Teenage Engineering’s newest ‘Discipline’ merchandise are testing buyer loyalty

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Teenage Engineering’s latest ‘Field’ products are testing customer loyalty

Ten years in the past, Teenage Engineering made a splash with the quirky, “boutique” OP-1 synthesizer. The b-word will get quotes as a result of the OP-1 would go on to be an enormous hit, having fun with a ten 12 months run and several other re-stocks alongside the best way. The success of the OP-1 and the equally distinctive merchandise that adopted noticed large manufacturers lining as much as collaborate within the hope that a few of that design magic may do wonders for their very own merchandise. At this time, Teenage Engineering’s distinctive model may be present in every thing from cute gaming consoles to dwelling rooms and pant pockets throughout the globe.

Again right here in 2022, the corporate not too long ago unveiled the sequel to the synth that began all of it – and it’s referred to as the OP-1 Discipline ($1,999). The brand new “Discipline” line additionally consists of the TX-6 mixer ($1,199) and it seems to be like the corporate is repositioning itself with a brand new design aesthetic and… value vary. Teenage Engineering has at all times charged a premium for its genre-bending, playful design however provided that the unique OP-1 price round $800 at launch and that the OP-1 Discipline is essentially primarily based on it, it’s comprehensible that some loyal followers are feeling just a little… priced out this time round.

 

Maybe the larger query is, will the brand new Discipline sequence supply sufficient magical music mud and Nordic design delight, to not solely justify the expense, however to additionally preserve Teenage Engineering’s distinctive method to creating music related to new and present artists alike?

@Random Mcranderson (YouTube) – I feel what TE missed is the general detrimental impact on their status this has had.

Introducing the TX-6 and OP-1 Discipline

Earlier than we will try to perceive “Discipline” and what it means for the corporate, we should always most likely get a really feel for the newest two merchandise which can be dividing followers in feedback sections and on boards. We’ll begin with the TX-6 as that’s a wholly new product for Teenage Engineering.

In the simplest phrases, the TX-6 is a tiny battery-powered mixer and audio interface. Regardless of its diminutive dimension it has six stereo inputs, a built-in synth, eight results, “DJ mode”, an instrument tuner and wi-fi/Bluetooth MIDI management. For one thing as moveable as a deck of playing cards, that’s fairly spectacular. The TX-6 may very well be your fundamental desktop audio interface by day and the beating coronary heart of your hyper-portable (or not) multi-synth studio by evening.

James Trew / Engadget

Unsurprisingly it’s significantly properly fitted to connecting and mixing smaller studio gear. Not solely Teenage Engineering’s personal merchandise, however Korg’s Volca vary or Roland’s many compact synths and drum machines are additionally an excellent match. Finally, something you may wrangle right into a 3.5mm line-level output is honest sport right here. Something with both an XLR connection or that requires phantom energy goes to be a problem after all. For outputs there are: fundamental, aux and “cue” (for DJ mode).

@Fairly.mess (Gear House) If I had sufficient money to purchase one among these, I’d most likely purchase one thing else. However I do love TE and the inbuilt sequencer and synth seems to be fascinating.

As is commonly the case with Teenage Engineering merchandise, there are some options that one won’t usually anticipate. On the TX-6 that may be the synth engine that features drums sounds. And not using a MIDI controller you may’t play it chromatically, nevertheless it’s uncommon to see creative tools like this in most mixers and provides a way to poke out ideas proper on the gadget. The inclusion of Bluetooth MIDI actually feels in line with the moveable kind issue and a current firmware replace allowed for recording the mixer’s output on to USB drives, which implies you may lay down tracks with out even needing a phone to document into. One may argue some inner storage might have been included for the value, however we presume the density of the {hardware} doesn’t permit for it (we hope).

The OP-1 Discipline, then again, may be very clearly a successor to the decade-old OP-1. The launch was offered as the brand new synth being “100 occasions” higher with a listing of 100 new options or enhancements. In sensible phrases, the principle upgrades appear to be a lot improved on-board storage, new “tape” modes (extra on this later), full stereo sign chain, a brand new synth engine, a brand new reverb impact, an improved show, longer battery life and 32-bit float recording.

@Tarekith (OP-Boards) not every thing needs to be aimed at the lower end of the market. This can be a huge replace for an already very succesful instrument.

With the Discipline, the OP-1 has been refreshed to convey it updated after a decade of person suggestions. And this consists of squashing some long-held limitations of the unique. Most notably, the flexibility to work on a number of initiatives on the gadget with out the trouble of backing them as much as a PC. Yep, the unique OP-1 solely had the flexibility to document one tune (or extra precisely, one “tape”) at a time. One other large one, significantly for the synth and drum engines, is the introduction of stereo.

To indicate this off, there’s a brand new synth engine referred to as “Dimension.” It joins the opposite 10 that have been on the unique (which already lined most bases). Dimension is a subtractive/analog-style synth with a variable waveform (it steadily modifications from varied pulse types by sawtooth after which noise).It additionally has a refrain characteristic for a fuller stereo sound. It does a fairly good job of replicating extra analog model sounds in addition to lush pads and even some horns and wind devices.

With so many various synth engines you’re not in need of selection, however the OP-1 is typically thought of as having fairly a colder, digital sound. That is true to a level, however – as with most issues on this synth – there are artistic methods to get round that if the place to look.

Teenage Engineering OP-1 Field synthesizer.
James Trew / Engadget

As an alternative of there being an inner sequencer, Teenage Engineering determined to mimic recording to tape on the OP-1, with simply 4 tracks, together with a bodily time limitation of six minutes for every observe. The analogy is taken significantly with no “undo” or “copy/paste” as a substitute you “elevate” tape and you may drop it again elsewhere. There are fashionable concessions in order that it’s not nearly making life needlessly arduous – as a substitute it’s a really totally different manner of constructing music that urges you to construct songs in a manner that almost all software program’s infinite choices and countless tracks sarcastically doesn’t.

Nevertheless it’s exactly this uncommon method, anachronisms like “tape” and imitating bodily limitations in a digital surroundings that arguably makes Teenage Engineering merchandise stand out. Most digital music manufacturing lately doubtless occurs in software program on laptops. As computer systems grew to become highly effective sufficient to imitate outboard gear, typically the one {hardware} you may see producers utilizing was a MIDI controller for taking part in software program devices with. Within the final decade, no less than, there’s been a gradual re-emergence of {hardware} on the heart of the workflow. However most don’t make use of such a restrictive workflow because the OP-1.

@ellisedwardsx (Reddit) Like it. The whole lot cool about Op-1 to me however minus the issues I didn’t like. I like the brand new additions.

“It favors those who have taking part in expertise” YouTuber and OP-1 skilled Cuckoo advised Engadget referring to the OP-1’s reside tape recording method. “Like if you wish to be extremely fast, and also you admire that, then it’s for you,” he added.

Cuckoo, like many followers of Teenage Engineering, sees the dearth of issues like a MIDI sequencer or the flexibility so as to add and take away results at any stage within the creation course of as an excellent factor. A typical DAW permits you to transfer single notes round or change nearly something at any time which “feels” extra helpful (and it’s how most fashionable manufacturing instruments work). The OP-1, for instance, is simply much more committal. As soon as that concept is recorded to tape, you’re restricted in what may be performed with it. However for some, that’s what makes it so thrilling. The whole lot you do nudges you ahead within the song-making course of or, on the very least, avoids you jamming away a number of hours as you trawl by VST presets as typically occurs in one thing like Ableton Reside.

“Teenage Engineering, they’re excellent at minimizing your choices, and in a great way. Like on a pc, every thing is feasible. However as a result of every thing is feasible, it’s not like one optimized workflow. It is advisable discover that workflow for your self. And most of the people most likely don’t create like, a decent workflow.” Cuckoo stated.

Whereas this different manner of working does have its followers, it will probably nearly really feel like studying a brand new language should you’re used to a extra typical DAW+MIDI scenario. It will doubtless imply, firstly no less than, you’ll nearly actually spend as a lot time googling for solutions as you do really creating. Earlier than lengthy although, you’ll begin noticing the thrilling issues you are able to do that your trustworthy outdated DAW might by no means have put in your thoughts (even when it’s one thing it can do).

Teenage Engineering OP-1 Field shown close up.
James Trew / Engadget

Take the built-in FM radio on the OP-1, for instance, as Cuckoo illustrates. “Generally I’ve been performing with an OP-1, and been sampling from the FM radio, chopping up a [drum] equipment, singing, making an improvisation in like, possibly seven minutes or so?” Singing primarily based on sampling the radio in beneath 10 minutes is just not one thing most gear conjures up you to do.

Most don’t have an FM radio to be honest.

It’s also possible to use that radio in different, bizarre artistic methods. You may use it to modulate an LFO, for instance (so the tune on the radio is controlling a filter or different parameter). Or you may create synth sounds utilizing a random FM pattern looped and twisted in artistic methods. It’s also possible to broadcast over FM (albeit extremely brief distances), which works completely with Teenage Engineering’s OB-4 speaker, which additionally has an FM receiver.

@finc (Reddit) However what’s a tiny low powered FM transmitter for?

That is actually the place Teenage Engineering excels: including playful touches that open artistic alternatives you won’t discover elsewhere. Together with the FM radio, the OP-1 Discipline has a gyroscope that will also be used as a modulator, which makes it thrilling for reside performances.

And whereas MIDI Bluetooth LE is changing into extra widespread, it makes a lot sense within the moveable form-factor of each the TX-6 and the OP-1 Discipline. Utilizing the TX-6 wirelessly with the OP-1 Discipline was straightforward to setup and felt very pure. In actual fact they each play good with iOS natively too, so when you’ve got a collection of cellular apps you get pleasure from utilizing already, you may carve out fairly a succesful cellular studio with an excellent mixture of {hardware} and software program alike.

Utilizing the OP-1 Discipline along with the TX-6 does really feel decadent. The three.5mm inputs on the mixer naturally makes you suppose twice about what you may plug into it. I might plug a full-size synth into it, or possibly one thing just like the MPC Reside II, however this is able to even be a bit weird. A comparatively complete mixer it could be, however its dimension begs you to, properly, take it exterior we suppose?

“I feel ‘Discipline’ leads my thoughts to consider subject recordings and to be out within the subject, work exterior of the workplace… music that’s moveable. And I feel it’s very apparent particularly should you take a look at the TX-6 mixer […] this factor is so extremely properly designed. And it’s arduous to persuade folks that get indignant after they see the value tag that how extremely properly engineered it’s.” Cuckoo stated.

@Brokener Than (YouTube) The private facet of shopping for the OP-1 and what you get out of it’s actually the one justification you must overpay for an instrument.

But when portability is the important thing behind the “Discipline” moniker, Teenage Engineering has to persuade individuals to half with 1000’s of {dollars} when there are apps and even mixers that may mix to do one thing related for a fraction of the value.

“Lots of people say, properly, ‘you are able to do all of this with Ableton Reside and a pc that prices half the value!’ Nevertheless it’s not the purpose. It’s, I feel, if the result’s all that counts, the top product you are able to do numerous stuff with an iPad, and a few apps are free even. The outcome is just not every thing, it’s additionally mastering a tool. Like, taking part in this reside is a pleasure.” Cuckoo stated.

Teenage Engineering OP-1 Field and TX-6
James Trew / Engadget

Have a look round on YouTube at who is definitely utilizing the OP-1 or the TX-6. For those who look (and pay attention) lengthy sufficient you’ll possibly begin to see that there has possibly lengthy been a nook of the music making world that doesn’t really feel at residence with the pads of an MPC, or the countless expandability of Ableton Reside. A bunch that doesn’t wish to get pulled into the world of modular synthesis or circuit bending. Those that have a keenness for different strategies however with an appreciation for well-designed {hardware}. So long as they’ve the means.

It’s arduous to not get sucked into the OP-1 Discipline. I personally struggled with the workflow initially, however I discover it curious. One thing tells me that if I keep it up and break my outdated MIDI/DAW habits, nice rewards await. The TX-6 mixer then again is a tougher sell whereas nonetheless by some means extremely interesting. Particularly in case you are already flush with moveable gear, it makes much more sense. Maybe the necessary query is: What’s subsequent within the Discipline sequence. An OP-Z Discipline? Some high-end Pocket Operators? One thing fully totally different? No matter it’s, it may very well be the corporate’s most important gadget but, or what finally alienates the corporate’s loyal fan base.

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