Why Haven't We Seen A "Korg 'OP-1'" or a "Roland 'OP-1'"?

Was talking with a friend about the OP-1 and he raised an interesting question - why haven’t one of the bigger synth companies out there made a similar device for a cheaper price?

Potentially a larger company with economy of scale could develop a similar unit at a (slightly) cheaper price point?

Because they couldn’t sell any other of their equipment anymore…; )

@mixrasta haha!

I think the new KORG Electribe comes pretty close. Not as fancy, but mass produced at a lower price point and less niche.

I think it has a lot to do with philosophy. You can’t get an OP-1 like product without having a very strong vision and making lots of sacrifices. The most similar modern product I have to the OP-1 is the Korg Monotribe. It does a lot less, but without compromise. It’s a thoroughly complete version of what it is, no excuses. Teenage Engineering take a lot of flack for all the things that the OP-1 isn’t. I just can’t imagine Korg engineers winning (or losing) enough battles to come up with a competitive product to the OP-1. However, the OP-1 is a perfect update to the Casio VL-1, a programable synth with built in sequencer/song memory, drum machine, and chicklet keys. When I first saw the OP-1, I couldn’t believe it took so long to update the VL-1, lol.

Just my two cents though. If Roland did an OP-1 it would be $1200 with D-Beam (I jest). I agree though, the new Korg Electribes are a shot across the OP-1s bow. I’m excited for them.
I just can't imagine Korg engineers winning (or losing) enough battles to come up with a competitive product to the OP-1.

I think you’re right @Tribrix. Corporate culture. Originality is not rewarded.

You don’t jest, @tribrix that motherfucker would have one D-beam at minimum lol.

Korg stands the closest chance to making something that competes with the OP-1, imo. Maybe even Arturia, but Korg has a lot of the ingredients needed already. They crammed a King Korg and 2x8 pads into the new electribe(s) after-all.

the gadgets in Korg Gadget remind me of the op1. maybe not in functionality, but in aesthetic/design.

lol, DP-1, the OP-1 like device w/ all functions replaced by D-Beams.

Great comments all…

I was imagining the new Electribe - but put a 2 octave keyboard where the pads are and then have a 4x4 pad set off to the right…that would cool…

ha this thread is great! I totally agree with yalls sentiments. I do wish Korg would pump out a product similar to the op1. but the new electribe; the monotribe, monotrons, volcas, gadget(ios) lead me to belive korg knows what they are doing!!!

D-beams all around!! wait i tought d beams were roland.

ahh they are! wishful thinking that only Korg could make an op1 competitor!!!

It’s simple fear.

Fear of unfamiliar terrain, fear of failure, fear of the unforeseen, fear of losing face, fear of ridicule, fear of the ego. Fear shackles the mind, it makes you survive but never shine.
If you have ever been in a board (of executives) meeting it will become clear why most big companies are pretty much incapable of producing novel ideas. Pitiful creatures who have no other goal other than to 1-up their fellow board members, constantly boasting, constantly in fear that somebody else will be ever so slightly better than him/her. Usually it goes wrong there.
I have seen it time and again, only fearless people/companies dare to innovate and take a leap of faith

thats crazy to think about @erhenius and also really sad.

i actually kind of think a major company op1 would be rather boring.
i like my TE OP1, theres nothing else like it

TE is the only company that had the vision and resources to make the OP-1.

Korg and Roland are stuck in the 90s. They use modern, powerful hardware to do the same things that were possible 20 years ago. Yes, they do it better, but their approach hasn’t evolved much. (For example, Kronos is a flagship workstation. It has a high-resolution color touchscreen, but the actual UI principles are a blast from the past. They date back to Triton and, possibly, earlier.)

Korg and Roland don’t have designers of the same caliber as TE. I bet they mostly employ harware engineers and sound people. TE, on the other hand, is a design studio. They know how to make the right tradeoffs. They “get” UX. They have original ideas.

Korg and Roland are mortally afraid of cannibalizing their numerous product lines (including ones they plan for), so they feature-cripple everything. TE only had OP-1 for a long time so they pushed its hardware to the limit.

I honestly don’t get what’s the big deal with the new Electribes. Is it just the combination of price and portability? I can’t find any user videos about it and I don’t see it on Amazon, so I assume it’s not released yet.

I’m excited about the new electribes for a couple of features I interpret from the user manual. I will have to see of they actually function the way I imagine to be interested in purchasing one. The features are the ability to record an entire performance (track mutes, possibly Xy pad movements) and the ability to export these full performances as audio. Basically play your pattern set live, record it, and kick it to the computer OP-1 style. No tape, but a self-contained unit that I can work start to finish on is attractive.

OP-1 is too niche for a large company to gamble on, but if there was a possible candidate it would be Korg. Korg make some great toys the Monotribe, Volcas, Analog re-issues, Kaoss, Electribes and apps, most of which focus on fun over function, and at least in this regard are closest to the OP-1.

I’d love to see a Nord version, a tiny red monster of sorts.

While I think Korg would be the one company capable of doing something like this, I really wish Casio or Yamaha would attempt an OP1-type device.

Personally, I’d love to see Casio come out with a portable keyboard that approximates the OP1 such as an updated SK1. Think back on how ground-breaking the SK1 was. It could sample, it could sequence, it had additive synthesis and some decent though limited built-in sounds as well for a very affordable price. If an updated version of the SK1 came out with additional synthesis functionality, better quality sampling, a robust sequencer (as opposed to the 4 track audio recorder that the OP1 has) and effects for under $300, I think it would sell like hot cakes.

I’m a big fan of Casio’s XW synths as well as their earlier CZ series so they have the technology to create great sounding synths rather than the pretty awful consumer keyboards they still produce.

Korg has recently released so many cool electronic instruments over the past few years, it’s clear that there’s a market for low-cost “toys”. I’d love to see other companies pick up on that strategy.

Lymtronics, I guess I’ve interpreted the info on Korg’s website a bit differently. To my eyes it looks like a lower-tier Elektron gear competitor, not OP-1 killer.

Well, it shouldn’t be long before the release. I hope someone independent will make a good review. (Although, after my fiasco with V-Synth I relized I have more than enough synthesizers, so my interest is purely academic.)

As far as toys go, I only ever was fascinated by Korg’s -Pad series. I own a Kaoss Pad 3. Fun to play with, but I think I will ultimately sell it. I wish it had both synthesis and sampling all on one box. With instant slot switching and ability to mix and match slots. And with long record time, not umpteen seconds. That would be a marveloust toy.

It depends on what you consider the definitive “feature” of the OP-1.

Classic synths tend to fall into distinct categories of “Workstation”* and “Synthesizer”. Those families may blur - you get sequencer functions on pure synths which approach what early workstations could offer (JV-50, Korg M1 and so forth) and workstations are getting clever when it comes to synth engines, but fundamentally that’s how the marketing teams seem to think. Korg has been more successful than Roland at finding niches and playing games with synthesizers, and Roland has arguably had more difficulty getting a consistent workstation family to take root in the way the M1-01/W-T1-3/Trinity/Triton family progressed, and more success at getting their vision of synthesis across in the JD, JV through XP and XV progression.

There are many synthesizers that beat the OP-1’s synth models, though the OP-1 does something very clever in each. There are drum machine toys and sequences that exceed the OP-1’s abilities and for less money. Roland’s attempts at “GrooveSynths” are horrid - MC303? EG101 (if you remember that one, sorry to bring it up). Every backstreet shop and electronics fanatic has churned out a better followup to the 303/MC202 than Roland could until the TB-3. That’s how long it took Roland to 'get it".

But in my opinion - and that’s all it is - where the OP-1 has a huge lesson to teach Roland, Korg - anyone in the workstation or performance/arranger (same beast, different demographic) area is in the tape paradigm, the ease of use for sequencing, recording, beat matching and just making it all work.

For the purpose of this I am ignoring software things, which is unfair - I am sure Native Instruments and Propellerheads would argue they’ve done this stuff for over a decade, and I see Gadget has already been mentioned. I’m talking about dedicated hardware.

You look at the sequencer on a Triton or Fantom or whatever is out these days. Now look at how easy it is to just start the virtual 4-track on the OP-1, play, chop, loop, repeat with a minimal number of buttons and a clear visual indication.

The OP-1 would be appealing just as that interface, in a small box, simply as a four-track hooked into a mixer. The synths, drum machines, they’re genius to include in the thing - but anything can make a noise. It’s recording it, adding to it, mixing it and playing it back as a composition that is the hard part, and TE got that absolutely bang on.

Now think about this. Let’s say TE took the OP-1’s essential concept, and put it in a solid metal 61 or 49 key controller. Same fundamental buttons for control, but say, improved patch storage, more slots for tapes and albums - a “new tape” function. More processing power. Better, due to more space, audio isolation from charging and processing circuits (mine only makes noise when plugged into USB and charging).

How much would you pay? €1000? €1499? Priced to compete with the workstations?

I genuinely find it amazing the OP-1 is the price it is. Not too high - but for what it does, very cheap. Single purpose boutique instruments cost that sort of money.