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This Audio Mixer Is Classic Teenage Engineering

It’s overpriced and too small, but it’s still great.

  • The TX-6 is a USB-C audio mixer from Teenage Engineering, Sweden.
  • It’s small and costs $1,300.
  • There is nothing comparable on the market today.

Teen Technology

Teenage Engineering, the Swedish design company responsible for everything from IKEA speakers to the most iconic music gear of the 2010s, has created a mixer. It’s as weird, quirky and awesome as you’d expect.

TE is known for its beautiful designs and strange but great innovations in its products. So far, their musical machines have been synths and speakers, but the new TX-6 is a pocket mixer and audio interface. Its most obvious features are its size and incredible looks, but this device is unique for many other reasons. It’s also cumbersome. Oh, and it’s $1,199.

“The TX-6 is perfect for what I’m looking for. It replaces the need to buy some different machines that actually cost about $1096. Even though I never use synths or drums, it’s nice to have them all in one,” Electronic musician Nathan Beta said on the Elektronauts Music Forum.

Teen Fan Club

The TX-6 is a six-channel mixer and audio interface with built-in effects, a rechargeable battery and tons of cool extras. For example, it also has a sequencer and synth, as well as Bluetooth to control it from other devices. It even has a DJ mixer mode where you can turn it sideways and use one of the faders as a crossfader between the two inputs.

But the most important part, and the part that excites electronic musicians, is the basic functionality of the mixer, despite the ridiculous price.

Most mixers are large and have a section dedicated to connecting instruments such as microphones or guitars. These monos are generally useless for electronic music, since you usually want to hook up a bunch of stereo drum machines, synths, and samplers.

And those mixers that offer adequate stereo inputs often require computer control instead of the knobs and knobs on the front, which is much easier when playing. Add an audio interface, route every stereo channel (rare per se) to your computer via USB, battery power, and a rock-solid aluminum case, and you’ll see why people are interested.

dance glitch

But then the problems started. First, there are speculative concerns. Both Teenage Engineering’s synthesizers, the OP-1 and OP-Z, hum when you try to connect them to other devices simultaneously via USB and audio cables. This is not a good precedent for a USB audio mixer.

Then there’s the biggest or smallest question: size. A small drive is fine, but this thing is so small it hurts usability. For starters, the buttons are tiny. Very small and close together, making it difficult to set accurately. Since physical inspection is meant to be simple and accurate, this is another fundamental flaw.

Then we get to the most awkward design quirks. Most pro audio equipment plugs in using 1/4″ connectors, not just one of them, one for the left channel and one for the right channel. The TX-6 uses a small 3.5mm plug, the same plug we use for headphones. That’s fine too. Adapters exist, and while 3.5mm jacks tend to break much faster than 1/4″ jacks, TE may have built them to last.

Top view of the Teenage Engineering TX-6.

Teen Technology

The problem is that most 3.5mm jack cables won’t fit. The TX-6’s plugs are so close together that you have to use special ultra-narrow cables to connect them. That’s another $10-$15 depending on what type you buy, further driving up the cost of using this device.

“I think for me the deciding factor will be the cable. If I could just plug an old 1/4″ Y-cable into the 3.5mm TRS per channel, that would be one thing,” electronic musician Presteign said on the forum said in the post. “But because of the spacing between the connectors, it looks like you have to spend an extra $90 to get six, each barely half enough to fit on a small table, so we’re talking about two per instrument Extension cord……”

still cool

But despite (or possibly because of) the crap, the TX-6 is a classic of teenage engineering: beautiful, quirky, unexpected and flawed, yet so cleverly designed that people love it. I feel the same way about TE’s OP-Z synth. Yes, it’s overpriced, yes, it’s too small, but it’s a hit when it does what it’s supposed to do.

Content

This Audio Mixer Is Classic Teenage Engineering

It’s too expensive and too small, but still amazing

The TX-6 is a USB-C audio mixer from Sweden’s Teenage Engineering. 
It’s tiny, and costs $1,300.
There’s nothing else like it on the market today.
Teenage Engineering

Teenage Engineering, the Swedish design company responsible for everything from Ikea speakers to the most iconic music-making device of the 2010s, has made a mixer. And it’s every bit as weird, quirky, and awesome as you’d expect. 

TE is known for its beautiful design, and for squeezing weird but excellent innovations into its products. Up until now its music machines have been synthesizers and speakers, but the new TX-6 is a pocket-sized mixer and audio interface. The most obvious features are its size, and its amazing looks, but this unit is unique for many other reasons. It is also quite flawed. Oh, and it costs $1,199.

“The TX-6 is perfect for what I’m aiming for. It replaces the need to get a few different machines that basically added up to around $1096. It’s nice to have all of them in one, even if I never use the synth or drums,” said electronic musician Nathan Beta on the Elektronauts music forum. 

Teenage Fan Club

The TX-6 is a six-channel mixer and audio interface with built-in effects, a rechargeable battery, and a whole bunch of neat extras. For instance, it also has a sequencer and synthesizer, plus Bluetooth for controlling it from other devices. It even has a DJ mixer mode, where you run it on its side and use one of those faders as a crossfader between two inputs. 

But the main part, and the bit that is getting electronic musicians excited despite the frankly absurd price, is the basic mixer functionality. 

Most mixers are big and have a whole section dedicated to hooking up microphones or instruments like guitars. These mono channels are often useless for electronic music because you usually want to hook up a bunch of stereo drum machines, synths, and samplers. 

And those mixers which do offer enough stereo inputs often need to be controlled with a computer instead of by knobs and dials on the front, which is a lot easier to do while playing. Add an audio interface that routes each stereo channel (itself a rarity) into your computer over USB, battery power, and a rock-solid aluminum body, and you can see why people are interested. 

Dance Flaw

But then the problems begin. First, there are speculative worries. Teenage Engineering’s two synthesizers, the OP-1 and OP-Z, both buzz when you try to connect them to other devices via USB and audio cables simultaneously. That’s not a good precedent for a USB audio mixer.

And then there’s the biggest—or smallest— problem: the size. A tiny unit is fine, but this thing is so small it hurts usability. For starters, those knobs are tiny. Really tiny and really close together, making accurate settings difficult. Given that the whole point of physical knobs is that they’re easy and accurate, this is another fundamental flaw. 

And then we come to the most embarrassing design oddity. Most pro audio gear uses quarter-inch jacks to connect, and not just one of them, either—you need one for the left and one for the right channel. The TX-6 uses tiny 3.5mm jacks, the same we use for headphones. And that, too, is fine. Adapters exist, and while 3.5mm jacks tend to break way faster than quarter-inch jacks, maybe TE has built them to last. 

Teenage Engineering

The problem is that most 3.5mm jack cables won’t fit. The jack sockets on the TX-6 are so close together you have to use special, extra narrow cables to even plug them in. And those are another $10-$15 depending on which kind you buy, adding even more to the cost of using this device. 

“I think the dealbreaker for me is going to be the cables. If I could plug in any old quarter-inch Y to 3.5mm TRS cable for each channel, that would be one thing,” said electronic musician, Presteign in a forum thread. “But due to the spacing of the jacks, it looks like I’d need to spend an additional $90 to get six of these, each of which is barely long enough to reach halfway across a small desk, so then we’re talking two extension cables for each instrument…”

Still Great

But despite (or maybe because of) all this nonsense, the TX-6 is classic Teenage Engineering—beautiful, quirky, unexpected, and flawed, but so smartly designed that people just love it. I feel the same way about TE’s OP-Z synth. Yes, it’s too expensive, and yes, it’s too small, but if it does what it’s supposed to do, it will be a hit.

#Audio #Mixer #Classic #Teenage #Engineering

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