The TP-7 field recorder was reviewed

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It’s fitting, then, that TE’s TP-7 Field recorder is the most beautiful tape recorder you’ll probably never hold.
Teenage Engineering is known for making eye-catching, feature-packed devices that delight the senses and drain the pocketbook.
You Spin Me Right Round The hallmark feature of the TP-7 is the spinning disk that occupies much of the front face of the recorder.
The TP-7 is part of Teenage Engineering’s Field family of audio gadgets, which are all geared toward portability and usage out in the wild.
The Field lineup also includes Teenage Engineering’s CM-15 microphone, TX-6 field mixer, and the legendary synthesizer OP-1 Field.
The TP-7 is the teensiest of the Field crew (so far)—roughly the size of a deck of cards and about twice as heavy.
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.
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.

NEUTRAL

Teenage Engineering, a Swedish company, has a knack for making technology that makes you sad you can’t own it. Examples of their stunning and iconic little devices include the OD-11 speaker, OP-1 synthesizer, lamp collaborations with IKEA, and a range of adaptable Pocket Operators.

Thus, it makes sense that the most exquisite tape recorder you will likely never hold is TE’s TP-7 Field recorder. The item was made available in 2023. At $1,499, it’s an expensive item that frequently runs out of stock due to high demand. Why is easily understood. Teenage Engineering is renowned for producing visually stunning, high-tech gadgets that overload the senses and break the bank. The TP-7 is not an exception.

But already, I can picture you, yelling the price so loudly that you seem to be able to hear it. You yell, “It’s $1,500.”. “Why is this necessary for me?”.

Actually, you don’t. Numerous audio devices that cost a quarter of what the TP-7 does can produce audio quality that is on par with or even better than the device’s built-in microphone. You can’t go wrong with something like the Zoom H4 ($169) if you’re searching for a workhorse for audio of professional quality. If you need something smaller, the Tula Mics UBS-C mic ($259) has a cute and well-sounding design.

However, the sheer flair of those gadgets is something you won’t get. Field recorders come in two flavors: Ferrari and TP-7. Anybody in the know will be jealous of this sleek, seductive, expensive little beast. The device is designed for individuals who appreciate smooth, rounded edges and polished aluminum frames, also known as gadget connoisseurs. This is a gadget for the sophisticated gearhead who prioritizes texture and knobfeel over standard features like usability and having enough cash on hand to cover rent this month.

The TP-7 is what I would use to document the ten additional commandments if God descended to Earth tomorrow.

You’re turning me around.

Spinning disk that takes up most of the recorder’s front face is the TP-7’s distinguishing feature. It is a captivatingly smooth throwback to the days of spinning tape recorders that revolves around and around while you record or play back. To alter the sound, you can scratch the disc like a DJ or place your finger on it to halt playback or recording.

The long, rectangular rocker bar on the side of the TP-7 is probably the next thing you’ll notice. This allows you to quickly go through recordings by acting as an instant fast forward/rewind button. Because the TP-7 records in 24-bit/96 kHz and has 128 GB of internal storage, you’ll be able to store a lot of those recordings. For expandable storage, there isn’t an SD card slot. The fact that many mainstream recorder brands allow you to use as many storage cards as you like makes this unfortunate.

Three 3 point 5 mm audio slots run along the top of the device; these are less noticeable, but they could be more significant for its intended use. Both mono and stereo recording and playback modes are selectable, and these can be used as input or output jacks. A headphone jack adapter to a standard 3.5-mm is included, and there is a 6.35-mm audio out jack on the bottom.

Though the TP-7 also has an internal microphone that can be used for impromptu recording, these inputs are the main ways to record. Even when the recorder is fully off, holding down the Memo button located in the upper right corner of the device instantly enters recording mode. While the audio quality isn’t quite as good as straight from a line-in source, it’s still useful for recording brief ideas or unexpected noises. It suffers in windy conditions because there isn’t room for a pop filter, and unless you hold the microphone very close to your mouth, it will pick up background noise.

An internal battery that lasts for roughly seven hours powers everything and can be recharged via USB-C.

The TP-7 is a member of Teenage Engineering’s Field line of portable audio devices, all designed to be used in outdoor environments. The venerable synthesizer OP-1 Field, the TX-6 field mixer, and Teenage Engineering’s CM-15 microphone round out the Field lineup. Every gadget is a work of art in and of itself, complete with features that allow you to record music and make beeping sounds while on the go. To optimize your chances of creating a sophisticated sound engineering synergy, they are made to plug and play together. The cost of assembling a full set of these bad boys is not cheap, as they retail for between $1,200 and $2,000 apiece.

As small as a deck of cards and twice as heavy, the TP-7 is the smallest member of the Field crew (so far). It can easily fit into a pants pocket because it is smaller than most wallets or smartphones. Although the recorder’s side rocker may occasionally catch on your jeans when you try to slide it in or out, the TP-7’s size otherwise makes carrying it nearly effortless.

With the companion app that comes with the TP-7, users can sync files and operate the recorder remotely over Bluetooth. Additionally, it provides free transcription services, which is amazing given that a service like Otter Pro transcription costs $10 a month.

Though not quite as good as what you would get from a service like Otter or Google’s transcript offerings, transcription is still nice. Additionally, since TP-Transcripts do not differentiate between distinct speakers, lengthy recordings will appear as one big block of text. If, however, you are determined to purchase one, consider this: Otter Pro only needs to be used for 12.5 years to recoup its $10 monthly cost because TP-7 transcription is free.

Sadly, Windows and Android users will have to make do without the app as it is only available for iOS. Because file transfer is so easy, it’s not a major loss. The TP-7 app is available for iOS, and a desktop Mac version is also available. You can simply turn off the recorder, plug in the USB cable to a computer, and manually transfer files between the devices if you’re not using an Apple device.

Live Reel.

The truth about the TP-7 is that I doubt I will ever purchase one. Here at WIRED, companies can submit review units for consideration. The TP-7 I’ve been using for this review is in this situation, and eventually they will have to pry it out of my hands like they would a Gollum ring. I’ll be sad when that’s over, but I can live without one for now.

Of course, one of the main contributing factors is the outrageous price, but it’s not the only one. Although it is a joy to hold and own, the TP-7 isn’t always the most useful recorder if you have regular audio needs that are somewhat professional.

Generally speaking, recorders are designed to blend in with the background, silently taking in sound without adding to it. Almost by necessity, they are a neutral, unassuming product type. A good shotgun mic will help you focus on the sound if you’re recording field audio, such as when you’re attempting to record the ideal loon call in the wild. The TP-7 produces excellent sound quality for audio recorded straight from a studio, but you can achieve the same results with some considerably less expensive, high-quality microphones.

In addition, the device can be challenging to use; some features require menu diving to access and may not feel immediately apparent. If you’re coming from another kind of recorder, there are a few quirks to work out.

Using a pair of headphones plugged into the output jack to monitor the sound, I attempted, for instance, to feed music from Spotify through the TP-7 in order to test the line-in features. When I first used the device, I was unaware that the audio was still automatically playing through the built-in speakers and the headphones. That is, until my girlfriend entered the room carrying a laptop and tapped me on the shoulder, announcing that she was going to be on the phone with her boss. Would you mind turning off that song? “.

Through some careful reading of the thick little flip-book that is the instruction manual, I was able to solve this little problem and a few others of a similar nature. However, sometimes there wasn’t quite a natural way to determine that without doing manual diving. It takes some time to get used to certain interactions as well.

One tap of the red Record button and another press of the Play button adjacent to it are required to leave the recorder running, for example. Generally, you only need to tap the Record button once to begin recording on comparable devices made by other companies. You pay for something like this with these small quirks. (Besides the actual cost that you incur when purchasing it. ).

All girls want is to have fun.

It would be a little dishonest to look at the TP-7 from a strictly professional perspective. Considering that the TP-7 is just enjoyable. You wouldn’t think a recorder would be this much fun. It’s worth noting that the entire front disc rotates during recording, and the device feels exceptionally well in the hand thanks to its smooth switches and clicky-clacky buttons.

Ingenious, well-planned features are another thing that add interest to recording. While playback is in progress, pressing the Play button a second time will cause the disk to spin backward, playing the audio backward. It’s a simple but entertaining option that might be useful for sample manipulation by music producers or for anyone listening to their recordings to look for hidden demonic messages.

Additionally, a great deal of flexibility for combining with other audio gadgets is provided by the ability to mix and match inputs and outputs using the plugs at the top. I combined the TP-7 with the EP-133 K, another design by Teenage Engineering. o. 2. A very cheap sampling device (for Teenage Engineering). With the DJ scratch sounds intact, I could record from the sampler into the TP-7, modify the sound there, and then transfer it back to the sampler by mixing and matching the input and output cables between the devices.

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