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Re: Trippy little synth

> Your statements about the sw stability, together with the fact that they 
> released an OS update with tons of new features, yet the documentation 
> is still version 1.0 really seems to indicate that they take the company 
> name seriously: new features - yeah, let's do that! testing - mhhmm, 
> I'll play with it a little and see if something comes up. Documentation 
> - I sure would, but I'm busy implementing new features...
yep, that pretty much sums it up. hopefully someone from TE is monitoring 
the 'unofficial' forum for bug reports, because there are certainly some 
serious ones. luckily, most of them are pretty hard to reproduce, so it's 
not like i'm affected by them on a daily basis.

> Now on to my questions:
> For me, the OP-1 seems to be a "contemporary workstation synthesizer 
> with an attitude", meaning from the general approach (keyboard, synth 
> engine, drum engine, effects, sequencer and multitrack recorder) it's 
> about the same as your Fantom/Motif/Kronos, but different to those, it's 
> not the jack-of-all-trades, rather something unique...
> Would it, in your experience so far, also work well as some kind of 
> musical scetchbook, which you use to do some ideas which come to you on 
> a train ride, programming some drums, recording some instruments and 
> singing a guide track? Btw, how much is the 
> polyphony/multitimbrality/number of sequencer tracks? Is that sequencer 
> pattern or linear, or both?
it is definitely designed towards the "musical sketchpad" type of concept, 
though i havent' really used it much for that. so far i find the tape deck 
functions completely baffling, but there are people out there making 
really great music with it, so i'm confident it's my own limitation. i've 
used it on the train to design some sounds and stuff, but not much more 
than that yet. 

as far as sequencer tracks and stuff, it's a bit different than you would 
think. basically, the concept revolves around a 4 track tape deck (like 
the old tascam portastudio). you use a seqencer on a particular instrument 
(drums, bass, etc), and lay that to tape. then you over dub the next 
sequencer on top of that, on another tape track. so, you don't really run 
into polyphony problems, because you're not really firing off a ton of 
stuff in realtime. it all builds up on the tape. naturally you can do 
things like merge tape tracks, or even more important: take the tape deck 
output and resample it (!) then lay the results back to their own tape 
track. it is really great for mangling sounds that way. but you are always 
limited to four tape channels and one stereo output pair. there is a very 
limited onboard mixer and buss compressor, it gets the job done with no 
frills. personally, i just come up with the part that i like, then record 
it out to digital performer for further work.

there are many different onboard sequencers. there's a pattern one (think 
808 style programming), a step sequencer (like a Prophet 08), something 
called 'tombola' which is interesting if you want to come up with autechre 
style sounds...it uses gravity and the onboard accelerometer to work. it's 
interesting, but i don't have that much musical use for it. then there is 
the new 'finger' sequencer, which is sort of more of the 'pattern / step' 
sequencer hybrid. one interesting thing about the sequencers is that they 
will change pitch depending on which key you're playing. so, you can pitch 
a drum sequence up an octave just by playing a note an octave higher. 
that's a very cool feature, and i've never seen another instrument that 
could do it.

one thing i like, it has a built in FM radio that you can sample directly 
from, or use as a modulation source for any parameter. i set up the radio 
to a techno station here in SF, and used the output to modulate the depth 
of the reverb (which is already a really gnarly spring reverb emulator). 
it was pretty insane sounding noise.

> How does the keyboard work? I assume it's only little more than a cheap 
> replacement, but does it play better than your laptop keyboard? Does it 
> have velocity?

the keyboard is a lot better in practice than you might think. no 
velocity, but you won't really notice. i actually like the keyboard, and 
generally use only that when i'm programming the instrument. if you use an 
external keyboard, the sounds will respond to velocity. 

the instrument is extremely unique. i've been playing synths for 20 years 
or so, and have never really heard anything like it. they paid a lot of 
attention to making the UI very simple to use...most parameter is color 
coded and intuitive. that said, the sounds are certainly not for everyone. 
they are not "warm" or "analog" sounding in the slightest. they all sound 
very cold and digital...and yet, not like any digital synth i've ever 
heard. even their take on FM is quite unusual sounding. it's definitely 
geared towards experimental electronic music, for sure.

my next big hurdle is getting my mind wrapped around the tape deck. it's 
hard to think in such limited terms after being spoiled by endless 
possibilities and the convenience of using a mouse. however, i think that 
for people who are used to working with hardware devices like the 
octatrack or the MPC series or things like that, it should be a much 
smaller learning curve.

there are a lot of videos on youtube that demonstrate the device in 
various capacities. almost all of them are terrible. they don't really 
sound good, and they tend to underwhelm. however, there is a power user 
("dj thomas white") who has made some really great tutorials about a lot 
of the different features. his videos tend towards house music, which 
isn't necessarily my cup of tea musically, but you can really learn a lot 
about how to operate the machine nonetheless. definitely take a look at 
those if you're thinking about purchasing this thing.

hope that helps a bit :)

- tyler