Value $119/85 (PO-133), $89/£85 (PO-128)
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With the launch of the Capcom Sequence – PO-133 and PO-128 – Teenage Engineering has reskinned two of its higher-end Pocket Operators, the PO-33 and PO-28. Because the Pocket Operator collection has persistently impressed us, we have been desirous to get our palms on the brand new collectable POs.
PO-133 Avenue Fighter
Teenage Engineering’s PO-133 is a micro sampler with pink highlights and the Avenue Fighter brand on the high. The display shows an entertaining Ryu and Chun-Li battle which springs to life each time you set off a sound by way of one of many 16 buttons.
The PO-133 comes preloaded with authentic Avenue Fighter sounds and songs, which followers of the online game franchise will get pleasure from. Apart from successful of nostalgia, these sounds don’t provide a lot, musically. The samples are low-resolution and comprise vocal clips of the fighters (Hadouken!), narrator (battle!) and a few arcade-style drums and synth sounds.
The PO-133 didn’t encourage at first. For the £85 asking worth, anybody wanting Avenue Fighter sounds might go and purchase the sport and pattern them. Or, higher but, obtain one of many free pattern packs floating round on-line. The sequencing can appear a little bit clunky and restrictive on first inspection, and the tiny built-in mic incapable of capturing pristine audio is offputting.
The 16 results are enjoyable and have inventive potential, however I didn’t discover myself making something exceptional with the inventory sounds.
When you don’t spend lengthy with these POs, you would possibly (wrongly) come away considering these are costly hipster toys that aren’t useful to producers.
Nonetheless, there’s much more to those machines than a cursory inspection suggests. Like the unique PO-33, you should utilize the PO-133’s line enter to tear samples from information and a cellphone for 12-bit playback. If in case you have any curiosity in sampling, that is an thrilling function.
Teenage Engineering’s unassuming machine has a shocking variety of options which might be straightforward to overlook. Just a few hidden controls unlock the facility of the Pocket Operator. Going off-grid was simpler than anticipated due to a swing function, and you may dial in precise BPM settings for making (in our case) unfastened, lo-fi home beats at 117bpm. You’re not restricted to the three one-click tempos (80, 120 and 140bpm).
The PO-128 robotically slices a pattern you report to the Drums slots, however the begin and finish factors may be user-defined effortlessly. The Melodic slots will allow you to play again samples at totally different pitches – good for chords and vocal chops. You possibly can report results and filter settings, and with the pattern-linking performance and sample copying, it’s straightforward to see how you can create an entire monitor.
As soon as I realised what I might obtain with the 40 seconds of on-the-go pattern time, 15 results and sample creation, I used to be hooked – and nonetheless am.
Ricky Tinez has some significantly watchable videos on YouTube where he skilfully crafts hypnotic beats with nothing more than the PO-133’s predecessor, the PO-33. A number of artists have created complete albums on that very same machine. The moment playability is addictive.
I’m nonetheless not offered on the Avenue Fighter sounds, although. When you’re a fan of the unique video games, perhaps that’s a bonus. That mentioned, the design and Ryu vs Chun-Li show is enjoyable and distinctive, and the worth tag is identical because the PO-33, so it’s a no brainer when you have even a passing curiosity in beat-em-ups.
If sampling is a part of your workflow and you’ve got £85 to spare, this can be a implausible software to get some fast concepts down. It’s wholesome to get away from the DAW now and again, and there’s a higher sense of accomplishment while you craft a head-bopping beat on such a small instrument. The PO-133 despatched me down new inventive avenues, experimenting with uncommon tracks on YouTube, which is greater than you possibly can say of many devices on this worth bracket.
The revelation I had with the PO-133 got here in tandem with my testing of the PO-128. Nonetheless, at first, I wasn’t satisfied by the 8-bit synth onboard this Pocket Operator. In the long run, I discovered myself extra drawn to the Megaman Pocket Operator’s two synth engines and drum monitor. Positive, the sounds are 8-bit, however its simplicity is its attract, and you may make inventive strides in only a five-minute break from work.
Like its Avenue Fighter counterpart, the PO-128 has the character leaping and preventing in time with sounds. It sports activities blue highlights to suit the famend Megaman outfit. There are not any samples from the Megaman video games, however the preloaded sequences are from the sport’s soundtrack.
Once more, this an amusing toy, nevertheless it feels lacklustre within the context of precise music manufacturing. The unique PO-28 is £30 cheaper and appears to supply the identical performance, which makes me wonder if it’s price the additional buck. Little question Megaman followers will like it, however I ponder what number of die-hard followers are on the market prepared to spend £80 for a mini synth.
Regardless of my reservations, I discovered myself selecting up the PO-128 extra typically as I progressively bought to comprehend it higher. Lots of its options are just like the PO-133, however there are different thrilling particulars equivalent to glide, key altering, notice size, timbre of the synth and extra. One synth engine will deal with the low-end, the opposite on lead duties. Eight totally different patches can be found for the lead, seven for the bass, with the final sound slot reserved for percussion.
The PO-128’s synth sounds are fairly entertaining, however I didn’t discover them useful in my tasks and workflow. 8-bit fans might get pleasure from it, however there are many free and low-cost instruments that create comparable sounds. I want that it wasn’t monophonic to make chords playable, and I’m disillusioned that solely three voices can play at one time – it might be attention-grabbing to have the ability to play two totally different lead sounds concurrently, for instance.
Why did Teenage Engineering actually reskin the PO-28 and PO-33, although? The reply is within the model’s YouTube channel feedback: “Many individuals don’t know what a Pocket Operator is”, reads Teenage Engineering’s remark. “Lots of people know what Avenue Fighter is. A few of these individuals might need secret sequencer desires that they won’t even have been conscious of.”
Being completely candid, I used to be sceptical in regards to the Pocket Operators’ precise utility for music-making. However as quickly as I spent a while with them, I used to be consumed by the playful expertise they provide. Granted, these two fashions are simply novelty reskins of the PO-28 and PO-33, with the PO-128 costing £30 greater than the unique, and the PO-133 priced the identical. It does make them really feel barely extra particular, although – particularly when you purchase the optionally available colored circumstances. Nonetheless, when you’re on a funds, go for the extra reasonably priced choices. No matter you do, don’t count on these to present you an edge in your music manufacturing. As a substitute, contemplate these as musical toys for brewing inspiration and provide you with some inventive time away from the DAW.
Now, the largest downside I’ve with the PO-133 and PO-128 is deciding whether or not to purchase one in every of them – and even uncover the facility of their siblings.
PO-133 Avenue Fighter
- Constructed-in mic for sampling
- Authentic Avenue Fighter sounds
- Audio I/O
- 15 results
- 40 seconds of pattern reminiscence
- Sample linking
PO-128 Mega Man
- Two 8-bit synth engines for melody and bass elements
- 15 synth patches, plus percussion sounds
- 3-track sequencing
- 128 sample chaining
- 15 results
- I/O for Pocket Operator hyperlink
- Patterns primarily based on Mega Man soundtracks