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Teenage Engineering PO-133 Street Fighter Edition Review

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Possibly the highest homage paid to Kraftwerk's legendary Pocket Calculator, Teenage Engineering does it again by introducing two new Pocket Operators into the synth market - the PO-133 and PO–128 - aimed at targeting the Street Fighter and Megaman fan demographic. The PO-133 Street Fighter Edition (pictured) is based on the PO-33 KO pocket operator, while the PO–128 is based on the PO–28 pocket operator but with one extra sequencing layer.
A couple notable differences between the PO-133 and PO-33 system is, obviously, the detailing, which in the case of the PO-133 is styled after Capcom's original release of Street Fighter in the early 1990s. The PO-133 detailing includes the word Street Fighter lightly engraved on the front and back of the unit. The word Hadouken has also been lightly engraved on the hanger.

If it's your first time hearing of Pocket Operator, it is not a gaming machine but a synthesizer with an LCD screen visualizer, which in the case of the PO-133 is themed around two characters of Street Fighter 2 - Ryu and Chun-Li - who appear facing head to head on the screen. There is no battle mode though, so you cannot play the characters other than play sample sounds of some of their battle sound effects, including KO death and laughter sound. 
The PO-133 Street Fighter edition features 3 of  Ken's and 3 of Chun-li's special attack moves and sounds, as well as 8 voice samples of the narrator/announcer quoting Japan, China, USA, Brazil, Fight, You, Win and Lose. The Street Fighter fighting sounds and narrator's quotes are stored in buttons 1 to 8, which are accessed by holding down the Sound button and pressing button 14 or 15. 
Holding down Sound button and button 16 activates Ken and Chun-li's sound effects, which are a total of 16 (8 for Ken and 8 for Chun-li). Ken's sound effects are stored in buttons 1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 13 and 14, while Chun-li's sound effects are stored in buttons 3, 4, 7, 8, 11, 12, 15 and 16. Ken's special attacks sound samples include Hadoken, Shoryuken (Dragon Punch), Hurricane Kick, while Chun-Li special attacks are Lightning Kick, Kikoken and Spinning Bird Kick.
The Street Fighter sounds are all stock and will get over-ridden when you record sounds into the pre-recorded Street Fighter sounds memory banks. Luckily, you can factory reset to re-store the stock Street Fighter sample sounds. The factory reset sequence is the same as the PO-33 KO system, which requires removing the batteries and reinserting them while holding down the pattern button and write button at the same time.

Since the Street Fighter edition runs on the PO-33 system, you can load your own samples and basically use it as a reskin of a PO-33 KO pocket operator, which is a nifty 16-step sequencer that allows you to write patterns without the need for additional equipment. You chop music up into sections or steps just like you can with a full size drum machine or bass synthesizer and become really creative, which is pretty cool. 
The PO-133 system also has a built-in speaker and microphone, as well as a line-in for feeding samples in real time, which is one key differentiator from similar micro samplers. There is also two thumb knobs for adjusting the volume and pitch, as well as apply filter and resonance, as well as a line-out for connecting external speakers to the PO-133 system
The PO-133 Street Fighter unit also has an led light above each button slot to indicate whether a sample has been stored in a particular button slot. There is 40 second of sample memory to record a sample of something and, you can trim any sound you record into it to make it shorter. If you want to keep the stock Street Fighter sound effects, you can but you only get 4 free button slots to work with. You can buy the PO-133 Street Fighter from Teenage Engineering.

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