Best Studio Mixing Desks

Best Studio Mixing Desks for Home Recording

Both professional sound engineers and budding artists require the right equipment to bring their masterpiece compositions to life. With the best studio mixing desks for home recording, you can experience the power of analog controls and how good they feel to touch when composing music.

Each studio mixer has its own specific purposes and multi-track recording support is usually an essential feature for most people. If you are on a tight budget, you can opt for a cheaper mixer which comes bundled with software and limited features to get you going. Some models support DAW, digital mixing but at the end of the day, its personal comfort, budget and the requirement that will help you make a final choice.

Let’s take a look at some of the best studio mixing desks for home recording.

1) Mackie ProFX8V2 8-Channel Mixer

Professionals need no introduction to the brand Mackie but if you are new to the market, know that this is one of the best studio mixing desks for home recording. The product has consistently received positive reviews in online stores, falls in the affordable price category and provides enough channels and ports for your recording requirements.

Being a versatile product it is, you have the option to go with a simple 4-channel setup which can go all the way up to 30-channels. The latter will be much more expensive and usually not required even for professional recording unless you are going to use lots of instruments in a session. The FX engine is as impressive as it could get with 16 different stuff including reverbs and delays.

The Mackie ProFX8V2 has a three-band equalizer and supports 100Hz low-cut filter. The Aux output port allows you to monitor your recording and the 7-band equalizer allows you to tune the output. All these features sound pretty impressive and it’s tough to find fault with this product.

Pros

  • A compact and easy to use professional grade product with USB connectivity
  • The ReadyFX effects make it easier to add some essential sounds to enhance your music
  • Equalizer options are the best and support full customization

Cons

  • Some users may require additional inputs and the particular version is a bit more expensive than the base models
  • It doesn’t include instructions on a paper and you have to download the digital copy to understand its features

Recommended For

  • The 4-channel and 8-channel variants are a perfect fit for people who indulge in a lot of home recording
  • The number of effects is ample for most recording sessions and if you already use an audio software for most mixing needs, this is more than enough without adding much to your budget
  • The mixer is compatible with input devices from all major brands and has a clean, easy to understand layout

2) Allen & Heath ZED-10FX Mini Mixer with Bundled Cables

The Allen & Heath ZED-10FX is a multi-purpose mixer that you can depend on especially for home recording. That doesn’t mean it can’t be used for professional recording because some sound engineers rely more on software and a miniature console as this one should be capable of meeting their requirements.

The studio mixing desk provides 2 aux inputs for the monitors. The stereo bus has a dedicated switch allowing a user to route audio to it from any channel. The 3-band equalizer is limited but is capable of handling most simple recording sessions. The choice of effects on the Allen & Heath mixer is extensive as the internal 24-bits effects processor allows you to add delay, reverbs without compromising the quality.

It is easier to monitor the recording and the levels using the nine display LEDs which sync with the three onboard buttons. The connectivity options are large and plenty on the ZED-10FX miniature mixer which includes two stereo line inputs, 4 Class A FET line inputs, and four different XLR microphone inputs.

Pros

  • Solid build quality ensures it is great to use
  • The range of inputs and some unique FX allows you to add life to your sounds
  • Bundle includes important cables to get you going

Cons

  • The design is not the best in its class
  • Some features like faders found in a new range of designs are not present in this model

Recommended For

  • A different take on the Mackie product and the innovative FX features available can be found only in this model
  • The bundled cables are very useful and let you start recording sessions quickly without having to purchase additional accessories

3) Yamaha EMX5014C 14-Input Powered Mixer

While there are many affordable devices available, the Yamaha EMX5014C falls under the professional category. The categorization is made based on its price, the number of in-depth features available in it, the overall build quality and brand recognition offered by Yamaha. The advanced features are not useful for home users but if you are a budding professional who has a good idea of what they do, they are very useful.

The 14-input powered mixer is impressive as you can input a lot of devices in and it also supports 10 channels. The console has AFL, PFL monitor switches and the high pass filters support up to 80Hz. Other additional features that you will find in the Yamaha sound mixer include a feedback channel locator system and the amps deliver whopping power ranging from 500W to 200W and 75W per channel.

The rugged console is capable of withstanding movement as you can actually carry it to different locations if required. Out of the 12 inputs, 8 of the mono and 4 are stereo. It also has built-in compression system which are single knob compressors. The device looks very appealing in terms of design and the functions are all readily accessible with intuitive placement.

Pros

  • The number of inputs, 14 in the base model and 16 in the higher end variant is very impressive
  • The ability to find where the feedback is coming from is unique and useful
  • Built-in AFL and PFL monitor switches

Cons

  • A very expensive solution for home recording unless you are a professional and plan to invest for long-term benefits
  • Some functions are very advanced and are not useful to everyone. They are aimed at a niche audience

Recommended For

  • Audio professionals who have no budget constraints and wouldn’t mind investing in premium products
  • The pro functions require in-depth knowledge and only if you know how to use it, it makes it worth the investment

4) Behringer XENYX 1202FX Audio Mixer

The best studio mixing desks for home recording are the ones which are affordable, are packed with amazing features and are made by a reputed brand. Surprisingly, the Behringer XENYX 1202FX audio mixer checks all the right boxes and is an outstanding product in every perspective. Behringer has conceived a name for itself for making some of the best, cheap audio consoles in the market and the 1202FX is no different which is priced at just $99 which is steep considering how customizable it is.

When you get into the world of mixing, the niche features found on a premium device may not be used at all times. With this console, you get a decent number of 12 inputs combined with 4 microphone preamps and it uses a neo-classic 3-brand equalizer.

Behringer has a 1202 model but the 1202FX is the most popular variant and has tons of positive reviews because apart from the essential features, it is integrated with an impressive 100 preset FX to choose from. You can add life to your song by choosing from a range of reverb, flanger or pitch effects. There are many wacky effects as well that you could use. The overall soundstage produced by this console is considered warmer because it is termed as “British” which will be a good fit for the right kind of music.

Pros

  • A budget-friendly solution for sound mixing at home
  • The range of effects are very impressive and will ideally suit experimental projects

Cons

  • You cannot expect some professional grade features or increased number of inputs in this budget device

Recommended For

  • One of the best studio mixing console for young and creative minds who like to explore their passion without spending a lot
  • Behringer’s build quality is very impressive

5) Mackie DL1608L 16-Channel Live Sound Mixer with iPad Control

The younger generation musicians and upcoming creative minds just can’t work without an iPad. With the entire community moving towards an Apple and Android-driven world, it is only natural that you might want a sound mixer which is compatible with your iPad. The Mackie DL 1608L is precisely designed for young people who find it easier to do their compositions using a tablet than a computer or Mac. It actually connects to an iPad using a digital connector which is a unique feature of this Mackie product not many consoles can boast of.

The Mackie sound mixing console offers ample features including a 16 mic preamp, allowing you to wirelessly mix your sound and also has all the basic effects required to complete a recording session successfully. The 31-graphic master bus will impress most professionals. The compact design allows you to carry it anywhere including for live recording sessions or events. Being able to wirelessly complete the work using your iPad is an added advantage.

The DL1608L supports 2-channel recording which you can assign, 16 stereo-linkable inputs combined with 6 aux sends and 4 subgroups. The console has 4 VCAs with 4 mute groups while the two stereo FX processors support sends and returns in a dedicated style.

Pros

  • The ability to connect your iPad and up to 10 iPads at once for mixing is the most impressive feature of them all
  • You can wirelessly connect and mix within the radius
  • Compact and professional design

Cons

  • The cost of the console is on the higher side because it has a lightning connector and not many sound professionals may appreciate it

Recommended For

  • For music composers who are addicted to their iPad and would love a compatible sound mixer to go with it
  • People who attend a lot of live recording sessions and like to wireless alter the inputs
  • A group of people with iPads can work together and it’s ideal for bands who have lots of practice sessions

6) Soundcraft Si Expression 1

The Soundcraft Si Expression 1 is without a doubt the best studio mixing desk for home recording. Be it the build quality it offers, the range of features in it and effects available, the console wins hands down in every aspect. You can comfortably use it for home recording or live sound recording. Some of the standout features found in the Expression 1 sound mixing console include its 16 channels with 4 line ins and there are 4 internal stereo FX returns in it as well.

The Soundcraft Si is quite expensive as the lowest 16-channel model costs more than $2000 while the top of the line 32-channel model goes all the way up to $3,000. The product is worth the investment as it offers 66 inputs to mix with 1 ViSi connection option. The console uses Lexicon FX processor and EMMA DSP processor which are the most important contributors of this increased price tag and it is definitely worth in the long run.

Apart from being an expensive choice for most newcomers, there are very little cons to find with the Soundcraft Si Expression 1. The product is ideal for use in live locations such as music concerts, churches or open studios with lots of inputs being used all at once.

Pros

  • The sound mixer uses industry grade processors such as the Lexicon FX and the EMMA DSP which are capable of producing studio-grade sound quality
  • The design is colorful, sturdy and easy to use
  • Provides a large number of inputs in the base model

Cons

  • An expensive choice for people who are on a budget  

Recommended For

  • Professionals who spend a lot of time doing live recording sessions in wide open spaces
  • For users who need multiple inputs to connect all devices at the same time
  • Hardcore sound professionals who are aware of the importance of branded processors and the quality they produce

7) Behringer XR18 X Air Digital Mixer

A sound mixer which has managed to get only the best reviews from professionals should obviously be included in this list of best products in the category. Both Behringer and Mackie are highly competitive in this record. While the latter makes more expensive products, the former focuses on budget-friendly home consoles. The Behringer XR18 X Air is a digital mixer which is priced at $600 and if you are a big fan of their cheaper products, this is not for you.

The company wanted to explore the options they have in the higher segment and we should say that they have done a fantastic job with the XR18 X Air. The recording console has 18 channels with 12 buses and gain-programmable amps, a total of 16 are said to have a Midas build. It is on par with the latest technology of today as the mixer has a Wi-Fi module to let you connect your laptop or smartphone to it.

The overall shape of the Behringer XR18 X is retro-styled and like a box. The design makes it easier to use it on a stage or other cramped regions. The box is equipped with protection bumpers coupled with rack ears making it capable of withstanding movement. It can also be easily mounted on rackmount or stage boxes. It is also equipped with a Dugan-style auto mixing setup which automates the microphone gain sharing simplifying your work.

Pros

  • The console is perfect for live sessions
  • It is fully compatible with iPad, Android tablets and has Wi-Fi connectivity to easily sync your devices with it
  • There are auto mixing capabilities to automatically maintain microphone gainsharing

Cons

  • The unconventional design may not be appreciated by home users as it is more geared towards live setup and to be mounted on racks
  • This is not a budget-friendly solution for Behringer

Recommended For

  • Professionals looking forward to having a sound mixer console for stage performance and other outdoor activities
  • Convenient to mount on racks
  • The built-in Wi-Fi router makes it easy to connect to tablets and laptops

8) Peavey XRAT XR-AT 9-Channel Powered Mixer

Compared to the most popular brands like Mackie and Behringer, Peavey has a unique touch to their products. They are known for their retro design and features with powered mixers. You can hardly find any other sound mixer that is similar to this one and the Peavey XRAT XR-AT is one of their top of the line 9-channel powered mixer with the capability to deliver 1,000 Watt RMS and uses FLS feedback detection circuit.

The auto-tune capability found on the console powered by Antares is reliable and KOSMOS handles enhancing the low-frequency inputs. There are options to monitor return control digital effects, send on mic channels and it also supports Bluetooth. The Peavey console has a built-in USB MP3 player and uses dual 9-band main graphic equalizers.

The product is extremely rugged and capable of handling any hard situation yet is lightweight making it easy to carry to your desired location. The XLR/1/4” inputs are 8 combinations and the 7 channels have individual compression capabilities. There is also an output for the subwoofer line.

Pros

  • Capable of delivering 1000 watts of power and 1,500 watts at its peak
  • A strong analog solution for retro lovers
  • Antares auto-tune is very handy

Cons

  • Powered mixers aren’t for everyone
  • Lacks in modern features such as Wi-Fi or compatibility with tablets

Recommended For

  • For live recording sessions and live events where you can quickly find where the distortion is coming from
  • For high power output requirements to deliver increased power to each speaker

Conclusion

The best studio mixing desks for recording can bring a change to your compositions as they allow you to connect multiple instruments, adjust the sound output and come up with unique songs or soundtracks. There is one for every budget and you can also choose between studio mixers and live mixers as each one of these products have a specific purpose. 

The integrated features make it easier to find any discrepancies in sound quality and fix them quickly. The newer models can also seamlessly sync with an iPad or laptop allowing you to mix your music on the go. Mackie, Behringer and Yamaha are some of the known brands in this segment while you can pick other brands as well based on your requirement and budget.

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