Once again looking for live mixer...

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by vttom, Feb 28, 2013.

  1. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    I first discovered this forum several years ago when I was looking for my first mixer for live gigs. After some helpful advice from this board, I wound up going with a Yamaha EMX312SC powered mixer w/ a pair of 12 Yamaha cabs. I've been exceedingly happy with this combination.

    However... my wife and I have joined up with some more friends in a larger group and our needs have out-grown this workhorse. We're now regularly gigging with a 5-person band and our needs have grown to:

    5 mics
    5-7 DI instruments (at least 2 of which are stereo)

    At the moment, we use the EMX312 for the mics, and then use an un-powered 8-channel mixer for the DI instruments which we then bring into a line-level input on the EMX312. While this works, it's cumbersome. I'd like to upgrade to a single mixer that has sufficient capacity for our needs.

    I've considered going with a 16+ channel unpowered mixer, and continuing to use the EMX312 as the power amp. But I think I would really like to streamline things by going with a 16+ channel powered mixer and ditch the EMX312 altogether.

    My first choice is, naturally, the Yamaha EMX5016CF. I'm especially intrigued by the FRC (Frequency Response Correction) feature. Something I've not seen in any other product.

    But I'm also trying to be open-minded and look at other powered mixers in that price range. I've also found these which look promising (although there is a dearth of reviews for these models, which I should probably take as a warning sign):

    Sampson TXM20
    Nady PMX-1600

    Just thought I'd bounce this off the forum and see if anyone had any experience or advice they're like to offer.

  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Yamaha has a pretty good reputation for live mixers.

    I'd say, based upon my limited research, that your choice would be a good one, for around a grand you're getting a 16 channel mixer with built in dual 500 watt amps, compressors on the first 8 channels...

    The 3 band EQ is about standard for a board in this price range, as well as the nine band graphic EQ.

    The only other thing you might think about looking at, and it would cost you about $900 more, would be the 01V, which is a digital console with recall-able fader positions, EQ settings, etc., but.. it's not powered, so you would need an external amp that would be ballsy enough to drive your cabinets without distorting.

  3. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    I had briefly considered the Presonus StudioLive 16.0.2 because I was really interested in the wireless remote-control features. But to take advantage of that, it looks like you need at a minimum a Wi-Fi router and possibly a laptop. Sounds like more complexity than I'm interested in. We don't have a permanent home, so we're constantly setting up/striking our gear, so simplicity rules the day as far as I'm concerned (but I'll consider multiple individual components if there is an arguable advantage over an all-in-one powered mixer solution).
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Simplicity is good. Most gigging musicians will agree that load in is a whole lot easier than load out at the end of the night when you're tired.

    The Presonus is, from what I've researched, a very nice console. But if you don't think you'd take advantage of the other features it has to offer - and - you'd still need an external power amp because the Presonus is an un-powered mixer.... your best bet might be the Yammi you are looking at, in a convenience of set up, tear down, "plug and go" type of scenario.

  5. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    Slightly OT: I just Googled the owners manual for the Yammi. Found it here -> http://download.yamaha.com/api/asset/file?language=it&site=countrysite-master.prod.exp.yamaha.com&asset_id=9191

    Reading it now. It's more than just a user's manual. It has some really good sound-reinforcement theory in there.
  6. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The Yamahas are good powered mixers, but it's also worth having a look at the Peavey range. I have an old one in my hire stock, and am constantly surprised how often it goes out. It's built like a tank (except the cover fixing clips), and people always say it works well for them, despite it not being exactly studio quality in audio terms. It was the model previous to the XR1212, which has the scary auto room analyser facility.
  7. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    You'll be way better off with a passive mixer and powered speakers or separate power amps. Putting the amps in the mixer limits your options in so many ways. And get one mixer that is big enough for everything. Submixing is a pain.
  8. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    i vote for the StudioLive .... it's the future. don't get left behind. with the StudioLive you will get better pre amps you can throw away the racks of efx, compressors and eqs you can record your live gigs and it can do double duty as a recording rig at home. it's a no brainier for me.
  9. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    Well, I'd considered getting an unpowered mixer + power amp, and something like this to house them in...

    Amazon.com: SKB DJ Capsule: Roto-Mold Shell, 8U Slant Top rack, 2U Front Rack, Wood Reinforced Soft Nylon Cover: Musical Instruments

    Cost-wise it's a wash between discrete vs. the all-in-one route.

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  10. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Pound for pound the EMX system is going to be hard to beat at about 17 pounds. You're going to have to decide how much extra bulk you're willing and able to deal with in your efforts to simplify your set-up. I have an EMX in my stable as well, and I'm always amazed at how good it sounds and how little it weighs.

    I'd steer clear of the two alternatives you mentioned in the first post. Neither brand would give my much confidence in their sound quality or durability. If you decide on a bigger powered mixer the A-H PA20-CP looks like a winner from a company that makes really nice mixers. (budget permitting) If you can find a suitable Yamaha or Peavey as suggested by the other very knowledgeable contributors, they would also worth considering.

    I'm a fan of the StudioLive, and you are correct. At this point in time you have to; connect the mixer to a laptop via firewire, and then have a wireless router connected to the computer via Cat5, to take advantage of its remote mixing capabilities. I learned the hard way not to trust the in-house wi-fi if the venue has a public network available. But even without the remote mixing the SL is still a powerhouse mixer with FX, parametric EQs, gates, and compressors available on every input and every output.

    If you decide to go unpowered - be sure you double-check the dimensions of your mixer of choice before you buy the SKB DJ case. Those are designed for a DJ mixer, which is considerably shorter (front to back) than a mic mixer like what you're looking for. The StudioLive, or similar, would never fit in that DJ case. I recently put an SL16.4.2 along with a Raxxess ECR 10-space over 16-space x 24" deep rack in a church installation. I had to completely reposition and remount the rackrails to provide the few inches behind the mixer to accommodate the connectors with the lids and doors all closed. In the process I lost a couple of the 16 lower rack spaces, luckily I didn't need them all for the balance of the gear. The surface of the StudioLive angles upward at the top of the faders as you can see in this rack-ear installation guide. The result is a mixer that does not mount completely parallel to the rails. It may not be a deal-breaker, or even minor inconvenience in some cases <<[ literally cases ], in others it could be a massive PITA surprise that ruins your day.

    One of my other portable systems utilizes an SKB mini-GigRig which is 10-space over 6-space. I'm not sure the SL16 would fit in it due to that angle. The SKB's 10-spaces for the mixer is just barely deep enough for the Soundcraft FX-16 it contains. There is a moulded brace (integral to the lid) that goes across the back of the rack which blocks some of the connectors on my mixer (the FX16 that did not have the "rotating connector pod"). The mic inputs are high enough that they are very accessible, but my mixer has a few necessary Aux connectors very low on the chassis making them impossible to reach while in the rack. So I've had to make my AUX send connections with right angle TRS cables prior to bolting the mixer in the rack. The TRS connections just barely clear the brace, and I leave those cables bundled inside the case anyway.

    That case contains the Soundcraft mixer, a Furman power conditioner, a dbx 166xl compressor, a dbx EQ, and a fairly lightweight Crown XTi amp - so as a unit, it functions like a powered mixer [ a 16-channel 1600 watt powered mixer ] with some perks. Loaded it weighs in at about 100 pounds and is very manageable with two people, but it is a rather awkward handful for one person to move very far. The GigRig is also challenging to get on a typical handtruck due to the lop-sided weight distribution and a somewhat slippery rounded case. It's not impossible, just somewhat difficult. Casters on it are not practical for my set-up, but a caster-board might be in order if I weren't stacking mine on top of other much more powerful amp racks at the show and turning the Crown amp over to monitor duty.

    Just for reference, the relatively lightweight moulded mini-GigRig case empty weighs about 33 lbs. which is roughly double that of your EMX312. If you go with a conventional wood & aluminum extrusion flight case version like THIS you're closer to 60lbs. before you put anything in it. My SL24.4.2 is too wide for a rack, so when I use mine, it has to travel in a separate conventional flight case and connect to the separate racks filled with amps - which is always an option for you too.

    I'm not trying to persuade you one way or the other, but would want you to know what you're getting into weight-wise. At a certain age, we have to start thinking about our back and how much physical help the rest of our bandmates will be. If you're prone to back problems, you might start thinking your current set-up isn't so bad after all.

    I know if I had it to do all over again, I would do the mini GigRig exactly this same way. For me, I'm no stranger to lugging gear around and I've always been the kind of person who would prefer making one trip with something heavy than 10 lighter trips. You may favor the other approach.

    And don't forget at some point you have to load this extra bulk into a car, truck, van, trailer. Do you have the means to transport larger toys?

    Food for thought.
  11. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    Thanks, dvdhawk, for the lengthy discussion. You're right, a very large consideration for me is the lugability of whatever solution I come up with. That's what makes the Yammi so appealing. But I also recognize the advantages of going with a unpowered mixer+power amp solution, so I'm trying to feel that out as best I can.

    FWIW - I've also discovered this bad boy -> Mackie DL1608 | Sweetwater.com

    Anyone had any experience with this yet?

    Also, rather than an old-school mixer, what if I got a couple of these and a laptop? Will Virtual StudioLive work with these so I could do all the mixing ITB? I could even use something like VNC from an iPad to control the mix remotely. Of course, I would also need an outboard power amp.
  12. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    You can't use ITB mixing for live work - the latencies are too great.

    I got called out as an emergency one day to rescue a live gig where a man and his geek of a son had brought in the son's bedroom computer recording rig to use as PA complete with a £30 kit of unlabelled microphones. They were intending to mix ITB and expecting the cheap hi-fi amp and speakers to fill the medium-sized hall. The musicians had not only complained that the PA was impossible to play against because it had a half-second delay, but also when it was running it was distorted yet still could not be heard more than half way down the hall. I got there with whatever gear I could throw together in a hurry and spent the time allocated for the sound check replacing the bedroom rig with proper live gear. The father and son left quickly with red faces clutching their toy system.
  13. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    Ah, yes, that old bug-a-boo latency. Hadn't considered the implications of that in a live PA situation. Obviously that's why Presonus tightly couples their software with the StudioLive mixer, since they have control of the latency at both the software and hardware level.

    Even what light recording I've done has given me a healthy appreciation of latency (the latency of the sound getting into the DAW and back out, even though a fraction of a second, is still too much, so we only use direct monitoring through the audio interface).
  14. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Sorry about the length of the last post, I had a lot of points I wanted to make. This one will be much shorter, I promise.

    In theory the FireStudio might work, in practice I would be very leery.

    VSL can only mirror the controls of the connected device, so the way I see it - using VSL with a FireStudio you'd only have volume controls and pan. (no EQ, no gates/compressors/limiters/ no FX) They assume you're using it to capture audio into a full-fledged DAW that will have all of those controls.

    Even if you could create enough zero-latency outputs to do a live show through the FireStudio, you would need to rig it thru StudioOne somehow to have any control - and we're back to latency concerns.

    Plus the expense of a good laptop with enough horsepower to run two FireStudios (if you don't already have one)
  15. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Seriously, if you're in the band the last thing in the world you need is to deal with is a complex sound system. What you need to get the job done is enough inputs, some channel eq, enough monitor mixes and maybe some reverb. A rack mount analog mixer with 16 inputs and a cheap external reverb box (e.g. Nanoverb) takes care of that. Paired with some powered speakers and you have a system that is dead simple to set up and operate. That will free you to do your real job: play music. If you play with the same band all the time you can just leave the mixer set up and connect the same sources to the same inputs, make minor adjustments and go with practically no sound check.

    I would recommend Allen & Heath's MixWizard WZ3 16:2, Soundcraft's GB2R or even a Mackie 1604VLZ (Pro or 3). The Mackie will do two separate monitor mixes while the other two will do four monitor mixes.

    If you need a bit more capability, like storing different settings for different songs, then a small digital mixer might be in order. With the new batch of digital mixers coming out you may be able to score a nice Yamaha 01V96 for little money.
  16. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    I'm a little worried that the EMX5016CF will be a wee-bit short on inputs. I jotted down how I would assign the channels, and all 16 channels would be occupied right from the get-go. I'd like to have a little breathing room.

    The Soundcraft EFX12 has caught my attention. The "12" in the name is misnomer, though. It has 12 mono inputs, plus 2 stereo inputs, plus another 2trk input. Other manufacturers would call this an 18-channel mixer.

    I also like the looks of the Allen & Heath ZED-18. Although it's lacking FX.

    The Peavey XR 1220 would have inputs to spare. And has effects and is powered and is virtually to same price as the Yammy. Too bad it's so butt-ugly.
  17. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    A pair of mono mic input channels can handle a stereo signal, but you can't put two mics (or even one) into a stereo line input. A real 16 channel board will always be more useful than a pseudo 16 channel board (e.g. 12 mono + 2 stereo).

    Plus, going from the Soundcraft FX12 to the FX16ii will get you from one monitor mix up to three separate mixes, and it has direct outputs should you ever want to multitrack a show. An A&H WZ3 16:2 or a Soundcraft GB2R will get you four monitor mixes.

    A mixed input board will be a real pain should you ever get want to use a snake.
  18. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    The trouble I'm having here is that we're at the upper limit of what a 16-channel mixer can handle. But the next step up is to go to a 24-channel mixer, and that just seems like over-kill. There are 5 people in the band and we each have a vocal mic and can only play 1 instrument at a time, so we could get away with 10 channels if we wanted to, but some of us play more than 1 instrument, and I'd rather not hot-plug them when they switch instruments between songs.
  19. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I would contend that the other manufacturers stretch the truth when they name their mixers - but maybe that's just me.

    The A&H MixWizards are very very nice mixers along with the GB2R. I own an FX16 that's in the same league as the A&H with Lexicon effects built-in. I also have a little EPM that has been very good (and dead quiet) - but would have insufficient channel count for you and no effects.

    I would be leery of the EFXi, since I've experienced a bunch of self-noise problems with the Soundcraft MFXi series mixers related to poorly implemented shielding/grounding. I would want to hear the actual Soundcraft BEFORE I bought it (avoiding eBay). I'm not talking about hissing white-noise when you over-crank the gain, this is a persistent obnoxious buzzing noise.
  20. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    Thanks for the Peavey tip, Boswell. I suddenly find myself smitten with the Peavey PV20. I've checked several online stores and the user reviews are very good. There are also a couple of reviews on YouTube that sing its praises. It's got just the right number of channels for my application; I like the fact that the case it metal; and it's super light-weight (~12lbs). I'll probably pair it with a Crown XLS 1000 or 1500 (which are also light-weight) for less than the Peavey XR1220, which is more-or-less the powered version of the PV20.

    Then again, I found a really good deal on an Allen & Heath ZED-22FX for not a whole lot more than the PV20. Is the A&H heads and shoulders better than the Peavey or are they comparable? Is it a no-brainer to go for the A&H?

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