Why I think the OP-Z has gone under the radar

The OP-Z is the synth / Groovebox that started it all for me a few years ago- it was the gateway that led to my entire presence in this community.

This video explores where it’s at now and some reasons why I think it’s fallen in the shadows of other relevant gear- in and outside the realm of Teenage Engineering:


Thanks for sharing.

If you care to try, I think you should set yourself a challenge to get stuck into the op-z purely as a sampler. Define a period of time or a number of songs you commit to using the op-z only as a sampler, no internal synth sounds.

It is not the most convenient sampler but it is fine once you get used to it, and the op-z really is a different kind of beast once you only use samples.

I’d be curious to see a video of what you made of the process, the songs or type of music you made, what synths you sampled, and how it changed your existing relationship to the op-z.


I didn’t watch the video, but I think the reason is because the poor design choices, yes it is capable enough and sounds fine, but it is let down by the fiddly operation, some because of the hardware - small size, rubbish buttons, lack of good visual feedback without a phone/tablet, sample memory limits etc.

I really have to be in the mood to use mine, I keep them (I have 2) fairly close by as well as other portable instruments such as Circuits, Electribes, MC-101 - all of which I tend to reach for first.

I have some tracks on my OP-Z that I might end up releasing with labels, and as @dhunterrr says it is so much better using your own samples than the rather underwhelming built in synths and samples.

In a nutshell I’d say it could have been so much better, the OP1 is far more enjoyable to use IMHO. OP-Z should have been a PO I think, the video and unity stuff is a gimmick to me, painful to use.


Totally agree with the above.

Plus I have the @darenager mc202 sound pack for op-z and it sounds wicked.

As a designer I’m interested in the video pack stuff but haven’t made one yet. To me it probably dilutes the appeal to most music makers. Even though I’m interested in video packs, I’d rather have more and better synths or extra effects or tape tracks or ability to resample etc.

I wonder if they made a Field version if they would just try to improve the quality of the hardware or a radically redesign to a larger form factor.

I’m a little sceptical they will make a Field version because of the poor reception to the original one, and it is only a few years old.

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Thanks @dhunterrr :pray:

I used photomatic once, added content and ended up making a video but it was pretty buggy and TBH it fought me all the way, to the point where it put me off using it again, it simply wasn’t worth the hassle for the limited things it can do. Also the midi response was laggy and inconsistent on photomatic.

Whilst I think it is a capable machine, the bad points overshadow the good, such a shame as it has deterred me from ever buying any more TE products, I had bought almost all the other synth stuff they made.

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i hate to bring this up but for me it was the truth and i imagine i’m not the only one

personally, i think it flies under the radar almost entirely because of the price

design played a role (as have the numerous & well publicized QC issues)…but i think more people would’ve taken the risk or accepted Z, flaws and all, if the price were a bit lower

it didnt have to be as low as the PO series but if were closer to elektron Models upon release, i think OPZ really could’ve made inroads as an impulse buy or first hardware sequencer for folks

once you fully understand it i think the price is fair but i only picked one up when used prices got reasonable


I think the OP-Z truly shines as a sequencer with analog synths. It’s also nice to have some options at hand for adding beats & more harmonic context. For this, the stock sounds and onboard synths are good enough for me. Even the FX are quite usable when you take some time to dial them in. In this video all reverb & delay for the 0-coast comes from the OP-Z via the Line Module:

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So it was the OPZs fault

The price has been dropped to $499, seems about right, would be nice if it included the line-in module at this price or discounted bundle with the line-in -

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That’s better but a very recent change

Also, $499 is roughly the same price as used digitakt where i live

Both are very capable and I think plenty of people either shoot for the more reliable Elektron box or aim for some POs/Volcas instead if 500 dollars is too pricey

I have used OPZ, Digitakt and Digitone and going to keep only the OPZ. Even though the built quality is not good at all, I think this is the smartest workflow/form factor knowing that portability is key for me.


I think it has fallen under the radar because they haven’t been updating it. It has remained static for at least 18 months? (I can’t remember when the last update was). Personally, I bonded with it more than my OP1, I love the sequencing workflow, but eventually grew tired of the synth engines. It sails very close to what Elecktron do, though I think the sequencer is better, unfortunately, build quality, lack of screen etc let it down. I’ll be keeping mine even though the Syntakt has won my heart. The sequencer on the OPZ is so creative, I love the polyphony and the master track.


I fully agree! OPZ changed my life for the better and has led to more completed tracks than almost any other piece of hardware I own.

For a while I stripped down my gear setup and only used my laptop and norns for making beats. When I eventually decided to hunt for new pieces I got a Z followed by several other machines and it’s still my undisputed favorite workflow!

I’ve got an Octatrack, Digitakt, and Analog Rytm from Elektron but none have inspired me more than the OPZ and TE stuff I use.


Let’s be a little honest about this; the op-z has NEVER been under the so-called radar., It’s everywhere. We all love using it and it’s flippin’ all over YouTube. It’s only under the radar with TE. As much as I respect and adore Liam’s content I do feel it’s a clickybaity caption.

LK did reply to a comment that I wrote with respect about the feed on one’s viewing.

But surely Under the Radar would be the PO-400? Sun W recently made a fantastic video using it. Captioned The best Semi-Modular…after three hours of use. And even in his talented hands I never heard one single tone that made me think Shit I really need what this can do! Ditto those bowling bins which will be a UNDERRATED-classic (video) years from now.

At what point will things even out, where a natural, normal, honest view video doesnt come loaded with some sensational title, akin to a red-top tabloid newspaper? Aren’t we all past this childishness? Are you that desperate to click? Intrigue and drama sure does sell well.

the op-z is one dull looking instrument, but the button-mashing fx made every user look smart…but the new king in town is, of course, the far more sleek (and aesthetically-sublime) Polyend Play.

Liam could have highlighted the over-looked features of what the op-z can do (dmx/graphics/photo edit etc)

now, that’s video’s you don’t see too often on YouTube, under the radar.

(very wonky hungover thoughts btw)


I might buy another one. I miss it.
EDIT: didn’t end up buying anything because I can’t afford to, HOWEVER, I did end up getting a Polyend Play in a nice trade situation. I haven’t heard anyone say this but I think the Play is pretty comparable to the op-z in many ways. I figure if I combine the Play ( and Tracker) with a Red Panda Tensor and Hologram Microcosm, I’n ALMOST in op-z territory. No I can’t sample directly into the Play but I can have the Tracker running beside it.


I just think the physical design of the opz is the only thing holding it back. I’ve owned the digitakt, model samples, po-33, beat step pro, roland mv-1, ableton, and fl studio.

The opz is still my preferred music device. The tiny device is capable of composing completely full songs, tossing in your pocket for on the road beat making, or being the brain of an entire hardware dawless setup. Idc what any one says. It is also the best at quickly jamming with a buddy and laying down some sweet tunes.

However, the physical device itself is junk. I’m worried about breaking it if i sneeze too hard near it. :rofl: the learning curve is more like a 5 mile uphill slog, except instead of shoes you’re wearing cement flip flops. however, once you reach that plateau, you are rewarded with the fastest workflow ever to grace a groovebox.
Want to copy a pattern? Takes literally one second or less.
Want to copy a track to a different pattern? Takes one second.
Want to sequence a drum beat with 2 and 4 bar fills? Super fast.
Want to change the length of the track? Takes a second or less.
Every action may be a convoluted button combo with little visual feedback (even with the phone screen), but it all can be done so freaking fast. Like at the speed of creativity. No other device i’ve owned can do this.

If the opz was in the body of an op1 (and still had the line in module/op lab module capabilty) i have no doubt it would be the most popular groovebox ever.


I can’t argue with that

I’m hopeful that there is a field version in the works that’s at least as durable as an op1 enclosure

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I just picked up my OP-Z which I have not used for quite some time and I am pleasently surprised how fast it is to get some ideas going. It is packed with features, operation is fast once learned and it sounds very nice. Very usable, even if “only” as a polyphonic sound module with a MIDI keyboard. I also like the form factor, the layout as well as the incredible portability.

My only complaint is the build quality of the housing. I got my OP-Z when it first came out and meanwhile it is slightly bent, the plastic of the volume knob is half broken, the feet tend to get loose so that the back does not close firmly and hmm, oh yes, the pitch bend button does not work correctly anymore. But overall it is still quite usable. Maybe I will give the line module a try to dig a bit deeper into the sampling capabilities. The possibility to route individual tracks to external effects is quite useful and unique.

It would be nice if TE gave the OP-Z a second run with a better and more reliable enclosure.


Mine is a little bent… And my feet come unlocked. But so what? Nothing is perfect.
Can’t you just buy a new volume knob and pitch bend and it will be perfect again, if a little bent? That is not bad for a device that is what? Three years old?
Idk, I bought that expensive blue case so it is always on that when not in use and I don’t mind the build quality really… I never mistook it for a serious musical grear.

Totally agree, I still enjoy using it despite its defects. It is definately a nice device with a lot of (still unexplored) potential.

Three years is not much of a life expectancy for an electronic device such as the OP-Z. Well, ok, mine is definately not dead but needs some maintenance.

I think it is pretty serious musical gear and not exclusively a lifestyle product or toy.

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