Buying a good audio mixer is a must-have for every musician, whether you are performing live or recording your new single! However, this is easier said than done. There are so many factors that need to be considered while buying an audio mixer, that having a shopping list is necessary.
We have made your job significantly easier by making this shopping list for you, consisting of the best audio mixers in the market currently. This will help you compare all the different products with each other, to ensure that you choose the best audio mixers option that fulfils your needs. Keep reading to find out the 11 Best Audio Mixers Options in 2023.
What is the purpose of an audio mixer?
If you are a first-time buyer of an audio mixer, and are looking for the best audio mixers option, but are still a little confused about the purpose of an audio mixer, do not worry. We have a brief explanation of what an audio mixer does, which will help you pick out the best one for yourself!
A central source is frequently required to control volume levels and effects when multiple instruments are linked and amplified. If not, some instruments would be louder than others, which would disrupt the entire ensemble.
An audio mixer’s main job is to take in, combine, process, and monitor sounds. In a recording session, an audio mixer connects and controls all electrically powered instruments and microphones. Using the various volume and effect options, you can alter the ratio of different sounds in the overall composition. For instance, one of their biggest features is the ability to switch audio mixers instantly.
To help you understand the purpose of an audio mixer better, check out the video below.
What to look for in the best audio mixers options
There is a wide array of different factors that are usually taken into account before buying an audio mixer. A good combination of all these different factors is what results in the best audio mixers option. You should know your requirements, and make sure that while buying an audio mixer, you are able to fulfil all those different requirements.
Here are a few things that you should keep in mind, and what you need to look for, in your best audio mixers options.
You can check out the video below for a checklist while looking for the best audio mixers options in 2023!
Effects are a necessary component of a top-notch audio mixer. When you start adding more effects, your system will generally probably end up costing more money. However, having access to digital effects can improve a mix.
Some singers like using the reverb effect. It’s best if you have more alternatives for sending to various channels. Keyboard players can favor having a chorus effect active on their channel. You could start reducing some of the extra features to save money. If the effects are left out, it might be simpler to find a less expensive mixer.
If you wish to transport them, you need portable mixers. Not usually the best mixers are small ones. The bigger mixers might also be safe for the road. Mixers frequently need to be transported between venues for big shows. It’s likely that you already know what you require if you’re looking for a big, portable mixer.
A smaller mixer will typically be more portable and simple to transfer. A mixer with fewer than 16 channels is the best option if portability is crucial to you. Although there is no hard-and-fast rule, a mixer with 16 channels falls in between a compact mixer and a monster mixer. Make sure your mixer is constructed with protection and a solid chassis to keep it secure.
It is also important to note that some knobs on these mixers are actually very delicate, so make sure to use them delicately.
The EQ portion of a top-notch audio mixer will be present. Typically, it’s okay to utilise a straightforward three-band equalization. However, in some circumstances—particularly when mixing live bands—having more precise EQ choices might be useful. A Graphic EQ, on the other hand, would assist you in obtaining the ideal tone throughout the board because it has a wider range of frequencies.
The best mixer isn’t usually the most complicated. Unless you are certain of the functionality you require, it is usually advisable to choose something that is very simple to use.
An intuitive user interface is what you can expect from a sound mixer. If you’re not a gearhead and merely use your mixer for basic audio tasks, having a mixer with easy settings is vital. Due to its simplicity of usage, you will be able to understand what is going on the board and alter it as necessary. To learn by doing, however, if you want to be the next Dr. Dre, jump immediately into a more challenging interface.
Portable mixers are frequently defined by their size. If you have a small workspace, take the mixer’s dimensions into consideration. The last thing you need is for your mixer to arrive and be unable to fit in the required location. The saying- the bigger, the better- is not always true. Simply put, it indicates that there will be more channels and effects.
Look for mixers with high-quality mic preamps. When attempting to manage the audio quality, it’s one of the most crucial features. If a channel has a preamp, filtering the sound is simpler because you don’t need to pass your voice through a device to get the desired tone.
You won’t need to spend money on additional software because you’ll need the best preamps on your control board before you start recording.
It goes without saying that your mixer needs to work with the software you’re using. When trying to record or perform a live event, if the software doesn’t operate together, you’ll run into all kinds of issues. It is critical to confirm compatibility with digital mixing DAWs while looking for a mixer.
It needs to be plugged into a USB port on your computer. Without a USB interface, your DAW could not operate. Despite the low likelihood, it is best to be safe than sorry.
Types of Audio Mixers
The field of audio mixing is extensive and exciting. The best musicians are constantly looking for the newest and best audio mixers. A sound mixer should be capable of handling anything from live concerts to television sets and recording studios when it comes to audio quality.
These days, there are many different live sound mixer configurations on the market. However, powered, digital, and analogue audio mixers are the three most popular. Each has advantages and disadvantages. You may discover how to select the ideal mixer for your application right here.
With digital mixers, there are more control options available. If you frequently perform with the same band, for instance, setup might be pre programmed, saved, and remembered. It is helpful if you need to change the setup at the last minute while the event is going on.
The majority of digital mixers come with a wireless connection as standard, enabling remote control using an iPad or smartphone. It means that you are not required to remain still throughout. For instance, to ensure that the audience hears music everywhere, you may move about the room while mixing music or recording a stereo mix on your phone or tablet.
Each channel features additional built-in sound effects in many digital mixers. You don’t need to buy extra audio equipment in order to get more complex signal processing capabilities and better sound effects.
On the other side, if you are unfamiliar with a digital mixer, it may be challenging to make any improvements because you must first travel through a number of menu options on the touchscreen before making any changes to a single channel. You must pre-program any modifications you want to make all at once in order to have quicker access.
The majority of people imagine an analogue mixer when they think of a mixing desk. Anyone who is familiar with using a mixing console can pick one up and get started because it has a traditional design and an extremely cogent structure.
Analog mixers are managed by analogue electronics. On the control panel, there is a control for each function that is both visible and usable.
You can quickly see what’s happening in the mixing and make adjustments as necessary. These mixers have more inputs and routing choices, making them perfect for live and studio sound. These mixing consoles come in a variety of sizes, from ones that are almost portable to those that can be used professionally.
In general, analogue mixers are less expensive than digital mixers. But they don’t have the kind of automation that would be required in complex circumstances. Additionally, they don’t have wireless remote controls, thus continual attendance at the board is required.
Additionally, compared to digital mixers, analogue mixers have less built-in sound effects. Therefore, if you want robust audio effects and sound processing systems, you will need to buy separate equipment.
Summing and Line Mixer
Line mixers are in charge of combining signals at the line level, as their name suggests. They almost usually have an analogue design, though, and are rather simple devices that normally give just one volume control for each channel. When utilized in live settings, a line mixer can be connected to several players to provide music in between sets while also clearing channels on the main mixer.
It is possible to consolidate and fine-tune final mixes in studio environments by using summing mixers, which are typically analog in design. They add warmth to the final digital mixes’ output, which some engineers find to be too frigid. For instance, utilizing tube technology, which is present in some high-end summing mixers, you may reproduce the analog-like warmth that is generally associated with earlier recording systems.
An alternative type of audio mixer is one that is powered. A powered mixer is an analogue mixer with built-in power amplifiers. The majority of powered mixers include two amplifier channels, and you can use them with one speaker and one monitor or two speakers at once.
11 Best Audio Mixers Options in 2023
Now that you have all the information you require to pick the best audio mixers option, it is time that we present to you our perfect shopping list, consisting of the best audio mixers in the market currently. When comparing these different audio mixers, make sure to keep in mind the different factors and the different types of audio mixers. This will help you make a choice that will fit your requirements.
Remember, you are not looking for the best audio mixers option in general, but the best audio mixers option for YOU!
Soundcraft Signature 22 MTK
This surprisingly economical recording desk is built on a foundation of high-quality analog design, Soundcraft legacy EQ, and a familiar layout. Things significantly improve when multitrack USB interface (24 in, 22 out) is added to the MTK version. 22 inputs are provided, divided into 14 mono and 4 stereo channel strips. These include the first 8 channel strips of dbx limiters, Soundcraft’s 4-band Sapphyre EQ, and 16 Ghost preamps.
Hi-Z instruments can be used with four of the inputs. Auxiliaries 4 and 5 have twin-engine Lexicon effects and five auxiliaries built in. In the meantime, the stereo mix output and two stereo buses are included in the channel routing.
The USB return button on each channel strip can be used to select the USB DAW outputs, and all channel strip outputs are routed to the USB interface. The Signature 22 MTK is perfect for tracking numerous mic setups, such as those used by bands, and its long throw 100mm faders help it feel like a professional desk.
Soundcraft is a particularly well-respected brand in the market, and definitely makes one of the best audio mixers available as of now. The layout is user-friendly, so if you are a first-timer, you do not need to worry about unnecessary difficulties in getting acquainted with the layout. One of its best features is the multichannel USB interfacing, which comes in handy quite a lot.
Besides the one disadvantage of the lack of insert points on the channel, you should not face too many issues. We recommend this as one of the best audio mixers, and we hope you can see why!
The Pyle PMXU88BT audio mixer is made exclusively for people who work in the music business. The tool is ideal for professionals who mix music. Additionally, it has a Bluetooth wireless network interface for downloading and streaming audio files.
A complete musician will find the Pyle PMXU88BT’s user-friendly controls and cutting-edge features to be of great utility. The instrument performance may be monitored with the greatest ease thanks to the LED indicator. Direct monitor and send controls are available on the audio interface for managing any monitoring input or output. All types of audio and MIDI data can be recorded, played, and mixed using this instrument.
For working on their instruments at their own leisure, skilled musicians who need the newest technology in its creation have found the perfect answer. The Bluetooth streaming range is 15 ft, which is great for when you are recording in a studio or performing live. If you are a musician, then you should definitely consider this product, because consider this is one of the best audio mixers in the market, especially for musicians.
The only downside that we can pinpoint is that the volume adjustments are not high enough. With a good 8 channels, one of the most attractive features of this product is its universal compatibility. This is one of the primary reasons why we recommend this product specifically for musicians. Regardless, for any other use you may have, this product is one of the best audio mixers available as of now.
Zoom LiveTrak L-12
This product is specifically recommended for rehearsal rooms. This is included because, you know, garages count. But bands will probably need something more robust to record complete shows, demos, or jam sessions. At some time, we’ve all recorded with the traditional “one mic in the middle of the room” setup and fantasized about having more control. There is a remedy in the Zoom LiveTrak L-12.
The finest of both worlds are combined in this 12-input digital mixer. You can simultaneously record up to 12 sources as a pure mixer, and you have total control over levels, panning, effects, and routing. This can then be transmitted to a computer over USB for editing and post-production as either a single summary source or as individual tracks.
Another option is to use the LiveTrak L-12 as a standalone multitrack recorder, which can record, mix, and master entire tracks that can be exported via an SD card. The Zoom LiveTrak L-12 is a really attractive option for bands on a tight budget. However, just because this product will not burn a hole in your pocket, does not mean that it is still not one of the best audio mixers available.
It excels in quality, and one of its best features is that it double backs as a mixer and a recorder, for an all in one experience. With USB-2 connectivity, the Zoom LiveTrak L-12 provides the ability to monitor custom mixes. The mic preamps could use a bit of work, but that is expected looking at the price point.
Regardless, this is not too big a flaw and definitely not a dealbreaker. If you are especially looking for an audio mixer for rehearsal rooms, you do not need to look further. This is easily one of the best audio mixers in the market, anyway, considering the price point.
Behringer XENYX X1222USB
Although the Behringer X1222USB is small, don’t be misled by its appearance. It is robust, transportable, and big enough to meet all of your mixer needs. The Behringer X1222USB is an expert-grade analog mixer with four phantom-powered Xenyx mic preamps. In our tests, these preamps gave great results, and we had no trouble comparing them to stand-alone boutique preamps. They also have a dynamic range of 130 dB.
Additionally, this mixer includes four expert compressors and LED control, allowing you to blend and achieve the ideal sound quickly. Among the 16 programmable presets on the mixer are effects like reverb, flanger, chorus, delay, and others.
Two of the four available channels can be used to connect the line-level and XLR sources. This mixer from Behringer also contains an FBQ Feedback Detection System that enables you to create the desired sound without any feedback. The LED will also illuminate when the model detects feedback, letting you know which parameter needs to be changed.
With the included USB cable, you can quickly connect it to any computer. The cost of this model includes all software. For instance, you might use the app’s 150+ virtual instruments to create the studio of your dreams at home.
With an extremely user-friendly interface, we honestly do not have any complaints with this product at all. Our favorite feature is that this product can support four mics, which is great for live and recording sessions. Its portability is a huge plus point, which goes without saying. The entirety of the product is made of high-quality materials, and the knobs and controls will not just break without reason.
Its durability makes this product worth your money, and a great investment. With such a wide array of features, we definitely consider this product to be one of the best audio mixers in the market.
SSL BiG SiX
The SSL BiG SiX is one of our top picks for the best audio mixers in 2023, and there are good reasons for this. We definitely think that this is the closest option you will get to a fully professional audio mixer in your home studio.
BiG SiX is the bigger twin of SSL’s equally outstanding SiX, as its name implies. The legacy of SSL’s renowned, large-format studio consoles is continued by BiG SiX, similar to that mixer, but with a focus on home and project studios. Ofcourse, additionally, it is bigger in size as well, but makes up for it by the additionally qualities as well.
The full 16-channel analogue mixer in this variant ups the ante. Four mono channels with SSL’s SuperAnalogue mic preamps, each with a high-pass filter, SSL Channel Dynamics, an improved three-band EQ, and a completely balanced insert point are among them. Four stereo inputs with dual mono switching connect them.
Three compressor flavours flesh out the analogue appeal; one of them is a “Essential” variation of the original SSL G-Comp Bus Compressor that includes the well-known auto release option. Having access to SSL compressors in your home studio is a big plus because they are a popular choice for their capacity to “glue” sound sources together and give punch to drums.
By including a 16-channel USB 24-bit/96kHz audio interface, BiG SiX also significantly strengthens the SiX’s most problematic area. Although this is undoubtedly not a cheap solution, the combination of digital ease of use and analogue heritage makes it a superb instrument for compact studio settings.
With the BiG Six, there is a staggering amount of capability available. Because of this, we won’t elaborate further here. After all, that is why there is a manual. As expected from SSL, we will just state that everything is rock solid. There are numerous options for signal flow, as well as the renowned SSL compressor quality built right in. The device operates at up to 96kHz, and the preamps sound excellent.
Although the SSL BiG SiX is not the most affordable mixer available, you get a lot of quality and utility for your money, as well as some excellent industrial design. It is definitely one of the best audio mixers available, and even if you are someone who will not use all the features available, this is still a great standalone mixer.
Korg SoundLink MW-1608
The SoundLink mixer series from Korg has several outstanding brand names. Greg Mackie is a name that any musician interested in mixing technology will undoubtedly be familiar with, and the fact that he and Peter Watts, a former Trident designer who is also well-known, contributed to this design lends Korg’s most recent consoles some significant credibility.
Although Korg calls their SoundLink line of mixers “hybrid,” implying a balance between analogue and digital technology, the reality isn’t quite what you might expect. Excellent pre-amps and channel strips in a traditional design that are simple to operate and extremely enjoyable to use make up this system’s strong point on the analogue side. There are also several effective, musician-friendly features including useful mute groups and astute monitoring measures.
Additionally, there is some good digital technology present, primarily in the form of Korg’s superior DSP effects. There is only one stereo streaming channel, which is primarily intended for recording from a digital source than for genuine studio integration, making this mixer’s primary drawback in comparison to some of the other mixers on this list.
Because of this, even though the SoundLink mixers are excellent, they perform better in live or band settings than in home studio settings. However, these are still high-quality desks for individuals who prefer a more traditional, analogue workflow and are able to do without in-built recording or multi-channel streaming.
Even if you do not just go by the names attached to this product, it remains one of the best audio mixers around. Its qualities speak for itself, and you will not be disappointed with its functionality, for sure. It is especially recommended for musicians, owing to its features such as mute groups. Unfortunately, features such as onboard recording and a full audio interface are lacking in the product.
You should avoid this product if these features are important to you. However, besides that, this product is one of the best audio mixers in the market, we assure you.
PreSonus StudioLive AR12c 14-Channel USB-C Hybrid Digital/Analog Performance Mixer
A small, svelte device that will fit in well with any DIY Livestreaming setup unit is the PreSonus StudioLive AR12c 14-Channel USB-C Hybrid Digital/Analog Performance Mixer. The sliders (while a little plasticky) feel smooth and have ample motion for small changes, and the strategically positioned buttons are easy to use.
We have listed it as the finest audio mixer for a home studio because of its amazing feature of having a USB connection for output to Livestream devices for DAW throughput.
An additional fantastic feature is the built-in digital SD card recorder. Customers who wish to have the audio of their speeches captured so that they may obtain them on a CD or in another format after the event has concluded don’t require the services of a second sound engineer. Using the digital SD card, you can complete this task. This is exactly why we consider this to be one of the best audio mixers in the market.
We think the Bluetooth input is a nice feature after trying. It is amazing to be able to wirelessly broadcast background music for conferences from our iPhones and iPads without taking up additional input. For the odd stage musician who sings on stage, reverb is a fantastic addition to the already amazing FX generator. Take care not to over-pod the sound source, though.
The design as well, is sleek and classy, unlike some of the other audio mixers we have encountered. With reliable Bluetooth technology and a great sounding equalizer, you must be starting to understand why this is known as one of the best audio mixers around. Using it will make you feel like nothing less than a professional, and the digital and analog hybrid design is extremely useful and versatile.
Tascam Mixcast 4
Mixcast 4 is a multitrack recorder with various inputs and outputs that runs on SD and has USB interface. You can use it to balance and record your podcast’s audio as either a stereo mix or a multitrack file. This can then be exported and edited using Tascam’s Podcast Editor software after being transmitted via USB to a variety of platforms (including Mac, PC, iOS, and soon, Android) (WAV, MP3, MP4).
Eight trigger pads are included in Mixcast 4 along with numerous physical knobs and faders, a touchscreen with menus, and other features. It functions as a standalone device and is small enough to fit in a backpack while being very heavy. Nevertheless, some elements—such as inputting sound files to pads—do call for the use of a software editor.
One of the best features of Mixcast 4 is unquestionably connectivity. One stereo line input on either 14″ TRS jacks or minijack and four phantom-powered mic inputs are available (the first four faders).
Four headphones (headphone 1 is paralleled to a front-mounted minijack) and the primary stereo output are among the outputs. The 14-out/2-in communication is enabled by USB interfacing, and the faders are assigned to specific USB streams. A Bluetooth input, a USB input from the USB device connected, and audio from the trigger pads are all carried via the final three stereo faders.
Each channel has a non-destructive Solo and Mute button, and fader 1 additionally has a Talkback button. This still works while channel 1 is muted and routes to headphones 2-4. Touchscreen technology is used to access channel-specific processing.
There are constraints however, as you would expect. Although you can export in 16-bit and at 44.1kHz, Mixcast 4 only supports 24-bit / 48kHz operation. Additionally, changing parameters using a touchscreen takes some time, especially if you need to configure a lot of gate thresholds. Finally, even though the mic inputs sound great, they weren’t made to rival an audiophile interface.
Overall, Mixcast 4 is a very capable tool that will allow you to focus more on the substance of your podcast and less on the technical details. Overall, this product is one of the best audio mixers you are likely to find.
Mackie Mix8 8-Channel Compact Mixer
The Mackie Mix8 8-Channel Compact Mixer provides everything you need for excellent sound at an affordable price, making it ideal for musicians and bands. For example, it may act as your primary sound system or a secondary mixing surface for recording music to your computer. Additionally, Mackie’s Mix8 is our pick for the finest budget audio mixer on our list since it provides high-end audio quality at a reasonable cost.
The Mackie Mix8 is sturdy and durable despite its compact size. Eight channels, two studio-grade mic/line inputs, phantom power for studio condenser mics, and three-band EQ on each channel are all features of the Mackie Mix8. It offers excellent sound for your events and is appropriate for small venues.
Moreover, we were also able to swiftly change our vocal timbre by hitting a button! The ease with which this little mixer can produce mixes with a professional sound right out of the box astounded us. The Mix8 is tough and light, weighing only 8 pounds, thanks to its robust metal chassis and Mackie’s distinctive “built like a tank” architecture.
Additionally, even at high levels, every input will sound clear and distortion-free thanks to Mackie’s renowned preamps! It’s just not big enough for some applications, though.
At this price, this product is easily one of the best audio mixers available in the market as of now. We do not particularly recommend this as your primary mixer, but as an additional mixer, this product is great. Another drawback is that it does not have a large number of channels, which you may encounter some issues with.
However, barring these few drawbacks, we definitely consider this product to be one of the best audio mixers available, and definitely recommend that you buy it.
TC Helicon GoXLR Revolutionary Online Broadcaster Platform with 4-Channel Mixer
A specific audio mixer for streamers is the TC Helicon GoXLR Revolutionary Online Broadcaster Platform with 4-Channel Mixer. It is simple to understand and has a wide variety of functions. Even better, you can sample sounds and alter them to fit your needs. With all of the available voice effects, you may have fun making your audience laugh. On our list, it is deserving of the top spot because it is the greatest audio mixer for online streamers.
GoXLR is a small, black device with a number of controls and features aimed at improving sound quality. It is built with a downward tilted design similar to a keyboard. But wait, there are even more features which make this product one of the best audio mixers available in the market.
The downward slope makes it easier to reach the various buttons and turn on the device. Additionally, it has RGB lights that you can modify using software. There are four volume sliders and a mute button on this four-channel mixer. They also allow for rapid audio manipulation during streaming sessions.
While streaming our tests, we had no problems talking or listening to music. Instead, throughout our gaming sessions, we could quickly adjust the volume and effects. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we also tried out some microphone sound effects. It served as an easy-to-use audio mixing tool for us, which made things considerably less complicated.
Allen & Heath ZEDi 10FX
A&H’s long-running analogue ZED series’ most recent upgrade combines a 4×4 USB interface with GSPre boutique preamps and inbuilt effects for a potent studio-ready solution. You receive three stereo inputs in addition to four mono mic/line channels (with phantom power). High impedance DI mode is available on the first two channels. Separate balanced/unbalanced TRS and XLR inputs are available on each of the four monophonic channels.
All mic inputs on the GSPre preamps contain a 100Hz low cut filter and a 3-band fixed frequency EQ in addition to being incredibly quiet and having tonnes of headroom. With three route options, USB functionality is also reasonable. An inbuilt FX send and processor completes the system.
This product provides you great value for money, with its great build and durability. There is ofcourse a reason as to why we call this one of the best audio mixers, right? Its affordable price does not decrease the quality at all, and we could easily call this one of the best audio mixers on a budget. Sure, the look of the mixer may not be as sleek as some of the other, more expensive mixers, but quality is what matters.
Do mixers affect audio quality?
The quality of the audio signals sent through audio mixers can be changed, just like with any other type of audio equipment. You’ll discover that the colouring of sound produced by audio mixers is influenced by the gain stages, A/D and D/A converters (digital mixers), and signal paths in general. Adjusting levels, panning, effects, and other things is also possible with mixers.
A high-quality mixer will provide you access to a large range of additional features, many of which could improve the performance of active speakers. However, it is probably going to contain a lot of different channels that you may mix together to create the final mix. The user can adjust the treble, midrange, and bass using these channels.
Do audio mixers work with USB headsets?
They do, however you can only combine them with the USB-connected device. Because the headphones have an amplifier built in, you can’t significantly change the sound. A USB port, a wireless transceiver, the air, your headphones, an audio amplifier, and eventually speakers or a microphone are how it functions.
If you purchase a wired headset, you can utilise the mixer anyway you like.
Do audio mixers count as audio interfaces?
No, not every audio mixer qualifies as an audio interface. Everything is dependent on the model you use. You need not require an interface, for instance, if your mixer already has a built-in USB port. If you already own a standalone mixing console without a USB output and want to record on your computer, you’ll need an interface. Last but not least, purchasing a small mixing console will help you increase your recording options if you want to record more than two audio sources but your interface only supports two channels.
What is the difference between an audio mixer and audio interface?
A USB interface mixer will frequently include more physical controllers than an audio interface does. However, other than a stereo stream coming from a USB mixer, you hardly ever record anything else. The sum of all of your audio inputs will be this stream.
Audio mixers are a great investment, if you are a musician, streamer, podcaster, or for many other professions. Purchasing a good quality audio mixer is recommended because it will last you a long time, and better than spending a medium amount of money periodically. However, mixers are quite expensive so while buying one, you should keep your needs and requirements in mind, so you do not waste your money on unnecessary characteristics.
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