Teenage Engineering has carved out a niche in the electronic music world. Its OP-1 is a highly adaptable synth that puts industrial design on par with sound quality and features. If there's one thing the OP-1 isn't, it's affordable. The basic synth is priced at a cool $799, pitting it against considerably more-established options from Roland, Korg, Moog and others. With its latest products, however, the Swedish startup is looking to put a whole lot of music-making power in your hands for a very low price.
The Pocket Operator (PO) series is a set of three miniature battery-powered synths, all priced at $59. There's the PO-12 "Rhythm" drum machine, the PO-14 "Sub" bass synth, and the PO-16 "Factory" melody unit. All three have 16-step sequencing and a selection of 16 sounds to choose from, and also offer 16 additional effects. There aren't any official videos available just yet (we'll update the article when they become available), but you can check out a clip of musician Cuckoo playing with a prototype PO-12 (which has been known about for some time) after the break.
As you'd expect from Teenage Engineering, the POs are very pretty. Powered by two AAA batteries, the synths are totally stripped back. Each is just a circuit board with a display and a number of mechanical switches and knobs. They do have the built-in speakers, 3.5mm in and outs, parameter locks and sync functionality you'd expect from a pocket synth, but the whole vibe is very barebones.
Teenage Engineering is collaborating with fellow Swedish brand Cheap Monday -- best known for clothing Williamsburg's finest in skin-tight jeans and all manner of knitwear -- to bring its POs to market. Cheap Monday has its branding on each of the POs, and is also offering a range of Teenage Engineering-themed graphic tees and pins for displaying your brand allegiance. In addition to the clothing tie-ins, it's producing a more-functional case (priced at $39) for protecting your synths. All of the gear will launch tomorrow, timed with the start of NAMM trade show -- at $177 for the full suite, we expect them to sell very well.