NAMM 2015: Teenage Engineering's affordable Pocket Operator synths have created quite a stir at the 2015 NAMM Show, and we've just taken them for a test drive.
The PO-12 Rhythm (drum machine), PO-14 Sub (bass synth) and PO-16 Factory (lead/melody synth) each feature two small rotary knobs and 23 buttons housed on the front of a basic circuit board. Their quirky LCD screens display responsive images and characters familiar to '90s handheld games.
In action, the PO-12's blend of synthesised and sampled drum sources (16 in total) sound hard-hitting and characterful, and patterns can either be punched in and recorded live or sequenced via the 16-step sequencer. Parameter movements can all be recorded live into the sequence too - some cool grooves can be had by lengthening, shortening and pitching the hits throughout a pattern.
The PO-16 also features a 16-step sequencer, used to arrange basic sequences (which can be layered up to create simple chords).
Various synthesis types are on offer, such as subtractive, wavetable and FM.
We instantly fell in love with its gnarly wavetable sweeping effect and the ability to layer 16 mini drum samples over the synth tone.
The PO-14 is almost identical to the PO-16, except featuring a bass-focused synthesis engine.
Each of the three instruments can be used either on their own, or synced together with a basic stereo audio cable - while looking like toys, we quickly put together some crazy glitch-style madness and mind-bending beat-bass-synth combinations.
More info and video coming soon!