Teenage Engineering, the company behind ultra-stylish synthesizers, speakers and PC cases, has released a new audio gadget: it’s called the TX-6, and it’s a small (in size, not price) field mixer that’s absolutely adorned with knobs. As well as being able to mix and output the sound from six stereo inputs to a computer, speaker, or both, in true Teenage Engineering fashion, the TX-6 can also act as a basic synthesizer, drum sequencer and USB-C audio coupler.
But we need to talk about those buttons first. By default, they act as controls for a three-band equalizer, letting you adjust the treble, mid, and bass for each input. But a look at Teenage Engineering’s manual reveals the countless other things you can do with it, from controlling compressor settings to adjusting pan or note length. Whatever you use them for, you do it in style† the buttons are colorful and knurled on the top, which should help you grab something that’s otherwise about the size of a large Q-Tip.
If you can take your eyes off the buttons, the rest of the controls are absolutely cool too. You have fader sliders (which are arguably more important than the knobs, because they really let you in) to blend), a slew of buttons, as well as a combo button/button for navigating menus – be still in my heart. There are also LED volume meters, with adjustable brightness.
In terms of I/O, the TX-6 has six audio input jacks (Apple could never do that) 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 about eight hours of use, and is charged via the USB-C port that also connects the TX-6 to your device. That can be a computer or an iPhone/iPad, if you have a suitable cable or adapter. Again, all of this, plus those delightful buttons, are packed into something that’s an absolutely tiny package.
By the way, yes, I can hear the whole of the UK chuckling at me talking about my love of buttons again. No need to comment on it, my sides still hurt from reading all the jokes on the last article. 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, a cute little screen to show you menus, and a leatherette back. To me, it looks a bit like an old-fashioned Sony device, but with a notch.
Hey, actually Teenage Engineering says the buttons are customizable. I’m sure there is some parameter you can control with it and that goes to 11…
Speaking of beyond the upper limit, let’s talk about price. The TX-6 costs – deep breath now – $1,199. That’s for the actual device itself, along with a 3.5mm main output adapter and a USB-C cable. Additional cables, such as a 3.5mm to RCA or dual-TS adapter, cost a reasonable $10 or $15.
While that price is almost unbelievable, I struggled to think of other devices like the TX-6. The $150 Yamaha MG06X is compact, but it’s hard to name it small, and it certainly 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 not nearly as feature-rich as the TX-6. And while you could use it as a mixer, it’s definitely more of a field recorder. The Mackie MCaster Live is even less expensive at $230 and appears to be a similar size, but it has no battery and only has four inputs (although one of those is XLR, which can come in handy if you want to plug in a microphone).
While it’s in a league of its own, it may or may not justify its price, the TX-6’s price point is likely to turn away many DJ wannabes or music-making casuals like me – though it does have a “DJ mode” among its many extras. functions. But if I’m being completely honest with myself, I’d probably spend an embarrassing amount of money playing with it for a day just so I could feel those sweet, sweet buttons (again, I really shouldn’t just be posting this while the UK wakes up ).
The TX-6 is available on the Teenage Engineering website.