21 Best Audio Mixers 2024 | Top Picks For Every Budget

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Best Audio Mixers | Top Picks For Every Budget

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Audio mixers are essential in sound production, providing the ability to balance, mix, and process audio signals for various applications. They come in different shapes and sizes, serving everyone from the bedroom podcaster to the professional sound engineer overseeing a major concert. Whether you’re recording music, broadcasting a radio show, or setting up sound for a live event, finding the best audio mixers can be the control hub that harmonizes all your audio sources.

The choice of an audio mixer hinges on several critical factors, such as the number and type of input/output channels, the presence of onboard effects, build quality, and connectivity for analog or digital setups. Features like EQ controls, fader types, and preamps significantly impact the final sound for live applications, and durability and ease of use become crucial. 

We’ve examined various mixers to find options that deliver functionality without overlooking user experience. When considering a purchase, it’s paramount to think about your specific needs. Will you use it primarily in a studio setting or require something rugged for the road? Will you need compatibility with digital audio workstations, or is analog your preference?

Through our extensive testing process, we’ve distilled our findings to identify the best audio mixers on the market that cater to various needs and skill levels. Our selections are made to enhance your audio production workflow and achieve professional-sounding results.

    KEYNOTES:

    Our Top Picks – Best Analog Audio Mixers

    Best
    Budget

    Mackie
    ProFX 12v3

    Mackie ProFX 12v3

    Get It Here

    Read Review

    Best
    Midrange

    Yamaha
    MG20 XU

    Yamaha MG20 XU

    Get It Here

    Read Review

    Best
    High-End

    Solid State Logic
    BiG SiX

    Solid State Logic BiG SiX

    Get It Here

    Read Review

    Our Top Picks – Best Digital Audio Mixers

    Best
    Budget

    Tascam
    Model 12

    Tascam Model 12

    Get It Here

    Read Review

    Best
    Midrange

    Zoom
    LiveTrak L-20

    Zoom LiveTrak L-20

    Get It Here

    Read Review

    Best
    High-End

    Allen & Heath
    SQ5

    Allen & Heath SQ5

    Get It Here

    Read Review

    Table Of Contents

    1. What Are The Best Audio Mixers?

    Best Budget Audio Mixers

    Best Midrange Audio Mixers

    Best High-End Audio Mixers

    2. What Is An Audio Mixer?

    3. Audio Mixer Buying Guide

    4. Finding Your Perfect Audio Mixer: Key Takeaways

    5. FAQ

    1. What Are The Best Audio Mixers?

    We’ve meticulously assessed the finest audio mixers’ performance, durability, and usability for various audio mixing needs. Our recommendations cater to novice and professional users, ensuring each mixer provides the exceptional audio quality and versatility required for multiple settings. Whether recording a podcast, mixing a live concert, or producing music in a studio, our list represents the best options.

    Here Are Our Picks For The Best Audio Mixers:

    Best Budget Audio Mixers

    4. Behringer Flow 8
    Digital Audio Mixer
    Best For Streamers And Mobile Recording

    Best Midrange Audio Mixers

    Best High-End Audio Mixers

    16. Solid State Logic SiX
    Analog Audio Mixer
    Best For High-Fidelity Studio Recording And Mixing

    Best Budget Audio Mixers

    #1 Behringer Xenyx X1204 USB

    Best For Beginner Home Studios And Podcasters

    Behringer Xenyx X1204 USB

    Behringer Xenyx X1204 USB

    Overview:

    We believe the Behringer Xenyx X1204USB is a solid choice for those needing a reliable mixer for small gigs and home recording, offering a range of valuable features without breaking the bank.

    Pros:
    • Quality preamps provide clear audio capture.
    • One-knob compression on mono channels simplifies use.
    • Built-in USB interface makes recording to the computer straightforward.
    Cons:
    • Faders may crackle after extensive use.
    • While versatile, four mono channels may limit some users.
    • The price might be a tad high for those on a strict budget.

    Unique Selling Point:

    The Behringer Xenyx X1204 USB stands out for its affordability and feature-rich interface, making it an excellent choice for entry-level musicians and podcasters who need a reliable mixer without breaking the bank.

    Key Benefits:

    1. Built-in USB/audio interface for direct recording to your computer, streamlining the setup for home studios.
    2. Premium-grade XENYX Mic Preamps with phantom power to connect both dynamic and studio-grade condenser microphones.
    3. British-style EQs for warm and musical sound shaping, allowing users to craft their audio precisely.
    4. Onboard studio-grade compressors with one-knob functionality for easy and intuitive control over dynamics.
    5. Many inputs and outputs, including FX send and control room outputs, offer versatility for audio projects.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $210

     

    Review:

    Recently, we had a chance to test the Xenyx X1204USB mixer during a small live performance. The sound quality didn’t disappoint; the Xenyx mic preamps ensured that. The mixer’s intuitive one-knob compressors on each mono channel were remarkable, allowing us to quickly even out dynamic vocal performances easily.

    Moreover, we’ve found the built-in USB audio interface quite handy. It allowed direct recording into our DAW of choice, taking our home studio setup to the next level. The mixer’s compact size was a huge space saver, offering good portability without compromising on essential controls.

    After prolonged use for several sessions, we noticed that some faders began to crackle when adjusted. It didn’t overshadow the overall experience, but it’s something to be mindful of. Also, we occasionally longed for more mono channels during complex sessions. However, for most scenarios, the mixer’s functionalities were more than sufficient.

    The Behringer Xenyx X1204USB offers an outstanding balance between affordability and performance. It has been serving us well in both live and studio environments, and we’d recommend it to anyone looking for a capable mixer without wanting to deal with the intricacies of more advanced (and pricier) models.

    #2 Yamaha MG10 XU

    Best For Small Live Performances And Recording Setups

    Yamaha MG10 XU

    Yamaha MG10 XU

    Overview:

    After extensive use, the Yamaha MG10XU is an excellent choice for musicians who need a reliable, high-quality sound with the convenience of portability.

    Pros:
    • Excellent sound clarity with D-PRE mic preamps
    • Onboard SPX digital effects offer creative flexibility
    • Intuitive design, perfect for live performances and home studios
    Cons:
    • A limited number of input channels may not suit larger setups
    • Some may find the effects controls slightly restrictive
    • The USB interface is convenient but may require additional adapters for specific devices

    Unique Selling Point:

    The Yamaha MG10XU stands out for its compact design and Yamaha’s renowned build quality, making it an excellent choice for small bands and solo artists who require a portable, reliable mixer for live performances and studio use.

    Key Benefits:

    1. High-grade SPX effects processor with 24 different effects, ideal for enhancing live sound or recordings without external gear.
    2. Discrete Class-A D-PRE microphone preamps with an inverted Darlington circuit, providing fat, natural-sounding bass and smooth, soaring highs.
    3. USB connectivity for two-channel recording and playback with computers and mobile devices, offering a simple solution for digital integration.
    4. Its robust metal chassis is designed to withstand the rigors of the road, ensuring durability and longevity.
    5. Easy-to-use one-knob compressors that provide dynamic control to help keep your mix punchy.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $235

     

    Review:

    We’ve enjoyed the exceptional audio quality of the Yamaha MG10XU mixer, especially noting how the D-PRE mic preamps bring out the warmth and detail in vocals and acoustic instruments. The build quality is top-notch; it feels sturdy enough for regular travel to gigs or rehearsals. Its compact size means it slips seamlessly into a small home studio setting or a tight performance space without hassle.

    The onboard SPX effects opened up a realm of possibilities, from reverb to chorus, enhancing our sound during live performances. These effects were particularly beneficial when working with vocalists and acoustic guitars, providing our mixes an extra layer of professionalism.

    We appreciate the practical design of the mixer, with intuitive controls and a straightforward layout that made it simple for us to dial in great sounds quickly. The one-knob compressor on each mono channel allowed us to manage dynamics effectively, adding polish to the overall mix. Despite its tiny footprint, this mixer packed a punch in performances and recording sessions.

    Our experience with the Yamaha MG10XU mixer has been overwhelmingly positive, striking the perfect balance between sound quality, functionality, and portability.

    #3 Mackie ProFX 12v3

    Best For Musicians And Content Creators Needing Effects

    Mackie ProFX 12v3

    Mackie ProFX 12v3

    Overview:

    The Mackie ProFX12v3 can elevate your audio experience with its high-fidelity preamps and built-in effects, proving ideal for varied audio tasks.

    Pros:
    • Pristine Onyx mic preamps enhance microphone sound quality
    • Streamlined design and intuitive single-knob compression for ease of use
    • Includes software package for recording and effects
    Cons:
    • Limited USB channels may restrict complex setups
    • Beginners may find the plethora of features daunting
    • The steel construction, while durable, adds to the weight

    Unique Selling Point:

    The Mackie ProFX12v3 stands out for its Onyx mic preamps and built-in GigFX effects engine, making it an excellent choice for live sound applications and home studios that require professional sound quality and versatile effects.

    Key Benefits:

    1. Equipped with ultra-low noise Onyx mic preamps that offer up to 60dB of gain, providing excellent sound quality for all microphones.
    2. The integrated GigFX effects engine with 24 different FX options, from reverbs to delays, adds a professional touch to live performances or recordings without needing additional processors.
    3. The 3-band EQ on all channels, with a 100Hz low-cut filter on all mic channels, allows for effective tonal shaping and eliminates unwanted low-frequency noise.
    4. USB recording and playback for easy music streaming or integration with a DAW, suitable for podcasters and content creators.
    5. The mixer features robust and solid construction, combined with Mackie’s renowned ‘Built-Like-A-Tank’ design, ensuring it can handle the rigors of frequent live use.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $330

     

    Review:

    The moment we got our hands on the Mackie ProFX12v3, we were struck by the solid build and sleek interface. It’s rugged enough to handle the rigors of the road yet refined in its array of knobs and faders. The Onyx mic preamps are a true highlight, giving us an audio clarity that’s simply impressive for a mixer at this price point.

    As we dove into a live session, the mixer’s single-knob compression facilitated quick adjustments on the fly, and we found it invaluable for balancing dynamic vocals and instruments confidently. The gig FX effects engine added a creative flair to our sound without overwhelming the mix.

    Finally, setting up the ProFX12v3 for home recording was a breeze with the included Pro Tools | First and Waveform OEM software. Whether it’s overlaying tracks or streaming content, the USB interface provides robust connectivity and enough flexibility, although we did crave a few more USB inputs.

    Despite this, the Mackie ProFX12v3 stood out as a powerful ally in live performances and studio setups.

    #4 Behringer Flow 8

    Best For Streamers And Mobile Recording

    Behringer Flow 8

    Behringer Flow 8

    Overview:

    If you’re looking for a portable and intuitive digital mixer, the Behringer FLOW 8 should be on your list.

    Pros:
    • Seamless wireless remote control via the FLOW App
    • Incredibly convenient and compact for on-the-go use
    • Two high-quality Midas preamps provide superb audio clarity
    Cons:
    • The initial learning curve with the FLOW App control interface
    • Limited physical controls may frustrate traditionalists
    • Some may experience durability issues with the power input over time

    Unique Selling Point:

    The Behringer Flow 8 stands out for its wireless control capabilities, making it an excellent choice for live sound engineers and performers who need to adjust settings remotely via tablet or smartphone.

    Key Benefits:

    1. Remote control via the Flow Mix app provides the convenience of mixing and adjusting levels from anywhere in the venue, enhancing the user’s ability to fine-tune sound in real-time.
    2. Built-in Bluetooth audio streaming for wireless music playback is ideal for entertainers and presenters who must integrate background tracks smoothly.
    3. Compact and lightweight design, offering easy portability for musicians and creators who are on the move and have limited space.
    4.  The Flow 8 includes MIDAS-designed preamps, ensuring high-quality audio capture with clarity and warmth.
    5. USB interface functionality for straightforward recording and playback, handy for podcasters and home studio recording.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $300

     

    Review:

    The ability to adjust settings on the Behringer FLOW 8 from anywhere in the room using a phone can change the handling of live sound. The ultra-low noise and high headroom it offers means you can push the audio without fear of peaking, and setting the perfect levels has never been more manageable thanks to the EZ-Gain function.

    This unit’s compact size is a godsend for us—no more lugging around heavy mixers. We’ve been incredibly grateful for the 60 mm faders that give a satisfying level of precision when tweaking sound. Connectivity is also a highlight; with Bluetooth integration, you can significantly reduced the cable clutter.

    We did have a few hiccups at first, getting acclimated with controlling the mixer solely through the app, and admittedly, we missed having more tactile knobs and sliders at our fingertips. There’s been occasional chatter among the community concerning the micro-USB power input’s robustness, so we’re keeping an eye on that.

    However, these are minor trade-offs for solid entry-level digital audio mixers like the Behringer FLOW 8.

    #5 Midas MR12

    Best For Live Sound Engineers Looking For Midas Quality

    Midas MR12

    Midas MR12

    Overview:

    The Midas MR12 is a versatile tablet-controlled mixer that simplifies live mixing while delivering quality sound.

    Pros:
    • Intuitive tablet control for on-the-fly adjustments
    • Pristine audio quality with MIDAS preamps
    • Integrated Wi-Fi for convenient connectivity
    Cons:
    • Requires a tablet for full functionality
    • Limited physical controls
    • May have a learning curve for beginners

    Unique Selling Point:

    The Midas MR12 stands out for its legendary Midas sound quality in a digital mixer format, making it an excellent choice for professional sound engineers and musicians who demand the best audio performance in both live and studio environments.

    Key Benefits:

    1. The MR12 features Midas PRO microphone preamplifiers, renowned for their clarity and high headroom, which provide exceptional sound quality and are a hallmark of the Midas brand.
    2. Integrated Wi-Fi module for wireless control allows users to mix from anywhere in the venue using a tablet or laptop, offering flexibility and convenience during performances or recording sessions.
    3. The mixer includes a comprehensive suite of built-in effects powered by the same algorithms used in the Midas M32, delivering studio-grade processing and creative possibilities.
    4. The MR12 is rack-mountable and highly portable, making it an excellent option for touring bands and mobile recording setups.
    5. It also offers 18×20 USB interface capabilities for direct multi-track recording to your DAW, perfect for capturing live performances or studio work.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $565

     

    Review:

    Our recent session with the Midas MR12 was impressively streamlined, thanks to its tablet-controlled interface. The MIDAS pro preamps brought warmth and clarity to vocals, showcasing why they’re award-winning. The built-in Wi-Fi made our setup cleaner with fewer cables, and with the auto-mixing feature, managing multiple mics became a breeze.

    The convenience of recording directly onto a USB stick as uncompressed stereo WAV files was a standout. We valued being able to capture the true essence of performances without fuss. However, we noted that newcomers to digital mixers might need time to get acquainted with the various features and settings accessible through the tablet app.

    Despite its compact form, the Midas MR12 delivered a solid, robust performance. While the absence of physical controls may concern the traditional sound engineer, the versatility and modern approach must be balanced. This mixer is designed for those who appreciate a current, app-driven mix environment with high-quality audio standards as the norm.

    #6 Behringer X AIR XR18

    Best For Bands And Venues Needing Remote Mixing

    Behringer X AIR XR18

    Behringer X AIR XR18

    Overview:

    We recommend the Behringer X Air XR18 for live sound and studio use for its versatility and quality preamps.

    Pros:
    • Intuitive tablet-controlled interface enhances flexibility during live performances.
    • Embedded Wi-Fi and USB connectivity streamline the setup, making it ideal for quick sound checks.
    • Sturdy build and portable design, suitable for touring bands and event DJs.
    Cons:
    • Stable Wi-Fi is required for optimal control, which can be challenging in some venues.
    • Beginners may find the lack of physical controls and reliance on a tablet interface daunting.
    • Smaller physical inputs than larger mixers may affect use in complex setups.

    Unique Selling Point:

    The Behringer X AIR XR18 stands out for its comprehensive remote control options via iOS/Android devices, making it an excellent choice for live sound engineers and bands who desire a mix of mobility and powerful digital mixing capabilities.

    Key Benefits:

    1. Integrated Wi-Fi module enables direct control of the mixer’s functions from smartphones and tablets without needing external routers, providing ease of movement and adjustment during live performances.
    2. 18 Midas-designed mic preamps deliver renowned sound quality, ensuring that both live performances and studio recordings are captured with professional audio fidelity.
    3. Built-in USB interface for multi-track recording, allowing seamless integration with digital audio workstations for both live and studio applications.
    4. Four onboard X32 effects engines provide a wide range of effects, from EQs and dynamics to delays, reverbs, and more, enhancing the creative potential without external processors.
    5. The XR18 is rack-mountable and features a rugged stage box design, making it durable and convenient for touring bands and live performance setups.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $700

     

    Review:

    We were genuinely pleased with its solid audio quality after mixing for an outdoor event with the Behringer X Air XR18. The ability to tweak settings anywhere in the venue using a tablet was a game-changer. We had endless reach throughout the crowd, ensuring a seamless sonic experience for everyone involved.

    Despite being lightweight and relatively compact, it held up well in a bustling stage environment. The sound swapping could have been a headache with multiple bands on the lineup. Yet, the recallable presets made it a breeze. Even when dusk fell and we had minimal lighting, navigating the controls was straightforward on our tablet’s screen.

    Discerning ears in our crew appreciated the Midas preamps; the warmth and clarity they added to vocals and instruments were noticeable. Our only wish is that Behringer considers updating the Wi-Fi capabilities for more robust connections in the future.

    That said, once connected, tweaking parameters on the Behringer X Air XR18 from our hands felt futuristic and lent unprecedented control.

    #7 Tascam Model 12

    Best For Multi-Track Recording And Small Studio Work

    Tascam Model 12

    Tascam Model 12

    Overview:

    For creators needing a versatile all-rounder, the Tascam Model 12 might be your studio centerpiece.

    Pros:
    • Intuitive interface, simplifying the recording process
    • Streamlined connection with DAWs, boosting creativity
    • Handy built-in features like compressor and EQ on each channel
    Cons:
    • The initial setup can be complex
    • Some users report connectivity issues with DAWs
    • A few users have questioned power supply reliability

    Unique Selling Point:

    The Tascam Model 12 stands out for its all-in-one integrated mixer and recorder design, making it an excellent choice for musicians, podcasters, and small studio operators who require a compact, versatile solution for both live and studio work.

    Key Benefits:

    1. Multi-track recording capabilities allow users to capture up to 10 tracks simultaneously, plus a stereo mix, directly to an SD card, facilitating immediate recording without needing an external computer.
    2. The Model 12 is equipped with Tascam’s high-quality preamps and a 3-band EQ with sweepable mid-range, providing precise tonal shaping and pristine audio quality for all inputs.
    3. Integrated Bluetooth connectivity enables wireless streaming, perfect for background music or remote playback from devices during live events or in-studio sessions.
    4. The unit also serves as a 12-in/10-out USB audio interface for seamless integration with digital audio workstations, offering a flexible recording solution for home studios.
    5. With onboard effects, including reverb, compression, and more, users can enhance their mixes without needing additional outboard gear, streamlining the setup process and reducing equipment costs.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $700

     

    Review:

    Having had our hands on the Tascam Model 12, we’re impressed with its solid build and crisp audio quality. The integrated compression on each channel allows immediate control over dynamics, making it invaluable for quick sessions. Its dual headphone outputs enabled us to manage individual mixes effortlessly, a considerable bonus for collaborative projects.

    Navigating the board felt natural, with each knob and slider positioned just right for intuitive tweaks during recording. The addition of easily connecting to a DAW and controlling it directly from the mixer added convenience to our workflow, which we genuinely appreciated. With features like the onboard MIDI functionality, we could integrate our hardware synths without the usual fuss.

    Although we’ve praised the Model 12’s intuitive controls, we did note that the initial learning curve could be steep for beginners. And while DAW connectivity is a high point, a couple of us faced initial hiccups during setup. However, these were quickly resolved with patience and guidance from the manual.

    In summary, the Model 12 by Tascam is a robust tool that we found perfect for various audio projects, from podcasting to music production. Despite a few quirks, the unit serves well in a multitasking studio environment.

    Best Midrange Audio Mixers

    #8 Mackie ProFX 16v3

    Best For Small To Medium-Sized Venues And Bands

    Mackie ProFX 16v3

    Mackie ProFX 16v3

    Overview:

    In our experience, the Mackie ProFX16v3 offers a solid blend of quality, flexibility, and interface simplicity, suitable for various audio mixing tasks.

    Pros:
    • Exceptional sound clarity from high-quality Onyx Mic Preamps
    • Versatile with integrated FX and extensive recording capabilities
    • Durable, road-worthy construction with an intuitive layout
    Cons:
    • It may be complex for beginners to harness its full potential
    • Not the lightest option for portable setups
    • Single-knob compression may not suffice for meticulous sound engineers

    Unique Selling Point:

    The Mackie ProFX16v3 stands out for its Onyx mic preamps and built-in GigFX effects engine, making it an excellent choice for live sound venues, bands, and recording studios that require a versatile mixer with professional sound quality and effects.

    Key Benefits:

    1. Premium Onyx mic preamps provide industry-leading sound quality and ultra-low noise performance, ensuring that vocals and instruments are captured with exceptional clarity and detail.
    2. The GigFX effects engine offers 24 different effects, ranging from reverbs to delays, which can be easily applied to enhance live performances or studio recordings without external effects units.
    3. A 3-band EQ on all channels, with a 100Hz low-cut filter on all mic channels, allows precise tonal control and the elimination of unwanted low-frequency noise, optimizing the sound for any environment.
    4. The mixer includes a built-in USB interface for straightforward recording to a computer, making it ideal for capturing live shows or for use as part of a digital audio workstation setup.
    5. Mackie’s renowned ‘Built-Like-A-Tank’ construction ensures that the ProFX16v3 is rugged and durable, ready to withstand the rigors of touring and frequent live use.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $500

     

    Review:

    Discovering the Mackie ProFX16v3 mixer was a relief, given the search for something that would handle live sound with finesse and adapt to home studios. Working with this mixer is akin to guiding sound through a well-designed console that responds precisely to every adjustment. With its robust construction, Mackie could have done better on build quality.

    Integration with software was a breeze, and recording at 192kHz in 24-bit quality felt like capturing the essence of every note and word with impeccable fidelity. The USB functionality proved incredibly versatile for managing different audio feeds and useful for overlaying tracks while recording.

    One aspect that stood out was the simplicity of adding effects, bringing a sense of depth and character to performances. Tweaking the sound took little effort for a result that usually takes hours to perfect. However, new users may get accustomed to the features and routing options.

    Our overall experience confirmed the Mackie ProFX16v3 mixer’s capability to be a central tool for diverse audio mixing requirements. It’s a sound investment we found to hold its own across different use cases, from spirited live shows to nuanced studio work.

    #9 Soundcraft FX16II

    Best For Bands And Venues Seeking Versatile Remote-Controlled Mixing

    Soundcraft FX16II

    Soundcraft FX16II

    Overview:

    This Soundcraft FX16II is a strong choice for live sound settings and studio recording, thanks to its reliable performance and high-quality Lexicon effects.

    Pros:
    • High-quality built-in Lexicon effects offer professional-grade reverb and processing
    • The flexibility of direct outputs per channel for convenient multi-track recording
    • Good build quality and compact size are perfect for limited space
    Cons:
    • Some users report the faders can feel less robust and may become scratchy
    • Built-in effects may have a learning curve for new users
    • Not the highest ranking in terms of customer reviews in its category

    Unique Selling Point:

    The Soundcraft FX16II stands out for its Lexicon effects processor, making it an excellent choice for live sound engineers and musicians who require high-quality effects integrated into a reliable mixing console.

    Key Benefits:

    1. The onboard Lexicon effects processor provides users with studio-grade reverbs, delays, and modulation effects, enhancing live performances and recordings without needing external processing.
    2. GB30 mic preamps, designed by renowned engineer Graham Blyth for the company’s 30th anniversary, deliver exceptional audio quality with high headroom and precision.
    3. The mixer features a 3-band EQ with sweepable mid-frequency on each channel, allowing for detailed tonal adjustments and the ability to tailor the sound for various room acoustics and performance demands.
    4. It includes 16 direct outputs for multi-track recording capabilities, making it versatile for live sound reinforcement and recording studio applications.
    5. The robust build quality of the FX16II ensures long-term reliability and durability for touring bands and venues, embodying Soundcraft’s commitment to professional-grade construction.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $925

     

    Review:

    We have found the Soundcraft FX16II to be a compact yet rugged mixer, fitting a variety of effects and connections into a relatively small footprint. Its build seems durable enough for transportation to gigs or studio sessions without worries. The access to high-quality Lexicon effects without needing external processors has also made our mixing experiences a breeze.

    The direct outputs on each channel of this mixer have uplifted our recording sessions. We’ve enjoyed the ease of connecting to our 16-track recording system, allowing us to manage each track independently. Plus, when performing live, the tap tempo function is convenient for syncing effects on the fly.

    One of the minor drawbacks we’ve noticed is the faders. They can feel wobbly and seem too easy to move, which might cause issues during a nuanced live mix. Despite that, we’re fond of the EQ’s precision and the board’s crisp, clean sound. Overall, the Soundcraft FX16II has given us a solid, reliable performance, whether used in a live venue or a studio setting.

    #10 Yamaha MG20 XU

    Best For Larger Live Setups Requiring Multiple Channels

    Yamaha MG20 XU

    Yamaha MG20 XU

    Overview:

    We recommend the Yamaha MG20 XU for its exceptional sound quality, versatility, and overall build that’s built to last.

    Pros:
    • Outstanding studio-quality sound
    • Intuitive interface with ample connectivity options
    • Robust build suitable for different settings
    Cons:
    • Relatively heavy, impacting portability
    • It could be overkill for smaller, simpler setups
    • The price point may be high for hobbyists

    Unique Selling Point:

    The Yamaha MG20 XU stands out for its studio-grade SPX effects, making it an excellent choice for live sound engineers, bands, and recording artists who need a reliable mixer with high-quality onboard effects.

    Key Benefits:

    • The SPX effects processor offers a variety of reverb, delay, chorus, flanger, phaser, and more, providing users with the same high-quality effects found in Yamaha’s studio gear for enhancing live sound or recordings.
    • Class-A D-PRE microphone preamps with an inverted Darlington circuit design ensure natural-sounding bass and smooth highs, capturing detailed, dynamic audio with low distortion.
    • The mixer includes a USB audio interface for straightforward digital recording and playback with computers, compatible with most DAW software, facilitating easy integration into home studio setups.
    •  Comprehensive EQ and high-pass filters on each channel allow for precise sound shaping and control, essential for tailoring the mix to suit various venues and performance styles.
    • The MG20 XU is constructed with a rugged, powder-coated metal chassis designed to withstand the rigors of the road, ensuring longevity and reliability for traveling musicians and technicians.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $950

     

    Review:

    When we had the Yamaha MG20 XU Mixer, we were thoroughly impressed by the studio-quality preamps that produced pristine audio. The refreshing clarity allowed us to truly sculpt the sound signature we were after without any noticeable distortion. Flipping through the controls, the tactility and response were spot on—sliders and knobs moved with precision, a testament to Yamaha’s dedication to craftsmanship.

    In terms of connectivity, this mixer had us sorted for most scenarios. With enough inputs and outputs to accommodate a sizeable ensemble and additional equipment, it felt like the centerpiece of our audio setup. Whether plugging in multiple microphones or routing audio to different channels, the process was a breeze. The digital effects added an extra dimension to our sound, making it a powerful tool for live performances and studio applications.

    However, only some were perfect. Setting up was a workout in its own right due to the mixer’s weight. This heft, while reassuring of its durability, made us think twice before transporting it to gigs. Additionally, we considered the need for smaller setups, concluding that this mixer offers more than required for intimate venues or simple podcasting, potentially overwhelming a novice.

    Lastly, the price of the Yamaha MG20 XU may steer away from those with a tighter budget, making this a more suitable option for professionals or serious enthusiasts who demand nothing but top-notch performance.

    #11 Mackie DLZ Creator

    Best For Content Creators And Online Streamers

    Mackie DLZ Creator

    Mackie DLZ Creator

    Overview:

    The Mackie DLZ Creator is perfect for aspiring content creators looking for professional-grade audio quality without the complexity.

    Pros:
    • Simplifies setup with intuitive Mix Agent™
    • Accommodates up to four mics with clear, balanced output
    • Records to multiple mediums easily—computer, SD card, or USB
    Cons:
    • At 9.02 pounds, it’s not the most portable option
    • It may take some trial and error to utilize advanced features fully
    • A few users report technical issues, though customer service helps resolve them

    Unique Selling Point:

    The Mackie DLZ Creator stands out for its adaptive technology and user-friendly interface, making it an excellent choice for podcasters and streamers who want professional audio quality with ease of use, regardless of their experience level.

    Key Benefits:

    • The DLZ Creator features three versatile modes—easy, enhanced, and pro—catering to users of all skill levels, from beginners to seasoned professionals, allowing for a tailored audio mixing experience.
    •  Mix Agent technology acts as your audio assistant, streamlining the setup and sound check process so you can start recording with optimal sound quality quickly and efficiently.
    • AutoMix function intelligently manages microphone levels for up to four speakers, ensuring everyone’s voice is heard clearly during multi-person podcasts or streams.
    • The Mix Minus feature integrates phone calls into your content seamlessly, providing clear audio for remote interviews or call-ins without the hassle of echo or feedback.
    • Onyx80 preamps deliver exceptional audio fidelity, capturing every detail with clarity, while individual headphone mixes allow each participant to monitor the audio comfortably according to their preferences.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $750

     

    Review:

    We’ve recently had the pleasure of using the Mackie DLZ Creator and were impressed by the ease with which it integrated into our podcasting setup. The Mix Agent™ became a personal guide, making initial setup a breeze and quickly optimizing our gain levels—a boon for those moments when the technical side of content creation feels overwhelming.

    Harnessing the power of the AutoMix feature allowed us to maintain precise voice levels during lively multi-person discussions. We noticed immediately how AutoMix effortlessly balanced the audio input from all four mics, ensuring every participant was heard without needing constant manual adjustments.

    The functionality of recording and streaming to a computer, SD card, or USB flash drive gave us the flexibility we needed for different recording scenarios. We valued switching between methods on the Mackie DLZ Creator, especially the option to record directly to an SD card, making for a neat and self-contained setup that didn’t necessarily require a computer.

    #12 Mackie DL16S

    Best For Stage Performers And Live Sound Engineers Needing Wireless Control

    Mackie DL16S

    Mackie DL16S

    Overview:

    We find the Mackie DL16S to be a robust choice for live sound mixing, with its wireless capabilities and potent onboard DSP making it a powerhouse for performers.

    Pros:
    • Wireless freedom with built-in Wi-Fi for seamless app control
    • Impressive audio clarity from 16 Onyx+ preamps and comprehensive DSP per channel
    • Multi-track recording and playback through a 16×16 USB interface simplifies virtual soundchecks
    Cons:
    • Wi-Fi connectivity could be unreliable in congested environments
    • Navigating the app’s features has a learning curve for beginners
    • There are no physical faders for those who prefer traditional controls

    Unique Selling Point:

    The Mackie DL16S stands out for its wireless mixing capability. It is an excellent choice for live sound engineers and performers who need flexibility and control from anywhere in the venue.

    Key Benefits:

    • The DL16S offers 16 channels of complete wireless control using Mackie’s Master Fader app, allowing sound engineers to mix from any location in the venue and ensure the best possible sound in any environment.
    • Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity simplifies setup by eliminating the need for an external router, making it quicker and easier to get the mixer up and running for performances or events.
    • The mixer features Mackie’s renowned Onyx+ mic preamps, providing high fidelity, low noise, and high headroom for a pristine audio signal path.
    • The DL16S includes full multi-track recording capabilities directly to an SD card or a computer, enabling live recording and post-event mixing.
    • With robust processing, including EQ, compression, and effects on each channel, users can fine-tune their sound to perfection without the need for outboard gear.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $850

     

    Review:

    Upon setting up the Mackie DL16S, we immediately noticed the ease of controlling the mix from a tablet. It’s like having a portable studio at your fingertips; the granularity of control over EQ, compression, and effects for each channel allows for fine-tuning the audio to perfection.

    Our experience recording multi-track audio directly via the USB interface was seamless. The ability to playback recordings channel-by-channel immensely aids in conducting adequate virtual sound checks. This feature is a game-changer for those seeking efficient setup times.

    Diving into live performances, the robust build of the DL16S gave us the confidence that this mixer can handle the rigors of the road. Still, while the wireless connection was rock-solid, we faced some connectivity issues in areas with high Wi-Fi traffic.

    Despite this, the Mackie DL16S has proven to be an invaluable tool in our audio arsenal, marrying the benefits of digital with the reliability expected from the Mackie brand.

    #13 Zoom LiveTrak L-20

    Best For Multi-track Live Recording And Mixing

    Zoom LiveTrak L-20

    Zoom LiveTrak L-20

    Overview:

    The Zoom LiveTrak L-20 could be a game-changer for live performances and studio recordings due to its versatility and ease of use.

    Pros:
    • Intuitive wireless control and solid build make live mixing a breeze
    • The multi-track recording capability is a boon for capturing performances
    • The six headphone outputs with individual mixes cater to everyone in the studio
    Cons:
    • Its dimensions might be a bit bulky for limited spaces
    • Some may require time to become familiar with the interface
    • Packaging should be improved for better protection during shipping

    Unique Selling Point:

    The Zoom LiveTrak L-20 stands out for its multi-track recording and live mixing versatility, making it an excellent choice for musicians, bands, and sound engineers who require extensive control over live performances and recording sessions.

    Key Benefits:

    • The L-20 provides 20 discrete channels with independent gain, pan, and EQ, allowing for intricate sound customization and the ability to handle complex arrangements and large ensembles with ease.
    • It offers simultaneous recording of 22 tracks directly to an SD card, which serves users by enabling live recording without the need for an external computer, thus streamlining the recording process.
    • Six individual monitor outputs let performers create their custom mix on stage, ensuring every member can hear what they need during a live performance.
    • The LiveTrak L-20 features wireless control capabilities, which means sound engineers can adjust mix settings on the fly from an iPad, providing flexibility and convenience during live shows.
    • With built-in compression on the first 16 channels, users can manage the dynamics of their audio inputs in real-time, helping to produce a balanced and polished sound both live and in recordings.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $980

     

    Review:

    We’ve been road-testing the Zoom LiveTrak L-20 mixer, and its performance is impressive. Tailored for the modern sound engineer, this gear seamlessly blends robust construction with powerful features. Especially noteworthy is the wireless control via iOS, which simplifies adjusting settings on the fly—no more fiddling behind the console mid-performance.

    Recording sessions with the L-20 have been a breeze. Whether you’re laying down tracks or capturing your band’s live energy, its multi-track recording function shines. With 20 discrete channels, we can record each instrument clearly, which is vital for post-production finesse and ensuring that the end product is polished.

    But it’s not just about recording; the six customizable headphone outputs have made collaborative sessions less of a headache. Each musician can dial in their mix, creating a more cohesive and enjoyable recording experience.

    While a tad bulky and slightly intimidating at first glance, our time with the Zoom LiveTrak L-20 proves it’s an excellent fit for serious musicians and sound engineers looking for reliable, high-quality audio mixing and recording.

    #14 Soundcraft Ui-24R

    Best For Bands And Venues Seeking Versatile Remote-Controlled Mixing

    Soundcraft Ui-24R

    Soundcraft Ui-24R

    Overview:

    For those seeking a robust digital mixer that simplifies live mixing and recording, the Soundcraft Ui24R stands out as a top contender.

    Pros:
    • Seamless remote control for on-the-fly adjustments
    • Top-notch audio clarity and effects quality
    • Integrated multi-track recording is a breeze
    Cons:
    • Setup can be complex for newcomers
    • Limited physical controls may frustrate traditionalists
    • The hefty learning curve to utilize a complete feature set

    Unique Selling Point:

    The Soundcraft Ui-24R stands out for its wireless remote control capabilities and integrated multi-track recording, making it an excellent choice for live sound engineers and bands that need flexibility and comprehensive control without being tethered to a physical mixing console.

    Key Benefits:

    • The Ui-24R offers 24 channels of input, including ten combo 1/4″ TRS/XLR, 10 XLR, 2 line level, and two channels of digital playback for versatile connectivity, serving users by accommodating a wide range of sources and instruments.
    • With built-in dual-band Wi-Fi, the mixer allows seamless wireless control using tablets, smartphones, or computers, enabling users to mix anywhere in the venue without additional networking equipment.
    • Integrated multi-track recording directly to USB devices, and DAW interfacing via USB makes it easy for users to record their performances and manage post-production editing and mixing.
    • The Ui-24R features renowned Lexicon, dbx, and DigiTech signal processing offers users professional effects and dynamics control to enhance their live sound or recordings.
    • The mixer’s compatibility with the HARMAN Connected PA system simplifies setup and configuration, particularly for users with other HARMAN equipment, leading to a smooth and integrated performance environment.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $1300

     

    Review:

    The ability to tweak settings from any corner of a venue using a tablet is a game-changer with the Soundcraft Ui-24R, especially during sound checks, allowing you to ensure every note hits the sweet spot in the room. The wireless control didn’t miss a beat, much to our delight.

    The preamps and onboard effects, including Lexicon reverbs, bring richness to any performance. We’ve heard good things about the clarity and dynamic range before, but experiencing it firsthand drove home how much of a difference high-quality audio processing makes. It felt like we had a studio-grade setup in a live setting.

    Navigating the Soundcraft Ui24R initially posed a challenge; however, we became familiar with the flow. The lack of traditional knobs and sliders was an adjustment, but the flexibility gained from the remote control capabilities quickly overshadowed any reservations. Recording directly to a USB drive while managing live sound proved incredibly useful, capturing high-fidelity tracks without fuss.

    Best High-End Audio Mixers

    #15 Yamaha MGP24X

    Best For Professional Live Sound Mixing With Analog Warmth

    Yamaha MGP24X

    Yamaha MGP24X

    Overview:

    The Yamaha MGP24X mixer is a worthy investment for its analog warmth and comprehensive digital features.

    Pros:
    • Superb analog sound quality with high-end D-PRE mic preamps
    • Intuitive single-knob compressors streamline dynamics management
    • Versatile Stereo Hybrid channel broadens mix capabilities
    Cons:
    • Relatively heavy, less portable design
    • Higher price points may be a barrier for some
    • Its complexity might be intimidating for beginners

    Unique Selling Point:

    The Yamaha MGP24X stands out for its hybrid approach that combines the warmth of analog mixing with digital functionality, making it an excellent choice for live venues, houses of worship, and touring bands who appreciate the tactile feedback of analog controls with the precision of digital enhancements.

    Key Benefits:

    • The MGP24X features Yamaha’s proprietary D-PRE mic preamps, which use an inverted Darlington circuit design to deliver a fat, rich, and smooth tone, serving users by providing studio-grade sound quality in a live mixing console.
    • It includes Yamaha’s innovative X-pressive EQ, which emulates the classic sound of renowned EQ modules, allowing users to shape their sound with precision and musicality rarely found in a live console.
    • The mixer comes equipped with a suite of built-in digital effects, including REV-X reverb and classic SPX effects, allowing users to enhance their mix with high-quality effects without needing external processors.
    • The MGP24X offers dual digital connectivity for iPod/iPhone integration, which allows users to play back music or record their mix directly to an iOS device using Yamaha’s MGP Editor app.
    • The console’s one-knob compressors provide easy dynamic control, particularly for users who need to adjust compression settings quickly on the fly during live performances.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $1500

     

    Review:

    We recently got our hands on the Yamaha MGP24X, and the first thing we noticed was the build quality—it felt robust and ready for serious use. The analog elements of the mixer impart a warmth to the audio that can’t be replicated digitally. Those looking for that classic sound will appreciate the X-pressive EQ, which truly captures the essence of vintage gear.

    The mixer’s integrated 1-knob compressors made dynamic control more accessible than ever. Whether we were fine-tuning vocals or balancing instruments, the process was straightforward, allowing us to achieve studio-quality sound effortlessly.

    We also explored the advanced features of the Yamaha MGP 24X, like the Priority Ducker and Stereo Image functions. These added layers of nuance to our mix, especially in live settings where adaptability is vital. It was remarkable how easily we could sculpt the audio and maintain clarity across all channels.

    #16 Solid State Logic SiX

    Best For High-Fidelity Studio Recording And Mixing

    Solid State Logic SiX

    Solid State Logic SiX

    Overview:

    If pristine audio quality is a priority, the SSL SiX mixer is a professional-grade tool that we found to be worth the investment.

    Pros:
    • SuperAnalogue technology ensures top-notch audio fidelity
    • The built-in G-Series Bus Compressor adds a professional polish
    • Compact size ideal for mobile setups or limited spaces
    Cons:
    • Higher price points could be prohibitive for hobbyists
    • Limited channel count for more extensive recording sessions
    • The learning curve for those new to professional mixers

    Unique Selling Point:

    The Solid State Logic SiX stands out for its exceptional studio-quality audio in a compact desktop format, making it an excellent choice for professional project studios, post-production houses, and audio enthusiasts who demand high-fidelity sound in a space-efficient package.

    Key Benefits:

    • The SiX features SSL’s renowned SuperAnalogue™ preamps and circuitry, offering the pristine audio performance and headroom of large SSL consoles, serving users by delivering uncompromised sound quality in a small format mixer.
    • It provides a professional-grade channel strip with two-band EQ, a one-knob version of the classic SSL Channel Compressor, and a Listen Mic Compressor, enabling users to achieve polished, radio-ready sounds quickly and efficiently.
    • The mixer includes comprehensive monitoring controls with a high-quality headphone amp, making it easy for users to monitor mixes and recordings accurately, which is critical in a professional audio production environment.
    • With its 12-channel summing at mixdown capability, the SiX allows users to combine multiple sources to stereo, adding depth and dimension to their mixes, characteristic of larger SSL consoles.
    • The SiX is designed with an intuitive layout and solid build quality, offering users the tactile, hands-on experience and reliability expected from a Solid State Logic console, making it a joy to use for extended mixing sessions.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $1635

     

    Review:

    After spending some time with the SSL SiX Desktop Mixer, we were impressed by its solid construction and professional-grade components. The SuperAnalogue preamps delivered audio clarity that we couldn’t help but notice, even in the most subtle nuances of our recordings.

    We routed multiple instruments through the mixer during a recent session and found the SiX’s layout intuitive. The powerful EQ and dynamics allowed us to craft mixes with depth and character that stood out. The legendary G-Series Bus Compressor wove its magic over the central mix, enhancing the overall sound without overwhelming the source material.

    We took advantage of the mixer’s portability, too. It was as comfortable in a live venue as in our studio. Despite its compact size, the SSL SiX didn’t skimp on professional features, offering flexibility in recording and summing sessions. Whether recording vocals or mixing down tracks, the SiX effortlessly injected that sought-after SSL sonic polish.

    #17 Solid State Logic BiG SiX

    Best For Advanced Studio Setups With A Need For SSL’s Superior Audio Quality

    Solid State Logic BiG SiX

    Solid State Logic BiG SiX

    Overview:

    You’ll find that the SSL BiG SiX brings pro-level mixing capabilities to your studio, elevating your audio production with its renowned clarity and flexibility.

    Pros:
    • Pristine SuperAnalogue audio quality
    • Seamless integration with digital setups via USB
    • Iconic G-Series Bus Compressor onboard
    Cons:
    • Higher price points limit accessibility
    • The steep learning curve for beginners
    • A limited number of mic preamps compared to larger consoles

    Unique Selling Point:

    The Solid State Logic BiG SiX stands out for its combination of the classic SSL analog sound with comprehensive DAW integration, making it an excellent choice for professional music producers, audio engineers, and studio musicians who require the best of both analog and digital worlds for their creative workflows.

    Key Benefits:

    • The BiG SiX offers SSL’s iconic SuperAnalogue™ preamps and the legendary 4-band EQ, providing users with the same professional-grade signal path that is found in SSL’s large-format consoles, ensuring that recordings and mixes have unparalleled clarity and warmth.
    • It features a built-in 16-channel USB audio interface that seamlessly integrates with any DAW. It serves users by streamlining their hybrid setup and enabling easy recording and playback with high-quality conversion.
    • The console has a comprehensive set of routing options and robust connectivity, including dual independent headphone outputs, which empower users to manage complex recording sessions and monitor mixes easily.
    • The BiG SiX includes the classic G-Series Bus Compressor, enabling users to apply SSL’s famous glue and punch to their mixes, enhancing the overall cohesiveness and impact of the final product.
    • Designed with an intuitive and user-friendly layout, the BiG SiX provides an ergonomic mixing experience that is both enjoyable and efficient, making it an ideal choice for extended studio sessions where comfort and workflow are paramount.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $2700

     

    Review:

    Harnessing the SSL BiG SiX has been a game-changer for us—it’s like having a slice of a large-format console in our workspace. The SuperAnalogue signal path provides that unmistakable SSL punch and ultra-clear sound right out of the box. Moreover, the built-in G-Comp Bus Compressor, derived from the celebrated G-Series, has added that sought-after cohesion and polish to our mixes.

    For digital audio workstation users, it’s a breeze to integrate the BiG SiX into our setup. The robust 16-channel USB interface bridges our analog and digital worlds flawlessly, offering high-quality conversion and reducing the clutter of additional interfaces. The seamless blend of analog warmth with digital convenience cannot be understated.

    Yet, every studio gear decision warrants a consideration of the drawbacks. For those just starting, the price point of the BiG SiX is undoubtedly an investment, reflecting its professional-grade capabilities. Additionally, as intuitive as it may be for seasoned engineers, newer users might initially find the extensive controls and routing options overwhelming.

    Lastly, while the four mic-preamps are of exceptional quality, expansive recording sessions might require more inputs, meaning you’ll need additional preamps or a sub-mixer to accommodate larger projects.

    #18 Behringer X32 Rack

    Best For Portable Racks For Live Gigs With Complete Remote Control

    Behringer X32 Rack

    Behringer X32 Rack

    Overview:

    After testing the Behringer X32 Rack, we’re convinced it’s a solid investment for live and studio applications.

    Pros:
    • Intuitive remote control via iPad/iPhone enhances flexibility.
    • Excellent preamp quality that boosts signal clarity.
    • A versatile USB interface streamlines recording and playback.
    Cons:
    • Requires additional Wi-Fi router for optimal remote use.
    • The steep learning curve for those new to digital mixers.
    • Limited physical controls compared to full-sized consoles.

    Unique Selling Point:

    The Behringer X32 Rack stands out for its all-in-one rack-mountable design that combines a powerful digital mixer with a multi-track recorder and audio interface, making it an excellent choice for live sound engineers, studio professionals, and musicians who require a versatile and portable mixing solution.

    Key Benefits:

    • The X32 Rack features 40 input channels, 25 mix buses, and 32 programmable MIDAS preamps, providing users with the capacity to handle complex mixing scenarios while delivering pristine audio quality.
    •  It offers seamless remote control via iOS/Android devices or computers, serving users by allowing them to adjust mixes from anywhere in the venue or studio without being confined to a physical mixing position.
    • The X32 Rack includes a 32 x 32 USB audio interface, enabling users to record live or studio sessions directly to their DAW and facilitating easy multi-track recording and post-production editing.
    • With integrated effects from four stereo FX processors, including simulations of high-end studio processors, users can enhance their mixes with a wide range of reverbs, delays, and modulation effects without external gear.
    • The unit’s compatibility with Behringer’s digital snake systems allows for easy expansion of I/O and stage connectivity, offering users a scalable solution that can grow with the demands of their performances and projects.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $1550

     

    Review:

    The convenience of rack mountability was immediately apparent. It saves space and makes your setup and tear-down processes faster. The audio quality and reliability of the Behringer X32 Rack have consistently impressed our team.

    Navigating the digital mix environment was a breeze thanks to the comprehensive remote control options. We customized our sound on the fly with the virtual FX rack and saved settings for each venue.

    Admittedly, we found that the initial setup took time, as configuring the Behringer X32 Rack comes with a complexity not found in its analog counterparts. However, the limitless routing options and scene presets significantly improved our audio workflow once mastered.

    #19 Behringer X32 Producer

    Best For Mid-Sized Studios And Live Sound Environments

    Behringer X32 Producer

    Behringer X32 Producer

    Overview:

    The Behringer X32 Producer meets the mark robustly if you aim for professional-grade sound mixing with convenient remote control access.

    Pros:
    • Wireless app control enhances flexibility
    • Integrated effects negate the need for external processors
    • Faders are motorized for precision mixing
    Cons:
    • Some may find it bulky for smaller venues
    • The initial setup might be complex for beginners
    • The learning curve for all available features can be steep

    Unique Selling Point:

    The Behringer X32 Producer stands out for its compact size and powerful features, making it an excellent choice for mobile producers, live sound engineers, and performance venues that require a versatile, space-saving digital mixing solution without sacrificing functionality or quality.

    Key Benefits:

    • The X32 Producer offers 40 input channels, 16 programmable MIDAS preamps, and 17 motorized faders, providing users with the high-quality components needed to manage a variety of inputs and maintain hands-on control over mix adjustments.
    • It includes a 32 x 32 USB audio interface, allowing easy multi-track recording and playback. It serves users by facilitating direct-to-computer recording and offering flexibility in live and studio environments.
    • The mixer is equipped with an intuitive interface and a 5-inch color TFT display, ensuring that users can navigate menus, adjust settings, and monitor channel levels with ease, even in low-light conditions.
    • With built-in virtual FX racks that feature 8 true-stereo (16 mono) effects processors, users can apply studio-grade effects like reverb, chorus, and delay, enhancing live sound or studio recordings without external hardware.
    • The X32 Producer is fully compatible with the Behringer P-16 personal monitoring system and digital snake systems, offering users a comprehensive ecosystem for stage and monitoring setup that can be customized to suit various performance requirements.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $2000

     

    Review:

    In our experience, the Behringer X32 Producer shines in studio environments and live performances. The touch of the motorized faders feels accurate, giving us the hands-on control we need during a mixdown. The built-in virtual effects rack is a boon, removing the clutter of external units that crowd workspaces.

    Our interaction with the X32 Producer revealed that the remote control from a tablet is a standout feature. We appreciated the freedom to adjust settings and mix from different points in the room. It has greatly simplified our setup, especially when dealing with intricate soundchecks.

    We must note, however, that the size of the mixer can be a double-edged sword. While it provides ample inputs and outputs, smaller event spaces can pose a challenge. Yet, once we became familiar with its capabilities, the X32 Producer proved invaluable for achieving top-notch audio performance.

    #20 Behringer X32 Compact

    Best For Venues And Touring Bands Needing Compact Size Without Sacrificing Functionality

    Behringer X32 Compact

    Behringer X32 Compact

    Overview:

    If you’re serious about sound, the Behringer X32 Compact is a powerhouse that brings professional studio quality to your live setup.

    Pros:
    • Intuitive layout with motorized faders for precise control
    • Virtual FX rack with high-quality effects enhances production
    • Large, vibrant TFT screen for easy navigation
    Cons:
    • Weight might be an issue for portability
    • The initial setup could be complex for beginners
    • The sheer number of features might be overwhelming at first

    Unique Selling Point:

    The Behringer X32 Compact stands out for its streamlined design that retains the core functionality of the full-sized X32 mixer in a more portable format, making it an excellent choice for touring bands, small to medium-sized venues, and project studios that need professional-grade mixing capabilities in a space-conscious package.

    Key Benefits:

    • The X32 Compact provides 40 input channels, 16 MIDAS-designed preamps, and 17 motorized faders, all in a compact frame, allowing users to achieve studio-quality sound while easily fitting the mixer into smaller spaces or mobile rigs.
    • It includes a 32 x 32 channel USB audio interface, which enables straightforward multi-track recording and playback, serving users by streamlining the capture of live performances and facilitating studio session work with direct integration to DAWs.
    • The mixer features a comprehensive set of I/O options and full remote control capability via computer, iPad, or iPhone, ensuring users can adjust settings on the fly and expand the system to meet the demands of any live or studio application.
    • Equipped with the same virtual FX rack in the larger X32 model, the Compact version provides users access to high-end effects processors, enhancing live sound or studio mixes without additional outboard gear.
    • The X32 Compact’s compatibility with Behringer’s P-16 personal monitoring system and digital snake systems means it can be part of a scalable audio network, allowing users to grow their setup in line with the evolving needs of their performances and projects.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $2300

     

    Review:

    Our recent session with the Behringer X32 Compact has solidified our appreciation for its intelligent design and robust features. The programmable mic preamps have proven to be a versatile tool, allowing us to capture studio-quality sound easily. As we fiddled with the motorized faders, their smooth operation made adjustments during live performances a breeze.

    Navigating through the mixer’s multiple layers was a seamless experience, thanks to the crisp 7-inch TFT display, showcasing all parameters and settings at a glance. The integrated virtual effects rack is a massive plus, adding professional-grade reverbs, delays, and EQs with just a few taps.

    We have found the X32 Compact’s learning curve steep for those transitioning from analog, but dedicating time to understanding the routing led us to unlock the mixer’s full potential. Despite its bulky nature, it feels right at a gig or studio. Given the substantial positive feedback it has received, it’s clear this mixer stands out in its field.

    #21 Allen & Heath SQ5

    Best For Professional Touring, Live Sound, And Recording With High-Resolution Audio

    Allen & Heath SQ5

    Allen & Heath SQ5

    Overview:

    If you’re in the market for a high-end digital mixer with unrivaled professional capabilities, the Allen & Heath SQ-5 should be on your radar.

    Pros:
    • Superb sound with crisp clarity
    • Intuitive touchscreen enhances workflow
    • Highly customizable setup
    Cons:
    • Some users report issues with multi-track recording
    • Not the lightest option for portable setups
    • Limited total ratings may not reflect a broad range of user experiences

    Unique Selling Point:

    The Allen & Heath SQ5 stands out for its exceptional audio fidelity with a 96kHz FPGA processing engine, making it an excellent choice for audio professionals and musicians who demand high-resolution sound quality and extensive feature sets in both live and studio environments.

    Key Benefits:

    • The SQ5 boasts a 48-channel / 36-bus digital mixer packed into a compact and robust frame, providing users with a wealth of inputs and outputs for flexible connectivity, while its high channel count is perfect for complex setups and demanding scenarios.
    • With its DEEP processing architecture, users can directly embed boutique compressor and preamp emulations into the input and mix channels, delivering analog-like warmth and character without needing outboard gear.
    • The console features a user-friendly touchscreen interface complemented by assignable rotary controls and soft keys, ensuring users can quickly navigate and adjust settings on the fly, enhancing workflow efficiency during live shows or recording sessions.
    • The SQ5 includes an integrated 32×32 USB audio interface for seamless multi-track recording and playback, allowing for high-quality live performance capture and providing an easy link to DAWs for studio work.
    • Advanced features such as automatic mic mixing, a comprehensive suite of FX, and the ability to control the mixer remotely via the SQ MixPad app offer users additional layers of control and flexibility, making it suitable for a wide range of audio applications.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $3650

     

    Review:

    After spending significant time with the Allen & Heath SQ-5, we’ve found its sound quality top-notch. The mixer’s tactile controls and the responsive touchscreen provide a user-friendly experience. Its customization options allow us to adapt to various session needs efficiently.

    We’ve observed the mixer’s low-latency performance firsthand, especially when laying down multiple tracks simultaneously. Recording directly to a USB drive with high-quality preamps is a game-changer for quick, on-the-go sessions.

    However, we’ve noted the multi-tracking issues reported by some users. While we have yet to experience them directly, it’s something to consider before purchasing. Moreover, its weight might be a factor if portability is a priority for you.

    Nonetheless, the Allen & Heath SQ-5 is a top-notch digital audio mixer that can become a central and valuable mixing asset in any professional scenario. 

    Save On Musical Instruments & Studio Gear | Amazon Deals Of The Day

    2. What Is An Audio Mixer?

    An audio mixer is a device that combines, processes and manipulates multiple audio signals simultaneously. We use mixers in various settings, from live concerts to recording studios, to achieve the desired sound balance and quality.

    Analog Vs. Digital Audio Mixers

    Analog mixers work with continuous voltage levels and are known for their warm, physically tangible interfaces. Our comparisons reveal that these mixers typically offer the following:

    • Simple, hands-on control
    • Often preferred for their organic sound

    Conversely, digital mixers manipulate audio signals by converting them into digital data. We recognize digital mixers for their:

    • Precision and programmability
    • Extensive feature sets with effects, saving, and recall options

    3. Audio Mixer Buying Guide

    Channels

    Consider the number of channels you’ll need when choosing an audio mixer. This depends on how many microphones and other input sources you plan to connect:

    • Simple setups: 2 to 4 channels
    • Intermediate: 5 to 12 channels
    • Advanced: 12+ channels

    Connectivity

    We should also look at the types of connectivity the mixer supports. Here are vital connectors and their uses:

    • XLR: For microphones
    • 1/4 inch: For instruments and line-level sources
    • USB/Firewire: For direct computer or audio interface
    • RCA: For consumer audio devices

    EQ Controls

    Equalization is crucial for shaping your audio’s tone. We want mixers that offer at least a 3-band EQ (low, mid, high) to effectively tweak the sound per channel:

    • Low: Adjusts bass frequencies
    • Mid: Shapes the middle frequencies
    • High: Controls treble frequencies

    Effects And Processing

    In-built effects can enhance the sound without external processors. Opt for mixers that provide a range of options, from reverb to delay:

    • Primary effects: Ideal for small gigs or home use
    • Advanced processing: Required for professional mixing settings

    Bus And Routing Options

    Bus options determine the flexibility in signal routing. More buses allow complex routing setups necessary for multi-track recording:

    • Sub-buses: For grouping channels
    • Aux sends: For monitors and external effects

    Durability And Build Quality

    Finally, we must choose a durable mixer with a solid build quality. It should withstand regular use and transport, especially for live performances:

    • Metal chassis: Stronger and more durable
    • Compact design: Preferable for portability
    • Quality faders and knobs: Essential for longevity and precision

    By carefully considering these features, we can select a mixer that best fits our audio needs and ensures high-quality performance.

    4. Finding Your Perfect Audio Mixer: Key Takeaways

    When considering buying audio mixers, we first need to assess our sound requirements. Whether we’re beginner podcasters or experienced audio engineers greatly influences our choice. It’s crucial to tally I/O (input/output) needs alongside envisioning future projects that may demand a more robust setup.

    We should also contemplate the environment where we’ll primarily use the mixer. A sturdy, compact mixer is ideal for on-the-go recordings, while larger studio-based projects might benefit from more expansive ones with advanced features. Budget is a necessary consideration, and we’ve found that price often correlates with audio fidelity and build quality.

    Our Top Picks For The Best Audio Mixers

    Best Budget Audio Mixers

    Best Midrange Audio Mixers

    Best High-End Audio Mixers

    Key Specifications To Consider

    • Channel Count: How many microphones or instruments need to be connected?
    • Connectivity: USB, FireWire, or Thunderbolt audio interfacing with computers or other equipment.
    • Portability: Size and durability for mobile or stationary use.
    • Effects: Built-in processors for sound enhancements and corrections.

    Ideal Features For Different Users

    • Beginners: User-friendly interface with primary effects and processing.
    • Professionals: Multi-track recording, high-quality preamps, and extensive routing flexibility.

    Final Thoughts

    We recognize the value of investing in mixers that offer expandability. This ensures that our equipment grows alongside our skills and project complexity. Finally, we always recommend checking for warranty and customer support services accompanying your purchase to secure peace of mind.

    Happy mixing!

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    5. FAQ

    1) What's the difference between analog and digital audio mixers?

    Analog mixers use traditional knob and fader controls to alter sound signal paths. Digital mixers, on the other hand, process sound internally through digital signal processing, allowing for more precision and saved presets.

    2) Which audio mixers do professionals recommend for studio recording?

    Professionals often recommend mixers like the Solid State Logic (SSL) SiX or the Yamaha MG20 XU for studio recording. These models provide superior sound quality and robust features that cater to recording precision and flexibility.

    3) Can you suggest high-quality audio mixers suitable for integration with PC systems?

    We suggest the Behringer X32 Producer or the Mackie ProFXv3 series for PC integration. They offer USB connectivity, compatible with most DAW software, making them ideal for seamless PC integration.

    4) What are the most reputable brands in the audio mixer industry?

    Reputable brands that produce high-quality mixers include Yamaha, Soundcraft, Allen & Heath, and Behringer. They are well-respected for their reliability and performance in various audio environments.

    5) Which audio mixers are preferred by DJs for their performance setups?

    DJs frequently prefer mixers like the Pioneer DJM series and the Mackie DLZ Creator. These mixers offer robust control surfaces, effects, and connectivity options tailored for live DJ performances.

    6) What is considered the best small mixer for live performance scenarios?

    The Yamaha MG10 XU is considered one of the best small mixers for live performances, offering high-quality preamps, compact size, and ease of use, which are crucial for performers on the move.

    Next Steps

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    Thank You For Reading!

    “Thank you for taking the time to read our post. We hope you found the insights informative and valuable. Don’t hesitate to contact us anytime with your thoughts and concerns about the topic—we’d love to hear from you!