Please recommend a small mixer

Hello all!

Can you recommend a good quality small mixer to replace my old and
“used to be trusty” Mackie 1202 VLZ pro?

  • budget: 300 to 800eur
  • faders, not pots
  • a few (say 2 to 6) good quality mic/line preamp channels with (balanced) direct
  • phantom power switchable per channel
  • eq in/out per channel (or maybe no eq at all)
  • channels to connect and record various stereo sources (POD, synths, CD-player
  • good quality master/monitoring section

Mackie 1402 VLZ3 is an obvious choice at the lower end of my budget but
it falls short in some aspects (global phantom, no eq in/out). Not sure
about the quality of the current Mackie line.

Allen & Heath Zed-R16 would fit the bill if was half the channels, no AD/DA and half the price.


Hi, edgehill!

Not sure this is a help, 'cause you don’t say why your 1202 VLZ Pro “used to be trusty”.

I have a 1604 VLZ Pro with their XDR preamps, and it started developing some noisey, intermittent channels and crosstalk. Brought it into a local Mackie-authorized repair shop, and for around $400 USD, they cleaned it up, replaced all the internal ribbon cabling with the newer Mackie gold plated connectorized ribbons, and it’s been functioning very nicely since!

Unless yours got dropped off a truck or something, it may simply need a good cleanup and cable replacement to get it back to “good as (almost) new”? You might want to check out that approach before you go hunting for a replacement. The newer Mackie’s seem OK, although they are now made in China (what isn’t these days?). They’ve redesigned the microphone preamplifiers again (not sure why, as the XDR/VLZ Pro’s are very nice).

The Behringer line doesn’t seem quite as rugged, but lotsa folks like their sound! There’s also PreSonus, Shure, Soundcraft, Yamaha, Alesis; and you’re already looking at Allen & Heath. Not sure what your application is, but RME, Echo Audio, and M-Audio gear might meet your needs, although they are modular and also don’t provide the same levels of flexibility as a multi-channel microphone mixer.

Just some thoughts to ponder. I’m sure others will jump in on this one also.

[B.T.W. DON’T TRUST MANUFACTURER SPECIFICATIONS, as many don’t really reflect the real-world mixer performance, with real-world microphones! However, many folks’ reviews are worth reading, and they’ll help you focus in on what you want for what you need!]

Hope this helps!

Thanks Southae!
Well, my 1202 has developed various random symptoms.
One of them is “autopan” which actually sounds cool sometimes :slight_smile:
Two of the preamps have random buzzing sound and their amplification is wildly different compared to the other two good ones. Add a few scratchy pots etc…cost of repair is too much, I can propably get 1402 VLZ3 for the same amount.

So…Allen & Heath Zed-14 or Mackie 1402 VLZ3 seems to be the best options right now.
Both cost around 350 euro. A & H seem to get most recommendations.

I have RME HDSP9652 with an 8-channel AD/DA. There is the possibility to get a separate mic preamps so I have contemplated on coping without any mixer. I just don’t see how that could be viable. Is it really?


I think the quality of Mackie has dropped a bit in recent years. I recently picked up an 802-VLZ3 as a handy router/submixer/pocketknife for non-critical tasks (like routing a built-in laptop sound card into B monitors to play a video game). :slight_smile: And when I’ve tried to use it for something more important, it seems like the sound quality is down a notch (or maybe my experience is up a notch) than previous Mackies I’ve owned. Even the balance seems off a bit. It doesn’t bother me since the price was good for what it is, but I wouldn’t let it touch any serious audio now. My feeling is that Mackie has dropped to a level just one notch above Behringer now, unfortunately. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ve lost that Mackie lovin’ feeling I used to have.

For $400 for the 1402-VLZ3, if you are willing to spend a bit more and consider used gear, you could literally get a Yamaha N8 or N12 and have a whole different level of bang for the buck with some superb preamps for the money. You’d get another audio interface too (although they work stand-alone and sound great.) I’m thinking of saying goodbye to Mackie and doing just such thing. :slight_smile:

I’m in the process of going all outboard preamps and getting rid of the console, yes it’s not only feasible it’s actually easy.

With Cubase taking the studio connections:- monitoring chain/s, headphone mixes and talk-back also external FX and instruments the console just becomes an over specified preamp.

I like mixing ITB and it would take a bloody expensive desk to beat what cubase does.

Uarte, thanks for the info. Will check the Yamaha mixers out.

Well, I also mix ITB. What you said about recording and mixing situation makes sense.
RME’s totalmix alone would allow for all sorts of routings with direct monitoring.

But I just don’t see how to connect various stereo sources conveniently…and I only have 8 inputs.
I have a cassette player, CD-player, turntable, POD, etc…a mixer allows me to connect these to the monitors and not turn on the computer+software.

Also I would like to have something between DA and monitors. Things like M-Patch 2.1 etc. do not have enough inputs to connect all the stuff.

But maybe I just fail to see how it works!

Well with 8 in/out it’s a bit convoluted, 16 in/out is better and 24 in/out is great :smiley:

Also a good patch bay or three helps a great deal.

With 24 in/outs and good patching it’s a breeze and very usable with a good choice of preamps and external FX, all monitoring, main/studio and headphone at a push of a button or two.

An M-patch 2 would be fine and a great problem solver, also you could then have a small mixer for your ancillary equipment patched into the M-patch thus allowing you to use your tape and things without switching on the computer.

and/or set up some patchbays so you can patch whatever equipment into either the M-patch or your computer inputs, that would provide a very convenient setup without an external mixer.

Well worth looking into.

Thanks Split.

Based on discussions I have read a small but high quality mixer does not exist.
At least there is no consensus over any particular board.

Reading reviews & discussions about dedicated mic pres is a total quagmire!
After a couple of days I already need a week’s vacation…

Seems I need to spend a lot more cash than I’m prepared to!

I have been reading about the Yamaha N8 and N12 -mixers.
Based on reviews and discussions they seem to be great units and would fit me really well.

One worry is firewire.
I use Asus P6X58D premium mb and it has VIA VT6308P controller that supports 2 x 1394a ports.
VT6308 is not on the N12-approved 1394-controller list and google finds nothing.
VIA VT6306 is on the supported list.

I guess I could try it out and if it did not work get one of these or similar:

The other worry is that I found some indications that the N-series is discontinued. If that is true I wonder what happens to support (driver development etc.). It only takes one service pack to break stuff…

Birthday came and went.
Got RME Fireface UFX and FMR RNP as a birthday present :astonished: :open_mouth:

So I guess from now on I am (hardware) mixerless.
Fireface UFX + TotalMix FX does everything, even in standalone mode with no computer on.
Together with my old ADI-8 Pro AD/DA I now have 20 inputs.

Problem solved!