During my researches to become more contemporary, I stumbled upon this little friend after I had bred for many hours over the purchase of an Elektron Rytm, a machine, which costs fifteen times more than this cutie. Meanwhile I am sure, that the Rytm had been way too much for my needs, the only thing I still miss are separated outputs, but more about that later. Let’s start from the beginning;
The company Teenage engineering has designed the famous OP-1, a clever reinvention of the old Fourtrack-recorder, packed with cool features and with a sleek design, which only Apple could have created, but it’s created by the teenage boys and girls. The price is also comparable to Apple-products, but with their new Pocket-operators they should conquer the mass-market with ease.
The PO-12 is the dedicated Rhythm-machine within the serial and has already set a mark as one of the best pocket-operators. As all other little operators it comes from the factory without a case (!), which means, that the electronic circuits are open and visible.
Though this is first a clever marketing idea and second a clever cost-saving concept I highly recommend to order immediately the separately offered housing for the PO-12, made of Silicon, which costs the little amount of 39 Euro while the unit itself costs 69 Euro.
So the case costs more than the half of the machine. Have I already told you, that this company is clever? The shock of the case-price is good compensated by the Display-animation, where a little man is working with a sewing machine. This is really cute. After we have dressed the little man with the silicone case we can now start to operate:
The sixteen sounds are original, don’t expect the usual 909-stuff, modern and powerful. Even without any effects the most important sounds, kick, snare, Hihat, and Clap are great. The others are usable (Tom) to nicetohave (Blip). The little toy sounds expensive, more expensive than 108 Euro in my humble opinion, also the signal-to-noise level is good. I have sampled all sounds for demonstration:
I have paid 108 Euros for something, which looks like a cross between an 80s Math-calculator and an old Tamagotchi-toy, so it must sound great. The only downside of the sound is, that the PO-12 and also all other Pocket-operators deliver a Mono signal and they have no separated outputs. Next we want to create some patterns and Teenage engineering supports us with an easy to use sequencer, which even not ends at step sixteen, because the PO-12 allows to chain patterns to create more complex tracks. But there is more fun: The sixteen (sic!) effects can be tweaked in realtime and offer parameter-locking. That means you can write the effects into the track. At last you can fine-tune the groove with the Swing-adjuster.
The last chapter is about the sync features. All pocket-operators can by synced to different sources, function as slave and master etc. This works fine as long as you chain the machines and grab the audio at the last one (as it is intended by the manufactorer). But there are always people, who wants more (and I am one of them). On Youtube you can find videos of users, which use split-cables to realise separate outputs of the different operators. So I thought: “I order two more PO-12 and create a drum-machine with three outputs for kick, snare and hihat”. I ordered three PO-12 and a PO-14 and tried to set it up as drum-machine with separated outputs, but after some experiments I gave up.
Unfortunately there is a huge drop of the output-level starting from the first slave and if you try to adjust the volumes it seems, that they are all dependent from each other. At last just one machine is so much fun, that I am very happy with the purchase. I recorded my first attempt in glorious Mono and it sounds unique and powerful, so I can live with the Mono.
- Great sounds
- Just Mono
- Price of the case
- Sync with Split-cables
- It’s not ugly. It’s cute