How to Be Advanced: Five New OP-1 Tricks

Hey everybody, I just wanted to share a YouTube video I made about the OP-1, where I go over five “advanced” pro-tips I’ve discovered on it. The whole spirit of the video is playful and glitchy, in the spirit of the synth itself, so I thought it might go over well here. Also I think I may have broken some new ground, even though this thing is well represented on YouTube already.

The 5 pro-tips are:

  1. Use it as a theremin
  2. Don’t be afraid of zero
  3. Trick the OP-1 into being touch-sensitive
  4. Create atonal noise that’s NOT fatiguing or harsh
  5. Discover the sampler engine’s big secret

Hope ya dig it!


These are great. I definitely messed around with accidental polyrhythms when I had a super-crappy Casio sampler

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Sweet! Nice tricks and nice tutorial.

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Your visuals are super entertaining! Great work, nice tips!

Dope! Im not to skilled at video production but wanted to encourage someone doing youtube videos to share this about the delay speed:
(the secret is a speed of 11 is 2x faster then 0, 22 is 3x faster then 0, 33 is 4x faster and so on) so if you are at 99 speed (10x) and you want to go to half that you go to 44 (5x) and your speed will half. (and will pitch shift an octave down).

another example, if you are at a speed of 22 (3x as fast as 0) and go to 55 (6x as fast as 0) your speed will double, and pitch will shift up an octave.


it’s fun and refreshing, :nerd_face:

Thanks for checking it out, I’m glad you got a kick out of it.

@spencmo: that info about how the delay works is awesome. I have to see if there are ways to get into harmonizer/pitch-shifter territory by using the LFO somehow to hit those multiples precisely. Do you know what the concentric radar rings are doing in the delay? My guess from spending time with it is that those are some kind of tap/subdivison thing.

@el_wombato: I feel like the OP-1 is the dream-come-true version of a non-crappy crappy Casio.

Excellent clip!

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This is more detail then most prolly care to know,

I think a good way to understand the delay is like a tape loop, each concentric circle is a half-size smaller loop as you go down, so repeats will happen twice as fast at every smaller circle. so yeah pretty much subdivisions.

when speed is set to 0, the largest circle is exactly a 10 second loop, the second circle: 5 seconds, the third: 2.5 seconds, and so on…

If you recorded something in the largest circle, then switched to the next smaller circle, you will hear half what you input into the delay. The weirdness is, the other half of that audio from the larger circle you are not hearing is stored (without fading) until you switch back to the larger circle…

you could play a sound, switch to a smaller circle, then come back the next day and switch to the larger circle again and that audio will come back without any loss… it will immediately begin to fade away since the feedback doesn’t allow you to go to 100%.

That kind of explains some of the glitchy sounds you will get if you are recording while changing the circle size around. The smaller circles also always zooms into the same section of the delay loop.

Like a tape delay the speed also affects the quality of the repeats. At higher speeds the repeats are brighter and higher resolution, and at slower speeds you get lofi digital artifacts and the high end falls off.

Generally i’ve found the delay speed of 0, 11, 22, 33, 44, etc… to work pretty well in general at any tempo (whole numbers), you have to play around a bit but it’s easy to find something that works. It lines up super frequently at bpms that are division of 3. (99, 102, 105, etc) Even more so at divisions of 6, 12, and 24.

So tempos like:

72, 96, 120, 144 are perfect
84, 108, 132 work great
78, 90, 102, 114, 126, 138 work pretty good

i’ve mainly played with using the memorize function to move between speeds, you can get like 4 different speeds (your base setting, mem 1, mem 2, mem 1+2).

Anyways, Thanks for coming to my ted talk.


This is incredible, thank you.

It took me a long time, but I finally put together a follow up video, with 5 new discoveries I’ve made about the OP-1. This time around my tricks turning the Grid effect into a bit-crusher, using the tombola to procedurally generate big giant chords, exploiting the fact that the OP-1’s built-in tremolo effect triggers independently for each note when you play multiple notes at once, and more. Here’s the video if anyone’s curious:

Thank you again to @spencmo for explaining the Delay effect so thoroughly on this thread. I built off your explanation a little bit for pro-tip #2 in this video (hope I got everything right).


Yo these are some dope sounds! those last 2 tips i’m def going to mess around with. Dig the Armenia city in the sky cover.


Thanks man. I’m glad you caught that cover song, I actually got a copyright claim against it from YouTube, but I took the hit and left it in because I think that song is so cool and I had fun putting it together.


There’s also a Ozzy song if I remember correctly (Mr. Crowley?) - saw it last night. And beside the cool music (and visuals!) - great tips!

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Very nice video! I see you record straight into Garaband; did all of the sounds in the songs come from the OP-1? Did you do any processing of the OP-1 sounds? The first bit crush sound was super wide listening through my headphones (in a nice way!).

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Hey thanks for these responses. @perbo yes that’s Mr. Crowley, glad you caught that.

OK then @rocksoul, to answer your question, most but not all of the sounds are coming from OP-1. On 1 or 2 of the songs in the video, the drums are samples I got from somewhere else, and here and there I also added some synth tracks just using heavily tweaked software synths inside GarageBand (which I’m a big fan of). Mostly those are pads or background whatevers though.

The stuff that sounds super wide is a result of running stuff through the Strymon Deco, and/or a touch of stereo reverb. No processing other than those effects though. Thanks for listening so closely.