I may have one of the more original stocking stuffers for that gadget/audio freak. It’s the Stoweblank TinyMix, a – well, I’m not sure exactly what you call it. It’s not an amp or a sound processor. What it does, is allow you to connect up to four devices to one set of powered speakers. Theoretically, you can plug your MP3 player, laptop, iPhone, or whatever into the TinyMix, all at the same time. Using the TinyMix, you now won’t have to unplug this to plug in that. That’s the theory anyway.
It all works pretty well too, with some caveats to consider before you decide.
One thing I noticed is that if you have four items connected to a set of speakers, it requires five separate miniplug cords plus a USB power cord (all of which you must purchase separately). That’s a lot of cords. The TinyMix is very light and small and all these cords can move it around your desk. I had to weigh it down to prevent this from happening.
Once I got everything connected, I began switching from iPod to iPhone to laptop and back again. Changing from one device to another is as easy as hitting Pause on one device and Play on the next. However, it is also quite easy for audio to overlap if you press Play on more than one device. That can sound annoying.
The USB power source can come from a computer, USB hub or a USB wall plug. The unit has one small light to show that it is turned on. There are no switches. You can also plug and unplug devices at will and because the TinyMix keeps the audio signals separate, there are no worries about voltage damage. This cannot be said about cheap Y cables which physically split the audio signal into two separate wires with no regard for voltage levels which can harm electronics.
Sound quality is slightly compromised using the TinyMix setup. On a boombox, it’s practically unnoticeable, but on better speakers, you can hear a difference between the TinyMix vs. a direct connection. As long as the TinyMix stays plugged into a power source, this is not a big deal. But if the TinyMix is unplugged, it changes to passive mode and there is a severe drop in volume. The best thing is to plug it in and leave it.
If you or someone you know have many different sources for their music and a single set of speakers or boombox, then the TinyMix can make digital life a bit easier. The TinyMix is a one-trick pony, but it does it’s trick well.