I’ve owned an OP-1 for a while and last year added the OP-Z - both purchases have been purely focused on how much they can do in such a small box, with physical controls and no need for a screen. Okay, a v small screen in the OP-1 case! I don’t have the space for lots of gear so when I buy something I want it to deliver as much as possible in an attempt to avoid any GAS!
I love the 1 for its sound control and sampling but it’s not particularly easy to continuously jam on, more for song making, in its own inimitable style.
And I love the Z because it excels at precisely that - I can start a beat and then without ever stopping it, bring in rhythms, baselines, key changes, style changes etc all live while the music is still playing. I can literally spend hours doing that on the sofa with some headphones on. Love it.
BUT as someone else commented, it’s quite hard to really significantly change the sounds. You can sample, but it does suffer without a screen and I don’t like using the iPhone as I prefer the muscle memory of just the device. So while it’s super quick and super fun to endlessly fiddle with, the music is often of a somewhat similar type.
Recently, and after lots of research, I purchased a Maschine+. I looked hard at the MPC Live II with its speaker and battery as that aligns with the OPs portability. But ultimately, the reliance on a touchscreen on all the MPCs was too much of a trade off for me. I love the physicality of twiddling the knobs, ‘feeling’ the music change. Rather than sliding my finger over a flat surface like I’m doing on my phone screen right now!
The Maschine seemed to align much more to my feeling that the OP-1 and OP-Z are instruments, rather than controllers. They’re something that has to be learned and played rather than simply a hardware interface to some software.
The Maschine sound library is also incredibly impressive - apparently much bigger and better than the MPC, from the reviews. So that is something that answered my OP-Z concerns, it can sample and slice better than the OP-1, it can be played live like the Z, but can more easily make full songs, it quantises everything if you like, (or not if you don’t!), it has multiple ways of inputting music, etc etc etc…
So, that’s all to say, I love it. It answers all my needs of a step up both in ease of use, variety, sound quality, choice, and does it all while retaining the physical, muscle memory that comes with playing an instrument. No it’s not strictly portable in a ‘sitting in a forest making music’ kinda way but I’m not sure I’ll ever do that anyway! It’s certainly portable in that it’s self contained and doesn’t need a laptop, which would almost double its desktop footprint.
But, i would say, it also goes to show just how brilliantly designed the TE interfaces are. For all the Maschine’s functions, it can be very easy to get lost. There’s so much in there that you can sometimes struggle to remember where certain things live, there’s so many sounds that even with favourites, it can take some time to find the sound you’re looking for etc etc. Now, obviously these are good problems to have, but it’s amazing how quickly you can get the OP-Z to make great music, with only a few buttons and no screen!
Anyway, hope this is helpful in understanding what role this type of device might play, and help consider whether you’re a touchscreen or knobs kinda person! Ultimately that was the deciding factor for me.