Pocket Operator PO-32 Tonic

A Drum Machine and a Synthesizer with effects, parameter locks, and a built in speaker in a pocket sized package.


Teenage Engineering PO 2 tonic Drum machine

Drum Machine and Percussion Synth

The PO-32 comes jam packed with 16 distinct sounds that you can program into some nifty little beats not sure how many Pocket Operator devices Teenage Engineering has made but there are many of them, this one seems to focus on being a drum synth rather than a sampler or other type of device.

Jam Sync

All of the TeenageEngineering Pocket Operator (PO) devices have a Jam Sync feature that lets you connect any Pocket Operator devices together through the 1/8th inch output and sync the audio and timing of the devices so they can jam together.  This allows you to build a beat making rig in a custom way by placing the devices in the order and number of devices you want. You could for instance use the PO-32 drum synth in combination with a sampler, voice synth, and another drum machine all in line and synced up,  What would really be interesting is to set them all up in some sort of case just how you would like it set up.

High-quality Sounds

For the pocket sized price the PO-32 really delivers some high quality sounds.  The sixteen drum sounds come from Cirrus Logic DAC , Gecko MCU, as well as Silicon Labs EFM 32.

Sound List:

  • kick 1 – (bass drum)
  • snare 1  – ( typical snare drum)
  • shaker / zap  – (a percussion sound that often goes nicely next to a hi hat)
  • lfo effect  – (sound effect drum sound)
  • kick 2 – (additional bass drum) 
  • snare 2 – (additional snare drum)
  • close / open hi-hat – (gotta have the hi hat)
  • claves / cowbell – (needs more cowbell)
  • low tom / kick 3 – (a tom drum that can double as a bass drum)
  • rimshot – (the sound of a rim of the drum being hit by a stick)
  • tambourine / crash – (can be a crash symbol or a shaker like sound)
  • hand clap  – (clap your hands!)
  • bass – (get a simple bass line going)
  • fm snare – (tight synthesized snare sound)
  • cymbal – (get a ride cymbal sound)
  • high tom  – ( high pitched tom drum)

16 Step Sequencer

For such a small and inexpensive drum machine the 16 step sequencer is quite capable and useful giving you parameter locks, punch in and out effects sequencing.  With these features you can create powerful complex beats that sound like they were created on professional drum machines and sequencers.

Breakaway lock tab

Have you ever spent hours creating the perfect sequence, beat or music track and later returned to your drum machine to find that your pattern is gone?  This can be a devastating experience.  The breakaway locking tab feature on the Teenage Engineering PO-32 Tonic protects your data from being wiped out.


The PO-32 gives you a lice little set of effects you can use to shape the sounds of your beat, even some expensive drum machines of the past did not include a couple of the effects the PO-32 gives you.

Effects List:

1. half rate – (cut the sound playback speed in half )
2. distortion (get a gritty crunchy sounds )
3. squash (smoosh the sounds)
4. echo fade (an echo that decays the sounds)
5. pitch lfo (a moving pitch as the sounds plays)
6. eq sweep (a filter like sound using an equalizer sweep)
7. mega morph (just what it says, morphs the sounds)
8. pitch bend up (changes the pitch to higher as it plays)
9. punch (make it punchy!)
10. 6/8 quantize (get an off time, staggered quantizeation )
11. beat-repeat (a loop style echo that gives you a repeated beat)
12. beat-repeat faster (same as above but faster)
13. fm (get  FM style synthesizer sound)
14. granular (grainy stretch sound)
15. reverse (reverse the sample)
16. bouncing ball (just try it.)
Optional Case
The Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator series come in a bare bones form factor where you can see the “guts” of the electronics as if you made them yourself with a soldering iron and a circuit board.  The optional silicone Pro Case gives you professional feeling buttons, proper connector slots for the audio output, and battery protection.  The Pro Case is designed to work with all other models in the Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator product line.  The case is not necessary to use the PO 32 Tonic but it can be a nice addition to protect the device.
Microtonic VST (Optional)
Another option for the PO-32 Tonic and other Pocket Operator devices is the Microtonic VST software plugin that provides a drum machine and synthesizer capability with fully synthesized sounds, 8 drum and synth tracks, Over sampled oscillators, Low CPU overhead, pattern based sequencing that can sync to the VST host.   Sound design options like morphing, smart alterations and randomizations. In addition to all of the above you can create sounds that can be transferred to your pocket operator device.
Who is this for? 
The cool thing about these pocket operator devices is that they are entry level drum machines based on their price and ease of use, but also provide you with professional experimental options that even some of the best most expensive drum machines do not such as the microtonic integration all the syncing with the other pocket operators, you can, over time build a rather large, capable, professional setup connecting the devices together, the only problem here is the 1/8 inch audio output is not the best for professional sounds.  The Pocket Operator 32 Tonic is best suited to someone who either wants to experiment or is just starting out and needs an entry level drum machine.