The USB port on your iPad has gotten a massive update in iOS 13/iPadOS. You can now plug in pretty much everything except a printer, and have it Just Work™. We already know this from Apple’s own PR and WWDC announcements. But what exactly does work when you plug it in? I decided to try it. I took my old test iPad (a 1st-generation iPad Pro) on a tour around various friends’ homes, and plugged stuff in. Here’s what happened.
Teenage Engineering’s awesome, pocket-size OP-Z synth can now record and use samples. Thanks to a massive software update, it can now sample live audio in through its mic, or via its USB-C port. And yes, if you hook it up to an iPhone or iPad via USB, it shows up as a standard audio interface: You can record from, and send audio to, the OP-Z in lossless digital quality.
Today we’re going to check out these new features. A few limitations prove annoying, but Apple users should feel accustomed to that by now.
At first glance, the decade-old OP-1 synthesizer from Swedish musical instrument makers Teenage Engineering looks about as standalone as it gets.
The tiny device couples a short, piano-style keyboard with a screen. And it contains a drum machine, several synthesizers, a sampler, a handful of sequencers, a virtual four-track tape recorder and even an FM radio. You can create entire tracks on it with no other gear, or you can hook it up to electric guitars and microphones and bring the outside world in.
But it also pairs surprisingly well with an iPad. You can record audio back and forth, but things go much deeper than that. You also can use the OP-1’s hardware keyboard to play instruments on the iPad, and use iPad MIDI apps to control the synthesizers on the OP-1.
Making music with an iPad and a synth
If you own both pieces of gear already, hopefully this how-to will give you some new ideas about making music with an iPad. But if you only own an iPad, this in-depth article will provide tips for using your tablet with other music gear.
And if you know nothing about the OP-1, or about Teenage Engineering’s work in general, you’ll learn why the company is kind of the Apple of the synth world. Teenage Engineering is known for its incredible interface design — and for having a quirky personality similar to 1984-era Apple, when the brand-new Mac was making waves.
This is Teenage Engineering’s amazing OP-Z, a tiny, TV-remote-size synthesizer and sequencer that has no screen, and yet manages to pack in a range of features that make users of “real” music hardware and software jealous. And if you do prefer working on a screen, you can hook it up to your iPhone via Bluetooth and use that.