Is The Teenage Engineering OB-4 Magic Radio ‘The Future Of Synths’?

Is the Teenage Engineering OB-4 Magic Radio ‘the future of synths’?

According to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, the answer to this rhetorical question must be ‘No’. Nevertheless, that’s the question raised by synthesist Leo Mendez in his latest Synths with Leo video.

Mendez isn’t making the claim that the OB-4 is doing some futuristic sort of synthesist. Instead, he makes the case that the OB-4 has features that would be desirable on future synths.

Features like:

  • Wireless connectivity – why can’t your synth connect to your network to download updates, to broadcast audio or to backup your custom patches?
  • Automatic recording – what if your synth was always recording, and you could scrub through the last few hours at any time, select interesting bits and develop them further?
  • Tangible controls – the OB-4 features a tangible control for tasks like scrubbing through audio. Mendez makes the case the future synths should explore new types of motorized or animated controls to allow for different ways to interact with your synth.
  • Contextual sensing and display – the OB-4 also can sense and respond to how it is being used, displaying additional controls depending on how you position the device, or contextual to how you are using the device.

Check out the video and let us know what you think. Are there features that you’d like to see on future synths that companies aren’t implementing? Is it time for synth designers to experiment more with interfaces? Share your thoughts on what you’d like to see on future synths in the comments!

31 thoughts on “Is The Teenage Engineering OB-4 Magic Radio ‘The Future Of Synths’?

  1. A Granular sample synth! (Certainly not a subtractive or fm synth.)
    A Pocket Operator sized and prized one would be cool! (Becasue this one is expensive and a hefty brick.)

  2. Interesting thoughts, I agree with him. I love Ableton’s ability to capture what I’d been playing even if it wasn’t set to record, it’d be great if this was on synths, even the last 30 secs would be good.

  3. Totally agree.
    Should combine fm/shortwave radio receiver, multiple oscillators, granular sampler, recorder-looper, with capacitive touch sensors – please.

  4. I like that TE is somewhat innovative but their hardware is so cheaply built. Babysitting my OPz became very annoying that I sold it.

  5. Very much do NOT want my synth to download updates on its own!
    As for the other features: a synth should not behave like a computer. A synth is closer to a cello than to a computer in predictability, longevity and reliability.

  6. I’m not interested in teenage engineering at all because their aditude (pricing). Clickbate imo…
    Paying more than normal because ‘we are from scandinavia’ is bs!

  7. The OP-Z also has a recording buffer that is active all the time (the tape track), when you stop it will freeze the last ~5 seconds of audio. I think is a clever implementation that didn’t received much attention, but interestingly the new sp 404 has a similar feature that is also recording a buffer all the time and people that has used it seem to like it a lot because the way you can use it. I think this will become a feature that we will see more often in samplers/synths. Would also love to see more of those smart screens, just imagine if the OP-Z had that, it would definitively be more popular (and probably more expensive)

  8. This seems more like an ad for today than anything for tomorrow, maybe except high quality trolling. With their QC I would be surprised if these even exist in a couple of years.

      1. Thanks Will for checking the video, I’m always try to move away from the clickbait stuff but using the “OB-4 is NOT the future of synths” could be even more a clickbait. Cheers

  9. “Welcome to Bad Gear, the show about the world’s most hated audio tools. Today we are going to talk about the Teenage Engineering OB-4 Magic Radio.”

    I can even picture the Youtube thumbnail with dude dressed like a magician.

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