Moving from OP-Z to Dirtywave M8 tracker?

Wondering if anybody here has experience with both devices. I love the OP-Z and I heavily use the oplab and line modules with external gear. I don’t use the sounds that much, except for drums - usually I use the OP-Z as a master sequencer and mixer/FX unit. But the built-in screen and form factor of the M8 look tempting.

do u have any experience w/ trackers?
its not that crazy but def a different way of thinking // doing things

I’ve used both, and I prefer the M8 for a couple of reasons:

  1. The sound engines are more flexible and (to my ear) sound much better.
  2. I find trackers easier to program.

I don’t use the M8 much to sequence, although from what I’ve seen, it’s very capable at that.

If you haven’t used a tracker, a cheap way to check one out is t try Renoise. I’d definitely spend at least a little bit of time watching an M8 video.

One thing you miss on the M8 is the live performance stuff you get on the OP-Z. M8 programming has some stuff that for linear sequencing is better IMHO (tables), but isn’t as good for the punch-in fx.

They’re very different beasts. I use the M8 more than the OP-Z, but the last time I really tried t ouse my OP-Z it had double trigs again and I was fed up with the de-oxit trick.

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I really love the style of the op-z it’s been my first sequencer ever and the punch in effects have been my favorite part about it, being able to adjust length as well and the way the buttons light up to tell you where on the grid you are is so cool, and being able to assign triggers per note/sample on the sequencer is amazing. Also really fell in love with the tape track for the stutter effects. I was wondering the same question about the M8, but they just recently dropped a new version with usb-c and a mic and it’s sold out. I would wait until after Superbooth to see if TE will be dropping a new and improved version of the op-z as well they’ve discounted the op-z on the site so maybe? :thinking:

I’ve used both extensively as well, and the biggest difference by far is the “playability” aspect.

Even though the keys on OP-Z are really small, I can just turn it on and start tooling around until I find a melody or set of chords that I like. I make a lot of music on OP-Z through kind of “finding music under my fingers”, the same way I would on a guitar or piano. I know a lot of people kinda hate on the OP-Z’s synth sounds, but I honestly think they can be tuned to sound good if you have an ear for sound design, and it’s also pretty hard to make patches that are unusable. The problems I have with OP-Z usually crop up later in a track, when I’m fighting with the sequencer. For example, if I suddenly decide I want to make a part twice as many bars long, I usually just start from scratch. But since the sequencer resolution changes if I’m making the sequence longer, I can’t just program it into the sequencer. So I end up live recording a lot of my melodic parts that are more complex. For drums, the sequencer on OP-Z is totally fine. But for sequencing complex basslines, chords with weird timing, or complicated melodies, I basically have to use live recording because I can’t “zoom in” to the sequencer and nudge notes around like I would on a piano roll on a DAW.

Pros:

  1. Playability, discovery
  2. Built-in synths provide great defaults without needing to sound design for 30 min before I start making music
  3. Immediacy to sequencing - punch-in fx and step components make variants seamless to pull off

Cons:

  1. Hard to do complex sequencing
  2. There’s a limit on how deep the sound design can get

For the M8, no matter how much I try I can never get that sense of “playability” like I have with real instruments. I turn it on and even when I’m just messing around trying things out, it’s all incredibly methodical. I often try to do the same thing of “finding music under my fingers”, but on M8 that means futzing with the tracker sequences, pushing notes into different rows to find some interesting timing that catches my ear. But it never feels like I am “playing” the instrument. I’m “operating” it :stuck_out_tongue:
The sound design on the M8, as many people will mention, is phenomenal. You can do so much with it, and it sounds really, really good. It is frustrating that it doesn’t have a true polyphonic synth mode, but there are some good workarounds for getting chords through the macrosynth, FM synth, and hypersynth types. A lot of time I spend with the M8 is spent deep in sound design, and I feel like I’ve made some really cool patches there that I never could have even gotten close to on OP-Z. The sampler is insanely good, and has a ton of quality of life features like auto-chop, etc. Once you start to understand things like tables, all the modulation routing potential, etc, it feels incredibly powerful. Also, the tracker sequencing workflow is incredibly efficient. Again, it takes a lot of work to understand it fully if you haven’t spent time working with trackers, but the entire workflow is built to maximize re-use of existing parts. Decide you want a sequence to be twice as long, half the length, reversed, remixed, etc? You can do it all. You can basically make your own custom “step components”, in tables, if you really want. And it’s usually pretty fast to rework a sequence. But all that freedom comes at a complexity cost. I’d reiterate again that at its worst, this feels like I’m not “making” music, but “operating” a complex music-making machine. I would note that you can plug in external controllers to M8 to make it more playable, but I usually found myself not doing it because the handheld workflow was always faster than playing around. “Playing” technically is an option, but I found myself often skipping it in favor of the true tracker flow.

Pros:

  1. Insane flexibility in workflow, sequencing, etc. Very “efficient” workflow, once you learn it.
  2. Sound designer’s dream - great synths, sampler, and overall sound quality. FX sound awesome. All super flexible.
  3. Pretty viable for making full tracks

Cons:

  1. Never as “fun” – feels like operating a computer rather than playing an instrument.
  2. Complex workflow can take a long time to master, and until you do, a lot of things will take longer than on OP-Z. But with dedication, you can learn to make music way faster than even in a lot of DAWs.

Hopefully that helps – I still use both devices a lot (although I temporarily sold my M8 to order an M8 Model 02 - can’t wait for it to arrive!), and don’t have any intention of choosing one over the other. The duo are the best options in the truly-portable music making options I have available to me outside of iOS, which I don’t like to use “because phone”.

I know you specifically wanted to know if it’s worth switching completely, but I’d make the case that OP-Z is the perfect device to have in addition to the M8 :stuck_out_tongue: With the line module, OP-Z can MIDI out to M8 to make up for its lack of a keyboard and allow live recording, and use OP-Z’s polyphonic synths to record poly samples into M8’s awesome sampler. M8 can MIDI out to OP-Z to add awesome modulation potential OP-Z synth engines that makes them really shine. Can also MIDI complex sequences from M8 into OP-Z.

So TL;DR: get both!

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great review dude, thanks for that!

Thanks for the detailed descriptions!

using the OPZ’s keyboard to compensate for a different devices lack of keyboard seems wild to me…

The two do work quite well together though, and given the incredibly small size of both there is something to be said for having an M8, OP-Z, and your phone as a pretty complete setup for making music that can go with you just about anywhere you go.

Is it perfect? Not at all. Can it allow you to make music out of the house without much effort? Absolutely.

These brilliant choices, we really do live in a golden age. I love both. But I use m8 much more. The huge sample manipulation is amazing. And I find iterative programming in real time to be very interactive and fun.