Looking at Mixers

January 6th, 2020
contra, sound
This is not an official post by the BIDA Board, and the Board has not reviewed it.

In Spring 2015 BIDA bought a Mackie 1604-VLZ Pro mixer used for $275. It wasn't the ideal mixer, but it was reasonably close and a good price. It's been starting to wear out for a while, however, and last night one of the two monitor mixes stopped working. While this one may be fixable, I think we should probably get a new mixer that's closer to what we want and sell this one. Here's what I think would be good in a mixer for a dance like BIDA:

  • At least 10 XLR inputs, ideally 16.

  • At least 2 pre-fader monitor outputs, ideally 3+

  • EQ with sweepable mids.

  • XLR outputs for the mains, and ideally the monitors.

  • Ideally, the monitors are covered by the mute.

  • Ideally, the monitors are covered by the EQ.

  • Ideally, few extra controls we're not going to use that, when set wrong, keep things from working in hard-to-diagnose ways (this is an issue with our current board).

I'm thinking that an analog board probably still makes sense, given that we have a range of people who run sound at the dance, but I could be convinced otherwise. Looking around, here's are the options that look best to me:

  • Mackie ProFX22v3: analog board with pretty much everything we need, though on the expensive end. It has 17 xlr inputs, two of which can be used as DIs, and 3 pre-fader monitor outputs. The EQ includes the monitors, but the mute unfortunately doesn't. About $700 new.

  • Mackie ProFX22v2: by going back a generation we can get something almost as good for less. This brings us down to 16 xlr inputs, none of which can be a DI, and two pre-fader monitor outputs. About $500 new.

  • Mackie ProFX16v3: another direction we could go is a smaller board. Dropping down a size from the ProFX22v3 brings us down to 11 xlr inputs, but doesn't change anything else. The big question is how often we would find ourselves needing more than 11 inputs. About $500 new.

  • Behringer XR18: this is a tablet-controlled mixer, which probably won't work for us. But it has sixteen XLR/TRS combo inputs, six monitor outputs, and lets you mix from anywhere in the hall. It includes its own WIFI, and I know a lot of sound people like it a lot. About $600 new.

  • KitchenAid KSM105: this is a very popular analog mixer, but it doesn't meet any of our requirements. I don't understand why so many people buy these when they're so under-spec'd.

Most of these also have cheaper options available if we bought used.

What mixers have people been using for live sound, and what do you like about them?

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