Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators


€59, teenageengineering.com

Teenage Engineering - new digital synth

When Teenage Engineering’s flagship OP-1 synth was released back in 2011, a lot of reviewers weren’t quite sure what to make of it. As a premium-priced, pocket-sized synth which looked something like a Casio VL-1 reimagined for the 21st century by Jonathan Ive, the OP-1 was always going to be a niche product, but what a lot of its critics failed to notice is that underneath the cutely styled exterior lies a stunningly forward-thinking digital synth with innovative approaches to synthesis, sequencing and recording.

The newly released Pocket Operator series is an entirely different prospect. Regardless of whether the technology inside these calculator-sized units is a direct trickle-down from the OP-1, they’re clearly close relatives of their bigger brother, and they represent what we’d speculate might become the most important budget-priced synth series since Korg introduced the analogue Volca range in 2013.

The range comprises three options: the PO-12 Rhythm for drums, PO-14 Sub for bass and PO-16 Factory for melodies. The latter are of most interest here (although frankly we’re excited about all three).

What do you get for your money? A surprising amount considering these are some of the cheapest synths on the market. Hidden under the slightly awkward front panel controls, you’ll find flexible synth editing options plus a seriously competent step sequencer with parameter locks. Perhaps most importantly of all, there’s also a sync option, which means that the Pocket Operators aren’t just individual toys but real instruments that can be incorporated into a bigger setup.

Just like the OP-1, we’re sure the Pocket Operators will start appearing in a lot of studios over the next couple of years. At this price, it seems crazy not to check them out.

29th January, 2015


  • Ploytec is on the table behind the Bass Station 2… What do I win?

  • Is that it behind his monitor controller??? or ai or whatev

  • My next synth is definitly in that list!

  • i think it not good the MICROGRANNY 2.1 . is supper

    als the The Critter & Guitari Bolsa Bass is dupper

    more supper synth,s on http://www.errorinstruments.com

  • Was the Elektron Monomachine just too expensive to be included, or too old?

  • @Clay – I’d personally say that’s it too old to make the list, the Monomachine MK2 came out 5-ish years ago now. That said, I just bought a new one from Elektron and it’s probably my favourite digital synth EVER (though the Machinedrum is probably parallel to that as well, yeh I’m a fanboy)

  • We love the Monomachine but here we’re just focusing on more recent releases.

  • I highly recommend the Audiothingies P6, it sounds more ‘analogue’ than modern analogue synths I’ve used, I’d take it over a load of more expensive synths any day.
    Strong filter with lovely sqidgy resonance, snappy envelopes and a good mod matrix, this is a very flexible instrument with a very wide sweet spot.
    Here’s a demo I made recently showing a wide range of sounds, I’ll be posting another one soon as well:



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