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 @ 6:19 PM
Chris Randall
Boobs, you said:

"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."

Then you said:

"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."

So there's some hesitation, as it turns out. Both do everything a 1604 does, times 1.5, and do it a fuck of a lot better, and both are from reputable companies. The Huge Debate on Gearslutz is 99% about features that weren't included in either one to cut costs. The other 1% is typical Gearslutz bullshit.

Another obvious choice is the Midas Venice series. I've used all three of 'em, and they're excellent for the money. Their EQ is about as good as it gets on a small format mixer. The 16-channel one easily falls within your price range.



Feb.25.2006 @ 6:29 PM
LOL- yeah i guess there is some hesitation. the toft looks really nice and checking the videos on the toft site is promising but i still need to be sold on it.

it still would be nice to see an all line version of something like the toft.

there was serious bullshit in that gearslutz thread. i found it amazing that so many people had such ruffled feathers.

i did take a gander at the midas venice series as well but can't recall why i wasn't sold on it. i'll take another look.


Feb.25.2006 @ 7:45 PM
oh- here's a link to the gearslutz thread (s)

link [gearslutz.com/bd.php...]">link [gearslutz.com]


Feb.25.2006 @ 11:53 PM
penzoil washington
here's a nice inexpensive behringer substitute of quality
link [cgi.ebay.com]">link [cgi.ebay.com]

mixing ITB blows, sorry console haters ;)


Feb.26.2006 @ 4:06 AM
Suit & Tie Guy
"mixing ITB blows, sorry console haters ;)"

good qualification there.

call me back when you can actually prove that.

yeah i know the owner of this blog agrees with you.

i mix ITB ... do i go around reminding nibnobs who sum through analog boards that they're hearing artefacts of gain staging and mistaking them for analog summing "sweetness" or reminding people of the bit reduction issues of automating ITB and then summing OTB?

no .. i don't. but i just did.


if you think i actually believe digital summing is better than analog summing you're assuming things (unless it's a Sony Oxford. then we're talking. _minimal_ rounding errors with THAT mixer). i just think it's all done wrong right now. we need a summing buss mixer with integrated convertors and automation slaved to host DAW before we can really have a good argument about this. right now every summing mixer setup is a kludge. a fucking kludge.

btw no one has pointed out to me a good mixer between my POS LM3204 (which i acknowledge as a piece) and the Speck XtraMix.

if you bitches don't quit maybe i'll build my own damn mixer. heh?


Feb.26.2006 @ 2:21 PM

New? Soundcraft Ghost, Midas Venice, Toft ATB, and... little else?

I'll be trying the Mackie Onyx live console as a recording mixer soon. Shoud be interesting.

The best value in this range is an old console + a good tech, IMO. For a few $k you can get something like an old Neotek, Allen and Heath, or a Yamaha PM-2000, have someone clean it up, and have a really great console.

Or even a Trident VFM... if you can find one. I hear they're pretty good. I searched high and low for a 16x8 one, and finally gave up.


Feb.26.2006 @ 2:49 PM
Chris Randall
I agree with oscillations on that. You can pick up a 16-channel Studer broadcast console _and_ have it recapped for the price of the new Midas, and that is a fucking excellent console.

I have no experience with the Onyx series, so I have nothing to add in that regard. Once again, I'll take pains to point out that I'm referring specifically to people that have a $50,000 keyboard setup and run it through cheap-ass submixers, which is what I repeatedly make fun of. If you own, say, a monosynth and a Z1, and don't put out records, well, your Mackie is probably fine.

But building your own is certainly an easy way out. A passive summing network is literally just a resistor for each channel plus some common-sense wiring. Add MIDI-controlled motorized faders for automation from host using the various available mechanisms for doing so. Spend the rest of the money on an Apogee Trak2, and you've got yourself a summing mixer with a top-of-the-line mic pre/limiter/A-D convertor. Have a nice day.



Feb.26.2006 @ 7:47 PM
"If you own, say, a monosynth and a Z1, and don't put out records, well, your Mackie is probably fine."

that's sort of a ridiculous thing to say. somewhat elitist, no? are you saying serious musicians dont use cheap gear and do just fine w/it? i think beck's main guitar for writing many songs is the cheap piece of crap he bought at sears 20 years ago... didn't that first The strokes' record get recorded thru a mackie 24/8? there's a million examples.

you dont a high end anything to write a good song.

i do agree w/your point though.. if you're gonna shell out the cash on series synths you might as well make the rest of the signal path worthy.


Feb.27.2006 @ 7:26 AM
1604 (original version) was a great mixer in its time. Midas Venice and the Crest are viable alternatives now. If one is looking for just summing, Speck - whose budget EQ's are outstanding - has a new one out and it looks great!

CR is right, tho. The gear porn pics with boyz and 20K worth of gear running thru a $500 mixer is just ridiculous.


Feb.27.2006 @ 9:49 AM
I've been using a Mackie 1202-VLZ Pro 12 Channel Compact Analog Mixer as part of my live/studio setup for a few years now. Quite a cost effective solution for the kind of material I am performing. I do like the sound of this Mackie board, but I detest behringer mixers, have had nothing but bad experiences with them.

link [gnosticrocket.bot.co...]">link [gnosticrocket.bot.co...]

I can see the absurdity of spending 5-digit figures on your gear and then running it through an audio bottleneck. However, if you check the rest of my gear list, you'll see that there's a lot of "second tier" cheap solutions in my gear list (for example, I have an Arp 16-voice Electric Piano - hardly the most popular choice). I love the challenge of taking less than perfect technology and trying to squeeze something good out of it.


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