Hey all, this is my first post and I wanted to start by saying thank you to everyone’s taking part in this conversation about this piece of kit. I have already learned a lot from this forum and look forward to continuing with that.
When I first got the OP-Z I was a touch disappointed and almost returned it. 2 things shifted my view: adding my own samples to the machine, and realigning the way I think about How the OP-Z treats them, and how it’s sequencer works. The TE way of treating sounds has always been unique, and I think if we are trying to use this machine in a similar way to an MPC (have a 1000 for 10 plus years now) there will be disappointment, but if we keep in mind the way the machine Wants to use them, then there are new sequences and pattern possibilities that are not possible on any other machine. Perhaps TE oversold it, or perhaps people are simply a bit to rigid in their thinking. One good example is the “Synth” element aspect. These synth engines are Rudimentary as hell. Calling this thing a “synthesizer” I think is misleading, and I see why they did it, because more people will be excited about a New synth, than a New Sequencer, so from a marketing standpoint, that’s reasonable. However, the synth aspect is FAR from its strong suit, and is a touch confusing for most users. Hence lots of folks want More LFOs because that’s what makes synths sound cool and gives you automation options. With the sequencers ability to sequence every parameter, LFOs are not really necessary. Simply record your parameter changes, I know that it’s Not The Same, but that’s the point, if we look to use this as a tool to accomplish what we used to with other synths, it will be underpowered for that task. If we allow it to be what it is and explore it on its own turf, it certainly has 600 dollars worth of functionality. My 2 cents on it. I’m loving this device now that I’m controlling its diet of sounds, and allowing it to digest them the way it likes.
I’m loving this device now that I’m controlling its diet of sounds
This was key for myself as well - the prepackaged samples sound amazing, so I had a lot of fun jamming on only those at first. But eventually, I hit a point where I got frustrated that everything I was making “sounded like an OP-Z” to me. Adding some of my own samples to the unit has definitely helped shake that feeling.
FWIW, I’ve had a lot of success finding solid drums on op1.fun and mining Legowelt’s various free sample packs for techno-y synth sounds and weird 80s FM pads. Additionally, USB sampling of Ableton’s Wavetable and TAL U-NO has lead to some nice lead and bass sounds.
As for the synth engines, I’d agree that most are pretty basic. I’d love to start an “OP-Z Tips and Tricks” thread where we can discuss creatively working within the restrictions of these engines though, since every once in a while I’m surprised by what they can achieve.
Yes, the possibiltiy to record parameter changes is indeed a nice feature. However, the parameter changes are locked to the length of one pattern, so everything starts repeating with the 1 of the pattern so to say. This can become a bit repetitive really quick. Well, of course this is totally ok if one is after that effect.
What I like about LFOs is that they offer a continuous stream of modulation which is not neccessarily locked to the beat of a pattern. For instance, using two slow LFOs with different frequencies modulating two parameters of a synth engine allow for an interesting, asynchronous timbre modulation which is not too repetetive and this contributes to making a sequence interesting. But I see, using the LFO in addition to sequenced parameter changes should give some interesting results.
+1 for the synth engines tips and tricks. I find that the engines are a bit rudimentary indeed, but, actually, working within their limits to produce something interesting is a nice creative challenge. And they do not sound bad at all. The string engine for example is really nice. Also, the FM piano style sounds (the default for the chords track) are very usable. I have not explored all the possibilities yet by far.
+1 also for using the OP-Z as what it is instead of hoping that it would do or sound something like machine x or y. For me, the sequencer is really one of the highlights. I use it in combination with the OPlab module quite often for polyphonic and polymetric seqencing of external sound generators. I am not so much into sampling. Sampling is possibly a whole big topic of its own and I find it nice that the capabilities are there to explore if I wanted to do so. Indeed I had quite some fun sampling random sounds on the go and using them in a track with often unexpected results. But there, too, I have not explored by far what could be done with the sampling capabilities.
Overall, the OP-Z is a super flexible device up to a vast variety of tasks, not speaking of its portability. I really like it.
You might already be aware, but just in case using the spark components can get you some more evolving step component / parameter lock feels.
Was the opz ever marketed as a synth? I know they called it a “dream machine”, but I’m not sure if they called it a synth or a workstation, groovebox, I don’t know… I remember at the first leak people thought it was a video synthesizer that was a attachment for the op1, and people were saying it would be awesome if it could load samples. Back then people were happy with a tenth of what it can do but for some reason as it came out people just got more and more critical. I think allot of people just need a reason not to get it because they just don’t like how it looks and doesn’t have a screen. Plus allot of op1 owners have been hard on it because it could take over the op1 market, even though it turns out it is it’s own thing.
the Synth engines are definitely capable as Synths, especially when you dial in the classic parameters like adsr and filter wiggling.
the Bass is deeper than most other digital synthesizers but you have to design it a bit.
and you can do rain Sounds without samples that means you can Synthesize „real“ sounds that was ever the mind behind a Classic synthesizer.
Dream Machine says it Right.
Would you mind to share your approach for obtaining rain sounds on the OP-Z?
I am interested in creating sounds of nature, such as, for instance, wind, rain, water, chirping cicadas, animal sounds, etc.
i would start with a noisy synth engine, put the lfo to the filter resonance, turn up resonance and dial in the highpass Filter, wiggle a bit with the modulation speed and/or record some motion tweaks to keep it alive.
that should bring up some wind and rain sounds, stormy waterfall kind of thing.
a lot of different timbres can be archived by taking advantage of the ADSR envelope, short settings result in clicky rainy drops and opening the whole should bring up more lush windy sounds.
There may be some sort of collective misunderstanding about the OP-Z, but I think its just lots of individuals being disappointed that a new device doesn’t work quite how they personally thought it would. I think you get this a lot with all sorts of music making tech, it’s probably just increased with OP-Z because as with other TE stuff it’s kind of strange, oblique and a bit out-there, so people are going to interpret it very differently. Looking back I can’t even remember how I thought it was going to work, but I do really like using it (despite the terrible doubletrigs issue…), mostly because I can use it standalone anywhere, and sequencing the tape effect is so much fun!
this and the fact that you‘ll find a nearly unheard sound after a few seconds of twiggling and recording, plus out of the world time signatures!
the sound capabilities are as unique as the design approach and as Long Time (2012) OP-1 user i can understand every decision they‘ve done with OP-Z! for me it’s a really natural and an extremely fast tool, just like the OP-1.
I’ve been downloading the legowelt samples for my OP-Z. So many great sounds!
Are they all sampled to the same root note/chord?
Did you have to transpose them to get them to be at the right note for the OP-Z synth sampler?
Any tips or tricks for handling the chord samples?
The exact reason they exist in my mind.