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Teenage Engineering’s mixer – FX – audio interface – instrument is provocatively tiny

The next big idea from Teenage Engineering is a minuscule multifunction mixer-audio interface. It’s beautiful and – maybe unusably small. Those Teenagers never shy away from controversy.

So, here’s the idea: the TX-6 does sort of everything you could ever want. It’s a desktop and mobile audio interface (with wireless), it has multi-effects, there’s a synthesizer and sequencer, and it functions as a mixer (and a DJ mixer if you put it on your side).

It’s brilliant. It’s gorgeous.

It’s so damn small I have no idea if it is actually usable. (I don’t yet have a test unit. I’ll see if I can get a hands-on – even a couple of moments would presumably suffice.)

It’s also expensive – you knew a feat of engineering like this was going to cost you, and sure enough it’s a luxury buy at EUR 1199.

Keeping the tiny, pocket profile is itself appealing – it means you can have a mixer/audio interface/synth anywhere you go, like literally fitting into your pocket the way an iPhone does. But mixing requires being able to access faders and the assignable knobs easily; here it looks like you’d practically need tweezers. And I wonder if the price point could have been less had they gone even a portion larger, as the custom mechanical engineering here would seem to account for the cost.

Anyway, if you do figure out a way to run the controls, the feature list is incredible. Most of us seeing this at first glance would have presumed we were mainly looking at a mixer. But the digital engine inside does a lot more. This is almost like buying a mixer and an audio interface and a portable effects unit and a synth/workstation a la TE’s OP-Z. (For anyone who missed the display on the OP-Z and wished for something like the OP-1, now you get one again, though… yeah, it’s also eye-squintingly tiny, of course.)

Wow, the features:

  • Aux out, main out, and cue out (for DJing)… the main out being the one full-sized 6.35mm (1/4″) jack
  • DJ mode that lets you work with the device on its side with a crossfader (this may actually be the most usable aspect of this device, to be honest, as the crossfader looks clever!)
  • 12 audio inputs (into 6 jacks), with specially designed slimline cables (3.5mm minijacks, but obviously with shrunken housings since normal cables wouldn’t fit)
  • USB-C connectivity
  • 32-bit, 48kHz operation (which is overkill, but “overdesigned” is kind of the concept here) – seems that’s 12 in, 4 outs so it’s also multichannel
  • 8 built-in send effects – reverb, chorus, delay, freeze, tape, fiter, distortion
  • All custom components (yeah, no kidding) and an aluminum case
  • Battery power (they promise 8 hours, plus there’s a sleep mode)
  • Bluetooth wireless operation with MFi compatibility for iOS
  • Tempo sync
  • Customizable control layout

…and how about per-track compression and effects looping?

https://teenage.engineering/products/tx-6

Honestly, if I saw just these specs, I’d want the thing right away – it’s not that easy to find even a 12×4 audio interface, and they tend to be enormous, let alone throwing in multi-effects, simultaneous mixing with hardware controls, and a synth.

That simultaneous multichannel audio interface-mixer function is a big deal. If you did buy all these components separately, you could wind up with some cable spaghetti and a ton of stuff to lug

I just worry we may be in Jony Ive Apple territory where we cross over from “insanely great” to just plain “insane.” (I could reel off some Apple products that did that, but I’ll be nice.)

But I’m curious. I expect people were too quick to dismiss something, and it’s great that this thing is on the edge – or even way over the edge. I just have to see if it’s at all usable, especially as some people have different-sized hands.

Stay tuned.

And … apologies to our friends in Stockholm, but this is definitely obligatory here:

As is this:

All this being said – the more practical device we’ve looked at, with a fraction of the price, is absolutely the excellent bluebox. That device opts for touch controls, but it does still do mixing and multi-effects.

It also includes the one feature I think the Teenage Engineering option is most sorely missing – recording. To me, that might be the bigger ding than the price or the size. But we’ll take a look.

Read Andreas Roman’s excellent review on the Bluebox, which includes as always some of his music:

Teenage Engineering’s mixer – FX – audio interface – instrument is provocatively tiny