Do high end mixers matter?

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Michael O. » Tue Dec 22, 2020 2:06 pm

I don’t know that I get the gist of the original question (if there is one?), and if I’m interpreting it correctly the answer is necessarily deeply subjective and situational, but I’ll give it a go.

For me, a high end mixer is indispensable, because I mix with a full studio of hardware. This is largely out of preference rather than true necessity; I could just as easily and effectively mix in the box (assuming the initial tracking is well done), but I prefer the sound and workflow afforded me by my console, patchbays, outboard processors, and so on. For someone else in a different profession, or operating by means of a different paradigm, it’s maybe not so essential. They can, after all, delegate the mixing duties to someone like me.

Edit: for tracking duties the console is of course arguably more necessary, but I don’t know if that’s what op is getting at

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by gruebleengourd » Tue Dec 22, 2020 2:55 pm

For your purpose (assuming you are recording into a computer or some kind of digital device where you can mix) you would be better investing not in a mixer, but a few high end preamps. Sytek mpx-4a used to be my go to suggestion, but they don't sell that model anymore and used prices are like 2-3x what they used to cost new...

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by sleestack808 » Tue Dec 22, 2020 3:25 pm

I mix OTB. I already have a high end console. But it could easily be a serge rack. lol. The 6 channel ssl looks interesting.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Dave Peck » Tue Dec 22, 2020 5:01 pm

If you don't need to mix lots of analog signals together, add FX etc., outside the modular as you are tracking, you could get by with going direct to any decent soundcard or if you want to get fancy get a couple of decent flexible preamps like a pair of Warm Audio Tone beasts.

If you want to mix signals, send to FX etc. in the analog domain while tracking, and maybe do an analog mixdown later, for about $500 you could use something like a used Mackie Onyx 1604 which has pretty good performance specs and has lots of individual outs as well as four submixes plus main outs (plus monitor outs, fx sends, etc.) or 1604i which includes firewire. But of course to do an analog mixdown you'll need lots of simultaneous ANALOG OUTS from your DAW.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by 3hands » Wed Dec 23, 2020 5:46 am

dubonaire wrote:
Mon Dec 21, 2020 11:40 pm
3hands wrote:
Mon Dec 21, 2020 9:17 pm
I have a System 8 and I love it but it’s too much for what I need. I’m going to swap it out for a 500 series lunchbox running predominately API. I feel with something like this, I can get a huge sound with very little footprint.
I'm planning to get a Cranborne ADAT500. Current plan is to put a Zahl EQ and a Shadow Hills Dual Vandergraph in it. And then probably something like Chandler or Rupert Neve pres currently undecided. I have to confess that is pure gear lust.
That’s a good plan. The Chandler stuff is fantastic (as is the Shadow Hill stuff). I worked with a massive Neve board and while I thought it sounded nice, it definitely wasn’t my sound. Believe it or not, I preferred the TAC Scorpion Desk we had! Either way, you have planned a fantastic system!
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by trickness » Wed Dec 23, 2020 12:34 pm

Nelson Baboon wrote:
Mon Dec 21, 2020 8:04 pm
in general, people who spend huge $$$ on products will tell you that they matter. I have a pair of $500 socks, and I can tell you that my feet feel incredible.
If I had a $500 sock, I would probably slide it over something other than my foot

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by MisterJ » Wed Dec 23, 2020 6:28 pm

I think it depends on what you're doing with the mixer. For a lot of electronic music, it doesn't. For quality recording from quality microphones, it does. Synthesizers produce a different sort of signal at at a much higher level than that of a microphone or pickup and preamps and EQ aren't so important if you are feeding synthesizers and effects into a mixer. When you're recording through a microphone, you are taking an acoustic wave and converting it into an electronic signal that can be recorded and preserved. You have a perceptional reference to the original sound and you want your equipment to capture and enhance that sound. With electronic music, there is no sound until it hits the speakers and your perception of that music is what comes out of the speakers. In general, synthesizers tend to produce a very clean signal that is a bit flat on its own and a good part of the art of electronic music is making that flat signal interesting, in general by a combination of sound design and signal processing. The most basic signal processor for synthesizers is a spring reverb which was a standard component of many early analog synthesizers. You want to throw some dirt, noise and randomness into the mix, give it some of the qualities that makes the sound of a good acoustic instrument interesting. A mixing board that is designed for an ultra clean smooth signal coming from high quality transducers might not be the best choice for that or, at least, not be necessary if the signal is already pretty clean. Low noise, some decent headroom and routing flexibility are what I look for in a mixer. These days, it's a buyers market for mixers and you don't have to spend a huge amount of money to get a decent one.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Analog Prophet » Thu Dec 24, 2020 5:58 am

MisterJ wrote:
Wed Dec 23, 2020 6:28 pm
A mixing board that is designed for an ultra clean smooth signal coming from high quality transducers might not be the best choice for that or, at least, not be necessary if the signal is already pretty clean. Low noise, some decent headroom and routing flexibility are what I look for in a mixer. These days, it's a buyers market for mixers and you don't have to spend a huge amount of money to get a decent one.
Good point.

Another thing to consider is if one want have a clean signal or a signal with character. It happens things when voltage travel through good electronics - not necessary better but different.
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Carrousel » Mon Jan 04, 2021 8:36 am

I’m just about to switch my home recording set-up.

For the last few years I’ve been using a pair of MOTU 828mkII’s to multitrack record my jams. All the instruments go into an Allen&Heath mix wizard, then I take the post-EQ, post-fader direct outs into my soundcards and monitor from the master output in the DAW. All my mixing took place in the box.

Now I’ve just bought a MOTU 16a. I’m going to run all my instruments direct into the soundcard, then straight back out again on their individual channels and into a Phoenix Nicerizer MkII 16 channel summer. I will use something like the 12 channel fader fox unit to control track levels in the daw. I will record the multi-tracks from my jam take, then edit them as needed and finally mix them out through the Phoenix, recording the summed mix back through one pair of the MOTU inputs.

I just got a bit sick of using the Allen & Heath as a bunch of individual front end channel strips (somewhat redundantly, since I really just want the ability to mute them and fade them when performing takes - something I can achieve with a midi controller). I also keep hearing about how a fancy analog summer can make a big difference compared to ITB mixing with eg ableton and I want to try it for myself.

So what I want to say is - I’ll report back in a few weeks and give my opinion on whether a high end mixer has significantly added to my workflow or quality of output.
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Chartreuse-J » Mon Jan 04, 2021 5:24 pm

Subjective. I do notice a difference in sound between an RME interface and a Tascam mixer. Esoteric audiophile magic here..
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Funky40 » Mon Jan 04, 2021 9:09 pm

MisterJ wrote:
Wed Dec 23, 2020 6:28 pm
With electronic music, there is no sound until it hits the speakers and your perception of that music is what comes out of the speakers.
This !
it reflects perfectly my feel and my thoughts vs. my own situation i´m in (NOT having dough enough......)

i totally like this whole post !
MisterJ wrote:
Wed Dec 23, 2020 6:28 pm
I think it depends on what you're doing with the mixer. For a lot of electronic music, it doesn't. For quality recording from quality microphones, it does. Synthesizers produce a different sort of signal at at a much higher level than that of a microphone or pickup and preamps and EQ aren't so important if you are feeding synthesizers and effects into a mixer. When you're recording through a microphone, you are taking an acoustic wave and converting it into an electronic signal that can be recorded and preserved. You have a perceptional reference to the original sound and you want your equipment to capture and enhance that sound. With electronic music, there is no sound until it hits the speakers and your perception of that music is what comes out of the speakers. In general, synthesizers tend to produce a very clean signal that is a bit flat on its own and a good part of the art of electronic music is making that flat signal interesting, in general by a combination of sound design and signal processing. The most basic signal processor for synthesizers is a spring reverb which was a standard component of many early analog synthesizers. You want to throw some dirt, noise and randomness into the mix, give it some of the qualities that makes the sound of a good acoustic instrument interesting. A mixing board that is designed for an ultra clean smooth signal coming from high quality transducers might not be the best choice for that or, at least, not be necessary if the signal is already pretty clean. Low noise, some decent headroom and routing flexibility are what I look for in a mixer. These days, it's a buyers market for mixers and you don't have to spend a huge amount of money to get a decent one.
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by SPIKE the Percussionist » Tue Jan 05, 2021 1:22 am

yes...they matter.
++

more noiz!

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Estes » Tue Jan 05, 2021 4:28 am

I've been asking myself the same question, not only high end Mixers but above average Mixers. My conclusion is that I need to test these things, so my idea was to shout out in my aera if someone has a mixer I would like to try out and voila, I found someone that is willing to show me his Allen & Heath Zed R16. I'll bring along some of my synths/modular my RME Interface and will try out my potential setup. If it instantly feels right and covers all my needs, I know I can pull the trigger I guess?

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by stringtapper » Tue Jan 05, 2021 6:01 am

If I'm recording, then, yes, it's important and I use either my business partner's Yamaha PM-1000 or my Soundcraft Ghost. If I have to record direct I make sure it's through one of my UADs.

For live work I've just been using an XR18 to mix all my synths. Works fine for live. Would never record with it (can't go above 24/48 and we do everything at 24/96).

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by deft_bonz » Tue Jan 05, 2021 9:14 am

For a few channels you probably won't need a high end mixer, just for a hobby to have fun. That's how I started as well. Some Panasonic 20 bucks mixer, Behringer 24-8bus, then Mackie 32-8bus, then that shitty Yamaha digital mixer. In between I worked with bigger Neves and SSL in other studios.

Over time with more experience in listening, when you start to use high end gear, in a treated room, with great monitors, and so on, you will most likely also start to appreciate the differences. I would never sell my SSL Xdesk for a low end mixer. Separation, head room, open and full sound and so on, compared to the low end mixers I used before.

Yes, mixers matter. It's up to you how much it matters to you, your budget and your situation.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by naturligfunktion » Thu Jan 07, 2021 5:21 am

Carrousel wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 8:36 am
I’m just about to switch my home recording set-up.

For the last few years I’ve been using a pair of MOTU 828mkII’s to multitrack record my jams. All the instruments go into an Allen&Heath mix wizard, then I take the post-EQ, post-fader direct outs into my soundcards and monitor from the master output in the DAW. All my mixing took place in the box.

Now I’ve just bought a MOTU 16a. I’m going to run all my instruments direct into the soundcard, then straight back out again on their individual channels and into a Phoenix Nicerizer MkII 16 channel summer. I will use something like the 12 channel fader fox unit to control track levels in the daw. I will record the multi-tracks from my jam take, then edit them as needed and finally mix them out through the Phoenix, recording the summed mix back through one pair of the MOTU inputs.

I just got a bit sick of using the Allen & Heath as a bunch of individual front end channel strips (somewhat redundantly, since I really just want the ability to mute them and fade them when performing takes - something I can achieve with a midi controller). I also keep hearing about how a fancy analog summer can make a big difference compared to ITB mixing with eg ableton and I want to try it for myself.

So what I want to say is - I’ll report back in a few weeks and give my opinion on whether a high end mixer has significantly added to my workflow or quality of output.
Funny, I have more or less just done the same, and I really felt like you re using all those channel strips when I didn't really need them. I do miss having faders though, but to be honest it is so much cleaner to do the mix in the box. For starters, I can now save my mix if I get tired of a song (life saver).

The sound quality is also way better now when I go straight into the interface. That is really a no brainer. My mixer wasn't the best one whereas the RME interface is something special.

Overall, I am happy with the transition, but I still have this itch to have a summing mixer. But to justify it, I would need to get a really, really nice mixer and the cost for that is just... meeeh :cry:
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Carrousel » Thu Jan 07, 2021 7:21 am

So I wasn't able to get the Nicerizer - the B-stock unit online had long since sold but the company hadn't updated their website. Ive bought a Tegeler Tube Summing Mixer instead. I'll post here with how I get on. I'm already mightily impressed with the sound from my new interface though (Motu 16a) - just summed through the Mixwizard. I assume its the new converters making the meat of the difference, rather than analog summing but nonetheless I'm very excited to get the Tegeler unit and push everything through it.
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Carrousel » Thu Jan 07, 2021 8:37 am

naturligfunktion wrote:
Thu Jan 07, 2021 5:21 am
Carrousel wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 8:36 am
I’m just about to switch my home recording set-up.

For the last few years I’ve been using a pair of MOTU 828mkII’s to multitrack record my jams. All the instruments go into an Allen&Heath mix wizard, then I take the post-EQ, post-fader direct outs into my soundcards and monitor from the master output in the DAW. All my mixing took place in the box.

Now I’ve just bought a MOTU 16a. I’m going to run all my instruments direct into the soundcard, then straight back out again on their individual channels and into a Phoenix Nicerizer MkII 16 channel summer. I will use something like the 12 channel fader fox unit to control track levels in the daw. I will record the multi-tracks from my jam take, then edit them as needed and finally mix them out through the Phoenix, recording the summed mix back through one pair of the MOTU inputs.

I just got a bit sick of using the Allen & Heath as a bunch of individual front end channel strips (somewhat redundantly, since I really just want the ability to mute them and fade them when performing takes - something I can achieve with a midi controller). I also keep hearing about how a fancy analog summer can make a big difference compared to ITB mixing with eg ableton and I want to try it for myself.

So what I want to say is - I’ll report back in a few weeks and give my opinion on whether a high end mixer has significantly added to my workflow or quality of output.
Funny, I have more or less just done the same, and I really felt like you re using all those channel strips when I didn't really need them. I do miss having faders though, but to be honest it is so much cleaner to do the mix in the box. For starters, I can now save my mix if I get tired of a song (life saver).

The sound quality is also way better now when I go straight into the interface. That is really a no brainer. My mixer wasn't the best one whereas the RME interface is something special.

Overall, I am happy with the transition, but I still have this itch to have a summing mixer. But to justify it, I would need to get a really, really nice mixer and the cost for that is just... meeeh :cry:
For faders just get something like a 12 channel faderfox perhaps? That’s what I’m planning to get if I ditch the mix wizard after my tube summer arrives. It’s a shame the faders aren’t motorised but if you only work on one track at once (which I guess most modular heads do by default on account of a patched rack) then I guess it won’t be much of an issue. You also get mute buttons and three pots per channel for eg sends.
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by naturligfunktion » Thu Jan 07, 2021 9:14 am

Carrousel wrote:
Thu Jan 07, 2021 8:37 am
For faders just get something like a 12 channel faderfox perhaps? That’s what I’m planning to get if I ditch the mix wizard after my tube summer arrives. It’s a shame the faders aren’t motorised but if you only work on one track at once (which I guess most modular heads do by default on account of a patched rack) then I guess it won’t be much of an issue. You also get mute buttons and three pots per channel for eg sends.
Yeah maybe! But I really, really like to be able to work with different song simultaneously. I dont have to worry about when a song is done anymore, and that is wonderful.

But I forgot to ask, how does the transition work for you with the MOTU?
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Carrousel » Thu Jan 07, 2021 9:26 am

Well I was multitracking everything through my old 828s anyway, using the mix wizard as a bunch of front end channel strips. So far the tube mixer hasn’t arrived yet so the only thing that’s changed is my synths now go directly into the new soundcard (16a) and then back out again on their own channels and now into the mix wizard for back end external summing. So for me the only thing that’s changed so far is much better sound quality (which I think is the converters) and moving to proper post-recording-of-tracks OTB analog mixing (instead of multitracking and monitoring ableton’s master output) - but since I’m waiting on the tube summer to arrive I’ve not actually properly recorded or mixed anything yet. I’ve just been running a few tests for myself. Once the tube summer arrives and I (likely) get rid of the mix wizard and replace it with a bunch of faders for in-DAW track level control I’ll report back.

Edit: I’ll also let you know whether I go with motorised faders or not....a whole other headache
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by helix » Thu Jan 07, 2021 10:24 am

Carrousel wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 8:36 am
I’m just about to switch my home recording set-up.

For the last few years I’ve been using a pair of MOTU 828mkII’s to multitrack record my jams. All the instruments go into an Allen&Heath mix wizard, then I take the post-EQ, post-fader direct outs into my soundcards and monitor from the master output in the DAW. All my mixing took place in the box.

Now I’ve just bought a MOTU 16a. I’m going to run all my instruments direct into the soundcard, then straight back out again on their individual channels and into a Phoenix Nicerizer MkII 16 channel summer. I will use something like the 12 channel fader fox unit to control track levels in the daw. I will record the multi-tracks from my jam take, then edit them as needed and finally mix them out through the Phoenix, recording the summed mix back through one pair of the MOTU inputs.

I just got a bit sick of using the Allen & Heath as a bunch of individual front end channel strips (somewhat redundantly, since I really just want the ability to mute them and fade them when performing takes - something I can achieve with a midi controller). I also keep hearing about how a fancy analog summer can make a big difference compared to ITB mixing with eg ableton and I want to try it for myself.

So what I want to say is - I’ll report back in a few weeks and give my opinion on whether a high end mixer has significantly added to my workflow or quality of output.

How is the 16a? I'm currently using 3X motu 2408 ( mk3 and two mk2's) and was wondering if it's worth upgrading. Hows the latency, similar to th 828 or much less? Noticable difference in audio quality for recording?

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by JES » Thu Jan 07, 2021 12:20 pm

Greetings. I'm looking for an outboard mixer for my Eurorack. I record live to 2-track. I have some very nice outboard effects I like to use -- RE-150, AD-202, pedals. The Mackie 1402VLZ4 seems to tick all the boxes. But a used Allen and Heath 14 channel mixer has popped up locally. It's a little big for my space but do the people here think it would make an actual difference for Eurorack level inputs and summing? The other X-factor is we're going into lockdown so getting the A&H repaired if it needs servicing may be a thing.

I should add the following: I wouldn't mind an old mixer with character but I don't have the space. I do have some nice outboard mic pres that I use when recording acoustic instruments. But I'm just looking for a nice firm "big" sound straight to 2-track. I do want to be able to perform on the mixer, so sends are a must. I am also side-eyeing the SSL six but don't know....
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Carrousel » Thu Jan 07, 2021 12:27 pm

helix wrote:
Thu Jan 07, 2021 10:24 am
Carrousel wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 8:36 am
I’m just about to switch my home recording set-up.

For the last few years I’ve been using a pair of MOTU 828mkII’s to multitrack record my jams. All the instruments go into an Allen&Heath mix wizard, then I take the post-EQ, post-fader direct outs into my soundcards and monitor from the master output in the DAW. All my mixing took place in the box.

Now I’ve just bought a MOTU 16a. I’m going to run all my instruments direct into the soundcard, then straight back out again on their individual channels and into a Phoenix Nicerizer MkII 16 channel summer. I will use something like the 12 channel fader fox unit to control track levels in the daw. I will record the multi-tracks from my jam take, then edit them as needed and finally mix them out through the Phoenix, recording the summed mix back through one pair of the MOTU inputs.

I just got a bit sick of using the Allen & Heath as a bunch of individual front end channel strips (somewhat redundantly, since I really just want the ability to mute them and fade them when performing takes - something I can achieve with a midi controller). I also keep hearing about how a fancy analog summer can make a big difference compared to ITB mixing with eg ableton and I want to try it for myself.

So what I want to say is - I’ll report back in a few weeks and give my opinion on whether a high end mixer has significantly added to my workflow or quality of output.

How is the 16a? I'm currently using 3X motu 2408 ( mk3 and two mk2's) and was wondering if it's worth upgrading. Hows the latency, similar to th 828 or much less? Noticable difference in audio quality for recording?
It’s difficult to be scientific about these things as always and in this case even harder as I’ve changed multiple things, including going from 48kHz to 96kHz sample rate. I had absolutely next to no latency with the 828s anyway so I wouldn’t say it’s made that much difference. It states 5ms on the settings panel now and it previously stated something like 12ms so I guess accounting for the doubling of sample rate it’s maybe 10-15% lower latency? The biggest difference to me is the sound quality. I have taken away the mixwizard channels from before the synths go into the soundcard, but they’re still all going through the desk once they come out of the soundcard for summing, so I don’t think it’s that. It’s either that something is somehow radically different with my gainstaging (seems unlikely) or that the new converters are much better. I’m slightly surprised at the difference myself because a lot of the received wisdom on forums like this is that converters haven’t changed much over the last 10 years or so - such that you can only tell the difference on delicately recorded acoustic material or if you spend many £1000s, but to me the 16a converters are miles better than my 828mkiis. Could easily be honeymoon-period-psychosomatic effects based on the fact that my re-wire worked the way I expected and I didn’t fry anything along the way, but we’ll see :hihi:
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Dave Peck » Thu Jan 07, 2021 12:45 pm

JES wrote:
Thu Jan 07, 2021 12:20 pm
Greetings. I'm looking for an outboard mixer for my Eurorack. I record live to 2-track. I have some very nice outboard effects I like to use -- RE-150, AD-202, pedals. The Mackie 1402VLZ4 seems to tick all the boxes. But a used Allen and Heath 14 channel mixer has popped up locally. It's a little big for my space but do the people here think it would make an actual difference for Eurorack level inputs and summing? The other X-factor is we're going into lockdown so getting the A&H repaired if it needs servicing may be a thing.

I should add the following: I wouldn't mind an old mixer with character but I don't have the space. I do have some nice outboard mic pres that I use when recording acoustic instruments. But I'm just looking for a nice firm "big" sound straight to 2-track. I do want to be able to perform on the mixer, so sends are a must. I am also side-eyeing the SSL six but don't know....
Because you are using multiple hardware effects devices, IMO the number of post fader sends is important, and I also think it's important to have enough spare input channels to accommodate the effects devices - because IMO it works way better to route effects devices back to spare input channels than sending them back to the FX returns. Patching them to input channels gives you full EQ control over the effects as well as the important ability to "cascade" your effects devices by using the sends on those channels to route the output of one effect onward to another effect with a variable send level, rather than just hard=patching the effects in a chain.

If the A & H 14 channel you are looking at has plenty of post fader sends, and if you only need maybe eight channels max for inputs other than the effects 'return' channels, it may be a good choice. But if it is light on the number of sends, I might go for something like a used Mackie Onyx 1640 which gives you six post fader sends and plenty of channels plus four subgroups that can be used for doing things like creating a 'dry' submix and an 'all FX' submix so you cna easily adjust overall fx levels with a pair of subgroup faders.

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JES
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by JES » Thu Jan 07, 2021 12:57 pm

Thanks @Dave Peck The A&H has six sends, and I won't need more than 8 mono channels, so that's sounding pretty good.

Is the Onyx sonically any different than the VLZ4 line?
"Now, I'm off to hook my cat's litterbox up to an envelope follower." --Aragorn23

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