What's up with Teenage Engineering ? 🤔

Teenage Engineering is the perfect company to focus on in regards to GAS and this new wave of flashy toy like instruments in the synth / gear industry - most particularly in the ONLINE synth community.

Especially considering that one of the latest projects they were involved with, the Rabbit R1 pretty much turned out to be a scam!

:thinking:

These are some of the topics of my latest video:

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it’s the DESIGN only.

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there is a grain of truth to this sentiment for sure, but imo its not a whole heck of a lot more than a grain (or 2). its easy to say this “only design” (or it’s only “fill in the blank”) but its just never that simple. they are a very very small company of passionate hard working people. their hobby and passion is also their job. so you have a few dozen people who’s entire life is this stuff. their designs are incredible but its not only the design. they worked in a garage for years on the op1 og alone for christ sake. i love music and i love tech but id never do that. no company no matter how large has been able to reproduce the functionality of the op1 (for example). that says a lot when there are companies an order of magnitude bigger than te in every relevant metric.

my only gripe, and really its the only gripe is im disappointed in their quality control in manufacturing, and that is it. if their manufacturing was on par with yamaha or apple for example, there’d be no issue imo. over the years as their customer, with a simple email to their support, they’ve replaced, free of charge, 3 op1f, 1 opz, 3 tp7. does it suck that i got faulty products this many times in a row. for sure. it was frustrating very much. but they made it right even if they had to swallow the cost of multiple (and expensive) replacement units.

i really hope they can sort out their manufacturing and quality control. i have no idea what that would entail but id imagine they too would like to sort it out too so they dont have to send me a few more free op1f. its costing them a ton.

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one quick thing i wanted to add was as customers, we all need to be patient and take advantage of the warranty policy. if any of the products you receive are not in perfect working condition and within warranty (1yr) then reach out to support and get a replacement. it stinks to be without gear for a couple of weeks, but this is an important feedback mechanism. and then after a few short weeks you get rewarded for your patience with a new unit.

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regarding Rabbit R1.

of course, highly talented and inspiring company and iam a long time op-1 user, everything about the OP-1 is still far ahead in terms of quickly capture YOUR sound and I think even if it’s limited by some mechanics inside their OS nearly every outcome is highly personal and therefore different from operator to operator. that’s a huge feature because it’ll lead you to better results to know yourself more intensive, think about things and put em to tape, basically listening to your inner circuit.

somehow iam with the lucky ones and I think that’s the case with a lot of their customers but regarding a quote on failure, some have to consider the pioneering engineering behind all of their products, everything they do is unique in material, form factor , haptic, economic and inclusivity.
I’ve learned with TE that we’re a big part of that and I do stay in contact on a near regular basis which lead me to order anything I need from TE directly and I really appreciate that I can ask but also inform about things that I’ve experienced…

never ever have they been mean or ignorant and most people should know that if you’re raging within their support team you’ll likely be the customer with the lowest priority on their list of things to work thru.

things they do are like never before manufactured items and that’s the Spirit Club.

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Haven’t watched the video yet, but over the years they’ve done design collaborations with many companies. Absolut Vodka was the first, I think. Rabbit R1 is more in line with what they did with the absolutely awesome Playdate handheld retro game console. I really want one of those… but I don’t need it.

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What is up with their QC as Chris said? That’s my problem. I don’t own many synths because I’m not into electronic music production. I own 5; korg volca drum machine, Roland s1 synthesizer, TE op-z , Te op1 field and TE ep 133 ko2

The op-z and ko-2 quality is not near field level ; In fact nothing else other there is like field level really.

With that said TE has enough money to fix their QA in production and make things better if they want to

Clearly they have the will, means, and ability - question is do they have the drive or desire?

Aside from that the two best pieces of hardware I’ll ever own are the. Op/ 1 field and opz - and they’re priced fairly accurately

Just need QC

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its a tough question. with their low levels of unit manufacturing, im sure its a lot harder to toss and redo units like yamaha or apple. they work in such low quantities that have to pay a lot more per unit of material. not to mention the custom parts which are even more problematic. i have a feeling that if it were just a matter of spending money they’d fix it. my guess is its a complex issue that requires some clever multimodal solutions that are still being discussed. ive heard in random interviews some of the founders briefly, almost accidentally, express lament and frustration while saying something like “ugh i hate manufacturing” or something so it seems like its a recognized pain point for them

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TE offers 2 years warranty. They recently replaced my TX-6 after 20 months.
I totally agree with you on the quality control.
Right now I am getting my CM-15 replaced.
Customer service is super friendly, supportive (and a bit slow).
But I would prefer if I didn’t have to make use of it that often.
Haven’t had that much contact with the customer service of any other music gear manufacturer.
But I do enjoy their products a LOT, their playfulness mixed with mostly stunning aesthetics is something that speaks to me (as it does to many of you, I guess).
If they get quality control right and continue to support their gear with firmware updates, I think TE is a force to be reckoned with and I for one can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

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Rabbit and the manufacturing stuff are two different issues that I have nothing but unsexy answers for.

Rabbit:
If I’m a tiny design house and some guy with ludicrous amounts of VC backing wants to pull up a dump truck full of money to my patio, I’ll absolutely do the UX and industrial design. Rent still has to get paid.

Manufacturing issues:
Not to excuse it, but to explain it a little bit. You see these kinds of issues from smaller houses that have to use contract manufacturing without dedicated assembly lines. If you’re going to put out 1,000 units, the line only gets stood up for a batch then torn back down. It means your tools won’t be in exactly the same place twice, and your assemblers may not develop a deep understanding of how the product is supposed to go together. That’s very different from a line that you’re going to pump 100k or more out of; for example, iPhones and Kindles have dedicated lines and staff at Foxconn which really helps dialing in the quality.

I’m in an unrelated industry and we just stood up the (in-house) assembly line for a 5-10k unit run. We’ve got a strong manufacturing history and deeply understand how to put these types of products together. We “soft launched” the line with 100 or so units to train our people and work out the kinks, but I expect that batch to have some irregularities down the line as our people familiarize themselves with the product. I don’t want to think about if I had to move that line to another country and stand it up remotely.

Now, what TE’s feedback loop looks like for detecting defects that escape the factories and how they resolve the issues— or whether the line is still running by the time they detect those defects— I couldn’t tell you.

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Honestly, my only complaint about TE is software. They have proven they can make beautiful objects. But can they make beautiful software? They’ve had to pull recent updates only to repost them later. Sure, it can be argued they’ve made incremental improvements over the last 10 years, but have any been truly significant?

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Another issue contributing to quality issues with their manufacturing is the heavy focus on custom parts. TE uses custom encoders, buttons, faders, jack sockets, etc. While they do test their parts to best ability, I still think it makes a big difference in reliability.

What they get out of custom parts is a unique look and feel to the products though.

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I think firmware upgrades to the op-z have been great and op-1 was upgraded for a decade.

But yeah if I think about the op-z app or drum utility they are missed opportunities to make using the device better. The op-z app could do so much more!

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I think they aren’t into developing what I’d consider their second best product. It’s too bad but I hope they reconsider the op-z. I think it’s the best and most underrated piece of gear in the electronic music world

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I might not be up to date on modern sensibilities, but last time I checked “we want to make money” was not a valid justification for participating in a scam.

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A ux or industrial designer likely doesn’t know that the projects they work on are scams.

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Sheesh, if anything Teenage will always be a hot, link baity topic to voice strong, uneducated opinions about.

As a company, you are lucky to have a camp of people who strongly oppose your products, ideas, collabs and pricing. Especially if that opinion is “they aint as perfect as they seem!”. Means the perception of the myth is strong.

Lets discuss their collab on another AI assistant project from China, which they did prior to R1. That’s even worse innit?! Helping the enemy of the free world make great looking AI products?

There has been many, so many times that TE QC has fallen up short. Small, almost ‘boutique’ production runs should feedback any glitches before main production.

Or…you know what multiple problems your product has and…do fuck all. Hello OP-Z.
I could highlight any number of TE products but for me I find the op-z their most egregious crime.

Five years on and nothing has changed. Same product, same materials, same problems, same profit. Has your TV remote control or PS controller ever warped into a state to cause double triggering? This is not some £50 controller. £500. But hey, life’s ok, and £500 for a fcking shonky cheap slap of nothing seems fine. Keep on selling it dudes. Keep on taking kids hard earned cash without ever fixing or addressing production problems.

So beyond a joke, almost untrue.

TE is floating on an ego based purely from aesthetics and not performance, as clinical as that sounds. Products framed to look cool within instagram light. Cheaply manufactured products not worthy of the light. I appreciate innovation, I just hate manipulative, calculating cynical cunts flogging sub-par products at millionaire prices.

And those expensive treats are almost always faulty.
(check out trustpilot/any consumer TE product review.)

Let’s stop this cultish worship over TE.
Innovation is one thing,

But everyone dreams.

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I’m seeing a lot of issues with the field series - not the op1F mind you - but the cm15, ob4 and tp7 so with the ending of the op-z, that really leaves me to conclude this:

The boutique status they seek will only be kept alive through their field which they said won’t be expanded

However they are seeking a new audience and platform with the screen less KO II and its subsequent EP series i surmise . With the reaction they got I bet it was a litmus test to see and gauge reactions and sales, and they now see $299-499 , more likely 399-499 will be their future target price range and that’ll be seen with the ep series - someone said maybe an ep synth . Maybe ep Fx ?

But their QC and their new pivots make me think they are looking a younger, less affluent group , and while they produce and maintain the static line - the most we’ll see are upgrade to firmware rather than new files products

It’ll be cheap to replace or repair ep series stuff too

Just a guess

Brilliant company, their devices design have a flow and sound like its nobody’s business…

The PO could have been way more applicable as live and studio tools per the usual hardware subspecialty…

but as getting portable super groove units that you RECORD \ SAMPLE … you’d be hard pressed to find something comparable in size

OPZ … amazing concept and sequencer, be hard pressed to find this much power and flow in you shirt pocket … too bad the built quality wasn’t durable

OP1 has proven itself to be a classick

Singing spooky dolls that you can set up close to the dinner table while inviting friend’s over … and triggering them to sing at full volume when your least favorite cousin is drinking a full glass of red wine in his sprinkling clean white shirt … priceless…

Brilliant team/ company… creative and unique :sparkling_heart::fire::clinking_glasses:
:v:
:sunglasses::sparkles:

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