Today, Teenage Engineering has introduced the TX-6 Field Mixer—a professional-grade six-channel audio mixer and high-quality audio interface with extensive customizable options...and even a built-in synthesizer/sequencer. Hearing that combination of features alone might be enough to make you scratch your head, but let's be real: this type of seemingly-odd combinations of features is par for the course for Teenage Engineering.
Extending the ethos of such groundbreaking products as the OP-1 and OP-Z to the world of audio utilities, this palm-sized chunk of tech provides a quite impressive and handy combination of features in a remarkably compact form factor. While I don't think I would have ever dreamt up this particular device, it does seem exactly in line with Teenage Engineering's typical offerings: it's compact, sturdily built, easy on the eyes, hugely multifunctional, and the slightest bit quirky. Let's take a look at what all TX-6 is designed to do.
TX-6 Field Mixer Overview
So, just to start, let's discuss the TX-6's build quality. It is made of aluminum, with specially-designed sliders, knobs, and buttons that almost seamlessly become one with the device's own surface. This is a remarkably well-engineered piece of tech, and it's quite easy on the eyes. Moreover, it's remarkably small—around 2.5" x 3.5" x 1", and weighs less than half a pound. Nonetheless, it's quite sturdy—the combination of the aluminum exterior with the tailor-made controls keeps it feeling quite solid. I feel it's important to establish all of this before moving on because, frankly, everything that it can do seems somehow at odds with its size—it doesn't feel like something this small should be able to do quite so much. This particular form of cognitive dissonance quite commonly accompanies Teenage Engineering's products.
Let's start simple. A typical use of the TX-6 would be simply to use it as a mixer. But this thing goes way beyond what you could usually achieve with a pocket-sized mixing solution—it's a full-fledged mixer with all the features you'd expect from a device designed for live sound production.
TX-6 features six stereo inputs with a dedicated level slider and three-band EQ per channel. Each channel's inputs are handled via 3.5mm TRS stereo connections (great for Pocket Operators or other handled/desktop devices, for instance). Additionally, it features three independent stereo outputs—a main output, cue output, and aux output, perfect for everything from effect sends to DJ-style performance and more.
Beyond this, TX-6 features two stereo multi-effect processors, great for adding everything from modulation to lush reverberant spaces to any mix. It also includes compression and limiting functions. Frankly, even just these features so far make TX-6 a quite formidable device; and even if that was all it could do, it would hold a very unique place among compact devices for music-making. I could see those features alone really tying together a home studio or live performance setup.
But that's not all that it does, not even by a long shot. Let's get the biggest one out of the way: TX-6 is a 12-input audio interface. Each input can be multi-tracked separately into a DAW with up to 32-bit resolution...instantly expanding its potential uses tremendously. It is also Bluetooth-enabled, allowing use as a wireless MIDI controller (or as a controller for other TX-6 units). And in fact, you can customize the behavior of each knob to control whatever parameters you might prefer; they don't have to be used exclusively for EQing.
Teenage Engineering: Always Outside the Box
Admittedly, when first seeing the TX-6, I was met with a bit of sticker shock: at the time of its introduction, the TX-6 retails for $1199. This might feel at first like a high price for such a small item, but do consider everything that you're getting: a professional-grade mixer, a 12-input audio interface, a multi-effect processor, a wireless MIDI controller, a synthesizer, and more.
Moreover, I'd beg you to ponder the OP-1 and OP-Z, Teenage Engineering's flagship synthesizers. Each one is a vast and quirky universe of sonic possibilities, and frankly, I'm excited to see that design approach extended toward something that otherwise might seem like a simple utility. How far can Teenage Engineering go down the proverbial design rabbit-hole when building a mixer/audio interface? If the current feature set is any indication, they're probably already deeper than we realize—and we'll likely be playing catch-up for quite some time uncovering everything that it can do.