Is the OP-1 still worth it after 8 years?

I got an OP-Z a few weeks back, and it’s fantastic. Only now I want more. I’ve moved away from my iPad for anything but recording and final mixing. I’m wondering about the OP-1.

It’s old, and it’s expensive. Is it still worth buying eight-year old tech?

There’s nothing else like it. I’ve use the Octatrack and loved it, so I’m more than happy to learn new ways to do things. But like the Octatrack, the OP-1 is showing its age. Or is it? Are things like the RAM limit just nice limitations?

Let me put it another way. If you’d never owned an OP-1, would you buy one today for €1,400?

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I have had one since shortly after they cam out. I still want a second one.

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I’ve had an OP-1 for years. It’s the best synth I have. (I still slightly prefer it to the OP-Z*). For some reason, I am always inspired with the OP-1 and I can get something down fast without thinking what’s the setting for that (Octatrack), or having to move samples around, etc.etc.

I’d buy one new today if I didn’t already have one.

*Edit: OP-Z wins for travel now though.

is a Juno 106 still worth it after 36 years?
is a TR 808 still worth it after 39 years?

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No way.

Good point. But also, they’re not computers like the OP-1 is, so you’d expect them to last a lot longer.

is a CR-78 still worth it after 41 years?
is a LinnDrum LM-2 worth it after 35 years?

Bear in mind the LinnDrum was so terribly buggy it tanked the company.
The Blackfin BF-524 is available on Mouser.

The point is that it’s an instrument, it doesn’t depreciate in a purely rational way. Given sufficient time, IP aside, one can replicate all of the functionality of the OP1 on any other platform, and that would up the value of a genuine (crappy sounding and temperamental) OP-1 even further.

That said, I think it isn’t worth anything by itself. Only what you make out of it.

I may not have made myself clear. I meant, is it still as good today as it was at launch, or is it getting out of date now?

“good” is qualitative, how do you measure it? same for “out of date” seeing that it’s still produced and stocked.

The USB port could be called “out of date” being mini-USB. But that’s about it technically.

the short answer is NO. Kinda like a like a guitar. The guitar tech hasn’t changed in a very long time, but people are still buying acoustic guitars, rocking crowds, and producing hit records with acoustic guitars.

It’s better today than it was at launch. It has had several updates that added very cool features. If you like how it sounds, looks, works than get one. Personally I start to loose interest in something once a manufacturer has moved on and stopped making/updating it. The op-1 got an update last month and is still being made.

without a doubt, the linndrum and 808 are not worth the 1K or 2K prices they sell for now. the sounds on them sample very well, no need for the original. also, neither of those machines have midi.

as for the juno 106, what are they going for now? around $1500 or more. nice synth, but not worth that much money. well, at least not for me.

the trick is to pick the neglected objects of your time and buy them. what’s cheap now? rack mounted samplers from roland, yamaha, akai and emu…pick them up for $200 now. and those yamaha/korg/roland workstation (triton, motif etc.) are starting to plummet in price.


Some people claim they are able to recognise a real TR-808 (as in an actual unit of the time) by the timing jitter, and I guess those same people, given the cash, would be happy to pay hundreds of $ extra for some obscure detail nobody else cares about. I have a friend who produces music using old Sound Canvas boxes, and to whom paying €50 for one is a phenomenal bargain (I wouldn’t get one if they gave them away). Really depends on what value you yourself assign to the object. Hence I disagree with the whole question :slight_smile:


Care to elaborate? Why do the innards matter?

It depends on what you want it for.

When the OP-1 came out, iPads were expensive, flawed and had little software, quirky gadgets were not quite as trendy - maybe some devices appeared, but the OP-1 was very unique - and it was also somewhat cheaper than it is now, for relatively more processing power compared to other DSP-based synths and costs.

It was, in essence, a handful of quirky DSP synths running - by design requirements of the processing power available - at relatively low resolutions and ‘depth’ of output, in a neat and beautifully made box, with some clever recording tricks.

If you think of each synth as an individual ‘toy’ instrument, they were under $100 each. When sub-$100 meant Korg Monotron (TE have even redefined what a sub-$100 electronic music toy is). They were all in a single box with a mixer and speaker and sequencer all built in.

It was, in essence, absolute bloody genius, and absolutely good value. Like a portable, usable Plugiator - a box which was cheap, nasty, flawed and about £400 (IIRC) before you’d filled it with extra plugins, and had no recording or control within itself (it started out as a daughterboard for CME’s higher-end controllers).

In the 8 years since, processing power and programming skill has improved. Higher resolution, greater audio dynamic range, clearer harmonics, greater stability, much more storage are all possible. Devices like Deluge show the way, devices like Circuit show how to do cheap, multifunctional and playable with decent audio quality too.

No-one has matched TE’s industrial design, workflow or UX. But everyone has surpassed the actual audio quality of the instruments. So for your $1400 you could buy a bunch of interesting synths like the Model D, MS-101, MicroMonsta, Ambika… so many options now, run a free sequencer or Cubasis on iPad. Or you can pick up an iPad and Korg Gadget and it will, honestly, vastly exceed anything you can create with an OP-1. It’s a different experience, but the quality of the output, the sounds and audio, will be better.

Where the OP-1 should be now, is running with more processing power simply to allow, say, a drum pattern to play while you noodle on a synth - no need for tape. For $1400 it shouldn’t sound so thin in a mix, so insubstantial. A virtue was made out of the compromises needed to achieve what they wanted, and people went for it, but 8 years on, it’s time to let the OP-1 become a true version 2.0. Don’t mess with the good stuff - it’s like an original Apple Mac 512 to me; and we made whole magazines on that 9" screen, but damn it - the OP-1 should be an SE/30 by now.


Sure. An analog electronic device like a radio or a old drum machine will keep running for as long as the physical parts are still functioning. Any device that runs on a computer is more prone to fail, if only because of the software. It’s an extra element to go wrong.

That’s all. Then again, I have an old Psion organizer that still works.

That’s exactly the kind of feedback I’m after. I was wondering if the OP-1 still stands up today.

I’ve become spoiled by the amazing quality I can get from instruments, but I almost never make a track on the iPad because it’s such a pain to use for music — and I love the iPad for everything else — I’m a journalist and I do all my work on it.

That’s why I’m interested in the OP-1. The OP-Z and the Octatrack are such great machines for actually creating, instead of managing, like I end up doing on a computer.

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In a product like the OP-1, where the software and the hardware are a whole (from the perspective of the consumer) that distinction does not make sense to me. The software does not “fail” independently, since the consumer cannot/should not upgrade the hardware or the firmware independently. Component shortages can happen to both analog and digital products. To get back to the point of the thread, IMHO people fetishize analog and digital instruments in different ways, and regardless if OP-1 has aged well or not, I don’t think it is because of its innards. At some point in the future, when they become irreparable, it might play a role.

I think my OP-1 has aged well, but I wouldn’t pay 1400 euros for it now. Then again, there’s still nothing like it (and I do own an Octatrack and a latest gen iPad, and use both heavily for music making).


Yes it is worth it. There is nothing else like it.
It is like a complete studio in one box.
I love the op-1 after having it for 5 years.

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that’s confirmation bias. does it still stand up? obviously it does. is it adequate hardware? hardly. does hardware matter? not. I believe that’s the answer you’ve been receiving all along.