Saturday, December 16, 2017

Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator PO-20 Arcade

Small, portable, mobile protracker-like synthesizer PO-20 Arcade with line-in, line-out (headphones), built-in speaker and display powered by 2 AAA batteries.

more demonstration videos at the bottom of this post

This little thing is amazing. It let's You create some cool beats even with Arcade version which is purely designed for chiptunes music. You have 2 octaves for most samples, some are 0-100 finetune range based instead - You control it with left knob. With right knob You alter the filter so the sound is more deep or fading into higher frequencies (kind of like flange effect). You can also do lead in real-time but I'm mostly programming all the patterns as it's very hard to rotate the knob just on the right note - this is unfortunately a con in this model that You can't use buttons in Note mode. Other models have this feature. You can program max 128-chain of patterns and chords which allows to achieve around 6-7 minutes of programmed music as long as You stick to low BPM like 60 and use 120 BPM beats. The max BPM is 240. A limit of 16 positions per pattern is a bit low but then You can use step multiplier which allows You to pick 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8 multiplier modes for a note witch can quite well overcome this limit. You can also easily copy a pattern so adding new instrument lines is very easy. Unfortunately You can't connect it to PC through USB port or similar to transfer Your creation in ProTracker-like form so if You want to keep the chiptune in mod format You would pretty much need to recreate it there. Nonetheless the device allows You to feel how the ProTracker-like music can be creater by showing You how to arrange your notes to play accordingly to given chord.

The device features:
  • a clock
  • an alarm
  • 2 octaves (A-1 to A-3)
  • 0-100 filter effect per note
  • 16 samples
  • 16 patterns
  • 16 chords
  • 16 live effects
  • 16 volume settings
  • 128-chains
  • parameter locking
  • a drone sound
  • fade out
  • tempo and swing
  • step multiplier
  • copying and clearing a pattern
  • various sync modes with left-right audio channel splitting
  • built-in speaker (I didn't know about that before buying! Nice feature!)
  • powered by 2 AAA batteries (mine rechargeable usually last 2-3 days)

Here are some examples of the music I was able to create by purely improvising:


Standard chiptune-like loop:

Techno Club:
Different bpm-swing variation of the above video, for demonstration purposes:
  • 60 bpm setting (120 real) / 80 swing
  • 65 bpm setting (130 real) / 50 swing

  • 90 bpm setting (180 real) / 50 swing

If you want to acquire this device (or a set of them) check out the product page: They sure let you forget about the world around you when you step into music creation mode. :)

If you live in Poland or countries nearby, at this moment it's best to buy it from Czech distributor Kytary: They offer reasonable prices and ship with DHL (select PPL as transportation method) and allow paying with Paypal.