Who Makes The Best Audio Mixers?
What companies make the top pro audio mixers? There are several brands that regularly produce the highest rated audio mixers. These brands include Yamaha, Soundcraft, Midas, Allen & Heath, Tascam, and Behringer. These companies make mixing consoles that range from compact 16-channel analog mixers to 40-channel digital mixers with dozens of FX and equalizer settings.
The Top Features of the Best Audio Mixers
When comparing brands of audio mixers, it is important to look at the features that they provide. The most important features of an audio mixer include the type of mixer, the channels, inputs, and the overall sound quality.
Most audio mixers are either analog or digital. Both options can produce great sound. You can find analog audio mixers that feature high-end circuit boards and preamplifiers to rival the sound recorded from comparable digital mixers. For example, Yamaha still produces several analog mixers that sound just as good as their digital counterparts.
Audio mixers may also be designed for desktop use, rack mounting, or both. With a desktop mixing console, you can set the mixer on a desk in your studio. The controls and interface are on top of the board. With a rack-mountable mixer, the interface is often placed on the front of the mixer.
The number of channels is also important. When recording a small four-piece band, you may only need a dozen channels. However, many of the best mixers provide up to 40 channels or more.
Some of the channels should include microphone preamplifiers, which is one of the most important features. Midas and Soundcraft are both known for producing high-end microphone preamps that can capture exceptional sound with minimal reverb or noise.
Analog Versus Digital Audio Mixers
The top brands produce both analog and digital audio mixers. While the digital mixers have received the most innovation in recent years, some professionals still enjoy the simple process of routing on an analog mixer.
The main advantage of an analog mixer is the simplicity. These mixers are often easier for beginners, as they feature fewer settings and a layout that is easy to comprehend. Most of the functions are controlled by physical buttons, switches, and faders. With a digital mixer, these functions may be replaced with menu options and settings that are available through a separate interface.
Digital audio mixers often provide more versatility and features compared to analog audio mixers. With a digital mixer, you will often find a wide selection of equalizer settings and FX options. These options may include emulators for common sound processors. Using a digital audio mixer may also allow you to control the mixer or adjust the settings via a mobile app on your smartphone or tablet.
Digital mixers also include recall options, allowing you to save the FX or equalizer settings. You can even save the layout of your board. Having the option to recall these settings saves time, which is especially useful when playing or recording a live show.
Durable Construction Is Needed for Touring
Most audio mixers are designed for use in a studio or on the road. However, some mixers may not be durable enough to withstand the abuse that equipment may receive while touring. For example, Behringer produces a great rack-mountable digital mixer that musicians love, but the plastic components may break easily.
When choosing a mixer for use on the road or live recording, ensure that it is built to last. Midas and Soundcraft both produce several quality mixers that feature steel or aluminum frames for added durability.
Audio mixers are expensive pieces of equipment. The least expensive pro-grade mixers can cost several thousand dollars, while the top choices may cost close to $20,000. Before you spend that amount of money, you should ensure that you are getting a quality product from a trusted brand. For audio mixers, the most trusted brands include Yamaha, Soundcraft, Midas, Allen & Heath, Tascam, and Behringer.
These brands produce the best analog and digital audio mixers. For those who want a classic analog mixer, Yamaha is a great choice. Soundcraft is currently one of the most popular manufacturers of high-end digital mixers. The remaining brands all provide a wonderful selection of analog and digital mixers intended for everything from small studio recording to recording in large venues.