This Audio Mixer Is Traditional Teenage Engineering

Teenage Engineering, the Swedish design firm answerable for all the pieces from Ikea audio system

Teenage Engineering, the Swedish design firm answerable for all the pieces from Ikea audio system to essentially the most iconic music-making system of the 2010s, has made a mixer. And it’s each bit as bizarre, quirky, and superior as you’d anticipate. 

TE is thought for its lovely design, and for squeezing bizarre however wonderful improvements into its merchandise. Up till now its music machines have been synthesizers and audio system, however the brand new TX-6 is a pocket-sized mixer and audio interface. The obvious options are its measurement, and its wonderful seems, however this unit is exclusive for a lot of different causes. Additionally it is fairly flawed. Oh, and it prices $1,199.

“The TX-6 is ideal for what I’m aiming for. It replaces the necessity to get just a few totally different machines that principally added as much as round $1096. It’s good to have all of them in a single, even when I by no means use the synth or drums,” mentioned digital musician Nathan Beta on the Elektronauts music discussion board. 

The TX-6 is a six-channel mixer and audio interface with built-in results, a chargeable battery, and a complete bunch of neat extras. As an example, it additionally has a sequencer and synthesizer, plus Bluetooth for controlling it from different units. It even has a DJ mixer mode, the place you run it on its facet and use a type of faders as a crossfader between two inputs. 

However the primary half, and the bit that’s getting digital musicians excited regardless of the frankly absurd worth, is the essential mixer performance. 

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Most mixers are massive and have a complete part devoted to hooking up microphones or devices like guitars. These mono channels are sometimes ineffective for digital music since you normally need to hook up a bunch of stereo drum machines, synths, and samplers. 

And people mixers which do supply sufficient stereo inputs typically must be managed with a pc as an alternative of by knobs and dials on the entrance, which is so much simpler to do whereas enjoying. Add an audio interface that routes every stereo channel (itself a rarity) into your pc over USB, battery energy, and a rock-solid aluminum physique, and you may see why persons are . 

However then the issues start. First, there are speculative worries. Teenage Engineering’s two synthesizers, the OP-1 and OP-Z, each buzz while you attempt to join them to different units by way of USB and audio cables concurrently. That’s not a very good precedent for a USB audio mixer.

After which there’s the largest—or smallest— drawback: the scale. A tiny unit is ok, however this factor is so small it hurts usability. For starters, these knobs are tiny. Actually tiny and actually shut collectively, making correct settings troublesome. Provided that the entire level of bodily knobs is that they’re simple and correct, that is one other elementary flaw. 

After which we come to essentially the most embarrassing design oddity. Most professional audio gear makes use of quarter-inch jacks to attach, and never simply considered one of them, both—you want one for the left and one for the best channel. The TX-6 makes use of tiny 3.5mm jacks, the identical we use for headphones. And that, too, is ok. Adapters exist, and whereas 3.5mm jacks have a tendency to interrupt method quicker than quarter-inch jacks, possibly TE has constructed them to final. 

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The issue is that the majority 3.5mm jack cables gained’t match. The jack sockets on the TX-6 are so shut collectively you need to use particular, further slim cables to even plug them in. And people are one other $10-$15 relying on which type you purchase, including much more to the price of utilizing this system. 

“I feel the dealbreaker for me goes to be the cables. If I might plug in any outdated quarter-inch Y to three.5mm TRS cable for every channel, that may be one factor,” mentioned digital musician, Presteign in a discussion board thread. “However because of the spacing of the jacks, it seems like I’d must spend an extra $90 to get six of those, every of which is barely lengthy sufficient to succeed in midway throughout a small desk, so then we’re speaking two extension cables for every instrument…”

However regardless of (or possibly due to) all this nonsense, the TX-6 is traditional Teenage Engineering—lovely, quirky, sudden, and flawed, however so neatly designed that folks simply adore it. I really feel the identical method about TE’s OP-Z synth. Sure, it’s too costly, and sure, it’s too small, but when it does what it’s purported to do, it will likely be successful.

Correction 4/25/22: Fastened the second Key Takeaway to match the precise worth from the Teenage Engineering web site.