Teenage Engineering’s new $300 groovebox has no business being this cute. That’s the whole point.
the EP–133 KOII (Let’s just call it Knock Out II) is a combination of drum machine, synthesizer and sampler. It’s a supersized upgrade to Teenage Engineer’s pint-sized PO-33 KOwhich offers many of the same features for a fraction of the price.
The vibe of Knock Out II is more obvious 1980s drum computer rather than modern Roland groovebox. Its buttons, knobs and sole fader appear almost too large for such a thin device. I’m not sure how it works, but that leaves me less tempted to spend the money.
Whether you consider Teenage Engineering’s audio gear to be overdesigned, overpriced or just right, I’m glad to VC-backed startup makes taboo things an emotional response. It’s refreshing to see a hardware company being weird about it; most seem overly concerned with chasing Apple down its minimalist rabbit hole.
It got weird All things Teenage Engineering. The Swedish company creates wireless speakers, grooveboxes and hypebeasty accessories for listeners and musicians. Their gadgets often feature Lego-like tactile buttons and knobs, with a design language that oozes distinct aesthetics – think: cassette futurism meets brutalism KB Toys.
Teenage Engineering has built a following with its extremely affordable (and in my experience, frustratingly weak) Pocket Operator sequencers, but in recent years the company has devoted more attention to higher functions. That left some of its fans priced out of the fun. Knock Out II’s price tag temptingly occupies the middle ground. It’s not a stocking stuffer, but neither is it two grand.
Mastering a drum machine and sequencer takes time, and Teenage Engineering’s products are often so feature-packed and unique that they have a learning curve. However, the design of the Knock Out II makes it approachable. It seems to beg – perhaps deceptively, if you don’t want to put in the hours – that “you can totally figure it out!” For now, I’ll try my best to suppress the gearhead’s siren song.