Top 10 Analog and Digital Mixers for your Home Studio

When it comes to live performances and multi-track recording, a mixing console is the go-to piece of equipment that’s perfect for the job. Having a mixer in your home studio will not only give you a more expandable approach to recording, but it can also come in handy when live streaming, podcasting and monitoring with more flexibility.

Mixer vs. Audio interface

Most beginners will confuse a mixer from an audio interface, since they both have similarities in purpose. While mixers and audio interfaces have that, distinguishing the difference between their features is important to take note of, depending on your needs.

An analog mixer will let you track and record several instruments at once, which you can monitor as a whole. The advantage here also lies in how you can tweak the EQ and effects on each instrument in real time. On the other hand, most audio interfaces only have 1-2 inputs and outputs, depending on the brand and model. Your EQ and effects will have to be done at post-production, which leaves you no room to tweak the sound on the go.

While a mixer may come in handy during live performances involving several instruments, it is also possible to get a multi-input audio interface for recording; both will differ in terms audio quality. The audio interface will have a slightly better sound which is ideal for recording, while the mixer will be a more practical choice for live performances.

In some cases, especially with the advancement of today’s audio products, there are 2-in-1 mixers which have a built-in audio interfaces in them. This provides more flexibility, but will in turn, cost more.

Digital vs. Analog

Two types of mixing consoles have been in the market for quite some time now. Choosing the right type for your needs and budget constraint is crucial so that you can buy your money’s worth. Here are some pros and cons to take note of:

Analog Mixers – Pros and cons

  • Cheap/affordable but has less flexibility or features
  • Easier to use, the basic layout gives you a more intuitive user experience

Digital Mixers – Pros and cons

  • More expensive but is more flexible and has better features
  • Some are harder to use, given its flexibility
  • Can save presets or pre-programmed mixes which you can use as a template
  • Some models have audio-interface capabilities in them

Buying the right mixing console for your setup will depend on these aspects, but it will also depend on your recording needs. The number of ins and outs you require will matter, as well as the budget that you have.

Here’s a list of analog and digital mixers that are worth buying in 2019:

1. Mackie Mix8

This high-performance, low-channel-count desktop mixer offers 6 inputs, with a pair of microphone pre-amps and switchable phantom power for condenser microphones. Aside from the two additional channels for keyboards, drum machines and other stereo gear, the Mackie Mix8 also has 3-band equalizers and aux sends on each channel.

In a home studio application, the Mackie Mix8 is perfect for acoustic sets, applicable for a duo or trio band recording. While majority of users are also taking advantage of its podcasting capabilities, it can still be used in musical settings. Having a sturdy build wrapped in a steel chasis, you can put this thing in your backpack, utilizing its mobile and compact features.

Type: Analog

Channels: 8

Inputs: 2 XLR mic preamps, 6 line/TRS, 1 stereo and RCA

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Outputs: 2 main TRS, 1 stereo RCA, 2 TRS (control room)

Pros and cons:

  • Affordable, compact, easy to use
  • Some users claim to have noise/hum issues after some time of using them

2. Allen and Heath ZED-10FX

This USB-equipped mixer has 10 inputs and built-in effects, perfect for those who are looking for a compact solution on small band live performances. The Allen and Heath ZED-10FX is well-known for its rugged design and quiet, no hum, no buzz performance.

Despite the number of channels, the ZED-10FX can work well with an acoustic guitar-and-vocals setup, as well as drum tracking. A notable feature is its guitar DI capabilities, letting you replicate the sound of a classic guitar or instrument tube pre-amp in a combo or head amp. If you’re a singer-songwriter and you want a plug-and-play style of recording, then this one is perfect for your home studio.

 

Type: Analog

Channels: 10

Inputs: 4 XLR mic preamps, 4-6 TRS, 2 RCA

Outputs: 2 main XLR, 2 RCA (monitor), 2 RCA (Rec)

Pros and cons:

  • Portable, sturdy build, easy to use, little to no hum/noise performance, great sound
  • Cons: not much

3. Mackie Pro FX12v2

One of the top mixers on the list comes from Mackie, a well-known brand for mixers and pro audio. The Mackie Pro FX12v2 is great for live recording and perfect for home recording studios. It has 6 extremely low-noise Mackie Vita mic preamps, ReadyFX engine with 16 great-sounding effects, and comes with a user-friendly Tracktion recording software.

The Pro FX12v2 would be a nice addition to your home studio if you’re aiming to do live band multi-tracking and recording, while having a smooth-running, straightforward console to work with.

Type: Analog

Channels: 12

Inputs: 6 XLR mic preamps, 12 TRS, 1 stereo RCA, 1 ¼ (footswitch)

Outputs: 2 main XLR, 2 TRS, 1 Stereo RCA

Pros and cons:

  • Compact, excellent sound, simple controls, easy to use
  • Cons: line level inputs do not have enough gain for wireless mics, comes with only 1 main output

4. Yamaha EMX5014C

The Yamaha EMX5014C mixer is an all-in-one powered mixer which provides many features and versatile signal routing options. Perfect for small to mid-sized venues and setups, the EMX5014C has 14 channels, a PFL (pre-fader listen) feature, an 80Hz highpass-filter setup for eliminating low-frequency noise and rumble, as well as some other useful features.

With this console, you can maximize your home studio workflow by taking advantage of its versatile signal routing options.

Type: Powered analog

Channels: 14

Inputs: 6 + 2 XLR mic preamps, 6 1/4″, 4 1/4″ stereo, 4 1/4″ stereo/RCA

Outputs: 2 speakON, 4 1/4″, 2 RCA (Tape), 2 1/4″ (ST Sub)

Pros and cons:

  • Pros: Rackmountable, nice effects, clean sound, easy to use
  • Cons: on the pricey side

5. Presonus StudioLive AR 16

The Presonus StudioLive AR 16 makes it easy to record full sets and podcasts while mixing. This analog mixer with USB interface has 16 channels, can capture a whole live show on an SD card, as well as send all tracks to the included Studio One DAW software. It also has a Bluetooth 4.1 channel which can stream audio from your phone, while also having stereo and mono inputs for other sources.

While having the flexibility of a multiple-channel setup, ideal for a larger band or group recording, this console also gives you a hands-on experience if you’re looking to mix on the go and outside the box. The desktop design lets you recreate a professional studio experience into your own home.

 

Type: Analog with USB interface

Channels: 16

Inputs: 12 XLR mic preamps, 2 1/4″ (line/instrument), 6 1/4″ (line), 8 1/4″ (stereo paired),      2 RCA (stereo pair), 1 1/8″ (stereo)

Outputs: 2 XLR, 2 1/4″ (control room)

Pros and cons:

  • Pros: clean sound, free software is easy to access, install and use, effortless Bluetooth feature
  • Cons: there are no display meters for volume levels, cheap/wobbly faders

6. Zoom live track L12

The first digital mixer on the list, the Zoom live track L12 combines a mixing console, an audio interface and a digital recorder all in one chasis. This multi-functional mixer is not only for live sets, but can also be used when you’re recording in the studio, interfacing with the computer and even iOS devices. It lets you create five custom headphone mixes and it can also let you transfer projects and files to a connected USB flash drive.

In a home studio setting, this would be an essential item if you want a two-in-one solution to recording and multi-tracking. Switching between a mixing console and an audio interface will never be a hassle.

Type: Digital mixer with USB interface

Channels: 12

Inputs: 8 XLR-1/4″ combo (mic/line), 4 1/4″ (2 x stereo channels), 2 Dual RCA Stereo, 2 XLR-1/4″ combo (Hi-Z)

Outputs: 2 XLR (master), 2 1/4″ (monitor)

Pros and cons:

  • Pros: versatile, sleek design, customizable headphone mixes, compact and lightweight
  • Cons: noise bleeding issues when multi-tracking, Recording in 96khz effects issue

7. Behringer X-Air XR18

Not having a usual flat desktop design, the Behringer X-Air XR 18 is a digital wireless mixer which you can control using a tablet or a laptop. While letting you mix from anywhere in the venue without the hassle of having to set up and configure an external router, the X-Air XR18 also has 16 channels, an Ethernet port that connects to a wired network and a set of remote-controllable preamps, among its numerous features.

If you are in need of something more flexible, modern and lightweight, the X-Air XR18 is perfect for you, especially if you want to save space in your home studio while maximizing some mobility.

 

Type: Digital

Channels: 18

Inputs: 16 XLR-1/4″ combo, 2 1/4″ TRS

Outputs: 2 XLR (master), Ultranet port (P16-M and P16-D connection)

Pros and cons:

  • Pros: well-known for its modern features, wireless/remote capabilities, clean and excellent sound
  • Cons: not much

8. Allen & Heath QU-SB

Remote-controlled digital mixers are gaining popularity among audio professionals and Allen & Heath’s QU-SB is catching up to provide features for modern mixing engineers and recording enthusiasts. This digital mixer lets you mix anywhere within the venue with its Qu-pad iPad app, which also comes with a customizable GUI. It also provides AnalogiQ preamps and 24-bit conversion to achieve that full-bodied, musical sound. The QU-SB has tons of smart features, perfect for mid to large venues and events.

In a home studio setup, this will be ideal for larger spaces with a bigger requirement in terms of channel inputs. The QU-SB will blow you away in terms of its heavy-duty design, as well as its wireless and expandability features.  

Type: 18 x 14 digital mixer interface for iPad

Channels: 16

Inputs: 16 XLR, 16 1/4″, 2 1/4″ (stereo paired)

Outputs: 2 XLR (main out), 2 1/4″ (stereo matrix out), 4 XLR (mono mix out), 6 XLR (3 stereo mix outs)

Pros and cons:

  • Pros: wireless/remote capabilities, compact, clean and excellent sound
  • Cons: not much

9. Soundcraft UI 16

Another all-in-one, ultra-light, network-enabled digital mixing console, Soundcraft’s UI 16 is the go-to device for mixing engineers and live band performers who are looking for that portable feature, as well as the straightforward access to controls. This mixer can be connected and controlled with any device; any phone, tablet or laptop, which makes it user-friendly and flexible. Other notable features include an integrated wi-fi which allows the connection of up to 10 devices simultaneously, complete control via HTML5-compatible browser (no app needed), a 2-channel feedback suppressor and many more.

Put this thing in your home studio if you’re looking for a console that will not only save space, but will also improve your recording and mixing workflow.

Type: Digital

Channels: 16

Inputs: 8 XLR/TRS Combo, 4 XLR, 1 Stereo (RCA)

Outputs: 2 XLR, 2 TRS, 4 XLR

Pros and cons:

  • Pros: light-weight, network enabled, no room for app bugs/crashes since the controls are done on a web browser, great selection of effects
  • Cons: some gain staging and software issues

10. Mackie DL32R

The Mackie DL32R is a rackmounted mixer that lets you control and mix from anywhere in the venue using your iPad, via the Master Fader control app. Designed for bigger sets and venues, the DL32R has 32 channels, can record directly to an external hard drive, and has modern and vintage effect options, which are just a few from its countless features.

Being the big boy on the list, this 32-channel mixer can also be used in bigger home studios which require an extensive amount of channel input. Recording a band with a small orchestra? Or maybe a choir that requires a more detailed tracking? Let the DL32R do the job for you!

 

Type: Digital

Channels: 32

Inputs: 24 XLR, 8 XLR/TRS Combo

Outputs: 1 AES/EBU (XLR), 14 XLR (Assignable), 2 TRS (Monitor)

Pros and cons:

  • Pros: versatile mixer with tons of features, easy setup, heavy-duty
  • Cons: not so much

Conclusion:

These are just some options to consider when buying a mixer for your home studio, as well as outdoor events, live performances and venues. While most people are familiar with analog mixing consoles that offer straightforward controls, digital mixers are becoming more and more popular due to their features and versatility. Which one would you prefer to buy? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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