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OP1 tips


Here's a quick list of things I've discovered/learnt about the Teenage Engineering OP1. I'll update it as I find new things so keep checking. 

28 Feb 2016

  • The dreadful USB noise: The OP1's audio is noisy when plugged into USB. This is fixed by disabling charging. The OP1 will still charge when it's off. However, if the USB is already plugged in when the OP1 is powering up, its software doesn't configure it as expected. To avoid this: 1 power the OP1, 2 unplug the USB, 3 plug the USB back in. It's now ready to use with computer without the noise.
  • fx: Grid is nasty, all right. The key to it is to mix the wet signal quietly.
  • fx: since MIDI control is a bit of a joke, if you're into unpredictability, wire up a nanoKontrol to CWO.

25 Oct 2015

  • The filesystem supports spaces at start of filenames so you can name your own folders e.g. " fx", " kit", " tonal" etc. They will shift to the top of the blue list.
  • OP1 stores the selected octave along with the preset. Very useful for e.g. bass vs high-pitched sounds.
  • should the battery stop showing more than 3 bars, drain it fully and recharge fully from computer USB port using the original cable. The OP1 may then reset its clock so check and adjust that too.

7 May 2015

  • tape: press shift+loop with the tapehead positioned over a take = instant loop over that take. (ht @Spheric_El)
  • tape: turning the blue knob in the same direction while holding ffwd or rew makes the transport accelerate a lot quicker.
  • album: when recording to album, turn off effects on currently used synth engine, or decrease input volume to the tape. some effects like the spring have self-noise, adding to the track.

1 Feb 2015

for the hackers out there: OP1 presets are stored as json in a "op-1" aiff chunk. the filesystem is at least part (if not all) yaffs 2.

11 Jan 2015

  • tape: it's liberating to overdub master effects back on the tracks themselves. This works for spring, grid, delay, and maybe cwo. Set the master effect level to maximum and memorize two sets of parameters to M1 and M2, then set the master effect level as close to zero as possible.  Set input to master output (yes). Set input level to low, the minimum you need to hear the effect (remember: overdubbing). Play the tape in loop mode. To record an effect, in quick succession press and hold Record, then your M1 or M2 (or both?) choices, then let go of Record. You only get one go so copy your loops :) Modification to this - loop 3 tracks and record to 4th, then edit track 4 to taste.
  • presets: When copying samples to the OP1, it will assume they are in the root key of A. I.e. when no information is present, the engine sets the root of the sample to 440Hz (A, not C). source.

4 Jan 2015

Happy new year! Some more OP1 details and hacks:

  • sound: For bursts of digital violence, sample from radio into the synth sampler, pipe into Grid at maximum feedback and mix, then ramp the green or blue knobs from minimum to maximum. Also wire up the accelerometer to green or blue knob.
  • sound: For nice buffer-style tape effects, switch "delay" blue parameter from  inner to outer circles. With high feedback, change tape speed for more unpredictability.
  • perform: M1 and M2 tape tricks remember mixer, EQ, or effect parameters. You can, however, press both simultaneously (e.g. EQ+delay combo).
  • perform: practice effects performance on live radio input. Drum&bass seems to work quite well for some reason :]
  • mix: Tape tracks are mono, so recording the stereo out back to a tape track is folded back into mono. However, both left and right channels are recorded.
  • mix: Dropping all four tracks into a sampler results in a mono sample sans mixer effects.
  • noise: The synth sampler (6 seconds) interpolates decently. The drum sampler (12 sec) doesn't (or at least doesn't as good), so pitching down sounds dirtier. Mind the treble.
  • presets: The drum sampler stores full 1mb snapshots. If you only need the first few sounds, it is possible to cut the others in a wave editor, to save space, but make sure you save all metadata. Adobe Audition does this. On loading, OP1 clears the buffer, and seems to load the drum sounds OK, as long as no key references data that's been cut. 
  • presets: Speaking of snapshots, making your own preset folders, in addition to "user" and "snapshot", works fine in both synth/ and drum/. I called my first folder "eesn".
  • noise: The master Spring Reverb effect (stereo) adds a high amount of digital noise. So does "Drive" even without playback, probably because of dithering.
  • noise: The built-in speaker has extra digital noise. If you turn the volume almost all the way down, you can hear the sound distorting. Does not happen on headphones.

30 Dec 2014 - two neat tape tricks for quicker workflow:

tape: stop + ffwd, rew in tape mode - goes to start or end of tape.

tape: ffwd + play, or rew + play - forward or rewind instantly at max speed

22 Dec 2014

sound: Rough but effective time-stretching via the sampler playback direction controlled by LFO as per this video: wire a fast "value" LFO to the pale dot between blue&green (i.e. the shift+blue parameter), control stretch amount by green (strength) knob. Works on both the drum and synth samplers.

misc: "Lift" sample from synth (max 6 sec), "Drop" into drum sampler (max 12 sec), and vice versa. Mind the maximum length. Loop points are not transferred.

18 Dec 2014

sound: The master limiter ("drive") is not stereo-linked, left and right channels are compressed independently. 

misc: In synth or sampler mode, Shift+1,2,3 is access to presets but Shift+T1 allows you to change engine or sample without touching the other parameters. Mind which one you're after. (hat tip: operator-1 community)

sound: For a great source of blips and chaotic percussion: Drums + step sequencer in random mode + CWO + random LFO + tape CWO + maybe a little drive. Record master out to a new tape track, playing with the master CWO as it's recording. Then go through the interesting bits.

tape: In tape mode: stopped and Rec + Play will stick in Record mode. Stopped and Rec + note will stick in Record. Playing and Rec = record in overdub only while Rec is pressed. Playing and [Rec+Play] = stick in record/overdub. 

hack: Shift + Lift up to 12 seconds of all four tracks, then drop them into the drum sampler = instant mono mixdown. (Synth sampler = 6seconds only)

tape: There is no sample ramping in record, overdub, loop record. Clicks are normal. Work around them.

presets: Old synth preset .aif files all say "OP1 Patch" in a slowed-down voice. This is normal since a nice preview would take up space. Pen & paper to map your own snapshots, then rename in disk mode.

midi: MIDI Sync with Ableton is hit or miss. A lot of jitter when Ableton synced to OP1, but pretty stable if OP1 slaved to Ableton. Probably just not that kind of machine. (firmware 14203)

midi: MIDI CC LFO really is CC1, CC2, CC3 and CC4 (controller numbers). Use MidiPipe on the Mac for quick and dirty translation. If you hijack the input, DAWs like Logic won't re-send it to the OP1 or on its plugin/internal MIDI busses.

misc: The "OP1 Cookbook" iBook probably dates to before there was an official manual. I found very little useful info that wasn't in the (1.2+) manual already.  

system: The speaker is a fragile thing and it won't take a beating. I read this on a forum so feel free not to take my word for it, or just use headphones. They also sound better.

misc: Zip your individual tape track files to save laptop space. Of course, the inconvenience is you can't preview them later.

system: Not all USB cables work for disk mode / file transfer. If copying files is stuck, change USB cable. On Mac OSX while in disk mode, do not touch the OP1 unless you want it to eject without notice.

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