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Audio & Recording

Best Mixing Board

The mixing board is the engineer’s map, helping him or her navigate through a session and deliver a hands-on approach to mixing, broadcasting, tracking, and producing audio. There are many different types of mixing boards that exist and they all have different purposes, but the general commonalities that they share are the inputs, outputs, and faders that correspond to either analog or digital audio sources. Mixing boards can also be used to add and send effects, tweak EQs, and more. There are many mixing boards available for those looking for their “map” in both the recording studio and in a live environment, and while many of them have a price tag that easily puts them into a price point of six figures, there are also some that are a bit more attainable to the normal individual. We've chosen these picks as the best mixing boards available today, with each one listed here featuring sends that allow you to route your audio with ease, no fewer than 10 tracks to give you a wide range of control to work with, and pan/EQ settings to give you plenty of options to manipulate sound that runs through the board.

Slate Digital RAVEN MTi2

Slate Digital’s RAVEN MTi2 mixing board is vastly different from the boards you’ve seen in the past. A 27” multi-touch display allows users to truly get hands-on with their mixes and instantly integrates with most major digital audio workstations. Those DAW parameters are then easily able to be controlled with your literal fingertips. Tweak plug-ins, pull faders, and navigate through tracks while interfacing with a 1920x1080 HD resolution display. Included Raven Batch Commander software executes macro controls that will help save you time for processes that you’ll utilize for every single session.

Soundcraft Ui16 16-input Remote-Controlled Digital Mixer

Whether you’re a live sound man who is ready for something a bit more modern to mix live music or you’re in a band and want to have a firmer control over the sounds that your audiences will hear, the Soundcraft Ui16 digital mixing board takes an old process and brings it into the future with ease and efficiency. The device connects via WiFi to up to 10 devices, including computers, phones, tablets, and more. Each of the 16 channels provided in the Ui16 have their own 4-band EQ, compressor, and de-esser. Add in the incorporated Lexicon effects, dbx signal processing, and DigiTech amp/stompbox modeling, and you really start to get a feeling for why this may be the last mixing board you’ll ever need to use to mix live sound. And because feedback is the worst enemy of the sound man, the Ui16 also is equipped with a dbx AFS2 feedback suppressor that anticipates problematic frequencies before the feedback even begins and nips them in the bud.

Allen & Heath GL2400 Dual Function Live Sound Mixer

Allen & Heath GL2400 Dual Function Live Sound Mixer

Mixing just got a whole lot easier with the Allen & Heath GL2400-32 mixing board. Offering up 32 channels to work with, this unit also features four separate audio groups with pan control, six aux sends with pre/post fader switching per channel, as well as dedicated channel, master, and stereo monitor meters. The design of this device has been carefully planned out to give engineers everything they need at their fingertips without being too overwhelming. The GL2400-32 also sports an ultra low-noise mix head amp design, which is important for keeping your audio from creeping into the red. Though the digital revolution is upon us, there are still situations where analog is the way to go, and mixing boards like this one certainly prove that they can hold their own with whatever new technology is thrown in their face.

Peavey XR 1212 Powered Mixer (12-Ch Powered Mixer w/FX)

Peavey’s XR 1212 powered mixing board may have some of the attributes of a traditional mixing console, but its inner workings are anything but. For instance, the unit’s new Class D power amplifier technology have made it so that the 1212 weighs in at only 22 pounds, without leaving out any component that one might find in a traditionally heavier box. You’ve got 12 channels to work with here, and you can enhance them all with a 4-band EQ, two monitor sends, and an effects send on each input channel. A pair of 9-band graphic EQs are here to help sweeten your sound even further. Five power amp modes allow you to set up your system to fit the room or environment that you’re in, giving this mixing board more versatility than its appearance might convey.

Allen & Heath XB-14-2

Allen & Heath XB-14-2

While it’s great to have a dedicated engineer onboard for all projects, sessions, and broadcasts, the truth of the matter is that sometimes that role falls to someone who is already doing something else – sometimes even talking on air. But there’s no reason to fret when you have compact, versatile mixing boards available that are easy enough for even audio novices to operate. The Allen & Heath XB-14-2 mixing board is ideal for broadcasters running a single-operator radio show. Using the 10 channels included here, you can mix in host, guest, and remote caller audio all from the convenience of your own desk. Each channel has its own simplified equalizers, making it easy to dial in the sound you need. The device can connect and send out to computers via a USB connection, making it a great tool for recording direct to digital or to stream signal online.

Sean Kramer
I'm a guitarist/music producer with 18 years of experience playing on-stage, in the studio, and everywhere in between. I have toured and recorded on projects both independent and major, in styles such as rock, pop, funk, hip hop, electronic, and more. My axe of choice is probably always going to be the Fender Stratocaster, but I've been known to pick up other guitars when the music calls for it. I'm a big fan of using a multitude of effects (both hardware and software-driven) to manipulate the sound and atmosphere of an instrument. In addition to playing on records, I have also contributed to the score/soundtrack for shows and spots on MTV and ESPN, as well as for a variety of independent films, web series, and television shows.
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