Much-loved Swedish tech company Teenage Engineering has once again proved itself as a design force to be reckoned with. The company’s latest: the OB-4, a “magic radio” capable of rewinding and remixing live radio thanks to a continuous recording function. It’s like a DVR for the radio — except much more beautiful.
The OB-4 is not the kind of smart speaker consumers have grown used to. It’s not auto-connecting to Spotify or turning your smart lights on via an AI assistant’s voice control function. Instead, it’s a device meant to sound top-notch, look fresh on your coffee table, and innovate all the while.
Radio magic — Besides looking incredible, the OB-4 is also packing super-innovative technology in its sleek housing. The radio’s flagship feature is a “magic trick” that allows listeners to pause and rewind live radio broadcasts.
The instant rewind trick works thanks to a continuous, rolling two-hour recording that’s always running while you listen. And the radio’s “smart antenna” and tailor-engineered speaker elements will keep the audio sounding great no matter where you’re listening.
Listen to everything else, too — The OB-4 markets itself as a hi-fi radio, but it also doubles as a premium Bluetooth speaker. It’s capable of grabbing traditional high-def Bluetooth signals or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) transmissions for longer listening on a single charge. The battery can play for 72 hours at a low volume — enough to listen every day without charging for a week.
Experimental audio — Teenage Engineering is also using the OB-4 as a playground for audio engineers and other designers. The radio comes with something called Disk Mode, which Teenage Engineering calls its “public research space.”
Right now there are three functions on the OB-4’s disk: ambient, metronome, and karma. Ambient is a droning sound generated by snippets of radio broadcast; metronome allows for high-definition stereo recording; and karma is a “mantra box” and “spiritual companion.”
Just look at it! — The OB-4 is a feat of modern design. It’s sleek without sacrificing the joy of fiddling with mechanical knobs and switches. Every detail is thoughtful: the carrying handle, for example, doubles as a radio stand.
Even the OB-4’s accessories are cool as hell. It’s the kind of device you’ll want to use every day — in plain sight.
The OB-4 is available in matte black for $599 and gloss red for $649. You can find them at the Museum of Modern Art’s Design Stores in New York City, the Tom Dixon store in London, and the Scandinavian Photo in Stockholm.