After years of speculation, teasers and delays, the world has finally been introduced to Teenage Engineering‘s latest wonder device, the OP-Z.
The Swedish company’s OP-1, has already gone down as both a synth and design classic, and was a genuinely revolutionary product on its release, packing incredible power into a tiny case – with a focus on fun, portability, and also productivity.
We like to help musicians and creatives stay on the ball and be as productive as possible, which is why we had to share a review of something that’s been sweeping the GBM office and is genuinely changing how our musicians work and make music.
Nottingham’s an incredibly musical city, so we’re always happy to see new businesses and companies arrive in the city and invest in its potential.
One business, which has recently arrived in Nottingham, is Pirate Studios. With rehearsal spaces in Liverpool, London, Sheffield and many more, it was surely about time that Nottingham got in on the act.
Whether you’re a band, a duo or a solo artist, having somewhere where you can do your thing, without enraging your neighbours, is always useful – and regular rehearsals are hugely important if you’re going to put on a great show.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Pirate is the price – it’s pretty low. And that’s not because they’re cutting corners – amp, microphone and drum hire are all included in the price.
There are a number of room options available from small spaces, ideal for soloists or bands on a budget, right through to fully equipped rehearsal spaces for larger or more established bands. With sound treated rooms, mixers and PA system included, you can sound as loud as you like, without worrying about disturbing anyone.
Even the smaller rooms come equipped with drum kits, although you’ll need to upgrade to get cymbals and high hats included.
With a slick online booking service, choosing your preferred time slot is pretty effortless, and you can see easily see when the rooms are booked out and free, before committing to your slot. The rooms understandably tend to be a little more expensive during peak times, but if you don’t mind rehearsing early – you can grab a room for just £4 an hour!
Once you’ve paid you’re given codes to access the building – which is located opposite Radford Recreation Ground – as well as a code for the room you’ve chosen.
On arriving, simply punch in the code, find your room and get going!
The rooms sound great, and are equipped with enough gear to mean you only really need your instrument and your band mates to get going. This means you spend less time setting up and putting things away, and more time honing your sound.
The studio offers a great space to forget about the rest of the world for a little while, and focus entirely on your music creation and rehearsal. Even better, specifically dedicating some time to your music on a regular basis will help to ensure you keep improving, and can practice in a distraction-free environment.
This is a fantastic new facility for Nottingham and one that we hope the musical community here gets behind – because this is a fantastic space for any band practice.
A project like GBM Music gives me the great opportunity to try a wide variety of musical equipment and exciting gear. As a bona fide synth nerd, this is one of my favourite parts of the job, and finding a new sound from a new piece of equipment is always great fun.
So here are my top pieces of equipment that I reach for when looking for a little inspiration.
Korg Electribe 2
This box has received some stick since its release, mainly because of how good its predecessor was. The newest electribes have been condensed down into a sleek package, but some poor choices like cutting the pattern lengths down to a maximum of four bars, and a noticeable audio gap when changing patterns meant it received a pretty muted response – with many preferring their tank-like older versions.
I can see where these complaints are coming from, but software updates have solved some of the problems, and if you take the product by itself – and don’t compare it to it’s older siblings – it’s a wonderful music creation tool. With flashy LEDs and a handy X/Y pad for adding master effects, it’s another great box to get away from the computer and jam out on.
While it’s primarily for dance music, it also works great for ambient sounds.
I’m still getting to grips with this little beast, but so far I’m loving it. In many ways its similar to the electribe, but while it seems perhaps a little less deep, it’s certainly more immediate, and seems better for live performance. Going screenless was a bold move, but it really pays off, as you can avoid menu diving, and enjoy an immersive experience.
I’ve not even bothered with the software updates, which add sample playback capabilities yet.
Teenage Engineering’s OP-1
Simply put, this thing is a powerhouse of music making, housed in a sleek, ultra-portable case.
It’s the ultimate musical sketchbook, and as a synth, sampler and drum machine, it’s incredible versatile. Great design means it’s also incredibly inspiring.
With so many sonic possibilities available to us in our computers, sometimes it’s nice to take things back to basics. The Microbrute is an analog wonder, and tweaking its knobs and clunking its switches is always satisfying. Its brutal sound is the cherry on top.
This was the first synth I ever owned, and it’s still without doubt my favourite. The levers clunk, the knobs click industrially, and the filter screams when it’s pushed. It also has a reassuring amount of flashing lights, that quickly had me well and truly hooked on the world of synths.
This is a pretty cheap synth, but it’s still the most fun to break out, and jam with. As a standalone synth it’s a great fun box, but there’s also no arguing that the oscillator sounds fantastic as well.