In the following review, we’ve compiled three of the best audio mixers available based on their sound quality, ease of use and their bang-for-the-buck factor. We’ll also help you decide which of the three will best suit your needs.
Introduction to the Audio Mixer
Learning how to use anew audio mixer for the first time can be a little tricky, but picking one out doesn’t have to be. Although a product’s specifications are an important deciding factor, there are other things to think about. That’s where we come in. In the following review, we’ve compiled three of the best audio mixers available based on their sound quality, ease of use and their bang-for-the-buck factor. We’ll also help you decide which of the three will best suit your needs. Because the value of an audio mixer will, to some degree, depend on your own needs, our buyer’s guide will help you sort through different audio mixers to discover just what it is you should be looking for in your next model. Let’s get to it.
Top Ranked Audio Mixers
Behringer Xenyx 802
Made with large-scale mixing in mind, the Behringer Xenyx 802 is an excellent choice whether you’re playing solo shows or are responsible for recording an entire band’s first demo CD. It comes with eight audio inputs, meaning you’ll be able to deal with eight different musicians at any one time, depending on the instruments used and how many audio inputs each musician may use themselves (a drummer, for example, may require more than one depending on the sound they’re going for). This makes it great for recording a lot of people at once, or for preforming as a solo artist, being that the mixer in question will be able to make up for not having another three or four different artists at your disposal over the course of any one time.
It comes with an excellent level of sensitivity when it comes to actually picking up on noise. While any given instrument will certainly be able to produce enough sound for your average mixer to pick up on, this is a great feature for when you want a full scope on the sound you’re producing through picking up on quiet-yet-intentional sounds, such as if you’re working with a drummer who favors padded drumsticks during certain parts of certain songs. Simply put, the Behringer Xenyx 802 is heavy-duty in stature. It comes with everything you could possibly need, no matter which music-centric situations you may happen to find yourself in. Although it may be a bit higher in price, the fact that it can function optimally under so many different circumstances means you won’t have to worry about replacing it for quite some time.
Mackie Mix Mix8
As its name beings to suggest, the Mackie Mix Mix8 is similar to the above audio mixer in that it comes with eight audio inputs. Once again, this unit works well for any situation, making it versatile. It has everything you’ll need, no matter the circumstances. Another similarity it shares with the previously-discussed audio mixer is its great ability to pick up on quiet sounds, once again making sure it doesn’t miss on any sounds you actually want it to hear.
However, while the above feature would be considered as being quite useful by most, it’s worth noting that, if you’re working with beginners or are a beginner yourself, its ability to pick up on quiet sounds may prove detrimental, being that it will pick up both intentional sounds as well as unintentional sounds. It’s up to you to decide whether or not this is a feature which you’d like to see in an audio mixer based on your current skill level when it comes to actually playing your instrument (or the skill level of those you plan on working with).
Of course, while its features are certainly impressive, there’s one thing you must look at in any audio mixer – its sound quality. After all, there’s not much use messing around with high-end features if the sound being outputted still isn’t all that great. Luckily, when choosing to go with the Mackie Mix Mix8, this won’t prove to be an issue. By looking at the unit’s user reviews on its official Amazon listing (click its name above if you’d like to see for yourself), you’ll notice an absence of any negative reviews criticizing the Mackie Mix Mix8’s sound quality. In fact, you won’t really see any negative reviews at all. As with the last model we covered, this makes the Mackie Mix Mix8 one of the safer purchases you can make, not just because of its high quality, but because of its ability to tackle a wide variety of situations.
Pyle 5-Channel Professional Compact Mixer
As great as the above two products are, you might not need them. Of course, only you will know whether or not this is the case. However, if you’ve decided that most of the above products’ eight channels will go unused, it’s safe to say that paying for such a high amount of channels will do little more than drain your wallet. If this sounds like you, you may find the Pyle to be a better option due to its lower price.
What makes the Pyle so great is that, despite coming in at a much lower price than the above two models, it preforms equally well. This is due to it having less channels (extra channels cost a lot more money). As such, if you know five channels will be all you ever need, the Pyle will save you quite a bit of money without offering any downsides to speak of. Its sound quality is still on par with the above units and you’ll actually even find it easier to use, making it better than the above two units depending on your skill level.
Top Rated Audio Mixers Summary
There’s no doubt about it – all three of the above audio mixers are some of the most high-quality products of their type. However, whether or not any given mixer will actually work for you will all come down to what you need to find in a mixer. For example, the last product we covered is, without a doubt, your very best choice if you’re certain that you’ll never need more than the five channels it comes equipped with. This is because its low amount of channels brings its price down substantially, so you don’t need to worry about making any other sacrifices to get a bargain on your next audio mixer. Besides, why bother paying for features that you know you’ll never use to begin with?
On the other hand, it goes without saying that the above model won’t work for everyone. Whether you know you’ll need more than five channels, or whether you’re unsure of the future and want to make sure you have all of your bases covered through your next audio mixer purchase, it doesn’t get a whole lot better than the first two models we covered above. Although they may be a bit pricier, the price isn’t all that high when you compare either unit to its overall level of quality. However, because they have more channels and controls, be prepared to undergo a bit of a learning curve if this is your first audio mixer.
Audio Mixer Buyers Guide
What is an Audio Mixer
If none of the above three models seem to have what you’re looking for, you can still walk away with a very good product by forgetting about the above three and doing some shopping on your own. Of course, when doing so, it’s safe to say you’ll come across different audio mixers of varying quality. Although I may not be able to comment on the quality of every single unit you come across, I can certainly help you decide for yourself just what to look for in an audio mixer through the below buyer’s guide. Keep some of the below considerations in mind to ensure your next audio mixer purchase is a successful audio mixer purchase.
How many channels do you really need?
I can’t stress this enough. Nothing drives up an audio mixer’s price like its level of channels. As such, buying more channels than you need will either have you paying more money or have you sacrificing on the overall quality of the unit to keep your price agreeable. Of course, you really don’t want to see either of these things in your next purchase. As such, it’s important to consider just how many channels you really need if you’d like to keep things at all frugal.
Of course, there’s nothing frugal about buying an audio mixer just to have it go unused, leaving you needing to purchase another one. As such, it’s important not to get too little an amount of channels either. This being the case, you might not want to be too conservative in how many channels you go for. It might be worth getting one or two more than you know you need just to be safe in the future, though any more than that is liable to be a waste.
Who will you be recording?
Some audio mixers can cut back on the amount of mistakes they pick up. For example, newer guitarists who find they still make a whole lot of swiping noises as they change chords may actually prefer a model that doesn’t pick up on every little sound, as this will likely better the finished product through making it sound more clean. On the other hand, such models are considered as being low quality and should not be considered by more experienced musicians. In fact, these models may be downright detrimental depending on your play style, being that they may even distort or mute noises as loud as a very soft finger pick. It’s up to you to decide where your skill level (or the skill level of those you’ll be recording) is and acting accordingly.
What end result are you looking for?
If your answer to the above question was anything but “basic,” you really want to get an audio mixer that has very sensitive EQ controls. These allow you to fine-tune sounds to your taste, much more than a guitar’s settings would allow you to. On the other hand, if you simply want to record one of your songs at demo quality, sensitive controls won’t only be pointless, they might be downright frustrating. Think of sensitive controls like a shower tap that makes the water turn from ice cold to burning hot after being moved an inch. The same sort of thing applies here. When you have a high level of control, though know you won’t use it, all it takes is a slip of the finger to throw things off. What’s more, better EQ controls typically cost more. So, if you’re not using them to their full advantage, why bother?
Types of Audio Mixers
There are two types of audio mixers at your disposal. Which one you decide to go with will all come down to a matter of personal preference; there is no right or wrong answer. Take a look below to see which is best for you.
- Analog – Analog audio mixers give you everything you need to churn out a great sound; no more, no less. As such, they can certainly get the job done, though they do so at a relatively low price. Their downside is their lack of digital display, possibly make them harder to read.
- Digital – Digital mixers are similar, though, as I’m sure you can guess, come with digital capabilities. While they produce a similar sound, they may be easier to read, though harder to learn. They also come at a much higher price relative to their overall level of quality.
It’s up to you to decide which type of mixer is best for you. By keeping all of the above information in mind, you can be sure that you’ll get the best product for your needs with minimal effort. Remember, if you just can’t seem to hit the nail on the head, you can always pick from one of the above three units we covered earlier.