"It's just a good-looking toy": Is it worth buying a Teenage Engineering EP-133 KO II when you can do everything that it does (and more) on a free app?

Last week, Teenage Engineering unveiled the EP-133 KO II sampler, the successor to its ever-popular Pocket Operator line of affordable music-making devices.

As is invariably the case with a new Teenage Engineering product, social media has been abuzz with excitement surrounding the release and the sampler has now sold out in a number of stores. 

One person who doesn't share this excitement is YouTuber Playpm, who has shared a video showing you how to access the same functionality as the KO II (and more) through the use of a free app on your computer or smartphone: Koala Sampler.

In the video, embedded above, Playpm walks us through how Koala Sampler can be used to edit, manipulate and sequence samples, apply effects, and even mix finished tracks. "Sampling, chopping, resampling, time-stretching, sound design, sequencing, arranging, mixing, mastering: I can achieve everything with this free app on my laptop", he says. 

"The KO II is just a good-looking toy that makes you feel good while pressing the buttons. If you want to make music, you should make music," playpm continues. "Put your time and effort into improving and skills and levelling up your mindset. If you are good enough, you can make boring sounds sound interesting. If you are not, new gear won't save you. You'll just repeat yourself with another plastic toy."

Playpm makes a convincing argument. While its unique design and aesthetics are undeniably appealing, the KO II offers nothing in the way of music-making functionality that can't be achieved using free software, and far less than the capabilities of a modern DAW like Ableton Live or Bitwig Studio. 

That said, we feel that playpm might also be misunderstanding the reason that many people will purchase the KO II, or any hardware sampler or synthesizer, for that matter. For some of us, making music on a computer or smartphone is simply less enjoyable. There's something innately satisfying about the experience of making music by pushing buttons and turning knobs that software can't recreate. 

Whether that experience is worth spending hundreds of dollars to achieve is up to you. In the case of the $299 KO II, it may well be, but when it comes to pricier products like the OP-1 field, we're inclined to echo Playpm's argument that you're better off keeping your $1999 and treating your Gear Acquisition Syndrome with a healthy dose of common sense and free music software

Subscribe to Playpm on YouTube or support him on Patreon.

Matt Mullen
Tech Editor

I'm the Tech Editor for MusicRadar, working across everything from artist interviews to product news to tech tutorials. I love electronic music and I'm endlessly fascinated by the tools we use to make it. When I'm not behind my laptop keyboard, you'll find me behind a MIDI keyboard, carefully crafting the beginnings of another project that I'll ultimately abandon to the creative graveyard that is my overstuffed hard drive.

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