This year, Swedish electronics manufacturer Teenage Engineering launched two new devices: a microphone, the CM-15and a digital recorder, the TP-7. If you buy them together, they will cost you almost $3,000. For many, it seems absurd to pay so much for products with functions integrated into the iPhone, but they are part of a radical mission. Teenage Engineering hasn’t given up on the idea that our gadgets should be cool, and if you can afford it, their products will take you back to the era when buying new electronics seemed experimental and fun. I’ve spent the last few weeks playing with Teenage Engineering’s latest recording gear and I haven’t had this much fun with the devices in years.
The microphone and recorder complete the Teenage Engineer’s Field series, a group of four products that also includes the TX-6 mixing console and a follow-up to the company’s iconic synthesizer, the Field OP-1. Each is a compact portable device that works on its own, but they are designed to function as a set of interoperable tools that give you almost professional-grade capabilities when you’re on the go.
Teenage Engineering’s TP-7 is the Ferrari of recorders
These are jealousy-inducing products, and after a few weeks with them, I can tell you that they are just as fun to use as they are to look at. Here is our review of the CM-15 field microphone and TP-7 field recorder.
The TP-7 field recorder is as simple or multifunctional as you need it to be.
The first thing you’ll notice about Teenage Engineering’s $1,499 audio recorder is the wheel. He TP-7 It is modeled after a reel-to-reel tape recorder. It is built around a motorized physical disk that rotates while recording or playing sound. Watch the video above to see it in action. It’s like an old-school iPod, but much, much cooler. You can use the wheel to scroll through recordings, pause while capturing audio, or move through device menus. In a world where everything is a touch screen, using it is undeniably satisfying.
The TP-7 has a microphone, a speaker, three 3.5mm jacks that work for both input and output, and a USB-C port for charging the device, transferring files, or connecting external microphones (including the CM-15 ). It has a brushed steel case that will remind you of Apple products, but the orange leather you’ll find on the back of the device gives it a more premium aesthetic than anything you can get from Cupertino. The TP-7 maintains the analog theme of its spinning wheel with mechanical buttons and a physical rocker on the side; Hold down the paddles and you’ll fast-forward or rewind, spinning the wheel in real time. Every detail is well considered; Even the 1/4-inch headphone adapter that comes with it is great.
I have used many small audio recorders over the years and the sound quality you get from the TP-7. I put it in the middle of a small studio with a full band playing at blazing volume. I listened to it on the way home and could hear the isolated nuances of each individual instrument. Even when you’re just using the TP-7’s small built-in microphone, its recording capabilities are impressive.
As satisfying as the TP-7 is for music, it’s designed with conversations in mind. Basically, it’s a fancy dictaphone. The TP-7 comes with an iPhone app that transcribes spoken word recordings for free. I do a lot of interviews for work, so I tried using it as my main recording device. You can pull it out of a pocket and take a voice note with the press of a button, but I’ve also used it for more complicated recording setups. It works as your own mobile podcasting platform because you can record up to four audio sources at the same time. You can even do overdubs and set levels for individual tracks. At any given time, the TP-7 is as simple or multifunctional as you need it to be.
My only complaint is that transferring files is a little more complicated than it should be. When you plug it into a computer, you expect it to function like a hard drive, allowing you to easily drag and drop files. It does, but you have to download software to make it work, which is a bit annoying. On the other hand, moving files via Bluetooth with your iPhone is relatively simple.
Do you need a $1,499 recorder? Of course not. I have a small Sony audio recorder that I bought ten years ago for $50 and it works great. On the other hand, you don’t need a Ferrari to go to work every day, but it sure would be nice. The TP-7 feels great in the hand, is usable, and sounds amazing. It’s also a great party trick. I can’t express how much fun I had showing it to my friends. If you’re the type of person who can justify its price, the TP-7 will almost certainly bring joy to your life. It is available for pre-order, but the company has not announced when the TP-7 is expected to ship.
The Campo CM-15 made me sound like an angel.
I’m a nerd with audio equipment. I’ve been a musician since I was a child and have spent a lot of time podcasting in my professional life. As much as I like recording equipment, I generally don’t think of a microphone as a fun product. He CM-15 changed that.
The CM-15 packs almost every feature you could want in a microphone into a beautiful little box. It is a condenser microphone, which means it needs an external power source to amplify the signal before recording it, known as “phantom power.” Typically this is obtained from the recording interface, but the CM-15 also has built-in phantom power thanks to a 10-hour rechargeable battery. That makes it even more useful for recording on the go.
You also have several options for sending sound from the microphone. Connects via a mini-XLR, USB-C or 3.5mm connector. You’re just as happy working with a mixing console, a portable recorder like the TP-7, or plugging it into your phone or computer. I’ve been using it on video calls and they tell me I sound like an angel. It even has a little built-in stand so you can prop it up on a desk, but it comes with an adapter for a microphone stand if you want to get serious. It also has a switch on the back for three different gain stages, which is great for quick adjustments.
Like the TP-7 and all the other Teenage Engineering products I’ve tried, the CM-15 sounds fantastic. I experimented with several different recording tasks. I compared it to a couple of other microphones, including a ShureSM57to Shure SM7band a Audio Technique AT4050 — for a variety of different tasks, from recording guitar to capturing vocals in a studio for a podcast. At all times it sounded better or offered an attractive alternative.
Once again, CM-15 left me searching for something negative to say. The only flaw I could think of was that it didn’t work out of the box with older iPhones, but with an iPhone 14 or 15, the microphone was plug-and-play. Even then, the CM-15 is not marketed as a microphone for your cell phone, so it’s not a criticism.
The only real complaint is the price: $1,200. That’s a lot of money for a microphone, even one that sounds great. For that money, you could buy a great studio-grade microphone and still have plenty of money left over to buy a dedicated microphone for your Zoom calls. That doesn’t take away my painful desire to buy one.
The bottom line
The moment I got my hands on the TP-7 and CM-15, I was delighted. After weeks of incorporating them into my daily routine, that initial impression remained. They are almost perfect. I have more serious audio equipment, but time and time again I found myself reaching for these little gadgets.
The other day I was talking to a friend about the TP-7 and he said, “I’d like to be among the target audience for these things.” The prices mean they are reserved for a very specific subset of consumers with a lot of disposable income. On the surface, the costs are unjustifiable. There are less expensive products with more complete feature sets that work just as well. But with these devices you’re not just paying for a microphone or a recorder, you’re shelling out for a premium experience and, to some extent, you’re buying a lifestyle. On that front, the TP-7 and CM-15 deliver. These devices aren’t for everyone, but if they are for you, you’ll probably love them.