February 25, 2006

In Defense Of My Mixing Position..

by Chris Randall

I get a pretty healthy dose of letters regarding posts on this site, and the most common one I get usually reads something like this:

Okay. I get it. Mackie and Behringer mixers blow. What the fuck _should_ I buy if I'm on a budget, then? Huh, tough guy?

Let me make one thing clear right now: if you're just starting out, or you're a hobbiest with no intention of ever actually releasing anything, a Mackie or Behringer cheapie is going to be fine. In this business, you get what you pay for, and while a $199 mixer will, in actual fact, mix, there are trade-offs, and the main thing you're going to lose is definition, due to the low-quality op-amps.

When you see me repeatedly make fun of people for having Mackie and Behringer mixers, it's because they have several thousand (or hundred thousand) dollars worth of synthesizers, the best of the best, and they still submix with a $199 mixer. That's what I don't understand. If you can afford to buy four Jupiter 8s, you can afford to drop a grand on a mixer that doesn't blow.

My writing methodology is somewhat different than the normal synthesizer-based musician, so I'll grant that my opinion isn't of vast appeal here, but I'm of the firm opinion that any mixer at all is a bad idea. If you have an audio interface with 8 inputs, you should have 8 mic pres of reasonable quality, 8 eqs, and 4 stereo compressors. These should all go to a patchbay. There's no need for a mixer to submix at all. My own method only involves a pair of mic pres, two eqs, and no analog compressors in the signal chain.

But I tend to record things one at a time, rather than having all my synths chugging away simultaneously, so that method won't work for everyone. But for god's sake, if you're going to spend $10K on your synths, don't send them through a 3-cent op-amp. Please.



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Feb.25.2006 @ 3:59 PM
Strange that some folk seem to miss that point about billion dollar synths running into super budget recording gear. Like driving your Bentley through an automated car wash.

On the budget side, the Behringer/Mackie stuff always felt crappy to me, let alone how they sound.

Have you ever done a round up here on good budget/semi-budget mixers? Might stave off some of the emails further.


Feb.25.2006 @ 4:02 PM
Chris Randall
I was thinking of something along those lines. I'll do that tomorrow, probably. My MIDInes is "On FedEx Vehicle For Delivery," so as soon as that gets here, I'll be busy for a while.



Feb.25.2006 @ 5:11 PM
behringer mixers are truly fantastic for serious abuse with feedback chains.

Feb.25.2006 @ 5:15 PM
Jeremy Cox
people do the same thing w/ cheap conversion. I'd rather use lavry w/ behringer than M-Audio w/ Neve.

Feb.25.2006 @ 5:23 PM
How well timed - I was looking at a Mackie Onyx 1220 for part of my new live setup. There really doesn't seem to be anything similar out there at all. Is your concern more for people recording boutique synths through a Mackie or playing a gig through one? Anyway, +1 for the mixer roundup.

Things are probably different for everyone else, but at least for my electronic act, no matter what gear we use, we'll find ourselves running our final mix through a spare channel on an old Pioneer DJM600 anyway.

It's funny, for some reason I'd always thought you were against Mackie mixers because they didn't look the part in gear porn photos.


Feb.25.2006 @ 5:44 PM
Chris Randall
Playing a gig? Shit. After just shy of 3000 shows in my career, I've learned one immutable fact:

The audience wouldn't know good sound if it hit them upside the head with a frying pan, but they can see a shitty performance from a mile away.

I use a Behringer line mixer live, and couldn't give less than two fucks about it. As long as the little cocksucker keeps working, I'll keep using it. I'm not going to take a $1400 Speck line mixer on stage. I'm far more concerned about putting on a good show. If the audience wants to hear something that _sounds_ good, they can stay at home and listent to the CD. They don't come to hear a show. They come to _see_ one. Live performance is all about the eyes. As long as the bass is booming, all else is showmanship.



Feb.25.2006 @ 5:45 PM
there is nothing out there like a mackie 1604 that is even moderatley high end. If i could find a highend mixer that does everything a 1604 does i'd pay 3-4 grand for it w/o hesitation. i dont even need mic pre's.. it doesn't exist. dont talk to me about the trident/oram S100 doesn't cut it.. and i need 8-12 direct outs post fader and i need 4-6 sends and the 4 busses...

what's the solution? find it for me and i'll buy it.. daking? $25K, manley? $10K and not enough features... used older consoles? no thanks.. you can re-cap them for me..

sure. i have a couple high end DI's ad a couple nice tube compressors w/hiZ inputs and some FMR audio stuff but it doesn't replace a mixer... if you know what you are doing you can make anything sound good. PLENTY of my favorite tracks have been recorded through mackie mixers.. can you say autechre?


Feb.25.2006 @ 5:58 PM
Suit & Tie Guy
i will upgrade from my 300 dollar Mackie LM3204 to a $4000 Speck XtraMix when i can afford to.

i would love to "drop a grand on a mixer that doesn't suck" but you see, if you want a big fucking line mixer there isn't one. not in between the LM3204 and the Speck.

nothing. it totally fucking sucks.


Feb.25.2006 @ 6:02 PM
Jeremy Cox
A&H Mix Wizard 14:4:2 $1350
Toft ATB $2999
Trident 8T &2999

Feb.25.2006 @ 6:12 PM
i dont see the A&H as being much better than a mackie and it doesn't have the same features.. it may sound slightly better but not that much bettter.. perhaps that's just subjective?

the toft and the trident are new and i wouldn't buy either w/o a demo or at least some reviews. also, there is a huge debate/thread at gearslutz about both of those mixers and this very issue re: hi spec line mixers.

if someone could duplicate a mackie 1604vlz minus the mic pre's and spec out the input/direct out stages i'd be all too happy. i dont need massenburg eq's on it or anything.. simple low cut filters, swept mids etc.. maybe a hardware bypass for the eq and a pre/post for the direct outs and i'd cream my pants..

there's also the TLaudio tubetracker and their tube consoles but i don think i want an entire console of that and those are $$ as well.


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