Friendship between op-z and op-1

Hello! I guess I’m ripe for buying op-1 field, but I have a few questions. I’ve written quite a lot of stuff on op-z lately and I’d like to build on that… how can you describe the interaction between op-z and op-1 field? is there anything that turns you off?


Would love to follow this thread. Just bought the OP-Z after a long search (was about to get Op-1 Field) but the price tag and the fact that I am new to this made me postpone that. So much to learn, and excited for the OP-Z!

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I’ve got the OP-Z, OP-1 and Field, and a handful of pocket operators… so feel like I can give you at least some of the information I suspect you’re looking for. In general though, I’d say that Teenage Engineering does a great (if infuriating) job of making interesting devices, that have some rather broad gaps in their product… that other products they release are able to fill. Nothing terribly novel about doing this, and we can look at plenty of companies that do this as well, but TE… I dunno… sometimes feels like they go a bit too far.

Specifically for the OP-Z, really it has a great sequencer… plenty of potential to work with. On the flip side, the sampling, while comparable to the OP-1, the amount of storage leaves a lot to be desired. When compared to the OP-1 Field, it’s just a laughably small amount of storage. Personally, I’m of the mind that it’s mostly fine, and pushes users to experiment in different ways… but it can be a frustrating limitation. If you’re down with the sequencer specifically, the OP-1 (and field) sequencers aren’t really going to add (much) to anything you’d like to sequence.

On the OP-1 (and Field side), you’ve got a bunch more immediate synths, sampling feels better (to me at least), and both have quite a bit more storage, though the Field knocks it much more out of the park. Honestly though, the tape recording (and Album) are what shines here and depending on how you feel about recording loops (even if from sequences) or playing stuff live and just dealing with a bit of “humanized” playing is going to be the biggest “do I get along with this”. The OP-1 Field has higher quality/higher fidelity synths/effects, but how much you like them vs the OG OP-1 will likely depend which one’s character you prefer. Or get both. At any rate, The Field in particular opens up some new synths/effects you don’t have, allows you to record stuff to tape and remix in some different ways, and can even work as a looper to push you out of your comfort zone for recording.

The OP-1 has only got four tracks, but paired with the OP-Z, nets you effectively 12, which is (for me at least) plenty. The Field in particular brings plenty of stereo synths/effects to the table, and you can store a lot of synth patches. Heck it’s even got storage for 10 different 6 minute tapes (versus just one on the OP-1)… so it can let you work on a bunch more songs together, and bounce ideas back and forth between the two.

For me, they pair quite nicely, but from a synth/sound standpoint, they do overlap a bit… especially with the OP-1 (and not the Field quite so much). On the flip side, the sequencers on the OP-1 and Field are… interesting and rather quick in a lot of ways to play… but tend to be more of a headache to program drums/melodies/etc. Where they complement each other is just in their philosophy of how they work, and how you go about making music with them. They both tend to push you in different directions and workflows… so your mileage may vary depending on what you like.

The two also follow a lot of the same design decisions… so as long as you’re good with not having an undo, and instead needing to copy/paste for your “backups”… you’ll be set. Programming synths is a very similar/familiar activity with the four data wheels/knobs… and I wouldn’t say that the synth/effects/sample overlap is necessarily a bad thing, as it helps you get familiar with the other device faster.

For the money though, it is hard to not suggest another synth/sampler/tablet that could bring so much more to the table for you. Where I would focus on is, do you want the Field because you’re deeply into TE, is it because you like the constraints/workflows it brings to the table, or are you just looking to broaden your horizons in a few new areas. That I won’t be able to answer for you, but I can say, the OP-1/OP-Z combo is insanely portable, and the battery life is honestly, quite good.

I hope some of that helps you out, and feel free to ask questions if you want to know anything specific.


Omg…Thanks for the full and generous comment! what do you think about the reliability of midi-sync between these devices? do you control op-1 synths with op-z? how easy is it to make accurate loops on op-1 compared to mpc live?

Midi Sync between the two is sufficient, though like pairing any other midi devices you’ll want to explore the options and set what makes the most sense to you. Personally I prefer for the OP-1 Field to be the master clock, especially since it will (in my opinion) force the OP-Z to sync performative pieces to the OP-1 loops… but YMMV. My experience is that performance content being a little off or out of sync here and there while possibly annoying, tends to be far less annoying than a tape/loop sputtering around trying to slow down, catch up, or hard syncing to a clock. That said, I really have not noticed these types of issues between the two, and I doubt that there is too much magic going on under the hood. It feels like the loop “hard syncs” to the loop start “reset” event, or at least I’ve observed this when sync’ing to an MPC.

I tend to control the OP-1 with the OP-1 keyboard and the OP-Z with the OP-Z buttons, but it can help to keep things in tune by using the OP-Z as a master controller. Mostly going to depend on how you want to work here, but either is certainly sufficient to get the job done.

Making accurate loops is kind of a loaded question, and depends as much on what specific quality is what you mean by accurate. Both the MPC and OP-1 record loops just fine, especially if you enable overdubbing, but as with pretty much any other hardware (or software), when you’re outside of the digital realm, there’s going to be a bit of lag… probably just a few milliseconds, but it’s going to be there… the thing that I just don’t know is how much you “care”. That said though, I would say that the OP-1 makes perfectly fine loops that will be usable, especially if you use it’s own internal clock and then play your external (or internal) synth to record to the tape. You’ve got 4 tracks, so you can do a lot of interesting layering on multiple tracks while everything keeps playing, which is one benefit over the MPC.

On the flip side, the MPC has far better editing/chopping functionality, that is unfortunately not realtime. I recently sold off the Akai Force that I had because I was really hoping to do some fun realtime performance with it with looping, but neither the MPC or the Force is really a performance looper, it’s more of a record, stop, and move on looper.

So for me… the OP-1 Looping compares favorably to the Chase Bliss Blooper, just not with the depth of performance looping options, but the multiple separate tracks does differentiate it well enough. I’ve considered checking out the Roland RC-505, but I don’t know if I’ll ever hop on over to that ship, even though I suspect it’d be a blast.


I use an original OP-1 with an OP-Z pretty often these days. Not sure if this is the case with the OP-1F but connecting the two directly drains the OP-Z’s battery pretty quickly so I usually just start them separately.

I’m not a master at hitting play at the exact same time, so it helps that you can slightly nudge the tape on the OP-1 and slightly nudge the clock on the OP-Z (Tempo and +/-).

I’m practicing a workflow that I think maximizes the strengths of each device: using my OP-1 for recorded, layered, and resampled stuff and using the OP-Z to provide actual structure and sequencing for the song.

What are you wanting to add to the songs? If it’s layered loops the OP-1 will be an awesome choice. If you’re hoping to play guitar over it or mess around with chopped samples… probably better to look elsewhere.

I honestly think the device is a bit misunderstood. For a while I thought it was supposed to be a DAW in a box… then I thought it was supposed to be a combination drum machine/synth/sampler… and now I think its greatest strength is its ability to create unique, infinitely-layered recorded loops.

The reason I’m cautioning you here is because you need to either be VERY comfortable playing unquantized and not second-guessing your choices or you need to be ok with using their intentionally-limited sequencers. I’m good at neither. If I realize I want to change the timing of a note 5 minutes after recording it into the OP-Z that’s super easy. If I have the same realization on an OP-1 loop I almost always just start over because that’s the less frustrating option than trying to fix one part. :stuck_out_tongue:


Thanks for such awesome comments! do you think the recording quality of op-1 field is higher than that of mpc live2? and how does the overall sound quality compare to modern audio interfaces? it is clear that comparison in sound with modern daws is impossible, for many reasons, but still …

Personally… I find the clarity/transparency of both the op-1 field and MPC Live 2 to be great. I am sure if you look at the specs, one has a better noise floor, or better bit depth/sampling rate. That said, between the two devices I doubt you’re going to have anything that would be unusable, and I personally find the differences for most applications aren’t that different.

Obviously it won’t compare to digital → digital where you should have no noise floor issues, but for me they both sound great.

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after reading your advice, I finally got myself an op-1 field. I really liked the device. I would like to use it in the following way: connect it to the op-z via type-z and record the incoming audio on tape. for some reason, until I got the result I needed. I understand that I’m missing something in the settings. for some reason, the audio does not go from op-z to op-1 … what settings should be on both devices?

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If you’re referring to USB type-C, that won’t work between them. However, you can definitely record the OP-Z’s output directly onto the tape via 3.5mm

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Isn’t the op1 field usb host for audio? So it can usb audio host the OPZ?

Would it make sense to get the Z primarily as a sequencer for the Field? And record the results into the Field. I don’t much care for the sounds within the Z but the sequencer is quite something.

Hi, I recently acquired a OP1 field having used an OPZ for some time. I have found that if you connect the OP1 field to the OPZ via usb-c and then select USB input on the OP1 instead of Microphone, then activate the input, I can get OPZ audio into the OP1, record to tape or sampler etc. It will also send midi over USB from OPZ simultaneously unless deactivated.

I’m also very curious about how others find these instruments can play together…

I have some additional thoughts on the friendship between the two, though I’ll be honest that I’m way better at the OP-Z than the OP-1 so this may not be as useful as I think.

OP-Z as a (wireless) mic

  • The OP-Z can function as a mic to the OP-1. You can record the mic straight onto the tape with filter, FX sends, etc., or you could sync the 2 and add OP-Z tape track effects and I/O track sequencing between the OP-Z’s mic and the OP-1’s tape.
  • If you add a cheap 3.5mm-to-FM transmitter to your OP-Z it becomes a wireless mic.
  • Legacy input mode makes enabling/disabling the mic for longer periods easier.

OP-Z as an extended sequencer

  • If you’re organized enough you can save the MIDI for each OP-1 track on the OP-Z. This makes for easy layering. Plus you can quantize and edit and remember what you played later.
  • The OP-Z allows you to sequence 4 MIDI CCs on the OP-1. Sync them and you can sequence 4 parameter changes on the OP-1’s engines.
  • Combining the sequencers can yield interesting results, such as the OP-1 Endless into the OP-Z’s arp (which can be sequenced per step) or the OP-Z arp into the OP-1 Tombola.

I actually think the OP-1/OP-Z combo is very powerful but tricky. It’s the exact kind of “ooh, what if?” thinking that my brain loves, though.


At this moment this combo works like a sharm.
I immediately did everything right, but for some reason I needed to reload both devices.
As I wanted, the midi sync goes and the sound is transmitted, and all via one wire.

You can definitely connect them via USB-C and transfer audio. Both units has audio over USB. :relaxed:

I wonder if anyone with OPZ + line module has had success routing OP1 into OPZ to use an extra effect on the OPZ line module and record back to OP1 Field tape while monitoring via OPZ?

Or if it might even be possible with the right settings to send audio via USB to OPZ, and using the OPZ internal routing and line module to use an external effect and then record back to OP1 tape? In short use the OPZ as an external mixer with an effects send for OP1 tape?

I know you can get USB audio between the OP-Z and OP-1F since it’s a host, but does this work with the original OP-1 as well? A while back I tried to see if Bluetooth audio would work between the two and I wasn’t able to get it working, but that might have been user error (or me just not specifying that I was referring to the OG-1). :slight_smile:

I recently started playing with the OP-Z as an FX unit for recording to the (original) OP-1’s tape. You can adjust the FX sends via the OP-Z’s I/O track, and you’re also able to control the filter, which I find really helpful for separating sounds on the same OP-1 track. If you’re really devoted you could even sequence changes in the filter/FX send so they change while you’re recording onto the OP-1.

However, the FX tracks only send to the master bus and can’t be routed to the Line Out so you can’t use the OP-Z as a separate FX send while monitoring. Which I think means it’s great for recording onto the tape but not as a live mixer or FX bus, if that make sense.

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