Teenage Engineering TP-7 Field Recorder Review: Price, Specs, Availability, Features

Recorders, generally speaking, are meant to sit in the background, quietly absorbing sound without contributing to it. They’re a neutral, inconspicuous product type almost by necessity. If you’re recording field audio, like trying to capture the perfect loon call out in the wild, you’d be better served by a proper shotgun mic to pinpoint the sound. Audio recorded directly in a studio sounds great on the TP-7, but again, you can handle that with some far less expensive yet still really good microphones.

The device can also be tricky to navigate, with some menu diving required to access certain features that won’t feel intuitive right away. There’s also some kinks you’ll find if you’re coming from another type of recorder.

As one example, I tried to feed music from Spotify through the TP-7 to test the line-in functions, with a pair of headphones plugged into the output jack so I could monitor the sound. At the time, I didn’t realize that by default the audio still played through both the plugged-in headphones and the on-device speakers. That is, until my girlfriend came in from the other room, laptop in hand, to tap me on the shoulder and say, “I’m getting on a call with my boss. Can you please stop blasting that song.”

I was able to solve this little problem, along with a few similar snafus, by sifting through the thick little flip-book that is the instruction manual. But sometimes there wasn’t exactly an intuitive way of figuring that out without manual diving. And some interactions take a bit to get the hang of.

Leaving the recorder running, for instance, takes two button presses—one tap of the red Record button, then a separate press of the Play button right next to it. On similar devices from other brands, you usually just tap the Record button once and it starts taping. These little idiosyncrasies are the price you pay for something like this. (Besides, you know, the actual price you pay for it.)

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Viewing the TP-7 from some kind of hoity-toity professional standpoint is perhaps a little disingenuous. Because the TP-7 is just a good time. It’s far more fun than you’d expect a recorder to be. After all, you’ll recall that the whole front disc spins while you’re recording, and the thing just feels great in your hand, with all its clicky-clacky buttons and smooth switches.

There’s also clever, well-thought-out functions that make recording more interesting. If you press the Play button a second time while playback is going, the disk will reverse its spin and play the audio backward. It’s a fun little option that could be great for music producers fiddling a sample or anyone checking their recordings for any secret satanic messages.

Also the ability to mix and match inputs and outputs with the plugs at the top offers a great deal of flexibility for combining with other audio gizmos. I paired the TP-7 with another of Teenage Engineering’s creations: the EP-133 K.O.2, a remarkably affordable (for Teenage Engineering) sampling device. By mixing and matching the input and output cables between the devices, I could record from the sampler into the TP-7, then manipulate the sound there and port it back over to the sampler, with the DJ scratch sounds fully intact.


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