Sonic LAB: Teenage Engineering Knockout II

US Sampler Composer      03/06/24

The new KOII from Teenage Engineering bucks the trend when it comes to price point - the original range of Pocket Operators were low cost this one takes the concept and adds some more of that Teenage design magic. And their OP-1 Field, TX-6 and TP-7 are priced way out of most people's league, this is what one would consider to be affordable.

The KOII is a 64mb sampler Composer and features 48 tracks of sequencing with up to 12 voices of polyphony. It looks like a 1990's calculator but its got a lot going on.

With four groups (ABCD) of 12 pads, each pad can play a sample as a single hit or via the keyboard for pitched lines. You can also use a pad or track to record and playback MIDI (note, velocity, pitch bend, aftertouch and CC)

Samples can be manipulated with some simple parameters, pitch, attack/release, rudimentary time stretch, amplitude and panning. You can also use stereo samples -though this will eat two voices and the limit is 20seconds in length.

There's a decent single global effect (Delay, Reverb, Chorus, Distortion and Compression) which you can send on a per group basis using the fader - this fader can also be used to record automation for various parameters - LPF, HPF, Decay, Pitch etc again per group.

Add to that you have insert FX which are global and effect everything - designed for real-time sound mangling and performance most are controlled in some way by pressure on the 12 pads - yes they have pressure too - this can also be mapped to a repeat function in the style of the MPC repeat.

Memory is organized into 9 Projects - each pad group has up to 99 patterns A01-99, B01-99 etc. And each pattern can be up to 99 bars long - and can record free or quantized. Then there are 99 scene memories - this stores the pattern assignment for each group.

In practice one would create a groove in Scene01 - say drums in grp A, bass in B other sounds in C or D

say these are all A01, B01, C01, D01. Then when you are happy commit the scene, and Scene01 is created (no pause in playback) Patterns are duplicated to 02 slot on each group and you could then add or subtract parts to create another variation or section.

Scenes are not chain able so you will need to perform any song structures you want to create, but its an elegant and friction less creative workflow - I really enjoyed it and I have a low tolerance for obscure operation.

The output section alsoe gives drive and compression giving a real glue ti the sound. The KOII sounds great by the way, plenty of weight and nice snappy transients.

I'll be honest, I really like this unit and feel that its a great creative tool. There are limitations - no song mode, some parameters would be nice to automate but are not accessible (delay time for instance) and the memory state is live - so whatever you do is written into memory, there's no revert aside from basic Undo.

The good news is that TE have released a beta version of the Web Memory tool which allows you to not only drop samples into the unit, but also to backup all the memory.

As a drum machine and very capable MIDI sequencer its hard to beat, its fun to use and aids creativity. Nice work Teenagers.

Price $299/Euros available now.

Teenage Engineering Social

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