How to recreate the sound of Teenage Engineering's OP-1 and OP-1 field - absolutely free

Teenage Engineering's OP-1 - and its recently released successor, the OP-1 field - are two of the most popular music-making devices on the market. 

"If those weak computers, like OP-1 and OP-1 field, can do anything crazy, I bet my laptop can do it better"


Such is their ubiquity that, for those frequenting online music production communities, it's become difficult to open up Instagram or YouTube without instantly coming across another video of somebody running their OP-1 through an aesthetically pleasing pedal or two, shrouded amid a tasteful array of succulents and potted ferns. 

Nothing wrong with that, of course, and we've got plenty of good things to say about the OP-1 and its pricier cousin. Our endorsement stops, however, with the instrument's sky-high price point, which - belied by its cutesy, toy-like design and diminuitive size - freezes out music-makers without access to stacks of disposable cash. 

You can imagine our joy, then, when we discovered that YouTuber and content creator Playpm had gone to the trouble of showing his viewers how to replicate the sound of the OP-1 - which he dubs the "most expensive keyboard-shaped toy computer on earth" - absolutely free.  

"You do know that grooveboxes these days are just really weak computers, right?" Playpm asks his audience. "So if those weak computers, like OP-1 and the OP-1 field, can do anything crazy, then I bet my laptop can do it better. And the even crazier thing is - we can replicate everything for free."

Using a $200 2014 Macbook Air and Garageband, Playpm runs through each of the OP-1's features in detail, demonstrating how it can be recreated by using free software. To reproduce the instrument's synth engines, he uses free plugins like TAL-NoiseMaker, Dexed and u-he Triple Cheese, and to mimic the OP-1's FM radio-sampling abilities, he devises a nifty workaround using Blackhole. Playpm even shows us how to emulate the OP-1's recording workflow, and shouts out several excellent free tape emulators that can be used to imitate the instrument's beloved tape mode. 

The video forms part of Playpm's GAS Therapy series, which takes viewers through similarly inexpensive ways to get the sound and functionality of popular instruments like the Roland SP-404 MK2 and Elektron Syntakt. They're an enlightening watch, and serve to emphasise the fundamental truth that you don't need expensive gear to make good music - just a simple DAW and a few pieces of free software.

Subscribe to Playpm on YouTube or support him on Patreon.

Matt Mullen
Tech Editor

I'm the Tech Editor for MusicRadar, working across everything from artist interviews to product news to tech tutorials. I love electronic music and I'm endlessly fascinated by the tools we use to make it. When I'm not behind my laptop keyboard, you'll find me behind a MIDI keyboard, carefully crafting the beginnings of another project that I'll ultimately abandon to the creative graveyard that is my overstuffed hard drive.

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