We’re reliably informed that Soundcraft are launching a new series of small-format USB mixers at this year’s Prolight+Sound, the sister show to the main Musikmesse fair opening its doors on 5th April. Encompassing three products, the Notepad series is aimed at the desktop market and comes in substantially under USD 200.
Notepad-5, Notepad-8FX, Notepad-12FX
The names of the three models already tell you a lot, namely the number of channels on each unit, and whether effects are included in the price. As you’d expect from small mixers in this price category, they all dispense with faders, with channel volume controlled via a rotary pot. The two larger models have one fader for master volume, but that’s it. Each mixer sports 1, 2 or 4 XLR/jack inputs depending on its size, while all offer phantom power, Hi-Z option, a low cut at 100 Hz and a pair of line inputs.
The other product differentiator is effects. Soundcraft has used algorithms provided by its Harman stablemate brand Lexicon, although there is no information available as to the heritage of the effects used. I presume we’re talking about standard-quality effects that are nothing to write home about. The 8FX and 12FX models each offer a Reverb, Delay and Chorus. It’s all quite basic, but at least there’s a tap tempo option and a lone Parameter control.
All models have an EQ on each channel. The Notepad 5 is limited to a high and low cut at 12 kHz and 80 Hz respectively. The two larger siblings have an additional (presumably fixed) mid band at 2.5 kHz as well as send controls for the FX section.
Let’s breeze through the I/O specs. There’s the standard XLR master and headphone outputs as well as an Aux out. Essential these days is a way of bringing this into DAW workflows, so Soundcraft have added a USB port. This connects your DAW with either 2×2 or 4×4 channels, depending on the model. It’s Class Compliant, apparently, so plug and play. Windows users will need to install a driver.
Now we come to the crucial, make-or-break aspect of this kind of entry-level product, namely how much cash you’re going to have to part with. The range is priced from USD 123.75 to USD 198.75 (MSRP), which is certainly competitive. If the effects are not awful and the drivers are good, this will be worth a look for anyone shopping around for a small, cheap desktop mixer/interface solution for home recording.
- Find out more on Soundcraft’s Notepad product page