Modular synth or OP-1?

I’ve made the decision to sell most of my mismatched gear due to the fact that none of it really seems to flow very well with each other. I’ve floated between liking the OP-1 and the idea of making a modular synth. Currently my plan if I went the modular route would be to buy a 90hp case, Mutable Instruments braids, a filter, a midi interface, and keep expanding from there once finances allow. So, I ask you, owners of both the OP-1 and a modular synthesizer, which should I get? Oh, by the way, I’m fairly proficient with synthesizers, so I’m not worried about not being able to use a modular well.

It really comes down to what you want to spend time doing when it comes to synthesizers, what your workflow is like, are you trying to make music quickly or experiment for a while, etc. I have a modular which is great to create interesting sounds. But I like the OP-1 for actually creating sketches of songs. Do you have other instruments to support modular-focused music that the OP-1 includes, or are you wanting to make every sound from the modular?

I would get the OP-1 first and if you don’t like it, sell it and build the modular. If you keep it, you have a sampler/recorder to process your modularing with.


I don’t think there’s an OP-1 user in the world that would answer any other way; OP-1. Hands down.

Simply put, it’s the only thing that covers all the bases. Sampler, recorder, mastering, sequencer, synth…

You’d have to kill me to get my OP-1 away from me. If I lost mine, I’d be on eBay within 5 minutes, hawking any other piece of gear I had to replace it.

OP-1 because it’s an OP-1 ! Have you ever tested one ?

You still can buy some modular stuff in addition ^^.

Im also tempted by a small eurorack, but I do not know much, and modules are very expensive.

i will try to be quick

there is no sound of whatever modular OP-1 cant make (with a small addition of something analog JUST FOR FUN).
BUT if you have money i mean a lot of them you can always buy me an island

If you want to make songs, then OP-1. It’s so empowering to have a complete, end-to-end creation flow.

I don’t think you can really compare the OP-1 to a modular… So if I had to pick I would say OP-1 because of its “music making multi-tool” characteristics. Not to mention it’s portable.

A modular would be a great investment, and it sounds like you have an idea of which modules to start off with, but I still wouldn’t venture into the modular realm if I had any doubts whether it would make me happier than an OP-1…

Agreed with @picoVolt -it’s portable with a pair of cool tape machines to fire at each other.
(The synth is obviously basic compared,but it can sample/resample and the 5 sequencers are good).

I would get the OP-1 first and if you don't like it, sell it and build the modular. If you keep it, you have a sampler/recorder to process your modularing with.

Also this.

The two really are not comparable. The modular synth would actually compliment the OP1, not replace it. Like many others have said before me, the OP1 is a very unique tool to help sketch and create songs and compositions. I walk around with little tunes in my head on a constant basis, and the OP1 allows me to extract and lay them out. If you already have a good song writing and creative process in place that flows for you, you may not need the OP1. If not, get it. It will be the most used/valuable tool in your arsenal.

I have both. Hands down, OP-1. Much more inspirational at this point. The OP-1 will keep you busy for a long long time. Get the modular later.

I think this forum may be a little biased! I agree that the two can’t really be compared - and a lot of it depends on personal preference. As someone who owns both, I get much more enjoyment from the OP-1. It’s much more comprehensive - building a modular system that’s capable of doing half of what the OP-1 does would cost you twice the price. If you are really drawn to analog sound characteristic, a modular might be more exciting to you. I only managed to make weird farty noises with my modular when it wasn’t connected to Logic, which I have just as much fun doing on the OP-1 without all the cable mess.

I feel the ‘freedom’ of modular can really only come from having access to lots of modules.

For example: with just a sound source, filter, envelope, and maybe a few other utility modules, I can see myself going “oh and then I’ll plug this into… No wait I don’t have one yet” and getting frustrated that I’ll have to buy another slew of modules to get me where I want.

I’ve vowed that if I’m going into modular that I must build it myself. Therefore I’m learning whilst simultaneously increasing my synth capabilities instead of just throwing more money at it (however I will buy modules that I have no idea how to build)

Alright, you guys talked me out of the modular! Only thing I need to think about now is how often the OP-1 seems to break.

Alright, you guys talked me out of the modular! Only thing I need to think about now is how often the OP-1 seems to break.
Mission success!

My impression, based on this forum, is that it’s really reliable. It certainly feels it–a beautiful slab of thick aluminum, with enough heft to feel serious and not so much to not be desirable.

Alright, you guys talked me out of the modular! Only thing I need to think about now is how often the OP-1 seems to break.

I’ve had mine for almost a year and 1/2, with not one hiccup or headache.

i’ve had an op1 for 4 years and its never busted. mind you i’ve never dropped it and I keep it in a case when not in use.

i recently had an epiphany. as an ableton user also, i was lured by the recent popularity of external, analog and modular synths.

but i realised, i can do anything in ableton. anything at all.

it gets down to asking yourself what you want to do. its easy to think spending lots of money on expensive gear will help you to make music.

but the only thing that makes music is making music. you could, with a microphone and a tape recorder, make music at the park with rocks and sticks and it would be fantastic.

anyway, i realised, i don’t need any more gear.

between the op1 and live, and maybe a microphone, the possibilities are infinite.

The OP-1 is really a great synth and much more.

But in your case, if you have lots of synths, I would go for a used Elektron Octatrack instead.
You would be able to control the rest of your gear and have a very big power added.

Now OP-1 is more immediate and fun, The Summer Synth :slight_smile: