One of Teaboy's best features lets you document outboard gear via slick renditions with movable knobs, buttons and switches.
Session documentation and recall are crucial in any competitive audio production environment; this is true now more than ever thanks to the decentralized and fragmented nature of modern recording and mixing operations, which are still evolving. Designed to ease the process, the Teaboy recall software can help organize session data in ways that a console and/or DAW can't.
It's Easy Being Green
In the past, a paper-based approach and a good filing/storage system have kept session details in order. This is not only wasteful, but also potentially catastrophic if documentation is lost or compromised as it moves around. Using the Teaboy software interface, you can document general session data such as artist, producer, and technical and contact info — but that's just the beginning. There are also pages for documenting a patchbay, console setup, channel labels and outboard gear.
The Outboard gear page is Teaboy's best feature, offering color renditions of hardware with movable knobs, buttons and switches, or you can choose to look at mechanical drawings with the same abilities. There are currently more than 800 pieces of gear in its library, including obscure vintage gear, new models and even guitar amps and stomp boxes. You can then store your session data locally, export it as a PDF or upload it onto Teaboy's server for later retrieval.
I found Teaboy intuitive and well-thought-out, but I did have some problems with the interface. For instance, the double finger-scroll on an Apple laptop doesn't work on the Gear page, nor does Teaboy provide scroll bars for zoomed-in gear that runs off the page. Also, the software was sometimes clunky; e.g., tabbing doesn't get you to the next field on some pages, making for slower data entry. These bugs and missing features are somewhat annoying, yet the software lets you quit out of the program without first bringing up a Save dialog; according to the manufacturer, this is a Java issue that is being worked on and applies only to Mac use.
Teaboy needs an Internet connection to set up and save your session. This is potentially a problem when trying to move a laptop around a room without wireless capability. One workaround is to open a session online, export it, then go offline and work with the exported session, returning online later to save. However, you can't close the software offline and must return within 24 hours or you'll lose your data.
For a free trial membership, Teaboy lets you create a song, enter documentation and load gear. There's no limit to the amount of gear allowed, but saving, printing and exporting are not supported. The Standard Membership allows you to store 10 songs in the online database (with a maximum of 10 pieces of gear for online storage) and import/export and PDF printing for an unlimited number of songs stored locally ($9.99 a month or $40 for six months). Pro Membership steps it up with unlimited song storage in a secure online database, unlimited local storage of import/exported songs, unlimited gear per song and unlimited PDF printing of songs ($19.95 a month or $95.94 for six months).
Is It Tea Time Yet?
Teaboy keeps session details in order, and the cost makes it worthwhile for studio operators who want to keep their ducks in a row in an elegant manner. Although I found the interface to be lacking, I get the feeling from the forums and Website that the developers will listen to their user base and grow the product over time. For a Version 1 release, I give Teaboy a solid B-minus.