Solved! Using Teenage Engineering’s OP-Z with Your AirPods

It’s no secret that we are head over heels in love with Teenage Engineering’s OP-Z – a tiny, yet powerful synthesiser.

You can read our full review here, but one element that is a little disappointing, is the fact that it can’t connect directly to bluetooth headphones.

The device has bluetooth built into it, but this is just used for controlling the accompanying iOS app. While this choice feels like something of a missed opportunity, it’s also understandable , as bluetooth audio isn’t generally the best, as it has a the slight lag that makes playing anything live nigh on impossible.

The OP-Z’s power is in its sequencer, however, and it can be happily programmed and played back using bluetooth headphones.

Fortunately, we’ve found a solution to this problem. And while it isn’t as elegant as having inbuilt audio bluetooth, it’s certainly very usable – and much more fun than dealing with tangled headphones when you just want a quick, wire-free, jam.

How to add bluetooth audio to your OP-Z

The answer is this small box from Amazon, made by a company called TaoTronics. The device transmits (and receives, if you want) bluetooth audio.

Simply plug it into the audio slot of your OP-Z, connect your favourite bluetooth headphones to the box, and away you go!

We’ve tested it with Apple AirPods, and Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones, and they’ve all worked perfectly. If you’re using AirPods, just remember to press the button on the back of the case, and leave the AirPods in their case while the LED is white and in pairing mode.

We’ve been testing this bluetooth solution for the last week, and it does the job perfectly. You can even switch to receive mode to wirelessly sample into your OP-1. Or use it for other things, such as listening to the TV over bluetooth.

As mentioned there will be a bit of latency, so don’t buy it expecting to be able to play in beats or melodies live. We strictly recommend this for programming the step sequencer and audio playback only.

In other OP-Z news, a new firmware update has just dropped, so head to the downloads section of their website to grab the latest.

This article contains some affiliate links for some products and services we are passionate about. This means we receive a small commission if you sign up for a service, or purchase a product after you’ve clicked on one of our links. We donate 20% of any commissions to a charity that helps the homeless, so it’s also a great way to give at no extra cost, while supporting us.


How the Pomodoro Technique can kickstart your productivity

Does this sound familiar? You’re constantly busy, but somehow never seem to get anything done, or make progress on your long-term goals.

We all wish we had more hours in the day, and sleep is often the first thing that we sacrifice in our desperation to squeeze more working time out of each 24 hours.

But working late hours, and being constantly exhausted, is not exactly the best solution – and ultimately is likely to actually harm our productivity, rather than help it.

Fortunately, there are many time-management tools out there, which have been developed to improve productivity – you just need to find the one that works for you the best.

One of our absolute favourites is the Pomodoro Technique, and if you haven’t heard about it, you’re going to want to read on – the effects of understanding it and using it well can be truly game-changing.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management system that helps you turn time from an enemy into a friend.

Basically, it divides your working day into 25-minutes intervals, with each one known as a ‘pomodoro.’ After completing one of these chunks of focussed work, you take a five-minute break.

Once you’ve completed four ‘pomodoros’ in a row, you can enjoy a longer break.

There are many reasons why this works – One idea is that the technique creates defined time-frames, which develops a sense of urgency.

Rather than thinking you have a whole day to tick all of the tasks from your to-do list (which usually turns into wasting precious working hours on distractions, emails, or procrastination) you know that you have only 25 minutes to make as much progress on the task as possible.

The relatively short period of each ‘pomodoro’ also helps to break down the mental blocks that can be associated with starting large, complex, projects.

Rather than worrying about the end result, the technique will help you to get started and begin making progress.

Developed by the Italian Francesco Cirillo, who named it after the tomato-shaped timer he used to track his work, (‘pomodoro’ is Italian for ‘tomato’), the technique has been widely popularised and is now loyally used by more than two million people around the world.

We are all different, and we are not saying that Pomodoro is the perfect solution for everyone, but if you have not tried it yet, we highly recommend it!

How to get started

One of the main things that has helped the Pomodoro Technique gain popularity is its simplicity. To get started, all you need is a timer.

There are many online options available that can help you with this – one Google search will give you some great applications and online timers that you can choose between.

The issue with this is the need to open up the internet, however, and potentially enter a world of distractions. A stopwatch on a smartphone can also help you – but again you may find yourself getting distracted by picking up your phone and seeing notifications.

If you want to do it the traditional way, like Cirillo, you can get your Pomodoro kitchen timer on Amazon here.

Once you’ve got your timer ready, you need to decide on the task that you will work on during the following Pomodoro session. For this reason, being able to prioritize tasks in your to-do list is important.

Next, set the timer and start working on the task. If you feel an urge to do something else, not related to the task – such as check emails, or social media – make a note of it, so you don’t forget, and check it once you’ve finished the 25-minute burst.

Knowing that you will have chance to check it soon, will help you to stop procrastinating, and often you’ll find you’re not actually interested in checking, when it’s your free-time you’re using up.

When the timer rings, stop working, put a checkmark on a piece of paper to mark one Pomodoro completed and take a 5-minute break. You then simply repeat this process.

When you have completed four ‘pomodoros’, you have earned yourself a longer break of 15 – 30 minutes. This time can be used to take a break and recharge, before jumping back into a another session of four pomodoros.

Pomodoro with Music

Here at GBM Music, we love the technique – I’m even writing this blog using it!

We weren’t completely happy with the process of measuring the time, however, and felt like we could improve it a little bit. That’s why we set to work creating the ultimate soundtrack to a ‘pomodoro’.

For some people the ticking of a timer, can increase a feeling of anxiety, and actually be a distraction from the work.

Also, if you want to listen to music – which can be a productivity aid – it can simply be too hard to hear a timer, and the logistics of this simple method can quickly become too confusing and distracting.

So to get back to basics, we created this 25-minute composition of inspiring electronic music, designed to guide you through the perfect ‘pomodoro’.

Just hit play, get to work, and take your break when the music finishes. It’ll help you to stay focussed on the task, and enjoy each ‘pomodoro’ without worrying about the ticking clock.

You can also read more about the song and the productivity-inspiring science behind it here.

By Maja Nenadov


I Need to Sleep – Our Song to Help You Get to Sleep Fast

Is there a worse feeling in the world than the one of rising panic as you endlessly toss and turn, thinking of all the ways that the following day will be ruined?

Being unable to fall asleep at night is something most of us will experience at some point in our lives, and it can quickly turn the peaceful and relaxing process of drifting away at night into something that is to be utterly dreaded.

Read More


GBM Music instrument photo shoot

 

We’ve got something a little different for you in the blog today. Last night, I was let loose in the studio with my new camera, and decided to try and get a few different snaps of some of our favourite pieces of equipment, which we use to create the background music that GBM Music sells.

Here are some of our favourite snaps from the shoot – let us know what you think of them! You can find more info on many of these synths in our blog about favourite gear.

Korg Monotribe

The Monotribe is a real beast, and it looks as good as it sounds, when its MS20 filter is screaming.

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Arturia Microbrute

We mainly use this brutish synth to add crunchy basslines, and we love its chunky knobs and dials!

Microbrute GBM Music

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Korg Electribe

We also love this guy, complete with useless but cool LEDS on the bottom, and a great little touchpad for adding effects to your instrumental tracks.

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Teenage Engineering OP-1

It’s hard to take a bad picture of this stylish all-in-one synthesiser from Sweden. It just looks great!

Teenage Engineering OP-1 GBM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Novation Circuit

One of our favourite new pieces of hardware, this colourful synth simply keeps getting better and better.dscf0202

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Making Music on the Move

I’ve recently been doing a lot of travelling, and the thing that’s made the endless departure lounge waits, crawling traffic jams, and endless train journeys tolerable, is making music on the go.

In fact, the ease with which technology now allows us to compose and record music away from the studio is staggering.

So much so that I now relish the thought of any long journey (as long as I don’t have to drive).

Why is making music on the move so enjoyable?

Here’s my theory – Most good songs take the listener on a  journey. By composing and recording while moving, its easier to shut yourself off from the world and your normal concerns, and instead to solely focus on your project.

The fact that recording editing and playing good music is also so immersive means that hours which would be boring, flutter by effortlessly.

What do you use to make music on this move

Most recording musicians now have some kind of portable rig, which they can pull out whenever they have a little time free.

In truth, a laptop with a fully featured DAW installed is pretty hard to beat.

Obviously it’s important to have a model with a good battery life if this is your weapon of choice.

For me though, even a laptop seems a little too much like the studio.

Recently, all I’ve taken with me is Teenage Engineering’s OP-1.

I bang on about this little beauty an awful lot, but it crams in some deep synthesis and a minimal DAW into its good looking aluminium shell.

The main reason I love it for travelling, however is its battery life. I think the official stats suggest it lasts for 16 hours, and to be honest in reality its probably more.

It’s great to be able to throw the OP-1 in a carry on bag, knowing it’s ready and waiting for a jam at any time. It’s also serious fun, with a carefully designed, stylish interface that you can’t help but get drawn into.

The only drawback – and it is a pretty considerable one – is the price of the little gem. At almost £600, you have to be pretty committed to pick one up.

A, perhaps cheaper option is, of course an iPad. I don’t personally have one, but a lot of my musician friends absolutely swear by them. I recently had a go on a much-loved app called Samplr, and it’s definitely stoked my urge to pick up a tablet. Just like the OP-1, the app feels like a new, intuitive way to make and manipulate music.

Whatever you use, I’d definitely recommend making music on the move. What would otherwise be wasted time can quickly become fertile and creative. I remember an interview with Thom Yorke where he discussed loving making music on the go. Something about being in motion, and on a journey, helped to inspire him. If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me!