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!

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