The OP-1 by Teenage Engineering was one of the most remarkable synthesizers to ever come out, especially at the time of its release. No one took this little synth seriously when they had first seen it, and that was a huge mistake. Upon investigation and review in the first couple of weeks, people woke up and realized that the OP-1 was a fantastic synthesizer option, no matter if you’re a beginner or seasoned veteran. Realistically, this synthesizer might even be too advanced for some people! As for the DS61, it’s practically identical to one of my favorites, the Roland JUNO-DS88, and the only real difference being that the DS61 is a 61 key keyboard. Some things it does wonderfully, and in other areas it could improve just a bit. So which is the better product?
Looking at the Roland
There isn’t much for me to say about the Roland JUNO-DS61 that I haven’t already outlined once in its review, and technically another time in the review of its 88-key big brother. Roland is historically known to be one of the few manufacturers that actually makes stunning-sounding synthesizers. What they do, they do great. As far as features go, it’s pretty standard for this type of keyboard in this price range. Again, what this keyboard excels at is sound quality, even for the most basic sounds. It isn’t a TYROS 5 that can do just about anything and everything on the surface of the earth, but it can do enough to keep you guessing.
Looking at the Teenage Engineering
If I had asked even the most experienced musicians five years ago about a brand called Teenage Engineering, nobody would know about them. Unlike Korg or Yamaha which have been giant brands for decades and have become recognizable globally, Teenage Engineering started out as a smaller company with less reputation. Once they came out with the OP-1 however, they completely revolutionized the synthesizer industry and changed the game, at least when it comes to smaller synths. Some might initially be put off at the price, since most synthesizers in this size are noticeably cheaper, but do not underestimate this instrument. It is likely more capable than your favorite synth at the moment!
Which is better at what?
Both of these products truly are unique and both are great options if you can only go with one. If you’re just focused on optimizing the most sound output at the highest level, then the Roland JUNO-DS61 is likely a better fit for you. However, if versatility and mobility are big factors, then the OP-1 deserves serious consideration. Certainly, if mobility is one of the biggest factors on your list then this should not be a difficult decision. While the DS61 is fairly lightweight, you could fit the OP-1 synthesizer in your backpack easily. They have their strengths and weaknesses, and it all depends on what your needs command. If you’d like more insight into which is the best suit for you, read this.
Which is the better keyboard?
This is usually a subjective discussion. If the debate were between the DS88 and the OP-1, then I would have to give the slight edge to the Roland synthesizer. That is not the discussion however, and we are looking at the DS61, not the DS88. In this particular instance, I would have to choose the Teenage Engineering OP-1. Not only can it practically match the sound quality of the Roland keyboard, but it is overwhelmingly more capable and versatile, all the while being less than a third of the size and weight. In some situations you might prefer the extra keys and the classic Roland sound would be a better fit, but for most people, it is safe to say that the Teenage Engineering OP-1 is marginally better than the Roland JUNO-DS88 keyboard.