In case you didn’t guess this was coming when they unveiled a field mic, Teenage Engineering has now added a portable field recorder to their Field System. And it’s yours if you’ve got €1499 burning a hole in your pocket.
At least these premium prices are freeing up the Teenagers to create genuinely innovative design. They do that at a small, niche scale, which is something – compare the new foldable Google phone in the same price bracket. This seems less likely to become quickly outdated in the way a smartphone now does. So in contrast to those equally pricey mass-market devices, at least here there’s something refreshingly new.
Notably, what they’ve done on this design is to bring back physical controls. You can jog a motorized ball-bearing “tape reel.” It spins while the device is playing, just as an old reel-to-reel would, and doubles as an input device for scrubbing, pausing, and navigation. It’s essentially the iPod wheel back and more tactile. There’s also a mechanical rocker for additional scrub control, plus tape-style push buttons for transport, volume, and so on, and an LED display.
A lot of the functionality here is via app – which also offers push-button transcription. (It’s odd, given how good machine learning-powered transcription is now, that mainstream vendors haven’t offered that.)
Other than that, this is a fairly conventional – if high-end – device. There’s an internal mic plus jacks for connecting inputs, which you could use to connect to the rest of their Field System:
- 3x stereo two-way jack input/ output/headset connectors
- 1x stereo headphones connector with 3.5 to 6.35 mm jack adapter
- internal microphone and speaker
- 128 GB internal storage
- 24-bit/96 kHz usb audio interface
- bluetooth low energy
- rechargeable battery
- 7 hr battery life
- 64×32 pixel monochrome display
The ad copy begins with this oddly pretentious idea: “there are thoughts, ideas and fragments that – for the sake of humanity -we need to record and be able to return to as a reference, as a seed for new thoughts or just to remember another time.”
Uh, yeah, I guess that’s what recorders do. Then again, they could do worse – RCA kicked off the technology by suggesting you could remind a dog of his dead owner.
I’m still guessing this will appeal the least to music folks looking at the range – in contrast to the more multi-function TX-6 or even the potential of the new field mic, it’s just hard to imagine spending this much on a recorder. (That is not in any way to condone the UI/UX of the inexpensive recorders, which is, in a word, trash.) If you’re just transcribing an interview, instead of using this and a smartphone, you could… just use the smartphone, obviously.
But come on – you do want to play with one at least for a few minutes, right? That design…
Maybe we all need some great Swedish day job and then we can play with the Field System on our evenings and weekends, which I think in Sweden are reasonably generous, no?
Just be careful: while working out that you don’t need this, you could go down a rabbit hole and wind up buying a vintage Nagra or something.