Teenage engineering creates high quality, well designed, electronic products for all people who love sound and music. At Boost, Teenage Engineering will be a part of our Tech Showroom, presenting their Pocket Operators – a line of micro sized synthesizers developed in collaboration with the clothing brand Cheap Monday. What began with the engineers' need for new lab wear grew into a project where a line of innovative new portable synthesizers and matching gear was born. We had a little chat with the Swedish trailblazers, about hardware, creativity and the future of instrument development.
What is the idea behind Teenage Engineering and how did it all begin?
– Teenage Engineering is a mindset where anything is possible. We produce music related consumer products and everything started with the OP-1 portable synthesizer. We had a vision of creating the perfect synthesizer, something we wanted ourselves. Our dream machine.
You refer to the Pocket Operator as the smallest, smoothest and cheapest synthesizers ever, that still deliver premium sound, features and effects. Who is the Pocket Operator for and what has the response been?
– We want to grow the synthesizer population and pocket operators is an excellent tool for starting with electronic music. The response has been overwhelming and we've sold more than hundred thousand units all across the globe. Everyone from absolute beginners to professional users like Dead Mouse, Slow Magic and Zombie Nation is enjoying them.
When designing the first Pocket Operator, what did you regard as most important?
– The most important thing was keeping cost down. We started with setting the desired target price tag (USD 49) and took it from there. All design is based on engineering decisions and we don't have a separate design division. Ultimately we failed our price tag goal and the final price was USD 59.
In a time and age with so much development in software instruments and apps, what makes you continue to choose the hardware route? What is it that is so special about hardware?
– We are a hardware company and this is our natural choice. With an app you're not forming a relationship with a new 'thing'. Our physical objects invoke an emotional response much stronger than any app can do. We have numerous users who to this day tell us that our products changed their lives.
From a developer and manufacturer's point of view, do you feel that the Pocket Operator has had an impact on how people create music or are first exposed to electronic music and sounds?
– People can feel intimidated by complexity. Our seemingly simple units offer a great way to start exploring, creating and eventually expanding, since Pocket Operators are compatible with everything else on the market. This low cost tool inspire creativity, offer rich flexibility and produce a sound that can easily reach the masses.
Are you seeing any trends in the electronic instrument development field going forward?
– Products with a strong identity and optimized physical footprint. We think brands that dare to innovate and constantly review themselves are going to be more successful in the long run.