Happy Wednesday! This normally goes out on Tuesdays but yesterday was a busy day sooo I’m sending this out today instead. This past week I’ve been falling down a rabbit hole I’m already very familiar with: hardware synths. It’s a very expensive hobby that’s hard to maintain if you don’t want to spend a ton of money. Still, I find myself in a familiar situation drooling over Teenage Engineering products yet again.
The company is going to be working with Nothing on a pair of true wireless earbuds coming out in the next few weeks which I’m hyped for, but it’s the synths I stan. If you type in “Teenage Engineering” into Google or YouTube you’ll likely find a lot of information about its most famous synth: the OP-1 (a $1200 work of art). So today, I thought I’d highlight three other things the company makes that are all super cool and more affordable.
In this issue
🎹 Half the price of the OP-1 and dope as hell.
🔊 A partnership with IKEA.
🥁 A beat machine that fits in your pocket.
I’m not going to lie when the OP-Z was first announced I was a little disappointed. As someone who owned an OP-1 at the time I was looking forward to an updated OP-2, and instead we got what looked like a basic nicely designed sequencer. Turns out I was right. But it took me a while to realize that was a good thing.
The best feature of the OP-Z is its sequencing abilities, but the power lies in the fact that you can sequence almost any sound and/or parameter. Not to mention it’s tiny, charges via USB-C, and can be connected via Bluetooth to an iOS device to act as a screen for fun animations. It can also be used standalone but I think connecting to a device is really what makes it stand out. Just like the OP-1, the OP-Z doesn’t do anything that you couldn’t do with software, but that’s not the point.
Teenage Engineering x IKEA
Teenage Engineering also makes a few different speakers, but my favorite one that the company ever put out is also it’s cheapest. The FREKVENS Portable Bluetooth Speaker was released in collaboration with IKEA and it only costs $20 USD. The problem is that it’s only sold in-store at IKEA.
I remember running to my local IKEA with my sister when the collab was released to try and get my hands on it. As you can see by the picture, I did. My only regret is that I didn’t get two. I did a full review on the speaker at my previous job but the TL;DR is this: it isn’t great but it looks dope and only costs $20.
The Pocket Operator line of tiny synths is probably the most accessible/powerful way to get into hardware synths. Many of them cost about $50 with the most expensive one only going up to about $90. My favorite is the PO-20 Arcade.
It’s basically an 8-bit synth engine that lets you make beats with sounds straight out of Nintendo games. It’s a fun little thing to jam out with and, like all of the Pocket Operators, it’s surprisingly powerful. You can easily daisy chain this into a DAWless setup or use it entirely standalone. Plus, who doesn’t like 8-bit?