Teenage Engineering, renowned for crafting ingenious devices like the Playdate and Nothing Phone, is unveiling its latest marvel: the EP-133 KO II synthesizer, affectionately dubbed the KO II.
You might be familiar with the Pocket Operator, those nifty $59 synthesizers that revolutionized portable music creation back in 2015. Well, the KO II steps into the limelight as a refined, upscale version of its predecessor. Priced at $299, it's not an impulse buy, but David Eriksson, co-founder and hardware lead at Teenage Engineering, assures it's not just for the pros. Positioned between the Pocket Operators and the iconic $1,400 OP-1, this device promises a harmonious blend of fun and functionality.
Interestingly, the KO II's genesis wasn't a meticulously planned roadmap but a necessity born out of the chip crisis during the pandemic. "It was sort of an insurance project," Eriksson explains. With supply chains constrained, the team ingeniously navigated shortages by securing a year's worth of available parts before finalizing the design. Setting up a production line in Barcelona ensured control over the entire process.
The initial intent? A larger Pocket Operator within the $300 range. And guess what? They succeeded! The KO II stands tall as a sleek panel adorned with buttons, knobs, and connectors, topped with a compact screen. Its clicky, force-sensitive keys, reminiscent of an accountant's calculator, offer a unique tactile experience.
With 64MB of memory, the KO II strikes a balance—enough for music storage without overwhelming the user. Eriksson believes in limitations as a catalyst for finishing songs rather than procrastination. Loaded with 999 slots for samples, an internal microphone, and pre-recorded sounds, this synthesizer invites experimentation and creation on the go.
Connectivity-wise, the KO II is a powerhouse. USB-C or AAA batteries keep it going, while MIDI compatibility and versatile jacks make it adaptable to various setups.
Beyond its predecessor's capabilities, the KO II aims to craft complete songs. Still, it doesn't exclude newcomers. Designed with a user-friendly approach, the manual caters to novices, simplifying complex concepts.
For a company often associated with luxury products and professional exclusivity, the KO II marks a departure—a beckoning call to all music enthusiasts, promising stellar beats and accessible innovation.