Teenage Engineering, the company behind ultra-sleek synthesizers, speakers and PC cases, has released a new audio gadget: it’s called the TX-6, and it’s a small field mixer (in size, not in price) absolutely scalloped with buttons. As well as letting you mix sound from six stereo inputs and send them to a computer, speaker, or both, Teenage Engineering-style, the TX-6 can also be used as a basic synthesizer, sequencer battery and USB-C audio. interface.
First we need to talk about these buttons. By default, these act as controls for a three-band EQ, allowing you to adjust treble, midrange, and bass for each input. But a look at Teenage Engineering’s guide reveals the tons of other things you can do with them, from controlling compressor parameters to adjusting panning or note length. Whatever you do with it, you will do it in style; the knobs are colored and knurled at the top, which should help you grip something that’s otherwise roughly the size of a large Q-Tip.
If you can tear your eyes away from the buttons, the rest of the controls are also absolutely fine. You have fader sliders (which are arguably more important than knobs because they actually allow you to mix together), a multitude of buttons, as well as a combo button/button for navigating menus – always be my heart. There are also LED volume meters, with controllable brightness.
In terms of I/O, the TX-6 has these six audio jacks for input (Apple never could) and three output jacks; two are 3.5mm for aux and cue out, and the main output is 6.35mm, or a quarter inch. It also has a built-in battery, which Teenage Engineering says is good for around eight hours of use, and charges via the USB-C port that also handles connecting the TX-6 to your device. It can be a computer or an iPhone/iPad, if you have a suitable cable or adapter. Again, all of this, plus those yummy buttons, is packed into something that has a tiny package.
By the way, yes, I hear the whole of the UK chuckle that I once again talk about my love of pimples. You don’t need to comment on this, my ribs still hurt from reading all the jokes in the last post. But come on, just look at them.
Of course, I don’t want to sleep on the other parts of this design – it has a CNC aluminum frame, an adorable little screen to show you the menus, and an artificial leather stand. To me, it looks a bit like an old-school Sony device, but taken up a notch.
Hey, actually, Teenage Engineering says the buttons are customizable. I’m sure there is some parameter you can control with them which goes up to 11…
Speaking of breaking the upper limit, let’s talk about the price. The TX-6 costs – take a deep breath now – $1,199. That’s for the unit itself, along with a 3.5mm adapter for the main output and a USB-C cable. Additional cables, like a 3.5mm to RCA or dual TS adapter, will cost a reasonable $10 or $15.
Although this price is almost unbelievable, I had a hard time thinking of other devices like the TX-6. The $150 Yamaha MG06X is compact, but it would be hard to call it small, and it sure doesn’t look that cool, in my opinion. The $350 Zoom H6 can be configured to have the same number of inputs, but it’s significantly bulkier and nowhere near as feature-rich as the TX-6. Also, while you can use it as a mixer, it’s definitely more of a field recorder. The Mackie MCaster Live is even cheaper at $230 and appears to be similar in size, but it has no battery and only has four inputs (although one of them is XLR, which could be useful if you want to connect a microphone).
While it’s in a league of its own that may or may not justify its price tag, the TX-6’s price is likely to turn away a lot of aspiring DJs or casual musicians like myself – although it does count a “DJ mode” among its many additional features. But if I’m being totally honest with myself, I’d probably spend an embarrassing amount of money playing around with one for a day, just so I could feel those soft, smooth pimples (again, I really shouldn’t post this just as the UK wakes up).
The TX-6 is available from the Teenage Engineering website.