17
I'm not using tape as a DAW replacement. As a matter of fact, with my other instruments, I mostly play live and don't record anything or even use a computer. I just have them all hooked up via a mixer and play with knobs and buttons and my samples and instruments and fun stuff like that. I figured that I would have a similar feeling using the OP-1 as on the outside it appears to be sort of free-form, but I feel really boxed in. If that makes any sense!

I think I understand the workflow you’re going for. Others here will be better able to confirm if your desired workflow is possible on the Tape, as the Tape is so rich with “tricks,” but I don’t think so. Given the multitrack sequencing and looping you’d like, perhaps an Elektron or the recently revealed OP-Z (by Teenage Engineering as well) would be better suited for you. Their workflow doesn’t have the firm commitment the Tape does.


While you’re not using a computer presently, if you’re open to alternatives, the hybrid approach of Push 2 and Ableton has completely won me over. It is now the heart of my setup. It will do what you described effortlessly, beautifully.

#18

I guess I should say that I’m not opposed to doing things differently on the OP-1 than I do on other hardware. I really do enjoy the fact that it’s so portable. I guess it’s mostly inspiration and workflow issues that I’d love to overcome because I can see that the instrument has lots of fun possibilities, but I somehow can’t get into it yet.


#19

I’d say leave your expectations of the instrument and how you’d like to work at the door. Maybe, go through the forum especially the tips and tricks thread - you’ll find lots of inspiration from everyone on here. Second, think of the OP-1 as an instrument in its own right and not in any way related to a DAW and like @darenager suggested, use tape as part of the instrument as a whole and don’t just think about in terms of laying down a track. Who knows, you may grow to love it just as much as many here already do!


#20

Thanks, all. Obviously, this is a very intelligent and interesting community. I’m going to spend more time learning from the tips and tricks and also join in on a battle when ready!