In the world of audio production, digital mixers have become the heart of modern sound systems. As we’re moving through 2023, the market for digital mixers is growing, offering a variety of products, each with its own unique features and price points. Whether you’re an experienced sound engineer or an aspiring music producer, finding the best digital mixer can seem like a daunting task.
But don’t worry, this article’s here to help you out by giving you a detailed look at the best digital mixers in 2023. From compact units perfect for your home studio to comprehensive systems for professional setups, we’ve got it all. So, let’s embrace the blend of technology and creativity and explore the rhythm of the best digital mixers of 2023!
The Allen & Heath Qu-16 Chrome is a compact digital mixer that has generated significant interest in the audio world due to its inbuilt multitrack recording ability and quick boot-up time. It is designed to be simple and easy to use with a sleek and functional design. All input/output connections are conveniently located on the back panel to reduce cable clutter, and the front panel features an angled design for easy visibility and use of the touchscreen.
- Compact and versatile with an intuitive layout for ease of use
- Quick boot-up time of about 10 seconds
- 16 mono inputs with XLR microphone and TRS line sockets, as well as three pairs of stereo line inputs
- Individual fader, mute, and solo/PFL buttons for each channel
- Comprehension set of controls within the Channel Block for processing
- Ability to record and playback audio with a USB QuDrive port and a streaming USB port
- Wireless control via an iPad, making it a popular choice for live performances
- High build quality ensuring secure top-panel controls and hard-mounted rear connections
The Allen & Heath Qu-16 is generally well-regarded for its feature set and affordability.
The Qu-16 Chrome is specifically designed to provide a familiar experience for users transitioning from analogue desks. This compact digital mixer features one fader for every input, eliminating the need for layering and making it easy to adjust settings. It offers full recalls, allowing for easy recall of all settings at the touch of a button.
With 22 inputs equipped with mic preamps, phantom power, and a variable high pass filter, it provides a comprehensive range of controls within the Channel Block for processing. The mixer includes a 4-band fully parametric EQ with gain, width, and frequency controls, offering precise adjustments to obtain high-quality sound.
The Qu-16 Chrome encompasses three primary buttons for mixing: mute, select, and P (solo). Ten XLR outputs facilitate connections to floor wedges, powered monitors, and wireless in-ear systems. The device includes four effects processors for reverb and delay, adjustable via the effects buttons and the corresponding data knob.
This digital mixer shines with its unique Q drive feature that enables multi-track recording directly to a formatted hard drive, thereby eliminating the need for a laptop and software. This, alongside the mixer’s USB interface for recording, makes it convenient for recording on the go.
The device’s iPad control delivers a familiar interface and allows remote adjustments with zero latency. It offers multi-touch functionality for precise adjustments. The mixer includes output processing with a 4-band parametric EQ and a 1/3 octave graphic EQ, designed to be quick and easy to use for those transitioning from analogue desks. This makes the Allen & Heath Qu-16 Chrome a versatile and user-friendly digital mixing experience.
The Presonus StudioLive 32SC is a compact, rack-mountable digital mixer that offers 32 channels with a powerful range of features. Enhanced by a dual-core PreSonus FLEX DSP Engine, the StudioLive 32SC allows for 286 simultaneous processors, 26 mix buses, and 40 inputs, making it a highly versatile choice for both studio recording and live performances.
Its 64×64 USB interface allows seamless integration with computers and digital audio sources while offering 32 channels of recording to USB or an SD card using the included PreSonus Capture recording software.
- Rack-mountable with 32 channels and 17 motorized faders
- Powered by dual-core PreSonus FLEX DSP Engine
- Expandable via AVB networking for customized onstage mixes and additional inputs
- Fat Channel processing section for vintage-style EQ and classic compression
- Includes PreSonus Capture recording software
- Features high-quality components for superior sound quality
- Various routing options thanks to the 16 FlexMixes that can be set as aux buses, subgroups, or matrix mixes
- 128-channel USB interface for seamless integration
The Presonus StudioLive 32SC digital console mixer is priced at approximately $1,999.99, which is competitive considering its range of professional-level features and performance.
The StudioLive 32SC is highly praised for its sound quality, depth, and ease of use, and many believe that its superior sonic quality is a result of its higher sample rate (44.1 or 48k). The mixer’s audio depth and bandwidth allow for more dynamic music peaks, and its powerful output signal path allows the lows to drive deeper without sounding compressed at high volumes.
In terms of features, the mixer offers flying faders and a large touch screen, which allow for easy control and navigation. The built-in effects, including digital reverb, vintage plate reverb, mono delays, stereo delay, ping pong delay, chorus, and flanger, are easily assignable to four different slots for mixing flexibility. The mixer also offers up to 8 stereo pairs for track assigning, making it highly convenient for creating different mixes.
However, the mixer has been noted to lack a pink noise generator and some have suggested adding a tone generator as well as having the scene name displayed on the bottom of the screen at all times. Additionally, there have been comments about the mixer’s touch screen not being very responsive and the mobile app for mixing in-ear monitors occasionally being glitchy. Despite these minor drawbacks, the StudioLive 32SC remains a reliable and versatile choice for professional audio mixing.
The Soundcraft Ui24R is a digital mixing and multitrack recording system. It’s designed with convenience and versatility in mind, equipped with dual-band wireless or Ethernet control and engineered into a portable 4U rackmounting case.
This system is part of the Harman Connected PA family concept, showcasing Soundcraft’s innovative design principles. The Ui24R features an efficient design that is both attractive and functional. The unit can be used with or without a rack case, and it includes a comprehensive mixer section sufficient for a reasonably large band. Additionally, the Ui24R can serve as a complete recording interface.
- Innovative browser control: This enables users to interact with the unit via any suitable browser on any web-enabled device, eliminating the need to download a specific control app.
- Multichannel recording: The Ui24R can capture the main mix as a stereo file or record 22 individual direct outs to a USB drive.
- Capable of wireless operation: It can be controlled wirelessly from up to 10 devices via iOS, Android, Windows, Mac OS, and Linux browsers.
- Robust signal processing options: It offers a range of onboard processing options, including a four-band parametric EQ, high- and low-pass filters, compressor, de-esser, and noise gate on every input channel.
- Advanced control surface: Users can control the Ui24R via a user-friendly control surface that is displayed on any device’s browser. This control surface offers precise control and stability.
The Soundcraft Ui24R is priced at approximately $1099 in the US. This pricing makes it an affordable option for musicians, venues, and home studios.
The Soundcraft Ui24R proves to be a versatile digital mixing console. The wireless control via a browser interface on any device brings a new level of convenience. The unit features 20 mic/line inputs, the ability to play back MP3 and WAV files from a USB stick, and 8 line outputs. All these add to its versatility.
Adding to the robust feature set, the Ui24R has 4 effects engines built in, including reverb, delay, and amp modeling for guitars. It even includes a 31-band graphic EQ and DBX A2 feedback suppression for the aux outputs.
However, with all these features, it’s important to note that it might take a bit of time to navigate through all the menus and functions. After mastering the setup and operation, the Soundcraft Ui24R can quickly become a cost-effective solution compared to traditional analogue desks. Its price point — $1399 — provides a range of features and processing options, thus making it a versatile and powerful tool for both live and studio applications.
Being able to connect to multiple devices is a major advantage, as it allows multiple engineers and musicians to have control over their own mixes. Furthermore, the Ui24R can support up to 10 wireless devices connected at once. This can be a huge benefit during live performances.
In summary, the Soundcraft Ui24R is a solid choice for those seeking a comprehensive and reliable digital mixing console. It offers a good balance of features, power, and affordability.
The Behringer XAir XR18 is an 18-channel, 12-bus digital mixer that has been designed with compatibility in mind for iPad and Android tablets. Featuring 16 programmable Midas preamps, an integrated Wi-Fi module, and a multi-channel USB audio interface, this compact and affordable option is an appealing choice for live sound mixing.
- 16 programmable Midas preamps deliver high-quality sound.
- Integrated Wi-Fi module and Ethernet port offer multiple control options.
- Multi-channel USB audio interface facilitates recording and playback on an external DAW application.
- X-Air control app provides comprehensive control over all mixer functions.
- Extensive control and digital I/O connectors allow for versatile use.
- Compact size and sturdy build make it portable and durable.
- Inclusion of Behringer’s X32 effects engine offers a variety of effects for enhanced sound production.
The Behringer XAir XR18 is marketed as an affordable digital mixer, proud of offering an array of professional features within a competitive price range.
Speaking from the perspective of many who have experienced this product, the Behringer XAir XR18 is an exceptional digital mixer. Its ability to handle both instruments and vocals is versatile, and the 16 mic and line level inputs, including the first two inputs which accept high z inputs for instruments, make it a versatile choice for music production.
The compact and lightweight design of the mixer simplifies transport and setup, and the built-in Wi-Fi router excludes the need for an external router. There are also six aux outputs for creating monitor mixes or feeding hardware processors.
Moreover, the Behringer XAir XR18 also houses four effects sends with built-in effects processors including reverb, delay, and chorus. It’s also capable of being used as a recording interface with a computer or iOS device, providing 18 inputs and outputs.
The XAir app further enhances the product’s appeal. Its user-friendly interface allows for easy control and monitoring of the mixer. The mixer’s design is durable and elegant, with a high-quality fit and finish that is both pleasing to the eye and robust in its construction.
In terms of value for money, the professional-level features and functionality provided by the XAir XR18 make it a top contender in its price range. It’s versatile, powerful, and a reliable choice for live performances, studio recording, and portable setups.
The Yamaha TF1 is an entry-level digital mixer in the Yamaha’s TF series. It’s designed for live sound applications, offering 16 combi XLR inputs, two big FX returns, and 1:1 routing. This digital mixer is specifically tailored to the 16-32 channel professional mixer market.
The layout of the TF1 is intuitive, featuring a multi-touch screen and a Touch & Turn knob for smooth operation. Additionally, it’s equipped with 1-knob EQ and Comp functions providing quick and easy control over channel dynamics. The TF1 is also capable of both front-of-house and monitor mixing, offering features like stereo aux sends and on-board effects.
- Versatility: It boasts of 16 input channels, 20 aux buses, and 16 outputs that are ideal for live sound mixing.
- User-friendly Interface: With its touchscreen interface and hardware controls, it offers an intuitive workflow for both professional and casual users.
- Preset Library: The TF1 comes with a comprehensive library of factory presets, including specific settings for popular microphones.
- High-Quality Sound: The sound quality of the TF1 is clean and uncolored due to its D-Pre front-end amps.
- Affordability: It is a cost-effective option for those transitioning from analogue to digital mixing.
- Wireless Control: It can be controlled wirelessly using the TF StageMix iPad app.
- Recording Capabilities: The TF1 has a USB port for stereo playback or recording.
The Yamaha TF1 is competitively priced. The console costs $3999, making it a cost-effective option for those seeking to transition from analogue to digital mixing.
From my perspective, the TF1 offers a variety of advantages. It is powerful, versatile, and full-featured. The 16 input channels, 24 channels via USB, and the ability to record 24 channels out make it ideal for different sound applications. With motorized faders for each input channel and 20 buses available, adjusting sound levels and managing multiple inputs is a breeze. The TF1 also features two effects processors based on the classic Yamaha SPX processors, giving users the ability to enhance their audio with professional-grade effects.
The heart of the TF1 is the touch touchscreen, which allows for easy access to all channels, editing parameters, and assigning functions. The TF1 also has channel presets which make it easy for users to quickly recall settings for different microphones and applications. This feature, along with the TF1’s compatibility with iOS devices for wireless control and monitoring, contribute to its user-friendliness and intuitive design.
On the flip side, the TF1’s input channels can only directly access two of the eight FX processors at a time, with the rest being accessed via the stereo aux groups. This might be a limitation for users who need to use more effects simultaneously.
Despite this, the TF1 proves to be a versatile and flexible console that offers a range of features and power at an affordable price. Its high-quality microphone preamps and studio-grade audio interfaces, along with its recording capabilities, make it suitable for a variety of venues and situations.
The Zoom LiveTrak L-12 is a versatile piece of equipment that combines a digital mixer, audio interface, and digital recorder. It features 12 input channels, eight of which are equipped with high-quality mic preamps and phantom power, providing pristine sound quality.
Furthermore, the device has a user-friendly layout with dedicated channel strip controls and lacks solo buttons. The LiveTrak L-12 can record up to 14 channels simultaneously, providing a highly flexible recording solution.
- A multifunctional device combining a digital mixer, audio interface, and digital recorder.
- Features 12 input channels with high-quality mic preamps and phantom power.
- Records up to 14 channels simultaneously.
- Equipped with a scene-based recall system for easy access to mixer settings.
- User-friendly layout with dedicated channel strip controls.
- Offers a range of 16 onboard effects with adjustable parameters.
- Capable of functioning as a 14-in/4-out USB audio interface.
- Supports various operation modes including audio interface mode, USB host mode, and card reader mode.
The Zoom LiveTrak L-12 is available at various retailers for $649.99.
The LiveTrak L-12 is praised for its quick recording setup and intuitive operation, making it a handy solution for quick recordings of rehearsals or studio master recordings. It’s versatile, suitable for both studio and live use, and offers an impressive combination of features. It’s compact and lightweight, making it easy to transport for on-the-go recording sessions.
The device boasts 12 input channels, each with a gain control, a built-in compressor, a 3-band EQ with sweep mid-range, pan control, and a low-cut filter. This provides musicians and sound engineers with a great deal of control over the sound they’re recording or mixing. The ability to record up to 14 channels simultaneously is another big plus.
However, the device does lack a solo function, which some people might find a drawback. The two-step recording process can also be seen as a minor inconvenience. Also, while the onboard effects and EQs are helpful, some might prefer using dedicated effects pedals or plugins for more advanced options.
Despite these few drawbacks, the LiveTrak L-12 definitely offers a lot of value for its price, making it a fantastic choice for bands and musicians looking for a comprehensive and affordable mixing board, recorder, and audio interface.
The Tascam Model 12 is a distinctive analogueue mixer, which doubles as a USB interface, DAW controller, and multitrack recorder. It’s designed with a retro aesthetic, and is packed with features such as mic/line/instrument inputs, compressors, EQ, aux sends, and a built-in effects processor.
It’s capable of recording and playback in both 16 or 24-bit and 44.1 or 48 kHz PCM. It’s an upgrade from its predecessor, the Model 24, with additional features such as a USB MIDI interface and basic DAW-controller facilities.
- Compact design with versatile function as a standalone mixer, USB interface, DAW controller, and multitrack recorder
- Eight main input channels each with a mic preamp and a 0-50 dB gain range
- One-knob compressors and a three-band EQ section on each channel
- Flexible signal processing options, with the ability to record pre- or post-compressor, and pre- or post-EQ
- Vamp Playback feature that allows looping playback during up to 10 sections of a song
- Metronome/click-track facility with various routing options
- Outputs MIDI Time Code and MIDI Clock during recording and playback
- Can function as a USB interface, presenting 12 input channels to your computer and DAW software
The Tascam Model 12 is positioned as offering significant value for money, particularly considering the range of features and functions that it offers.
In my view, the Tascam Model 12 stands out for its streamlined design. Its tidy rear panel layout makes it easy to navigate, and all input and output connections are logically placed. The two aux sends that can be set as pre- or post-fader allow for greater flexibility. Moreover, the master-section EQ with low, high, and swept mid bands offers more control over the audio output.
The versatility of the Model 12 is another key strength. The Vamp Playback feature, metronome/click-track facility, and the ability to output MIDI Time Code and MIDI Clock are features that add to its appeal. Added to this, the Model 12 can function as a USB interface, presenting 12 input channels to a computer and DAW software, which underscores its versatility.
On the other hand, there could be limitations to the Tascam Model 12’s compact design. The limited number of input channels could be a potential downside for users requiring more extensive inputs. However, this may not be an issue for those who are looking for a compact analogueue mixer for smaller-scale recording setups. Furthermore, while the retro aesthetic may be a plus for some, others may prefer a more modern design.
The Model 12’s standalone multi-track recording capability is a notable feature. This ability to insert an SD card and start recording, eliminating the need for a computer, is a significant benefit. In addition, being able to apply compression and EQ in real-time while recording adds to the appeal.
Overall, the Model 12 offers a range of features and capabilities that make it an excellent choice. Its flexibility, user-friendly design, and ability to function in multiple roles make it a strong contender in the compact analogueue mixer category.
The MACKIE DL-1608 is a compact, digital audio mixer that can be operated via an iPad. It contains 16 inputs and 10 outputs, which includes six auxiliary outs and a stereo mix out. The mixer utilizes Mackie’s Onyx microphone preamplifiers and supports XLR/jack combo connectors for line or instrument inputs.
Furthermore, the DL-1608 comes with Mackie’s free Master Fader iPad application, which serves as the main user interface for the mixer. The app permits full control of the mix, featuring view and mute groups, subgroups with bus processing, and the capability to save and recall scenes.
- It can be controlled remotely from one or more iPads via Wi-Fi.
- It presents a range of features including a gate, compressor, and 4-band parametric EQ for each channel.
- It has built-in effects, including reverb and delay, and a 31-band graphic EQ for each output.
- It supports the creation and saving of scenes and presets, as well as the ability to store and recall snapshots.
- It allows for live shows as well as recording, with the ability to playback audio from the iPad and record the mix in stereo.
The DL-1608 aims to strike a balance between attracting professional users with its functionality and appealing to small and medium-budget users with its reasonable price.
As an audio professional, I appreciate the DL-1608 for its innovative features. The mixer’s ability to be controlled entirely through an iPad gives me the mobility and freedom to mix from anywhere in the venue. Furthermore, it allows up to 10 iPads to control the same mixer simultaneously. This unique feature makes it easier for band members to adjust their own monitor mixes.
The DL-1608’s compact and lightweight design is a clear advantage. Its portability makes it suitable for a variety of applications, from small gigs to larger productions. This innovation is complemented with its high-quality Onyx microphone inputs, dedicated gain controls, and a range of processing options, including EQ, compression, and effects.
The Mackie Master app further enhances the mixer’s functionality, providing a user-friendly interface that features presets, snapshots, and recording capabilities. However, there’s no delay compensation on outputs or inputs. Also, there is room for improvement in its graphical user interface. Suggestions include better visual differentiation between the L/R mix and the aux layers, redesigning the EQ page to accommodate aux-send levels, and adding an all-effects bypass button.
Despite these minor setbacks, the DL-1608 provides a convenient and versatile solution for live mixing with its wireless controls, built-in effects, and intuitive user interface. Through its use, the DL-1608 has demonstrated that it is a practical choice for various applications.
In the realm of sound engineering, digital mixers have changed the game. They’ve revolutionized how we process audio, offering a slew of features designed to enhance both sound quality and workflow. Digital mixers, like the models from Allen & Heath, Presonus, and Soundcraft we’re discussing here, bring a host of benefits that can significantly improve your audio experience in various applications, from live performances and television broadcasting to podcast creation.
One of the standout perks of digital mixers is their ability to store pre-configured mix “Scenes,” which you can recall at the touch of a button. This feature simplifies the process of setting up the mixer for different performances or environments, saving you valuable time. For worship events or concerts with a variety of music performances, the digital mix console’s capacity to store and recall channel Equalizers (EQ) and effects settings for each member of the group is a real game-changer.
Digital mixers also give you precise control over the audio signal, leading to improved sound quality. They allow for the exact tuning of microphone inputs and speaker outputs, resulting in clearer sound and more volume before feedback occurs. Plus, digital mixers are more resistant to external sounds, ensuring cleaner sound reproduction.
Advanced features like built-in auto-mixers, which can automatically balance the volume when a sound operator isn’t available, are another plus of digital mixers. They also let you make adjustments discreetly during an event from a mobile device connected to a WiFi network.
The ability to create multi-track recordings using the mixer as the front-end to a computer recording platform is another significant advantage. This feature makes digital mixers an ideal choice for applications that require the creation of complex soundscapes, like music production or podcasting.
The benefits of using a digital mixer extend to enhanced sound quality, greater control, and streamlined workflow, all contributing to an improved overall audio experience. However, as with any advanced technology, getting the most out of a digital mixer requires some learning and practice. But once you’re familiar, a digital mixer can offer a level of performance and flexibility that’s hard to match.
If you’re involved in audio production, whether it’s for live sound, recording studios, broadcasting, or post-production, a digital mixer is a must-have. Essentially, a digital mixer is an audio mixer that uses digital technology to process audio signals. It turns analogue audio signals into digital data, which you can then manipulate and process using digital algorithms. This gives you a host of features and capabilities that aren’t possible with analogue mixers, like built-in effects, advanced routing options, and the ability to save and recall settings.
One thing that sets digital mixers apart is their ability to accept incoming signals from various sources, such as microphones, line level sources, and instrument-level sources. They process these signals by adjusting the gain, applying EQ, adding effects, and summing the signals together to create a stereo or multi-channel output. Plus, digital mixers offer more comprehensive routing of signals to monitors and other destinations.
Digital mixers are quite different from their analogue counterparts in how they accomplish these tasks. While analogue mixers offer a direct, hands-on experience, digital mixers provide extended features and functionality. For example, digital mixers often have built-in processing capabilities, reducing your need for external hardware. They also offer more flexibility in assigning inputs and outputs, more extensive metering capabilities, and the ability to store and recall settings, making it easier to switch between different setups or bands.
What’s more, digital mixers give you a level of control that isn’t achievable with analogue mixers. They can be controlled remotely, offering each musician their own separate mix. They can also serve as control surfaces for recording in the studio and then be used as live mixers, providing a dual functionality that’s beneficial for musicians and engineers who work in both settings.
Choosing between a digital mixer and an analogue mixer will depend on several factors such as ease of use, flexibility, sound quality, and long-term support. While digital mixers may have a steeper learning curve, they offer more features and functionality. On the other hand, analogue mixers are simpler to operate but may require additional external hardware for specific processing needs. Both types of mixers can deliver excellent sound quality and results. The choice really comes down to your individual preferences and specific requirements.
In an era where technology adds an extra layer of magic to every work of human creativity, it’s no surprise that the realm of sound engineering has seen an evolution with digital mixers. These power-packed devices, as you’ve seen, bring impressively versatile and robust features to the table, including preset recall abilities, precision audio signal control, enhanced sound quality, discreet remote adjustments, and advanced recording capabilities.
Indeed, digital mixers have gone beyond simply facilitating sound manipulation. They’ve transformed it into a flexible, fine-tunable art. Be it the portable Allen & Heath Qu-16 Chrome, the rack-mountable Presonus StudioLive 32SC, the wireless Soundcraft Ui24R, the iPad-compatible Behringer XAir XR18, the entry-level Yamaha TF1, or the multifunctional Zoom LiveTrak L-12, each mixer boasts of a unique approach to delivering top-notch audio quality.
These devices don’t just amplify the sound, they magnify the possibilities. They stretch the boundaries of what’s doable in a live performance, a recording studio, a broadcast system, or a post-production setup. They promote creativity, efficiency, and high-quality output.