Best Pocket Operator 2020 (Reviews)

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Best Pocket Operator 2020

PO-33 KO Sampler/Sequencer

Teenage Engineering PO-33 Pocket Operator KO Sampler/Sequencer
  • PROVIDES 40 SECONDS OF SAMPLING MEMORY - The Teenage Engineering PO-33 has a built-in microphone for you to record 40-seconds of samples directly.
  • PLAYS YOUR SAMPLES CHROMATICALLY OR AS ONE-SHOTS - The 8 melodic slots let you play your own samples chromatically while the 8 drum banks play your sample as a one-shot.
  • ADDS PERCUSSION TO YOUR PERFORMANCE - The PO-33 is a 4-voice sampler. Its built-in micro drum machine allows you to layer more drum sounds over the sample recording.
  • ENHANCES YOUR SOUNDS - You can add a loop or stutter FX from the 16 onboard effects to create knockout samples.
  • SYNCS WITH MULTIPLE UNITS - You can connect PO-33 KO with 2 other Pocket Operators using standard stereo audio cables. You can also sync PO-33 with external devices like a PC.

PO-33 KO is a micro sampler that also comes up with a sample memory of 40 seconds and inbuilt recording microphone. The operator contains 8 drum banks and 8 melodic slots to create amazingly weird sounds. With the sample memory, you can restore and backup all your settings done. Overall, the operator provides a secure learning system. Also, the step multiplier and 16 effects are just amazing with PO-33 KO!

The board for playing is made with robust material similar to what is available with other TE’s pocket operators. However, PO-33 comes with additional features, among others. The integrated Mic is small yet powerful, which can be used for recording great samples. The screen lets you provide Tempo, Record, Play Indicators, A, B Parameter levels, the current time, and the ultimate bizarre scene. One of its appreciated features includes two sample types to playback the recorded content.

Pros

Sample memory of 40 seconds
Built-in mic
16 patterns and 16 effects
Step Multiplier
Great sync with external devices

Cons

Pricey

Teenage Engineering PO-33 KO is the best Pocket Operator in 2020. This is so popular, it is usually always sold out every time a new batch comes out!

PO-35 Speak Vocal Sampler/Sequencer

Teenage Engineering PO-35 Pocket Operator Speak Vocal Sampler/Sequencer
  • CREATES UNIQUE VOCAL SOUNDS - The Teenage Engineering PO-35 offers 8 voice characters: Neutral, Autotune, Retro, Noise, Robot, Fifth, Vocoder, and Synth.
  • PROVIDES 120 SECONDS OF SAMPLING MEMORY - The Pocket Operator Speak features a built-in recording microphone that allows you to record up to 120s of samples.
  • LETS YOU FINE TUNE YOUR SAMPLES - The transpose and change scale functions enable you to play your samples musically and to fine-tune the sounds further.
  • SUPPORTS MICROTONIC VST/AU TRANSFER - You can combine PO-35 with a MicroTonic Plug-In (sold separately) to create new drum sounds. Easily transfer VST files via microphone or line-in jack.
  • SYNCS WITH MULTIPLE UNITS - You can connect PO-35 Speak with 2 other Pocket Operators using standard stereo audio cables. You can also sync PO-35 with external devices like a PC.

PO-35 Speak is a vocal sampler. PO-35 Speak has 8 voice characters, including Autotune, Neutral, Robot, Retro, Vocoder, Fifth, Noise, and Synth. And, another loved feature is sampling memory of 120 seconds which is just amazing if we take into account other Pos having less sample memory. This operator can also be combined with MicroTonic AU/VST transfer to produce new sounds.

With 8 effects and 8 voice characters, it also has a change scale and transposes features. The inbuilt sequencer is capable of making and evolving interesting beats, complete tunes, and basslines. However, the finish, as usual, looks like an old calculator, but that doesn’t matter if you are getting useful quality features. You may be confused between PO-33 and PO-35, but you should note that PO-35 is a synthesizer whereas another one is a sampler. So, whatever you record will get synthesized into a structured voice.

Pros

Sample memory of 120 seconds
Microphone
Scale and Transpose Features
Smooth functioning
Easy to transfer VST files

Cons

Only voice synthesizer

As the name indicates, PO-35 Speak mainly focuses on synthesizing sounds. It helps in creating beautiful and even weird vocal noises. You can use inbuilt microphones to sample vocals and apply from 8 vocal styles and 8 inbuilt effects. You will also get to know with scale and transpose features for making tunes.

PO-32 Tonic Drum Synth

Teenage Engineering PO-32 Pocket Operator Tonic Drum Synth
  • OFFERS A TWEAKABLE DRUM SYNTH - The Teenage Engineering PO-32 is an advance drum synthesizer that features 16 preset sounds, which you can swap out via VST data transfer.
  • SUPPORTS MICROTONIC VST/AU TRANSFER - You can combine PO-32 with a MicroTonic Plug-In (sold separately) to create new drum sounds. Easily transfer VST files via microphone or line-in jack.
  • REPEATS SELECTED SOUNDS - The built-in step multiplier enables you to repeat selected sounds. You can also create a whole full song with the onboard 64 patterns and pattern chaining.
  • WORKS AS STANDALONE - You can use this Pocket Operator alone with the use of the onboard Knowles speaker. No need for external gears.
  • SYNCS WITH MULTIPLE POCKET OPERATORS - The PO-32 has 5 sync modes so you can use it as a master or slave unit. You can also connect it with external devices like computers, volca, or SyncKontrol.

The PO-32 Tonic Drum Synth is a concentrated drum machine with lots of tweaks. It is an all inspiring and funny noise-maker. Just like PO-35, it also has MicroTonic compatibility to offer you a whole quality product. With 16 performance effects, sounds, and a 16-step sequencer, the device is a lot more flexible as it is made in collaboration with Sonic Charge, a Swedish developer. Moreover, PO-32 is excellent for users who want to alter and overwrite their sonic palette by making patterns and fresh sounds using the plug-in.

Its inbuilt speaker is also useful to talk about. Thus, it also helps you transfer data among units in the same way. The 16 span sounds are just awesome that produce bass-heavy kicks, crunchy snares, fizzy white-noise hats, and plenty of other synthesized percussive, and esoteric sounds. You can even manipulate each sound via a pair of parameter knobs. The parameter lock function also allows automatic movements of two knobs on a per-step basis.

Pros

Step multiplier
16 sounds that can also be transmitted via VST data transfer
64-pattern with pattern-chaining
16 effects

Cons

Requires learning to play patterns

PO-12 Rhythm Drum Machine

Teenage Engineering PO-12 Pocket Operator Rhythm Drum Machine
  • PRODUCES 16 DIFFERENT DRUM SOUNDS - The Teenage Engineering PO-12 Rhythm uses real synthesized drum sounds to recreate drum and percussion sounds like cymbals, hi-hat, cowbell, and more.
  • OFFERS 16 BUILT-IN EFFECTS - The Rhythm Pocket Operator has 16 onboard FX including distortion, delay, stutter, and vibrato.
  • LETS YOU CREATE A WHOLE SONG - The 16-step sequencer and step-multiplier allow you to chain up to 16 patterns together. You can also insert a re-trig in a single step.
  • FINE-TUNE THE EFFECTS IN REAL-TIME - Effortlessly edit the 16 effects with the dual real-time parameters. You can fine-tune the tempo from 60 to 240bpm.
  • JAM ON THE GO! - PO-12 Rhythm has a jam-sync function, which lets you connect the unit with other Pocket Operators. You can also integrate PO-12 with 3rd-party gears thanks to its integrated audio-pulse-based sync.

If you are looking for a sequencer and drum machine, PO-12 Rhythm Drum Machine is for you. As the name suggests, all the operators are quite handy and fulfill the purpose of being portable. The operator is an ideal way to make beats with a combination of sequencer and drum machine. Along with noticeable beats, you can have 16 punch-in effects and parameter locks. It is also capable of saving and applying effects to patterns.

You will love its inbuilt effects, including the delay, vibrato, distortion, and stutter. The bpm tempo can be adjusted from 60 to 240, which is a great deal, though. You are good to go after plugging in two batteries behind. Also, the buttons are quite smooth to tap and play your favorite beats. If you want to replay the effects created, it can be recorded with the ‘patterns’ button. Well, you may need to use your speaker as its inbuilt speaker is a kind of concealed marvel of engineering.

Pros

16 sounds
Easy to play

Cons

A bit too simple

PO-20 Arcade Synthesizer

Teenage Engineering PO-20 Pocket Operator Arcade Synthesizer
  • PRODUCES RETRO AND MODERN SYNTHS - The Teenage Engineering PO-20 Arcade offers 16 synthesized 8bit video game-style tones like chiptune-style sounds.
  • ALLOWS YOU TO CREATE A WHOLE SONG - The 16-step sequencer enables you to create sophisticated arrangements and make an entire song with the help of the 128-pattern chaining function.
  • DELIVERS HIGH-QUALITY SOUNDS - The Pocket Operator Arcade uses Silicon Labs EFM32 Gecko MCU and Cirrus Logic DAC chip to produce excellent sound quality. The built-in Knowles Speakers lets you play with PO-20 without using external devices.
  • WORKS AS STANDALONE - You can use the PO-20 Arcade alone with the use of the onboard Knowles speaker. No need for external gears.
  • EASILY INTEGRATES WITH OTHER GEARS - The audio-pulse-based sync of PO-20 enables you to sync it with external devices such as computers, volca, or SyncKontrol.

PO-20 Arcade is a combination of sequencer and arcade synthesizer with chord control, parameter locks, and punch-in effects. As compared to PO-12, it is made for quite beat production as well as chiptune improvisation. Thus, it’s incredibly fun to have melodic sounds and beatmakers even on the go. It contains a whole stack of 8-bit game style sounds with some modern, retro, musical, and even super cool tones. Well, the Arcade is far better than just having sound effects. It has inbuilt bass sounds, drum sounds, chord drones, arpeggiation, effects, and a lot more. So, it’s a bit interesting to produce an entire track using the whole madness of Arcade PO-20.

This pocket operator is known to deliver top-notch sounds and quite soft buttons to play beats. All in all, it has 16 tones and 16-step sequencer, which can help you make a song with 128-pattern effects function. The sounds are remarkable because PO-20 uses the Cirus Logic DAC chip and Silicon Labs Gecko MCU. You can also admire its fantastic LCD screen, which further helps in delivering such a marvelous sound out of the device. Well, the device requires you to hold the Write button for recording purposes along with Chord. The operator offers Techno at 140bpm, Hip Hop 80bpm, and Disco 120bpm.

Pros

128-chord comprehensive chaining
16 effects
Intuitive arpeggiator to add movement and texture to jams
16 patterns and 16-step sequencer
16 synthesized and arcade-style sounds

Cons

Need to hold Chord button

Verdict

Best to make chiptunes

How to choose the best Pocket Operator for you?

Pocket Operators are the ones with whom we can enjoy a lot more with noise-making even on the go. It just sounds great to have a portable device like this that also performs well in its functions. Thus, pocket operators offer all-in-one functionality of ‘sampler,’ ‘synthesizer,’ and even ‘drum machine’ in the size of a calculator.

Working Principles For Pocket Operators

You can do a lot more with pocket operators rather than just creating sounds. It follows a series of working principles that you can apply to get a kind of mastery over the device. Let’s start by making different patterns.

Guide To Make Patterns On A Pocket Operator

First, you are required to select a sound, which could be bass sound, kick drum, or any of a glitch sample. However, it is also based upon the PO you are having because different PO types can create different sounds. Then, proceed withholding the ‘Sound’ button on the top left corner and tap any of the 16 music buttons to select your sound.

On the bottom right corner, press the ‘Write’ button, after which a circular recording icon will bounce up on the screen. Then, you have to select from the 16-step sequence while using those 16-sound buttons. For example, press Write button, choose the drum bass sound and press buttons 5, 1, 9, and 13 if you want floor 4.

In this way, associated points will brighten up in the sequence. You are all done with making a basic pattern. Now, you can tap on the ‘Play’ button. This is how you can create further sound patterns using similar steps.

How To Use Record Function Of Pocket Operators?

There is an audio signal connection on the right side, which you have to use for recording the pocket operators. Based upon your sync setting, the signal may vary. Therefore, we recommend you take 2 TS mono jack cables and a 3.5 stereo jack to ensure clear recording signals. You can either use it to record it in Mono or in a full stereo mode, whatever you like. So, cable selection is essential here to get the required quality of the recording.

Effects Function Of Pocket Operators

It all depends on the type of pocket operator you have to apply or use the inbuilt effects. For instance, some pocket operators have a lot of inbuilt effects ranging from distortion to delay and other things in between. On the other hand, some POs let you apply effects on particular sounds, and others have their impact on the whole mix.

To apply the effects, hold the FX button (second button beneath the second knob) and press among 1-16 sound buttons on the board. Thus, each button has its own designated effects over the sequence. You can also do it while pressing the ‘Write’ button and apply the impact right over when you tap on the sequence. This can help you make great dynamic sound ideas and beats.

Factors To Be Considered Before Buying The Best Pocket Operators

You need to keep a check on several points before you go to buy the best pocket operators available in the market. The factors are as follows.
Requirements

First and foremost, you should see for your specific needs. In case of help, you can even go through the above section to know more about the features pocket operator variant and choose accordingly. For instance, you may get confused among determining PO-35 Speak or PO-32, which looks almost similar but are not. The first one is a synthesizer, whereas another one is a sampler. In this way, there are lots of things you have to check first before buying the pocket operator.

Play System

The play system here refers to how the device is going to be performed in real-time. If it is hard, then you will get problems by tapping the buttons and make sounds quickly. Thus, it’s essential to go for a pocket operator that’s just breeze and fun to play. Even you are on the go, it should fill excitement to tap the buttons and be creative in making different sounds.

Board

After you are done with ascertaining requirements, you can further be selective among different colors available. You can also check for an LCD screen and similar kind of things to choose among various pocket operator boards. The type of buttons presents onboard, as well as the screen, is worth considering.

Additional Features

Some pocket operators come up with great features that make them up an all-in-one product. For instance, you are getting the features of a synthesizer, sampler, and sequencer in one pocket operator. These kinds of functions may make it a little bit expensive, but it’s worth the price if you do not have to invest money again and again.

Audio Ports

The audio ports, such as a microphone or other jacks, are also important factors to consider. You sometimes feel having your microphone as the inbuilt one may not be sufficient to perform well. Thus, inbuilt audio ports and jacks should be powerful enough to make better or weird sounds. In case you love all other features of a pocket operator except this feature, then it’s no harm to go for it. This is because you can use your own devices for recording or similar purposes.

Ability to record

The most important function of a pocket operator is to record the sound you have created. All the pocket operators have this feature. So, the function helps you playback the sounds and check for any correction required. Professionals may find this feature very helpful as compared to others. However, if you are curious enough or want to become a kind of professional sound creator, this feature would be of much help.

Conclusion

Pocket Operators are such lovely tools that every sound producer will think twice about missing. In the market, you will come across many variants, which may make it even a daunting task to choose among such an extensive range. This is why it’s helpful to consider our top 5 best pocket operators’ reviews and to buy a guide this year.

Last update on 2020-02-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API