Synthesizer/ sampler debate

Not sure if this is even a debate for some people but here we go.

I don’t think the OP-Z is a synthesizer

There I said it, it’s no more a synthesizer than a korg micro sampler (first eg that came to mind) is or any other keyboard based sampler. It doesn’t have any synthesis engines and uses aif files with some form of xml or something to apply variations to said aif.

I kind of feel a bit gutted about this as I thought it would have dedicated synth engines similar to the way the op1 does. The ‘samples’ provided firstly seem kind of similar to each other and secondly aren’t very malleable. I’ve had to put my own sounds on, which I don’t mind, however I do mind that i’ve Basically bought a sequencer/sampler that doesn’t have a dedicated audio input from the get go. Don’t get me wrong it’s still got a really cool sequencer and looks the part, but a synthesizer? No, not for me. What’s your take on this?


i might be missing your point here – you might well be right that the opz isn’t a synth.

but you’ve also said all keyboard samplers aren’t synths. plenty of samplers are synths – they just use samples as the waveform, not an oscilator (or carrier/operator if we’re talking digital fm). these samplers have ADSR envelopes for amp and filter etc. just like on regular synths.

so the OPZ doesn’t have any envelopes or filters? is that why you’re saying it’s not a synth?

I might be missing the point too. I thought the OP-Z had synth engines on the bass/lead/arp and chord tracks, no? Granted the synth engines aren’t very deep. I’d agree it’s not a synth though. I’d say it’s a sequencer.

It does have synth engines, they’re just a lot more limited than a lot of other synths. I don’t understand how someone can listen to the Saw engine (for example) and think that’s just samples. Sure, it may be using a PCM single cycle wave for the sawtooth oscillator (I’m probably wrong though) through filter+envelope, but calling that a “sampler” is a bit of a stretch.

edit: On one hand, if you’re buying it expecting deep synth engines, you’re destined for disappointment… but on the other hand, it’s definitely possible to get unique, complex sounds out of it if you know how to push it.


yeah! the OP-Z is a bit limited on the first run but with the help of all Synth Parameters which also include Filter, Adsr and LFO you can get really lush and deep sounding sounds and then you‘ll wonder, what I can get this Big sound from just 2 parameters? :yum:
on most Analog Synth it’s the FIlTeR that shapes a sound, just like on OP-Z! raw saw engine slightly filtered and cutoff affected by LFO gives a good example. the Magic is that with a Synthesizer you can rethink the next sound to come because you‘ll normally know the controls and the creative process let‘s you combine those controls like a ninja for musical expression!

it’s def. a Synth!

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I know this thread is about discussing exactly that but in my humble opinion it‘s the most productive and inspiring single gear a ever had the chance to use. So I don‘t really care if it‘s a „real“ synthesizer or just a sample player with deep sequencing possibilities.

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Thanks for the responses guys it’s good to have this discussion. The reason I posed this question is that TE sell the OP-Z as a “sequencer and synthesizer” yet if I deleted the ‘presets’ from it I would have nothing left to work with whereas with most synths i’ve used you only really have the option to save over a preset or there are still basic saw/sin/square etc to start creating something new with.

So answers in order are, please don’t read any tone into this btw I respect all your opinions.

Squidly - you also say that I say keyboard samplers aren’t synths but so do you as you refer to them as keyboard samplers but I understand your confusion a sampler can definitely be a synthesizer (sometimes better than a synth IMO) I think my point of difference being a sampler requires my input to create something to work from whereas a synth gives you like you said oscillators to work from.

Readyornot/ psudolux - if you look at the files in those slots bass/arp/etc when your OP-Z is plugged into your computer you can see that they have aif files in them. That’s where I’m coming from with this really, I’m not too tech either but it seems to me that whatever manipulates the samples we input in the user slots is the same ‘engine’ that manipulates the samples that come with it.

johnnyego - I agree I got some great results from the samples i’ve put into it and I can’t fault the Z on the way it handles sound but I can’t use the synth engines to make as varied sounds as I might be able to if it had a synth engine. I just feel all sounds eventually generated thru the Z end up being a bit samey just IMO

Opztacle had to laugh bro and totally agree in a way. I hate it when musicians start talking about xyz gear they used to produce an album to the point where it seems like it’s more important than the music itself. Your right from a creative aspect. I think I’m coming at this from the perspective of is the OP-Z what TE say it’s is. I was laughing from the perspective of the ‘I don’t care about this debate’ then adding 2cents worth of opinion, I think I do this all the time.

Anyway again no offence intended to any of you, great to get some feedback.


Weird logic - I have a microkorg, you can’t just use the synth without starting from a preset. The OP-Z is exactly the same it’s just you are able to get into the guts of the machine and delete the presets using a computer.

Each synth engine has 2 unique editable parameters, a resonant filter, an ADSR for the amp envelope and an LFO with a single routing destination before it hits the track FX sends. It’s not a sampler, just a number of different, albeit rather simple synth engines. You can’t load your own samples into most of these engines (except unsurprisingly the sampler engine) so they can’t be classed as samplers.

And I’m no fanboy, I’ve got my OP-Z up for sale as I find it too limited for my needs (and I HATE having to use a computer with my synths).

Hey ghostly ‘glad’ you joined the debate. I’m a bit confused by what you call my ‘weird logic’ your example backs up my statement on the microkorg you have to start with a preset that you then save over. Having owned one I also know that you can significantly change the sound or even remake the other presets if you so desired from what is available to you, you couldn’t do that with the OP-Z. I’d disagree that as a user I have access to the ‘guts’ of the OP-Z I can just swap some sample files over and last I checked I could save over the presets with my own sounds.

It’s cool if you disagree I just didn’t like the inference that my logic was ‘weird’ Isn’t weird a bit of a pejorative term for an open discussion? I think you knew you were being offensive when you started going on about how you aren’t a fanboy. Also my statement wasn’t even logic just a statement of fact, you can completely remove the samples. I think that’s why I used the microsampler as an example. That came with loads of samples that if I recall correctly could be deleted/overwritten with the exception of the Rom bank.

I think it has been interesting to see that in the few replies so far there did seem to be a bit of disagreement already which maybe warranted the question in the first place. We all seem to agree to some extent that whatever the synths/samples engines are, they are very basic. What we need here is someone who knows for sure how the ‘synth’ engines actually work.

Anyway despite my best efforts not to upset it seems I have so i’ll bow out of this for now.

Peace (in every sense)

i never expected something smaller than the sandwich i just ate for lunch to sound like a top of line vintage synth or sampler that i can barely lift. that being said, it’s clear that plenty of people know how to get great sounds out of TE gear.

Just because they’re limited, doesn’t mean you can’t call them synth engines.

They’re not all .aif files. They’re “.engine files”, which are blank placeholder files that point to the synth engines. If you load .aif files into the folders, it’ll use the sample player engine, but the synth engines are referred to by, for example, “~26.engine” which points to the saw synth engine.

They’re also not the presets. The presets can be loaded and saved using the lower row of keys once you’ve loaded a synth engine. I think you’re confusing loading custom .aif samples and the .engine files that can be reloaded into the slots using the app (or are loaded in by default from factory).

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Don’t think weird is an odd choice of word. You are using the preset management system as a marker for whether a device is a synth or not.

Just when I thought i’d got out, they drag me back in!

@squiddly - well IMO it doesn’t sound that big for me, hope you are confusing a big sound for having the volume turned up :wink: Also, who is making these big sounds I haven’t heard them yet?

@pselodux - I’m not saying that because it’s limited it’s not a synth, a Casio vl tone is limited but it’s still a synth. Can’t check the file extensions right now, I’m away and didn’t bring it with me but I’m pretty sure all file extensions are 3 - 4 letters long, that’s not to say .engine files don’t exist I just hadn’t noticed them, maybe my bad.

@ghostly606 - pejorative doesn’t mean odd (interesting you chose this btw) it just suggests negative connotations, weird logic, weird person. I’m sorry if you meant nothing by it. I disagree that I am using its preset system as a judge as to whether it’s a synth or not.

I did some digging yesterday and probably have to concede on a semantic level the OP-Z is a synth. Maybe I should have asked are the OP-Z ‘synth’ engines worth the £500+ price tag given for example a korg monologue costs slightly more than 1/3 of that and also has a sequencer. Granted it’s not portable and can’t do visuals but are those features worth £250? I think if it hadn’t been for the hard work of @gero I might have returned my OP-Z within the first week. I know TE will update these sounds, most of my favourite sounds on the op1 came very late on and as I’ve said I think the sequencer is fantastic and form of it looks great but even then is plagued with warping and double trig issues. IMO it’s kind of like owning a blunt Swiss Army knife I guess. Anyway thanks for the input and reading my rants, catharsis is a fantastic thing.

It is not a synth it is a remote control

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It ain’t so good at that either. Check out the ‘rotary encoders’ on this little beut


Since it seems like we reached a conclusion to the original post’s topic - “is the OP-Z a synth or a sampler” - with the original posters concession that it is (at least semantically) a synth, maybe we should close this debate. I don’t think a continuation of whether any object justifies its monetary cost is going to generate any changed opinions on the matter, since value is truly in the eye of the beholder.

Just trying to keep the peace :smiley:

So you replaced all of the synth engines with aif samples?

Also keep in mind the OP-1 preset format is aif :joy:

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@GCF - Not looking to change opinions on this, just hear them. I think your post wound me up the most, just let the thread die naturally if it bothers you instead of trying to be the arbiter of what we should and shouldn’t discuss. You haven’t even expressed an opinion so why join in at all? No one forced you to open the thread. Consider this the last word in our interaction in the name of peace and see how you feel.

@pselodux - not sure if I replaced them all but I would, my OP-Z is currently idling on the coffee table haven’t played with it for a couple months now. Aren’t the only aif files on the op1 the the samples you add to the sample synth engine? The other engines are actually synths using various forms of synthesis the fm engine being the self explanatory example.

Give it another try. Just like with the op-1. The synths look limited but when you learn the ways of the machine/ui you will see that the limitations seem less important.

I’m sorry that my comment wound you up. That wasn’t my intention.