The synthesizer assistants at Swedish electronics manufacturer Teenage Engineering have just unveiled their most confusing and intriguing product to date: a rewindable radio and speaker system called the OB-4. Available now for $ 599 in black or red, the device is as sleek and well-designed as the company's standard synth products, but it has a ton of interesting technology under the hood.
The main feature of the OB-4 is the manual rewind wheel combined with a built-in motor that, according to the company, allows you to roll back to anything you've heard in the past two hours – whether it was live radio, a Spotify playlist that plays over Bluetooth, or even an attached instrument, like one of Teenage Engineering's synthesizers. From there, you can play back what you've heard or play around with the audio itself by stretching and looping it in time.
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“Have you ever wished you could instantly rewind while listening to the radio to hear the title of the song you were playing? OB-4 continuously saves everything you hear on an endless loop tape, ”the company writes on the OB-4 product page. “Rewind, stretch and grind at the push of a button. intentionally or accidentally. Instantly rewinding on the radio is just one of the OB-4's magic tricks. "
What could you actually do with it? It's not entirely clear right now. The company only has a short teaser video with the OB-4 and does not include real-time demonstrations of the rewind technology.
However, it's not hard to think of some pretty interesting use cases, such as: For example, you can take a sample from an FM radio cast and incorporate it into a mix that you put together on a Teenage Engineering OP-1 synthesizer. The company says the device supports the latest Bluetooth standards, so the OB-4 can later connect wirelessly to its newer OP-Z synthesizer as well. There is also an add-on called "Disk Mode" which, according to Teenage Engineering, includes various experimental features, starting with an ambient player and a metronome.
"If you skip the conventional inputs such as Line-In, Bluetooth and FM radio, you get into hard disk mode," says the product page. “Here we will continuously develop new experimental functions for the OB-4. It is our public research space in which we allow ourselves to research and prototype everything that this media instrument, as we call it, can become. "
Image: youth technology
In addition, it is clear that Teenage Engineering sees part of the function of the device as a very good looking but expensive Bluetooth speaker. The company says it allows you to just relax and listen to the radio or your favorite music. It also has a carry handle that you can use to take it to a friend or a park hangout. The handle can also be used as a stand when properly folded so you can prop it up for better access to the physical buttons and dials. It has an average battery life of 40 hours of listening on a single charge, and for those interested, a detailed breakdown of the actual speaker specifications can be found on the product page.
It will be interesting to see more of what this device can do when it's in the hands of the crowd of producers and music lovers who can really create magic using Teenage Engineering synthesizers and similar devices. For now, however, it's still a really well-designed radio, if not the most expensive that you've ever seen.