OPL Studio

About | Downloads | Manual | Kit Assembly Guide

OPL Studio is the ultimate OPL2 / OPL3 synthesizer! It gives you almost limitless control over what you can do with the OPL3 synthesizer chip.

Features of OPL Studio

OPL Studio has a long list of features. To name a bunch of them:

  • Integrated patch editor to edit predefined instruments and create your own
  • Load and save instrument banks from popular formats such as *.BNK, *.SB, *.O3, ect.
  • Patch linking to layer up to 4 instrument patches for even more complex sounds
  • Polyphonic sequence editor to create up to 32 drum and 32 melody sequences
  • Quad sequencer to live play up to four sequences
  • Composer module that lets you create complete songs from your sequences
  • Midi channel mixer
  • 6 External controls let you connect your own triggers and analog controls such as other synthesizer modules
  • Save and load your OPL Studio sessions to MicroSD card
  • Polyphonic MIDI playback with support for internal and external clock, volume and panning control, pitch bend, modulation and channel after touch
  • Connects to MIDI devices over USB or DIN connectors
  • Control via 240 x 320 pixel color TFT touch screen or two rotary encoders
  • Cool retro looking Windows 3.1 / 95 style user interface

And although the OPL Studio software already very complete, there is still more to come in the future!

Meet The Modules

OPL Studio consists of a number of modules, let's have a look at some of them:

Patch Editor

The patch editor is where you can change the parameters of all 128 MIDI instruments and 47 drum sounds. OPL Studio comes with a default instrument bank that provides instantly recognizable sounds for anyone who has ever played around with MIDI in Windows 3.1 / 95, or played DOS games on their computer with Adlib or Sound Blaster sound card. You can change any of the OPL3 synthesizer parameters to create your own instruments and instantly hear the results. You can save or load your own instrument banks to some of the commonly used instrument bank file formats such as *.O3, *.SB, *.TMB, etc. And if you don't know what to do you can open the patch randomizer where you can let OPL Studio pick some random parameter values to give you additional inspiration. Don't worry if you made a mistake you can always revert your changes if you don't like what you hear!

Drum and Melody Sequence Editors

With the drum and melody sequencers you can create your own polyphonic sequences of 16, 32, 48 or 64 steps. Drum sequences have 8 tracks each for different drum sounds, volume and panning settings. Melodic sequences are fully polyphonic and are direct MIDI recordings that will therefore record note velocity, volume, panning, pitch bend and modulation.

Melody sequences can be either live recorded, where you can set the recorder to trigger on a MIDI input, or you can make a step by step recording where you can add notes to a sequence like typing letters on a keyboard. You can use your sequences in the four track sequencer to give a live performance or you can make a complete song with them in the composer. You can give each sequence its own color and pattern to make them easy to recognize.

Four Track Sequencer and Composer

The four track sequencer and composer modules are where you can really play music with OPL Studio. In the four track sequencer you can assign the sequences that you created to any of the four slots to give a live performance. It's really easy to select a drum or melody sequence for any of the four slots from the sequence selector where you can also preview a sequence before assigning it to a slot or jump into the sequence editors to create a new sequence. With the retrigger functionality you can create awesome breaks!

The composer lets you create full songs of over 5 minutes in length from your sequences. The composer has 6 tracks where you add your sequences by simply clicking the song grid to open the sequence selector. For easy editing you can select, cut, copy, paste or delete parts of your song. And if you're not happy with how a sequence sounds then you just click it to open the sequence editor and change it. You can set two loop points in your song which is nice for a live performance.

Extra Synthesizer Controls

In addition to the 'basic' OPL2 or OPL3 instrument patches you can make more interesting sounds using patch linking. With patch linking you can layer up to 4 patches, so that if you play a note of a certain instrument it will also trigger a sound on the patches that are linked. For each layer you can specify a separate drum or melodic instrument patch, a delay, transpose, volume and panning. This way you can create more interesting sounds, echo effects, chorus effects etc.

And if you want even more controls then OPL Studio has 6 external inputs where you can connect other synthesizer modules that generate a control voltage or a trigger / gate. Each input can be set separately to control an OPL Studio function such as giving a clock pulse, playing a drum sound, setting an OPL3 register parameter, etc.

Channel Mixer

You can change the volume and panning of all 16 MIDI channels in the channel mixer. The mixer also allows you to mute or solo channels and you can see for each channel what instrument patch is assigned as well as a level indicator.

Integrated OPL3 Duo?

Currently OPL Studio relies on an external OPL3 Duo synthesizer to produce audio (the OPL2 Audio Board is also supported). I'm working hard to also offer a compact all in one version of OPL Studio with the OPL3 Duo synthesizer integrated. Expect this in the first months of 2023. If you don't yet have an OPL3 Duo then you can order one together with OPL Studio for a reduced price and this will include the enclosure. If you have an OPL2 Audio Board then you can also use it with OPL Studio, but this will limit what you can do with OPL Studio.

Get your own OPL Studio!

OPL Studio is available for purchase from my Tindie store. You can either get OPL Studio as a kit that you assemble yourself using the easy to follow assembly guide, or as an already assembled and tested unit.

The following is included:

  • All componts needed to build the kit
  • The enclosure, frontpanel, knobs and button caps
  • A short ribbon cable to connect OPL Studio to the OPL3 Duo
  • A Teensy 4.1 with the latest version of the OPL Studio software installed. If you already have a Teensy 3.6 or 4.1, then you can choose to use your own Teensy and get a discount
  • A micro USB cable is not included in the box, because these days people often have too many of these cables already lying around
  • Optional OPL3 Duo with enclosue

OPL Studio is shipped to you from The Netherlands in a quality cardboard box and is well padded to prevent any damage during shipping.

I sell on Tindie