Using an analogue mixer is still one of the most practical solutions for a home studio. We’re looking at some of the best SSL SiX alternatives for music production.
The SSL SiX is a great tool for recording, with great channel strips and console-like routing options. However, not everyone requires all of its professional features that push the price tag out of the reach of beginners and recording enthusiasts.
One of my favourite aspects of the SiX is the fact that it doesn’t have a USB audio interface or digital effects. It’s simply a compact analogue mixer for the modern home studio.
SSL SiX Alternatives
Why would you need an analogue mixer in the first place? Well, for starters, the preamps on the average budget audio interface aren’t that great. While they may work ok with condenser mics, you’ll struggle with the low-output dynamic mics.
So unless you like your recordings noisy, it helps to have preamps with some discrete gain, and even better if there’s EQ. Also, mixers allow you to connect multiple instruments and effects, so it becomes a central hub for all your hardware.
Before I got hold of an SSL SiX, I managed to find a secondhand Allen & Heath XB10 mixer for around $250. Although it’s actually designed for broadcast applications and doesn’t have great routing options, it’s low-noise and has same preamps as the esteemed MixWizard series.
Now, let’s take a look at some more affordable mixers that provide similar features to help you with your workflow when recording, rehearsing, or playing live.
Allen & Heath ZED 10
The Allen & Heath ZED 10 is a practical and compact analogue mixer with four mic preamp inputs and two stereo inputs. There are 3-band EQs on the Mic/Line channels and the stereo channels have high and low shelving EQ.
In addition, the two aux sends allow you to route signals for monitoring or adding effects, and the built-in USB interface allows you to easily arm individual channels for recording.
The ZED 10 also provides a way to control your monitoring levels from your desktop, and if you’re looking for more input channels there’s the ZED 14.
- More about Allen & Heath
Soundcraft Signature 12
Although it’s not quite as compact as one might like, the Soundcraft Signature 12 is a versatile mixer for recording or live use. The Signature 12 comes equipped with 3 aux sends and a set of group outs, which makes it flexible for different configurations.
There are eight XLR mic input channels with 3-band EQs, and the addition of the dbx limiters on channels 1 and 2, as well as the Hi-Z switches on 5 and 6 expand your input options.
The built-in USB audio interface adds recording functionality in situations where you don’t have a dedicated interface. Meanwhile, the Lexicon effects engine has a range of different reverbs, delays, and other modulation effects.
- More from Soundcraft
PreSonus StudioLive AR12C
Compact and affordable, the StudioLive AR12C offers 10 XLR mic input channels and three aux sends, each with its own return fader, which is useful.
Meanwhile, the AR12C is also a 24-bit 44.1 kHz multitrack SD card recorder and USB audio interface with 24-bit 96 kHz recording capabilities, and a digital effects section with 16 algorithms for adding reverb, delay, chorus, and more.
If you need to use external preamps, channels 1 and 2 have insert points, and there is Bluetooth functionality which is useful for creators and streamers.
It’s not analogue, but the 1010music Bluebox is a great solution for electronic music producers and live performing artists. It provides six stereo inputs and three stereo outputs combined with an intuitive touchscreen interface.
The Bluebox is also a standalone MicroSD recorder, and you can playback prerecorded audio files and mix live audio simultaneously with per-channel EQ and effects, as well as a master compressor.
The Bluebox offers an intuitive interface you can easily use on stage, and there’s a Eurorack version for the modular synth heads.
Tascam Model 16
The Tascam Model 16 is an analogue mixer with an audio interface, but it also functions as a standalone multitrack recorder. Equipped with 10 XLR inputs, a pair of sub outs, and three aux outputs there are plenty of routing options.
What’s more, there are 3-band EQs and compressors on the mono input channels, as well as a 4-band master EQ. Meanwhile, the digital effects section offers 16 different effects algorithms with reverbs, delays, and modulation effects.
You can record at 48-kHz 24-bit to SD Card or to your DAW via USB, and there are some nifty features like Bluetooth to help you incorporate wireless devices into your workflow.
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- Allen & Heath ZED-10: Allen & Heath
- Soundcraft Signature 12: Soundcraft
- PreSonus StudioLive AR12c: PreSonus
- 1010 Music Bluebox - front: 1010 Music
- Analogue mixer with 14 inputs: Tascam