Fan favorite Cuckoo has come out with an in-depth tutorial of the Teenage Engineering OP-Z on his YouTube channel cuckoomusic. He explores mostly the sequencing aspects of the device and composes a very Cuckoo song. An interesting piece to call out is the entire video is done without a screen. Many people have voiced concerns over the concept of “bring your own screen” and skepticism that the device wouldn’t be as good headless. While it seems like there might be a steep learning curve, the guts of composing a song seem pretty intuitive for those who have some experience using step sequencers.
We’re still waiting to hear more about the Unity and DMX features of the device, but this glimpse into the workflow of the core audio aspects of the device has us quite intrigued!
There are already a few surprises in the device that have piqued our interest. We’ll dive into each one and share why we are excited.
The OP-Z is about the size of a TV remote control. Following up on the Pocket Operators, this looks like the form factor of a big PO with deep sequencing capabilities mixed with OP-1 immediate-ness. If you’re into jamming on the go, there’s almost no competition in hardware grooveboxes.
The Elektron sequencers have really brought the industry to trigs/conditionals/retrigs as a must have for any new sequencing device. It can breath life into new sequences by adding variations to loops that make them interesting to listen to. Teenage Engineering brings their take with Step Components, but we see some similarities already. We’d like to see even more exploration of the step components, but this is a first for Teenage Engineering device and we’re sure there will be some surprises.
Global key scale
Melodies are interpreted to set the global scale of the song. This makes for easy chord progressions and arpeggiation that can follow along with the scale. We’re especially interested because this would make it for easier jamming without the extra layer of programming sequences that would be needed on say the OP-1.
The OP-Z has tape tricks similar to the OP-1, but with a new twist. They can be sequenced! There’s a dedicated track for sequencing the tape and can be applied to the overall song or a single track. This would be incredible for scrambling say just the lead or a sample.
There’s some decent sounds in there! Even as an incomplete beta unit there’s some punchy kicks and snares in there. The synth lines are classic Cuckoo and more chiptune-ish so it’s unclear how deep the synth engines will go. The OP-1 synths (which some will be borrowed in the OP-Z) were immediate and helped you find good sounds much quicker, but lacks some in-depth tweaking (which is fine!). We can’t wait to dig deep into a basedrum and dial it in.
This seems to be a meme around polyrythms and every device these days seems to support this. The OP-Z is s 16 step sequencer, but let’s you make patterns for a track that are less than 16 steps long. The combination of this feature and Step Components will open up massive variability in your performances.
There’s plenty more that we are excited about and we are waiting eagerly for new details. We’ve seen the OP-Z since 2016 and no clear release date planned.