So, about that “magical” new Teenage Engineering product, then. Yes, about that. It turns out that, far from being the new synth or drum machine that some were predicting, it’s actually, um, a $/£599 radio.
Of course, this being a TE product, the OB-4 isn’t just a radio. It’s a magic radio. One that features two four-inch bass drivers and a pair of neodymium tweeters that promise crystal clear stereo sound and 38 watts per channel. As well as the FM tuner, you also have a line input and Bluetooth connectivity.
So far, so not all that magical, but there is a little more to it than that. The OB-4 also records everything you’re listening to - up to two hours, after which the recording starts again. You can rewind, timestretch and loop the audio as you wish. You’re aided here by the motorised controls, which enable you to “use your fingers to grab, spin and interact with the sound”.
Then there’s Disk mode, which Teenage Engineering describes as its “public research space”. This will be used to explore and prototype new features, turning the OB-4 into a “media instrument”.
Right now, it appears that you can choose from three options. Ambient plays a drone generated by snippets of a radio broadcast; Metronome promises high-definition stereo recording (to a click, we presume); and Karma is a 30 in 1 “musical mantra box” that’s described as your spiritual companion. We’re not making this up.
Other billed highlights include lengthy battery life (an average of 40 hours on a single charge, and up to 72 hours of FM listening at ‘normal’ volume), a smart antenna and a handle that doubles as a stand.
The OB-4 certainly has some kind of ‘wow’ factor, then, though not, perhaps, the one that some might have been hoping for.
The price - $/£599 for the matte black edition or $/£649 for the gloss red one - is certainly going to be a talking point, as is the fact that the companion leather bag retails for a further £400.
For better or worse, though, this is a product that could only have come from one company: find out more on the Teenage Engineering website.