Typical audio mixers are quite large, featuring a specific section for plugging in guitars and other instruments with inputs like microphones. However, these mono channels are sometimes inefficient for digital music due to the necessity to link up numerous stereo instruments, such as drum machines, synths, and samplers.
In addition, it is much more convenient to use a computer interface while performing than the knobs and dials on the front of a mixer, yet even mixers with plenty of stereo inputs typically require one. When you combine a USB audio interface that sends both left and right signals to your computer with a rechargeable battery and a sturdy metal housing, it’s easy to see why many find this device so appealing.
Swedish design firm Teenage Engineering, responsible for everything from the Ikea sound system to the most talked-about musical instruments of the 2010s, has released a new mixer. Also, it’s just as weird, peculiar, and improbable as you’d imagine.
TE is well-known for packing its products to the gills with novel yet practical features. In place of the company’s previous synthesizers and audio systems, the TX-6 is a portable mixer and audio interface. Aside from its massive size and sleek design, this machine is remarkable for a wide range of other reasons. Furthermore, it has a lot of problems. And the price tag is $1,199.
I’m happy to report that the TX-6 fits my needs perfectly. It eliminates the need for several different machines.
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The TX-6 is an audio interface and mixer with six inputs and outputs, a rechargeable battery, and a wide variety of customization possibilities. It has Bluetooth control from other devices, for example, and also features a sequencer and synthesizer. One of the many faders may be used as a crossfader to switch between two inputs, and there’s even a DJ mixing mode.
In spite of the prohibitive cost, digital musicians are drawn to the mixer’s core features, particularly the ability to create and edit stereo mixes.
error in the dance
Once that happens, though, issues arise. To begin, there are hypothesis-related concerns. Teenage Engineering’s OP-1 and OP-Z synthesizers will both buzz if you try to connect them to other devices using USB and audio cables at the same time. That’s not a great example of how to use a USB audio mixer.
Then there’s the biggest problem, which is also the smallest: scale. Even though it’s great to have a portable device, this one is so tiny that it’s a hassle to operate. To begin, please note the diminutive size of these knobs. Adjustments must be made with care because the components are so tiny and close together. For the most part, the point of physical knobs is that they are simple and correct; therefore, this is a major drawback.
Then there is the most mortifying design flaw. Quarter-inch jacks are standard for professional audio equipment connections; never use just one connector for the left or right channels. The TX-6 employs standard 3.5mm audio jacks, the same type found on headphones. That’s quite fine, too. There are adapters available, and while 3.5mm jacks tend to fail far more frequently than quarter-inch jacks, TE may have built them to last.
The problem is that nearly all 3.5-millimeter jack cables do not work with one another. Unfortunately, the TX-6’s jack sockets are so close together that only specific, extremely thin cables can fit. The cost of utilizing this device could go up by another $10 to $15, depending on the model you buy.
In a forum thread, digital artist Presteign speculated, “I suppose the cables would be the deciding point for me.” If he could use “any amazing quarter-inch Y to 3.55mm TRS cable for every channel,” that would be a deciding element. However, it looks like I’ll have to pay an extra $90 for six of those, each of which is just long enough due to the spacing of the jacks.
The TX-6 is classic Teenage Engineering in that it is beautiful, quirky, unique, and flawed, yet so well-designed that people admire it despite (or perhaps because of) all of these flaws. The OP-Z synth from TE has the same effect on me. It may be pricey and undersized, but when it serves its function, it will be a smashing success.
Change made on 4/25/22: The current value on the Teenage Engineering website has been included in the second Key Takeaway.