Teenage Engineering OB-4 Is A Speaker, Radio & Tape Loop-Based Media Instrument

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Teenage Engineering’s media-instrument OB-4 is a combination of a high fidelity loudspeaker and a magic radio that is powered by a built-in looping tape.

When Teenage Engineering announces a new product, everyone thinks of a new OP-1 or even OP-2 Synthesizer groovebox. The Swedish developers are avowed designers who have also worked for IKEA. Mostly they preset products that were not the customer’s wishes. The new OB-4 is not a new OP-1 but at first look, it is reminiscent of an existing product from the Swedish furniture company. But, it’s more than just another Bluetooth speaker.

OB-4 is a portable high fidelity loudspeaker with two 4” bass drivers and a pair of neodymium tweeters that deliver crystal clear, open natural sound with 38 watts per channel. You can either use the OB-4 with the line input, Bluetooth, FM radio, and disk. According to the developer, the built-in endless looper tape turns the OB-4 into a magic radio. It memories everything you play and allows you to rewind, time-stretch, and loop at the flick of your fingertips. Like a loudspeaker with a built-in sampler/looper.

Teenage Engineering OB-4 Magic Radio

The idea is vintage in my opinion but modernized for the present day. In the past, cassette players had also integrated radios that you can record and playback what you have recorded at the touch of a finger. In this modernized version, it features a motorized user interface that you can grab with your fingers, spin, and interact with the sound. Teenage Engineering describes it as a digital-motion controlled volume knob and tape reel or the next level of user experience.

That’s not all. If you skip the traditional inputs like line-in, Bluetooth, and FM radio, you end up in the disk mode that is powered by different modes. This “public research space” features three different modes that will be expanded in the future. Onboard are ambient, karma & metronome.

  • ambient: zone out to a drone generated by snippets of a radio broadcast
  • metronome: high def stereo recording.1 beat per minute, up to 800.
  • karma: 30 in 1 musical mantra box.your spiritual companion.

teenage engineering OB-4

Built-In Battery

The OB-4 includes a battery with up to 72 hours of listening or 8 hours of noise at max volume or 40 hours on a single charge. It supports both high-definition Bluetooth classic and Bluetooth low energy standard. sync with ortho remote for wireless volume control. For the radio function, it includes a fine-tuned smart spiral antenna that neatly integrates in the handle.

Teenage Engineering says: 

Designed to be played outdoors, in public spaces and at high volume; carried on one shoulder with speaker elements facing the head. note: it is assumed that passers-by share the same musical taste. Or why not give it a home in your kitchen? With any luck, the iconic handle makes it a breeze to carry anywhere, and can even be used as a stand for a more relaxed listening position.
I have to honestly say I don’t know what to think of it. At first glance, it looks very stylish and beautiful. But at the same time, I think to myself, it’s maybe just a gimmick that you use the first days, and then it ends in the corner. Hard to say if its something we really need or not. Something is certain, the whole thing is not cheap.

Teenage Engineering OB-4 is available now for pre-order for 599€. The second batch ships in November.

More information here: TE 

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