This is a new routine series checking out all of the most fascinating devices and software for making music on your Mac/iOS devices. If there is any gear you would like us to take a better hands-on take a look at, let us know in the comments area below or shoot us an email.

Teenage Engineering, best known for its flagship synthesizer/sequencer the OP-1, just recently released a new line of tiny music makers on the world called the Pocket Operators. The PO-12 Rhythm is a drum device, the PO-14 Sub is a bass module and the PO-16 Factory is dedicated to melodies and lead lines.

The appearance of the systems may have some writing them off as toys, and considering they were partially influenced by pocket calculators and the Nintendo Video game & & Watch items, that might not be totally off base. But creativity and musical inspiration originated from unexpected locations often.

Having actually gone hands on with the PO-16 model for over a week now, I have actually found it to be rather a playable little instrument, with its own interesting peculiarities, imaginative restrictions, and boutique noise. Most examples of the little device in action appear to be freestyle techno jams, tune re-creations or somewhat avant guard pieces that do not seem to offer much in the method of real-life production applications. So I chose to run the new Factory design through its speeds, putting it alongside some larger name virtual/hardware instruments in the space to see how it would hold-up in a more common Logic or GarageBand production.

Keep reading for more details on the PO-16, how to sync this bad boy up with your other hardware and to hear how it sits inside a combine with some huge name software/hardware …


First let’s have a look at the PO-16 Factory itself. It’s essentially a mini synthesizer with a built-in 16 step sequencer, 15 preset lead noises and a 16th slot reserved for exactly what TE calls a micro drum kit. Noise, Pattern and BPM buttons sit along with the 2 rotary encoders (A and B), with impacts, record mode and the play buttons found along the right. Through the middle of the unit you’ll see the primary 4 x 4 grid (for the functions of the piece, we will certainly refer to this section as the “grid”), this is where many of the action happens including noise selection, pattern sequencing and using results. There are a number of secondary functions in location as you can envision, so the basic operation needs you to hold specific keys and afterwards make the relevant note/parameter changes.

When you have actually picked a sound by holding the “sound” key and choosing a patch kept on the major 4 x 4 grid in the middle of the device, you are ready to move into write mode to develop your pattern (although you can change your noise after the truth). The patches have a sort of boutique and practically 16-bit quality to them. While lots of them are plainly mimicking traditional noises (FM, subtractive, physical modeling and wavetable) found on many other preset banks in your software application library, my associate recommended that a few of them provide him a sort of Mega Man/Nintendo type feel. I don’t find that to be a particularly bad thing if that’s what you seek, but I ‘d need to agree with him. But where this tiny noise maker shines most isn’t in its patch list, but rather how playable its sequencer and on-board effects are.


The sequencer or “pattern” mode is a fundamental sixteen stepper, enjoyable to make use of and far more playable then some have recommended, albeit with a couple of fascinating caveats. Once compose mode is engaged (bottom right corner), you can just tap in your sequence or pattern on the grid. Holding a note in your series will permit you to change the pitch with rotary encoder A (notes C3 to D5) and the length of the note with encoder B. Additionally, you can hold the compose button and play your part in real-time to produce an auto-quantized pattern, instead of simply highlighting each of the wanted steps.

Approximately 16 patterns can be kept at when (Hold Pattern + Compose, then hit the wanted slot to store it on from the primary grid). When holding the “pattern” button, you can opt to chain a series of your stored patterns together by merely tapping on them in the desired order while in play mode (1, 1, 1, 3, plays pattern 1 3 times then pattern 3 prior to looping back around once more).

While this is, for the a lot of part, a monotimbral instrument (one sound or patch playing at the same time), the micro drum track can undoubtedly be layered on top of your major noise within a single pattern. It has its own independent 16-step sequencer and 16 sampled drum sounds. Nevertheless, the effects and play designs applied to stated pattern will hit the drum track too. If you can translucent the mainly arbitrary (and outstanding) bird factory graphics on the screen, you’ll observe a little n 1-16 appear in the upper right corner so you can tell when your editing the micro drum track.


As TE has actually publicly stated formerly relating to the OP-1, it likes musical limitations, cares about the imagination it brings out in musicians, and didn’t shy away from that design viewpoint with its much more budget-friendly Pocket Operators. There is no chance to shorten the length of the series itself (besides some creative/manual BPM changing), and the Pocket Operators are locked to the key of C/A Minor/D Dorian, in other words, only the white keys on your keyboard. However, it is possible to hit that unique semi-tone in your life with exactly what is perhaps the finest part of these little bird factory music devices, the impacts.

The results on the system are divided into 2 banks of sixteen understood as Effects Designs and Play Styles. The Results Styles include audio impacts varying from conventional filter sweeps, hold-up, and bit/sample based distortion effects, to more innovative stutters, pitch runs and vibrato. The Play Styles are note based effects, a few of which can transpose your notes, develop arpeggios or perhaps permit you to alter your single notes into chords.

You use or carry out these impacts on your pattern by holding the “design” button for Impact Styles or the unusually named “keyoo” button for Play Styles, which brings each of them up on among the major grid buttons (1. low sample rate, 2. distortion … 8. hipass filter … and so on). While your pattern is repeating and compose mode is engaged, merely push the preferred result at the desired time and you’ll be stuttering and keyooing all over the place in no time. This performance-like method of applying the results isn’t unheard of, but I discovered it to be one of the highlights of the machine and enabled me to come up with parts I might not have otherwise. Now while just one “Impact Design” and one “Play Design” impact can be applied at any provided time, you will find the “half note up” option useful if you’re planning to hit those tough to reach black keys or incorporating PO-16 parts into an existing Logic Pro X piece like I did below.


The POs are geared up with standard syncing function so you can lock the BPM of the units together and have them playback in time with each other. The right channel of the audio output/input is for the audio itself and the left is for the sync tone. But we can likewise feed a basic audio click track from our DAW on Mac or iOS in order to lock our desktop/mobile sessions up with either one or all the Pocket Operators at the same time.

There is no MIDI or high tech method to integrate these things into your tunes, we will simply be using audio tracks within Logic Pro X to both record our kept patterns and bits of live efficiency passes with developing specification modifications:

What you’ll need:

PO-16, and audio interface (preferably with at least 2 sets of outputs), two 1/8″ audio cables and your favorite recording software application:

1. Making use of the 1/8″ cables, connect the output (the jack on the ideal side) of your PO to an input on your audio interface (referred to as the “input chain”). Then connect the input of the PO (the left jack) to among the additional outputs on your user interface (described as the “output chain”).

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2. Produce a new audio instrument track (Alt + Command + N, will certainly raise the new track choice in Logic) and quickly program quarter notes for one bar inside your Logic session/DAW. Use some kind of drum sound like a rimshot or sharp snare.

Keep in mind: We particularly do not wish to use a normal “click track” that has the first of every 4 notes pitched up or louder, but rather a strong block of trigger hits. In my experience, the PO needs quite a hot (loud) signal as well.

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3. Loop this new region from bar 1 in your session until the end. In Logic, highlight your newly created area and check-off the “loop” function in the inspector window or hover over the area’s leading right most edge up until the contextual loop tool pops-up and drag to the right.

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4. Set the output on the track’s channel strip in Logic to correspond with the physical jack on your user interface from the “output chain”.

5. On the PO, hold the keyoo button and after that repeatedly press the BPM button to toggle through the different sync modes. With just one PO in your set-up, you’ll want SY2. With more than one daisy chained together, set them to SY3, SY4 and SY5, respectively down the chain.

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6. Now we will certainly create a variety of brand-new audio tracks in Logic to record our patterns and live performances on. After setting an offered audio track’s input path inside of Logic to the matching physical input we utilized for the “input chain”, we are ready to go. Press use Logic and the PO, and your patterns will repeat in whatever pace your Logic session is set to.

And this is what it seems like…

… In the track below you’ll hear a variety of riffs, melodies, layered consistencies and more sourced from the PO-16 with some additional EQ/filtering, and compression thanks to Waves and Logic to glue them into the mix a bit more. Extra instrumentation in the track includes sounds developed with Enormous, Razor and drum sampler Battery from Native Instruments, along with Logic Pro X’s EXS 24 sampler, Xfer’s Serum wavetable synth and more. If you desire to hear the PO by itself, I put together a fast audio trip of the patches and some of the results.

Outside of not having the ability to send out MIDI performances/notes/parameter modifications from Logic to the PO-16, this is basically how we would be tape-recording any external instrument. It is the POs interface/playability that contributed to my existing combination, not its bank of noises. Having stated that, you’ll most likely spend more than $ 59 to find/create similar ones anyway. Providing you’re looking for a boutique, a little bit crushed kind of sound, I think the PO-16 offers sufficient creative possibilities and can quickly be incorporated into existing/new song jobs with almost any of your existing go-to soundmakers. Even if you’re not intending on making the next big hit electronic record, it might be among the coolest alarm clocks in the sub $ 60 variety I can find.

The Adolescent Engineering Pocket Operators are available from a wide selection of sellers consisting of Amazon, B&H, Teenage Engineering direct and more for $ 59. However your finest bet is Guitar Center where you’ll side step any shipping fees. You can also decide to break off the clumsy hanger and put it inside the $ 39 Pro case, however personally I choose it naked.

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