Top 3 Beginner Pocket Operators

Created with Sketch.

Top 3 Beginner Pocket Operators

Choosing a first PO is a difficult task. What is the best beginner Pocket Operator? With nine different Pocket Operators available, which one should you choose? In this article, we will cover our top three beginner Pocket Operators. Just remember that everyone has their own tastes and needs. It’s very possible that the best beginner pocket operator for you may be different! We ranked and selected these devices based on factors relevant to beginners. If none of these seem to be what you’re looking for, check out the alternatives. Now, onto the list:

Update: Thinking about picking up two or three POs to start your collection? You should check out our Great PO Combos for Beginners article.

Top 3 Beginner Pocket Operators

PO-20 Arcade – Best All-Arounder

PO-20 Arcade Action Shot

The PO-20 is definitely one of the most popular POs currently available. And for a good reason. It’s a crowd favorite because it’s truly one of the few devices which can cover all aspects of a track completely by itself. Random noise and bass drums create your percussion. The Arcade handles melodies with the various waveforms and chip tune sounds, like drops and arpeggios. But the greatest feature of the Arcade (especially for a beginner) is the chord feature. In fact, the entire system is built around chords. Bass lines, arpeggios, and other sounds and effects are all adjusted automatically throughout the song based on the current chord. With all of these together, a beginner can pick up an Arcade and start jamming out some great chip tunes and easily improvise along the way.

Buy the PO-20 Arcade ($59.00)

Get official details here.

Alternative: PO-33 K.O! – As a sampler, it’s extremely flexible and capable of doing anything. Expensive.

PO-12 Rhythm – Pro Level Drums

The PO-12 Rhythm is also another great beginner Pocket Operator. The Rhythm is a full featured professional drum machine, with 16 different sounds. Bass drums, toms, snares, hi-hats, and even a lead/melody sound are available within the Rhythm. Another great point about the Rhythm is just how compatible it is with other POs, which makes it a great first or second device. Every great song needs great drums! While every PO has a drum machine of some sort, many of them are limited to a single sound at once. The Rhythm is one of the few POs that can actually play all sounds at the same time. It may be a bit simpler than the other models, but simplicity equals power. No other PO provides the solid foundation and consistency that the Rhythm offers.

Buy the PO-12 Rhythm ($59.00).

Get official details here.

Alternative: PO-32 Tonic – Unlimited sound drum machine, but expensive and limited to 4 (or less) sounds playing at once.

PO-16 Factory – Most Variety

The PO-16 Factory is the closest of our three beginner POs to an actual synthesizer. It’s the only one in the list which can actually be played like a keyboard via the buttons. While the Arcade and Rhythm focus on backing tracks, the Factory’s main focus is providing great melodies and leads. This is even further improved by the Factory’s play styles button, giving access to chords, arpeggios, transpositions, and more. The fifteen sounds paired with the play styles button produces a ton of great unique sounds suitable for a variety of genres. Of course, the Factory also has a micro drum machine on the sixteenth slot, meaning you could make an entire song with it alone. All in all, the Factory has a ton of variety and can fulfill many different needs for a song.

Buy the PO-16 Factory ($59.00).

Get official details here.

Alternative: PO-28 Robot – More geared towards live playing and performances. Limited to 8-bit sounds, but sounds great pared with the Arcade.

And there you have it. Some great Pocket Operators for beginners. As mentioned previously, all of them fulfill a unique role and each can produce it’s own unique sound. So be sure to consider all options to find which PO best suits your needs. But really, you can’t go wrong with any of them… Except for PO-24 Office which is best suited as a 2nd or 3rd machine. What was your first pocket operator?


3 Responses

  1. […] If you are just looking to start your collection with a single device, you may want to read our other article, Top 3 Beginner Pocket Operators. […]

  2. […] If you are a beginner looking to start your collection with a single device, you may want to read our other article, Top 3 Beginner Pocket Operators. […]

  3. […] Pocket Operator Modular looks really exciting. It’s definitely more involved than the last series but we’re all excited. If it’s too much, consider the older series of POs outlined in our beginner guide. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.