Teenage Engineering’s $1,499 Field Recorder Is Bringing Back the Click Wheel

Teenage Engineering’s days of churning out $50 electronic musical toys seem far behind it, but it’s hard to lament the company’s focus shift when it’s creating hardware like its new TP-7 Field Recorder, which features a spinning wheel that can be used to start, stop, and skip through recordings by simply touching it.

For those who can remember back to the iPhone days, the TE TP-7 Field Recorder is reminiscent of the original iPod model, which featured an interface centered around a wheel on the face that could be spun with a finger to navigate menus, skip through a track, or adjust the playback volume.

A hand holding the Teenage Engineering TP-7 Field Recorder with the thumb holding its memo record button.

The Click Wheel was eventually replaced with a circular touchpad that didn’t move, but Teenage Engineering has seemingly drawn inspiration from Apple’s original iP0d design by giving the TP-7 its own spinning disc on the front that simulates the tape reels used on audio devices decades ago. Unlike the iPod, however, the disc on the TP-7 is motorized, and spins as an obvious indicator that the device is recording sound. But it features sensors as well, and like a piece of vinyl on a record player, the disc can be manually spun as a way to control playback of recordings. You can even pause recordings by just temporarily stopping the disc from spinning, which seems like an intuitive way to use the device. In other words, it’s not just there for eye candy.

A close-up of the rocker switch on the side of the Teenage Engineering TP-7 Field Recorder used for scrubbing through recordings.

But the TP-7’s disc isn’t the only way to use the device. It’s got physical record, play, and stop buttons, buttons for volume control, and a dedicated button on the side for quickly recording voice memos. Opposite that is a unique rocker switch that can be used as an alternate way to adjust the playback speed of a recording, or rewind it. And yes, the disc will spin faster in either direction while the rocker is pressed.

The Teenage Engineering TP-7 Field Recorder next to an iPhone and an app with a transcribed recording on screen.

The intuitive playback controls will make it easier for those who need to transcribe a recording, but Teenage Engineering has an even better solution for that. When connected to an iPhone with a USB cable or wirelessly through Bluetooth, an accompanying iOS app will automatically turn voice recordings into editable text, and the app can even be used as a remote for the TP-7 itself. Sorry, Android users–the recorder only supports iOS, macOS, and Windows.

Three stereo two-way jacks can be used for connecting input or output accessories including microphones, headphones, speakers, or for connecting the TP-7 to other Teenage Engineering gear, like its $1,200 TX-6 compact mixer. It comes with 128GB of storage and a rechargeable battery good for about seven hours of recording or playback. Teenage Engineering hasn’t set a specific release date just yet, just a promise of availability sometime this Summer, with a $1,499 price tag.