Adam Savage sees what the mixer-makers currently have available for the MI market
Another MI sector that often sends retailers running in the opposite direction, the mixer might be a bit too ‘techy’ for some, but you can’t ignore it. Adam Savage brings up the faders to provide this report...
As many UK retailers favour a ‘stick to what you know’ approach when it comes to choosing the types of products they stock in their stores, mixing consoles are often neglected in the MI marketplace.
There’s no denying the complexity of these devices – with their many rows of inputs and channels, EQs and aux sends – but it doesn’t mean you have to be a trained front-of-house engineer to understand them to the required level.
It’s important to remember that most customers will be in a similar position. When a band or gigging musician gains experience, the need for a mixer is likely to arise, but they probably won’t be looking to do much more than set a few levels, meaning there’s no need to hire a pro audio specialist to see some positive sales figures.
Even if it’s just one or two tucked away at the back of the store, having a couple of small format mixers on show could pay dividends, as there are many end users out there after a simple console, and would rather not have to travel to their nearest PA centre to get hold of one.
With that in mind, here’s a selection of desks that would be the perfect way to fill that extra space you’ve been pondering over recently.
The C3X mixer from Studiomaster features a total of 12 inputs in a compact 19-inch rack mountable package. Equipped with the Studiomaster custom DSP effects processor – offering a variety of delay and reverb effects – the C3X has four balanced combination XLR and jack inputs for connecting any microphone or line level equipment, with two on the front panel and two on the rear.
Covering four sizes from ten channels right up to a whopping 32, Studiomaster’s MCX Series mixers include a rugged steel chassis, which houses six auxiliary sends – selectable pre or post fader – a four-band EQ for responsive control and two frequency sweep controls on the mic channels, which are usually found on much larger consoles.
Yamaha, a major player in the commercial audio and live sound arena, has also introduced a medley of MI mixers over the years, with perhaps the highlight being the EMX5016CF powered console. This 16-channel desk features two 500-Watt amplifiers and combines the practicality of an integrated power mixer with the input capacity, flexibility and sound quality required for serious live sound situations.
For something a bit more compact, the Yamaha MG82CX is likely to fit the bill. Small and lightweight, this model has built-in compressors that can significantly enhance the quality of the mix, as well as high-grade SPX digital effects, making this a pretty impressive piece of kit when you consider its size.
Allen & Heath’s ZED series offers a range of top quality, small format, USB-equipped stereo mixers ideal for live and recording.
For small band mixing, the ZED10 and ZED10FX are highly portable for transporting to and from a gig and can be used for recording live or in the studio. Specially designed high-impedance inputs mean guitars can be plugged in directly, while MP3/CD players and keyboards can be connected via two stereo inputs.
It also features professional XLR main stereo inputs and a flexible monitoring section with headphone and speaker feed outputs.
Based on dual 600-Watt, class D power amplifiers that can be configured into five operating modes, the XR1212 is currently Peavey’s best selling powered mixer. Each standard channel includes an XLR input, ¼-inch line input and ¼-inch channel insert, gain adjustment, 80Hz low-cut switch, two monitor sends, EFX send and four-band EQ with Peavey’s proprietary Mid-Morph equalisation controls.
The biggest news from audio giant Mackie this year was its decision to expand the Pro FX series with a pair of 16 and 22-channel models. The new models feature dedicated line compression and are designed to eliminate the need for additional rackmount gear.
Also from Mackie is the Onyx-i series, a range of FireWire recording mixers that deliver premium analogue features, flexibility and built-in 24-bit/96kHz FireWire I/O. Compatible with all the major DAWs, the Onyx-i is available in eight, 12, 16 and 24-channel versions, all packed with studio quality effects.
Offering a high headroom and dynamic range, the LAX12D from LD Systems is a 12-channel console with DPS effects processor. Equipped with low-distortion preamps, this mixer delivers top quality potentiometers and faders, a two-track path with independent level control and a pair of stereo aux returns, which can be used as additional line inputs.
For those requiring a few more channels, there’s LD’s LAX20D. This model gives the user natural sound, easy-to-use features and durability and impressive performance with excellent noise behavior, whether in a live setting or home/project studio.
If it’s serious DJs you’re looking to attract, the Pioneer DJM-900nexus is likely to appeal to that particular crowd. This high-end unit is armed with a four-channel, 96kHz/24-bit soundcard, which streams all audio signals with no loss of sound quality. It also includes six studio-quality sound colour FX and a dedicated FX processor for each channel.
The Pioneer DJM-T1 with Traktor Scratch Duo 2 software is a hybrid mixer, controller and audio interface all rolled into one. Alongside the pair of scratch decks, DJs can open two sample decks and load up to four loops or samples on each one.
After being acquired by Numark earlier this year, Alto provides a variety of high-value mixer options, particularly for those on more of a tighter budget.
With a remarkable RRP of £35, the ZMX52 offers a total of eight inputs, two stereo input channels with balanced TRS jack and ultra low noise discrete mic preamps with phantom power.
The next step up is the ZMX122 FX, an eight-channel mixer with effects. Featuring 12 inputs, a three-band EQ on each channel and an integrated 24-bit Alesis digital effects processor with 256 choices, you get a lot for your £89.
For a fair bit more cash, there’s the ZMX244 FXUSB. This model gives you 24 channels, 44 inputs, a four-band fixed EQ in the stereo line channels, four AUX sends per channel, a four-bus sub mixer, 60mm high precision faders and a whole lot more. £399 is hardly extortionate for all that as well.
Dynacord’s CMS series has now been updated to its third incarnation, meaning plenty of upgrades across the board. New features include a unique pre-set voice filter on all mono channels to help vocals cut through a mix, two additional auxiliary sends for increased routing flexibility, a USB interface with Live and Studio routing presets, and an 11-band master EQ routable across all the main outputs.
Available in three models – the 10-channel CMS1000-3, 16-channel CMS1600-3 and 22-channel CMS2200-3 – these mixers represent the higher end of what can be considered MI mixers.
The Kam Powerhead PA is a 100-Watt, four-channel powered PA mixer with built-in USB and SD media player, as well as digital delay effects with adjustable parameters, making it perfect for gigging DJs, karaoke settings, pubs and small venues.
Another option from Kam is the KMD14.2, a 14-channel console complete with 24-bit digital multi effects processors. For just over £300, you get ultra-low noise discrete mic preamps with +48V phantom power, a switchable seven-band graphic equaliser, balanced inputs and main outputs for high signal integrity and extremely high headroom, offering increased dynamic range.
Stagg has once again added to the list of budget possibilities on the market with the SMIX 2M2S F UK mixer. Retailing at less than £100, it provides a two-band EQ for each input channel, a low-noise discrete mic preamp on the microphone inputs and a headphone/monitor output.
The SMIX 4M2S UD UK gives you a little bit more, in the form of a three-band EQ, 10dB attenuator on the stereo channels, auxiliary input and output, FX processor and a USB interface for MP3 playback and selection.
The most notable of Monacor brand Img Stage Line’s new mixers is the MMX-1282USB. This ‘plug and mix’ model provides eight mono input channels with gain control, three-way equaliser and balance control, a DSP effect unit with 99 different options and integrated USB interface.
Other newcomers to the range include the MMX-1244, an eight-channel mixer with 12 inputs, the MMX-842, featuring six channels and eight inputs (also available in a USB versions) and the six-channel, ten-input MMX-1024.
The LM16 from Fostex is an all-in-one mixing solution, offering easy to use knobs and faders similar to an analogue console.
Phantom power and a three-band eq with swept mid-frequency are featured on each of the 16 channels and a selection of built in digital mastering effects is another inclusion worth mentioning.
The LR16 has similar specifications to the above, except it also functions as a hard disk recorder. The built in hard drive has an 80GB capacity, which can hold around 16 hours of uncompressed digital audio.
Proel’s M1000USB – an amplified version of the M16USB – features a light and compact 500-Watts-per-channel digital amplifier, which includes a switching power supply section. A rugged bag with metal reinforcements ensures proper protection during transport and it is useful for a number of demanding situations.
If it’s a highly compact mixer you want, the PMX 500 from Wharfedale Pro is about as portable as it gets. Intended for speedy set up times and easy transportation, this little unit features digital FX processing, four phantom powered XLR microphone inputs and a graphic EQ for fine-tuning the overall mix.The more powerful PMX 700 is made for a similar purpose, with the addition of a flexible routing system.
The CM-Live compact mixers from Citronic feature mic/line inputs (jack/XLR) and a stereo line channel. All channels have three-band EQ, aux and effect controls.
Citronic also offers the rackmountable CM-Studio consoles with USB output. +48V phantom power is switchable to the XLR inputs for use with condenser mics.
Fostex LM16 – £918.13
The I/O and mixer components of this ‘all-in-one mixing solution’ can be separated at a range of up to 50 metres.
Img Stageline MMX-1282USB – £288.21
A ‘plug and mix’ console with full duplex USB port, which allows for the reproduction of digital audio data from a PC and recording on to a computer.
Stagg SMIZ 2M2S F UK – £95
This budget board offers a peak indicator on each mono channel, +48V phantom power and built-in delay effect.
Kam Powerhead PA – £165
The Powerhead includes a two-band EQ with gain control on each channel, four balanced XLR microphone inputs and three unbalanced quarter-inch jack and two line inputs.
Dynacord CMS 1000-3 – £1,319
Its 100 default presets can be edited by the user and then stored as one of 20 user presets.
Alto ZMX52 – £35
This mini unit is equipped with a natural two-band EQ on the mono channel and a mic input channel with gold plated XLR and balanced line input.
Studiomaster C3X – £184
Its three-band EQ design gives the user maximum control across the vocal range and all inputs have access to a pair of pre and post fader auxiliary sends.
Allen & Heath ZED12FX – £579
These models are suitable for anyone – from beginners through to professionals – and range from the £269 ZED10 up to the £719 ZED24.
Peavey XR1212 – £902
The master section features digital nine-band EQ for both output amplifiers and a Real Time Analyser, which analyses the room and sets the EQ curves automatically when a mic is connected to its XLR input.
Yamaha EMX5016CF – £969
A nine-band digital graphic EQ with presets and memory, automatic feedback suppression and dual Yamaha SPX effect processors makes this a very well-equipped package in comparison to other powered mixers under £1,000.
Pioneer DJM-900nexus – £1,599
By connecting one USB cable, the DJ can control Traktor with Timecode CD and/or vinyl, directly through the mixer.
LD Systems LAX12D – £326
This mixer features a two-track path with independent level control and a pair of stereo aux returns, which can be used as additional line inputs.
Mackie ProFX16 – £499
A built-in USB interface allows the user to record a show and stream back music and the solid steel chassis with ABS sidecheeks ensures real durability.