Swedish outfit Teenage Engineering is best known for their OP-1 Synthesizer, which combines a distinctive design with excellent sound quality and a rich set of features. This time round, they’re stripping things down with the Pocket Operator, a series of mini-synthesizers aimed at the entry-level crowd.
A handheld synth, it’s styled like a vintage calculator (or a Wrongulator), with a monochrome LCD on top and a grid of physical controls sitting below it. While it can be played on a table just like most rigs, we have a feeling the form factor is aimed at making you use it with your thumbs just like a phone.
The Pocket Operator consists of three synthesizers: the PO-12 (a drum machine), the PO-14 (bass synth), and the PO-16 (melody synth). Minimalist in design, each one has an exposed circuit board (no enclosure), with all the sensitive components hidden beneath the display, creating a unique barebones appearance. It’s even powered using AAA batteries, so you just swap in fresh ones instead of having another device that requires a USB cable to charge. Features include a 16-step sequencer with 16 preset sounds and 16 effects, two 3.5mm ports (one for hooking up to a mixer, another for daisy-chaining multiple Pocket Operators together), a 32-bit EFM Gecko microcontroller, a Cirrus Logic DAC, a built-in speaker from Knowles, a kickstand in the back for setting down on a table at a comfortable angle, and a graphical animated interface.
Available now, each synth in the Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator series retails at $59.