Imagine being able to take a synth with you wherever you go. Envision being able to pull it out of your pocket and play it wherever you are and no matter what you’re doing, enabling you to quench your thirst for creativity when it strikes.
Whereas you might find this an impossible thought, especially if you’re used to the traditional synths that would require a substantial amount of worktop space, this is no longer the case.
As of January 20th, two of the biggest companies in the micro synth industry, Teenage Engineering, and Cheap Mondays have come together to produce some of the funky and most portable synths we’ve ever seen. You ever get a free t-shirt with your order!
Who Are The Masterminds Behind This?
Teenage Engineering is a Swedish consumer electronics company that was founded back in 2005 by Jesper Kuouthoofd and several partners. As of 2013, the company employed 30 people but, despite their small size – no pun intended – they are still operating to this day, providing customers with their patented and renowned Pocket Operator, as well as a full range of other wireless audio products, including speakers and innovative remote controls.
Cheap Mondays is a fashion company based in Stockholm, the same location as Teenage Engineering, and provided the t-shirts that accompanied the launch.
A Portable Micro Synth
Since the launch of these products back in 2015, the popular, design and innovative functions that Teenage Engineering has been able to come up with is state-of-the-art and guarantees to change the way that musicians interact with music on the move.
Fast forward to the present day, and you’ll find future-like creations, most notably the OP-1. Simply titled ‘the portable wonder synthesizer,’ this is an all-in-one, fully-featured synthesizer, and controller that fits into your pocket. The design has come a long way since their original pocket synths, and the design is clean and captivating.
Furthermore, you can use the device as a sampler, opening up all kinds of opportunities when it comes to producing on the go, recording ideas or simply looking to relax and have a play. Once it’s in your hands, you’ll be able to enjoy the many benefits that come with ten synthesizer engines, eight high-quality sound effects, numerous LFO’s and a ton of other features, ensuring you’re never short of features when it comes to making the sound you want to make.
Some of the other leading features include a 4-track tape feature which lets you record anything you put through the synth, and there’s even a live mix and album mode, with virtual vinyl compatibility. There’s a built-in microphone, an integrated FM radio, instant tap editing features, six sequencers, instant samplers and even a mixer with added effects.
It’s safe to say that the OP-1 is a work of art when it comes to innovating the music industry and what opportunities musicians and artists currently have available to them.
The Pocket Operator
However, while we’re getting all excited over the OP-1, let’s take a step back to really admire the real micro synth of the hour, the Pocket Operator. The original micro synth to come from the Teenage Engineers development lab, the Pocket Operator is still going strong today, with prices starting at an extremely affordable $69.
Marketed with the very powerful tagline of ‘a wall of sound in your pocket,’ the Pocket Operator does exactly what it says on the tin. Currently available with their PO-32 model, musicians choosing to invest their time in this technology can enjoy a wonderful array of benefits and features.
These include a 16-sound drum machine, with sequencer and dozens of drum sounds and high-quality music samples to choose from. With added parameter locks and 16 punch-in effects, you can be sure that you’ll never run of customizable options with this little synth.
You’ll also find a 16-pattern chaining function for linking together all your created sounds and step multiplier, allowing you to create longer beats and more fulfilling music. However, the PO-32 is just one of many models that Teenage Engineers is providing.
The Extensive List of Micro Synths
The company offers a ton of different formats, so you can easily find the sound production tool that you’re looking for, regardless if you’re looking for one or multiple devices. Some of what’s on offer include;
- PO-14 Sub – A deep bass line synthesizer
- PO-16 Factory – A lead synthesizer
- PO-20 Arcade – An arcade-style sound synthesizer
- PO-24 Office – A noise percussion synthesizer
- PO-28 Robot – Live synthesizer for 8-bit styled sounds
- PO-32 Tonic – A drum and percussion synthesizer
- PO-33 K.O! – Micro sampler with 40-second sample memory and microphone
- PO-35 Speak – A vocal synthesizer with a microphone
As you can see, there is so much on offer when it comes to Pocket Operator’s that you can be sure you’ll find one to suit your every need.
However, we have yet to explore the best bit. Built into the top of your Pocket Operator, you’ll also find a digital LCD display which comes animated, playing a relevant animation in time to your music, adding a whole new element of fun to your music production conquests.
So, what do you think of the micro-synthesizers? While the reviews and the feedback the company has got from their customers and buyers, it’s understandable if you’re a bit apprehensive about working with something so small which would usually entail limits.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t seem to be the case since the models, both the PO and the OP, are both as popular as ever, so whether you’re looking for a tool to add a new sound or function into your current music setup, or simply looking for something to play with, pass the time and have fun with, it could be worth turning your attention over to the industry of micro synths.