Teenage Engineering gives mobile music makers more control
Sweden's Teenage Engineering – perhaps best known for its out-of-the-box thinking and Pocket Operator barebones noise makers – has been working on a stand-alone synthesizer and composer you can fit in your inside pocket for a few years now. The OP-Z has now been officially revealed, and is reported to be the first 16-track sequencer that allows for the live composition of music, visuals and lights.
The OP-Z is bit of an update on the company's OP-1 pocket synth from 2011, but is half the size and yet has more digital signal processing power thanks to a Blackfin 70x DSP, Cirrus Logic audio co-processor and a 24-bit/48 kHz DAC and has enough juice per charge to "fly the Atlantic four times back and forth."
The multi-speed 16 track sequencer is jam-packed with synth engines, beats, samples, effects, visuals and preset patterns. Step components in three groups allow players to add unique behaviors to each individual and independent track, such as note variation, micro sequencing, parameter changes, direction tweaking and more. And each component has 10 values and behaviors, essentially meaning that a single step can be altered any one of 140 different ways.
Dimly lit club use has been catered for by multi-color LEDs and glow-in-the-dark markings on the housing. Teenage Engineering has managed to cram in a two octave keyboard with backlit keys into the 212.5 x 57.5 x 10 mm (8.36 x 2.26 x 0.39 in), 850 g (30 oz) OP-Z, along with pressure sensitive pitch bend, four multi-purpose encoders and a 6-axis motion sensor assignable to any synth parameter. The OP-Z can also be used to control up to 16 lights through the Digital Multiplex protocol.
The OP-Z doesn't rock its own display, but an interactive user interface or some pretty animated visuals can be had by pairing an iPhone or iPad running the OP-Z app over Bluetooth 5.0, and the smartphone's camera can be set up to shoot a series of photos in time with the music to generate an instant music video. A dedicated toolkit will be available at launch that ties the OP-Z in with the Unity 3D multi-platform gaming engine for live syncing of animations and video with the music.
Finally, a virtual reel-to-reel feature allows the user to record sequences and then resequence that track. Different reels will be available, for scrubbing, scratching and generally messing up the tape track.
The OP-Z is listed as available for pre-order now, though pricing is conspicuous by its absence.
Product page: OP-Z