OP-1 true LFO

I just got my OP-1 and I really love some of the features. For example, I think we can all agree that the tape feature is amazing. There are so many things you can do with it, and so much versatility for it being so easy to use. I like how you can even do variable-speed recording (shift+rec).

I also really enjoy the sequencers. The finger sequencer is great for doing complex-sounding stuff, and it's very fun. Endless is like a really powerful arpeggiator, but somehow stays simple and easy to use.

My biggest disappointment with the OP-1 is the synths, though. I feel like this is TE's weak point. Even in their early demo videos of the OP-1, the sounds weren't that great. In particular, though, I think that the modulation ("LFO") capabilities are pretty weak.

Reason one: I'm going to be blunt and say it: modulating most of the synth parameters on page 1 doesn't really affect the sound all that much. The engines, even when you change the parameters from one extreme to the other, don't change that much. Shifting the octaves of the keyboard does much more to change the sound of most of the synths than turning the knobs does.

(Henceforth, I will be referring to my suggestion as a "real LFO" or "true LFO", and the OP-1 modulation section as just "the LFO", to hopefully avoid confusion)

Reason two: There is no real LFO. The closest we have to a true LFO on the OP-1 is either using the envelope as a source with the "element" LFO, which kind of sucks since it's already being used for the volume of the sound. Closer still, we have "tremolo", which allows you to do either tremolo or vibrato. Pretty useful, but I feel it's a "so close, yet so far" kind of situation. A saw wave, for example, would open up a much bigger range of possibilities for sound design.

Now, the problem is that that sort of thing would be adding way too much complexity to the OP-1 and would go against the whole spirit of the device, right? Well, here is my opinion about how that can be solved.

When you're messing with a synthesizer on the OP-1, pressing 3 twice toggles the FX on or off. Pressing 4 twice turns the LFO on and off. Pressing 2 twice has no effect. Perhaps a real LFO could be added as a second screen for the "2" button in synth mode. Press 2 to access the envelope, then press 2 again to access the real LFO. Pretty simple, and doesn't add too much extra complexity. Maybe there could be a few common shapes, like a sine wave or sawtooth (I would particularly love to have a sawtooth). You could change the shape (perhaps with a smooth transition between sine, triangle, saw, square, etc) with blue, speed with green, attack speed with white (i.e. to make the real LFO "fade in" rather than starting at 100%), and you would still have the red knob that you could add functionality to. (Perhaps to change reset behavior, i.e. to reset the true LFO's phase to 0 on each note, or to have it "free-run". Or perhaps to add "noise" to it, to make it a bit more random and less periodic).

Even better would be if you could use the sketch feature to draw your own real LFO too! But having a real LFO at all would be good enough for me.

The "real LFO" you edited in the 2 screen would then show up as a source under the "element" modulation of the LFO screen (4). There would be next to no complexity added to the OP-1's interface, and it would stay consistent with the rest of the UI, since pressing 3 twice or 4 twice has functionality.

I suggest pressing 2 twice because I feel like a "real LFO" deserves its own screen, just like the envelope does. There is enough functionality in a true LFO to warrant it. The alternative would be to add the "real LFO" as an option in the shift+4 menu. It could be called "oscillator", to avoid confusion with what "LFO" currently means in the OP-1. But an LFO is pretty complex, and I don't think you could fit all of its options AND the modulation routing options in one page.

Perhaps you could if you added shift+knob functions to the LFO screen instead of the near-useless fine-tuning functionality it currently has. But I think my other idea is much better.

Anyway, that's my biggest wish for the OP-1. I hope TE sees this message and considers it. I love the OP-1 otherwise, and I don't plan on selling mine or doing anything crazy like that. The other features, like the tape and sequencers, are pretty great, very inspiring, and deep enough to satisfy me. I suggest this because I feel that the synths are so close to being on that level as well, and it's a bit tragic that they aren't.

I have a few other ideas for the OP-1 as well, but that's probably my biggest one. If you agree/disagree, I'd love to hear your opinions. Or if you have your own wishes for the OP-1 and ideas about how they'd be implemented without breaking the feel or simplicity of the interface, I'm interested in those too.

have you used the Value LFO at all? You have to turn the Blue knob a little to see it, and the changes it makes are quite clear. You can map it to any knob of the synth, eg, or fx pages

The value LFO isn’t as full-featured as you might have hoped, but knowing about it would have saved you a fair amount of typing…

Value is good, but it confused me a bit since it’s hard to tell exactly what sort of LFO it is. I thought it was low-frequency noise at first because of the waveform display above speed but it sounds more like a sine wave, I think. I would still really like a dedicated LFO with a settable wave shape, and perhaps another envelope. But Value is pretty good, yes. Thanks for the tip!

waveforms would definitely be nice

Well… Dunno… I actually like the LFO. There are some neat choices. But I do agree with you. Reason why I am not complaining is that when I need modulation that the OP can’t do I use my iPad to route some midi cc into it.

About the synths. At first I thought exactly the same. Give it time and “level up” with the OP, soon you will learn how to make beefy analogish sounds.

I just use my laptop (Ableton) or Ipad (Lemur) to control the LFO. I think you might like that too.

i really like the LFOs too. very TE-style, unique.

i would never be opposed to more modulations tho!

Everything (synths, LFOs, sequencers, even tape) took a good long while for me to get used to. I totally regretted getting the OP-1 for months, because I thought it wasn’t the machine I needed. However, at this point, I use it more than all my other synths combined and I have totally become accustomed to the way it works. It is not a traditional synth in any way, but it’s great at what it does once you learn all the sweet spots and tricks. The value LFO is less predictable than a traditional LFO, but I find I can control it enough to give me what I’m looking for. When I need a more traditional synth than the OP-1, I use one, but I think of and use the OP-1 differently, because it is different, and to me, that’s not a bad thing. Plus, the built in sampler means, even when I need a more traditional sound, I can just sample it into the OP-1 and keep working, no need to change machines. Like everything that’s unique, there is a learning curve, but this one is so rewarding.

+1000 @tribrix well said!

…thats exactly why i was not in the best mood on another thread where someone asked about battery life and stuff!

its the fucking OP-1 with all up’s and down’s… but…man, this is a true and rough machine!!

…and so we are, too. Fucking OP’1s :wink:

Using a DAW to generate MIDI CC for the OP-1 kind of defeats the point for me. I bought the OP-1 to be able to be inspired away from my computer and DAW, to be able to take it anywhere. I don't even think it's worth the effort of connecting my OP-1 to my DAW just to get the kind of LFO I want. At that point I might as well just use the DAW to create the sound, it'd probably be less effort that way.

I guess the OP-1 is more suited towards exploration rather than navigation, per se. I am enjoying it. I think you're right @Erhenius and @Tribrix, I'm sure I will grow to love the synths.

A MIDIPal and a way to get MIDI into the OP-1 will get you four hardware-based MIDI LFOs for any CC. Dunno what waveforms would be available.

i honestly find the synth engines to be the best and most powerful features of the op-1. the lfo and effects section are in almost every one of my patches. i am not for sure about the original comments because i can get some wild variation and movement with the lfo.

have a listen:


One idea for more LFO options, that’s potentially portable as well, is to experiment some more with the Element LFO mode, set to Mic/Line-in.

I haven’t tried this out yet, but to my knowledge it’s essentially an envelope follower? So you could use an iPhone (and the many sound-generating apps out there) as your modulation source, for example.

EDIT: iPhone (or android phone) could also be used to generate MIDI LFO’s. i.e. Lemur - which is now available for Android.

@capers - yes the Element LFO works very well with a signal generation app. It can even follow a 2Hz sine wave amazingly well (also amazing my Android phone can produce a 2Hz sine in it’s output!)

I’ve noticed too that the LFO section, although it’s awesome, lacks some real LFO functionality.
I was thinking a simple option for the value LFO would be to add a variable wave shape to the little circle window on the top left and by holding shift and turning the blue knob you could morph between wave shapes from sine/triangle/saw/square/random/smooth random amd back to sine.
That would open up the LFO section massively and not mess too much with how it’s already set up.
We should do a partition to get it implemented.
I’ve already emailed TE :slight_smile: