If you’ve reached the stage where you’re ready to start rehearsing the music you write, you might have thought about adding a mixer to your setup. We’ve selected some of the best compact analogue mixers to expand the possibilities of your studio.
Whether you create music or produce a podcast, managing multiple live audio signals is part of the game. You might think you can simply get by running everything directly into your audio interface, but mixers provide some key advantages.
For starters, the preamp quality is often far better than what you’ll find on the average budget interface. What’s more, the added bonus of having channel strips at your disposal with faders, EQs, and sends provides a great deal of creative flexibility.
Choosing the best compact mixers (analogue)
Everyone has their own particular requirements when it comes to audio workflow. So we’re looking at a range of options that can become the central hub of your setup, no matter what that currently looks like.
While some mixers offer versatility with signal routing options, others provide excellent recording front end in the form of channel strips. Let’s take a closer look at what’s available.
Allen & Heath ZED-10
If you’re looking for a basic compact mixer for a podcast, or to connect the various pieces of gear around your studio, the ZED-10 is a good place to start. With 4 mic preamps, 2 stereo channels, 2 aux sends, and metering, you have just enough to get you started.
Moreover, the ZED-10 is light and compact, making it a perfect rehearsal or stage mixer. Adding parallel effects via sends or recording to an external device is a simple procedure, and you can also use it to set up a monitor mix.
Allen & Heath ZED-10
Radial Key Largo
Radial Engineering is known for creating practical road-ready products with low-noise circuitry. The Key Largo is an impressive compact keyboard mixer, but it will also serve electronic musicians with drum machines or grooveboxes that don’t require mic inputs.
It provides 3 stereo channels and another stereo pair for USB input, so you can easily incorporate Apple Mainstage or Ableton Live. In addition, the FX loop allows you to add effects pedals into your rig. Overall, a great choice if you can get around the lack of metering.
Radial Engineering Key-Largo
Soundcraft Signature 12 MTK
The Signature 12 MTK is an excellent budget recording desk with a wide range of connectivity options which makes it useable in many different situations. A compact mixer with assignable buses is surprisingly rare these days.
So, with the 3 aux sends and built-in effects you can easily rehearse and record small bands and ensembles. In addition, the integrated USB interface allows you to do multitrack recording or run channels out of your DAW and work with them in analogue.
Soundcraft Signature 12MTK
If you’ve got a bit more budget to play with, the SSL SiX is probably the most powerful desktop mixer ever designed. The intelligent console-style routing options and a pair of SuperAnalogue channel strips with compression and EQ make it hard to beat.
What’s more, it’s equipped with a simplified version of the famous SSL glue compressor which can be used so many ways. The SiX may be limited in channel count, but it’s certainly expandable and offers an incredible recording front end for your setup.
For those familiar with the old Mackie 8-Bus or Midas Venice mixers, the CMS600-3 offers a similar level of quality. The CMS range is pricey and primarily designed for live sound, but they still provide an awesome solution for home studios.
With 6 quality preamps, 8 3-band parametric EQ channels, and plenty of return tracks, you have the tools to carve your sound. Also, the onboard dual-stereo effects engine is extensive, which adds a new dimension to the overall value of the CMS600-3.
More about compact mixers:
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- Allen & Heath ZED-10: Allen & Heath
- Radial Key Largo: Radial Engineering
- Soundcraft Signature 12 MTK: Soundcraft
- SSL SiX: SSL
- Dynacord CMS600-3: Dynacord