- How did we choose the top digital mixers?
- Can a digital mixer take the place of my audio interface?
- What are the benefits of using a remote control app to operate a digital mixer?
- Comparison Table:
- PreSonus StudioLive 16.0.2 USB
- Zoom LiveTrak L-20
- Behringer X AIR XR18
- Keith McMillen K-Mix
- Zoom PodTrak P4
Comparing digital mixers to their analog equivalents, there are several essential benefits. They usually are more transportable because they are more compact. With various built-in effects that would need a rack full of equipment in the analog world, they can handle voices and instruments. They provide powerful convenience features, such as setting saving and recalling and remote app control, that you cannot get with a traditional mixing board. If you are looking for the best wireless digital mixer, here we will review 5 best wireless digital mixers.
You may send audio back and forth between the mixer and your digital audio workstation, or DAW, by connecting them to your computer and using them as audio interfaces. Even a low-cost digital mixer may make your workflow more convenient and productive, whether you’re doing live mixing, studio recording, podcast creation, or all of the above. Our top digital mixers options will keep your wallet and signal chain in good spirits.
How did we choose the top digital mixers?
We used specific standards to choose the digital mixers for this roundup. The item needed to be reasonably priced first. We settled on items with a little over $200 to slightly over $1000. The hardware also needed to serve as an audio interface and a mixer, making it suitable for use on stage and in the studio. Additionally, although several of the selected mixers have integrated recording capabilities, we treated that feature more as a perk than a prerequisite. We compiled our research, considered user reviews and personal experience, and chose five digital mixers that excel in price-to-performance.
Can a digital mixer take the place of my audio interface?
Absolutely. A sound interface performs the following essential tasks: It provides you with inputs for microphones, lines, and musical instruments. These inputs feed analog-to-digital converters, which subsequently provide the digital data to your computer-based DAW. The mixer turns the digital data from your DAW into analog so you can hear it through your monitors or mixing headphones. Additionally, it must enable you to monitor while recording without audible latency (the interval between what you’re playing or singing and when the audio returns from your DAW).
A vital hub for a home studio, a digital mixer can perform all of these tasks and frequently even more. One reason is that a mixer will likely have more inputs than many interfaces. This entails that you can record additional sources concurrently, whether they are voices, instruments, or both. In addition, you can EQ and even compress your sources when recording, unlike most standalone interfaces. The mixer’s ability to blend the input signal and the return signal in your monitor mix will make it simple to integrate your live input signal(s) with anything returning from your DAW without noticeably adding any latency. Additionally, a digital mixer offers tactile controls for people who like mixing without using virtual faders and knobs.
What are the benefits of using a remote control app to operate a digital mixer?
The remote control is handy for live sound. As you go about the venue while mixing a show, you can change the channels using a tablet or a tiny laptop. This lets you hear how it sounds from different positions around the room. In the studio, the remote control could be more critical. However, if you’re double up as an engineer and a musician or singer, controlling the transport from where you’re recording might be helpful. If not, you should rush back to the mixer, press record, and then sprint to your instrument or microphone, resulting in a lot of dead air that needs to be edited out. Thankfully, many digital mixers allow for remote operation. The Behringer X AIR XR18, one of the products we suggest, is solely managed in this manner.
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PreSonus StudioLive 16.0.2 USB
This versatile instrument from PreSonus, which has years of experience manufacturing digital mixers, features a wide variety of XLR and 1/4-inch inputs and outputs. The “Fat Channel,” which enables you rapidly select any input channel at the touch of a button and instantly displays that channel’s essential characteristics front and center in a sizable, user-friendly display with tactile knobs, is maybe its most stunning feature. The 16.0.2 USB features two master effects processors that offer reverb and delay effects that may be adjusted and are accessed via two effects sends for each channel (allowing you to route audio from a channel to the master effects).
Create monitor mixes for onstage or in-studio talent using the mixer’s four aux sends. You have access to numerous microphones and other inputs when recording in your DAW, thanks to its 1616 USB 2.0 audio interface. The 16.0.2 USB comes with a sizable software bundle as well. You may remotely operate the Surface using the UC Surface application from a laptop or tablet. PreSonus’s DAW, Studio One 5 Artist, is available for Mac and Windows and features a unique integration with StudioLive mixers.
Additionally, you receive Capture, a computer program that makes it simple to connect to the StudioLive and record each mixing channel to a separate track. The Studio Magic software package for your computer is the last thing you receive. It includes Ableton Live Lite and production plug-ins from Brainworx, iZotope, Arturia, and other companies. The PreSonus is the studio mixer to beat, thanks to all of this combined.
- Full feature set for recording, live performance, and studio production
- Channel changes and processing are made simple with the Fat Channel function.
- includes a substantial software package
- Expensive compared to others
- A scary user interface
- It weighs 16 pounds, so it is heavier.
Zoom LiveTrak L-20
The Zoom LiveTrak L-20 is a triple threat because it can serve as a live console, an audio interface, and an internal SD card recorder. A band’s PA system can be built around the largest LiveTrak model (16 mic/line, two pairs of stereo lines, and L-12 and L-8 variants are also available from Zoom). Each input channel contains a 3-band EQ and a single-knob compressor in terms of effects. Reverb and delay were added to the master bus by Zoom, and you may access them via two effects sent for each channel. The device has six aux outputs that can be used as a wedge, headphone amp, and in-ear monitor system monitor sends.
Its built-in 22-track SD recorder (card supplied separately) lets you capture performances at resolutions of up to 24-bit/96kHz. You may utilize the LiveTrak L-20 for band-sized sessions in your home studio because it also serves as a 224 USB interface. The L-20 contains a simple Class-Compliant switch that eliminates the need for an adapter connecting an iPhone or iPad if you wish to record to an iOS-based DAW. But you’ll need to buy a BTA-1 or other appropriate wireless adapter to utilize L-20 Control, Zoom’s iPad app for remote control. Additionally, Zoom produces the L-20R, a less-priced, rack-mountable model with fewer physical controls only intended for use with remote controllers.
- 22-track SD card recorder built-in
- Up to six monitor mixes may be made.
- iOS device class-compliant mode
- There are only four outputs.
- To utilize the remote app, a wireless adaptor is required.
- Android tablets lack a control app.
Behringer X AIR XR18
The XR18 is a rackmount device that lacks onboard controllers and can also be set up on a tabletop. Using the free X AIR control software from Behringer, you can make all your settings on a tablet (iOS/Android) or computer (Mac/Windows/Linux). You can connect to the mixer’s Wi-Fi network using a laptop or mobile device. As an alternative, an Ethernet cable can be used to link your computer to the XR18. You don’t need a snake—a single, heavy cable with several inputs and outputs at its ends—when live mixing. While you mix from different room areas, you can set up the XR18 onstage.
It has enough instrument and line inputs, along with its 16-mic preamps, to properly mike up most bands. The mixer not only features four master effects processors that you can access with any of the four effects sent per channel but also offers per-channel dynamics and EQ. The remarkable selection of effects offered by the X AIR app includes reverbs, delays, compressors, EQs, modulation, overdrive, and even emulates a few vintage processors. With 18 in and 18 out through USB to your DAW, the XR18 also functions as a powerful audio interface. The X AIR XR18 delivers a lot of mixing capability for the money if you don’t mind the absence of physical controls.
- Excellent value
- a vast array of effects
- wide variety of features
- No standalone functionality; a computer or tablet is required
Keith McMillen K-Mix
You might make a double-take when you first see K-Mix. Instead of faders, it has backlit touch strips that can be used as channel faders or level controls for aux sends, input trims, and reverb sends, depending on your select mode. The LEDs visible through the translucent faders can indicate their positions or serve as VU meters. You receive four “Rotaries,” rounded multifunction controllers with four knobs in place of knobs for panning (K-Mix even supports surround panning) and modifying the channel-based dynamics processors, 3-band EQ, and master reverb settings. K-Mix is extremely small and can be stowed in a laptop bag or backpack.
Additionally, it can be bus-powered via USB from a laptop or portable device. But don’t be deceived by its small size. K-Mix is quite versatile. With only two microphone inputs, six line inputs, a USB audio interface, and a MIDI control surface for your DAW, it may still be used as a standalone mixer. Using the free K-Mix Editor software (Mac/PC), you have visual control over each function. DJs can even connect to their turntables by switching the line inputs in the software to the phono level. The K-MIX will give your lair even more distinctive flair if you’re a live streamer with a battle station that sticks out due to apparent RGB-equipped equipment.
- USB-powered bus
- Effortless and robust; no moving parts
- MIDI control surface, mixer, and interface
- just two mic inputs
- instead of 1/4-inch, use a 3.5mm (1/8-inch) headphone jack.
- There is no remote control app for mobile
Zoom PodTrak P4
The P4 could be a revelation if you want to create a podcast but need more experience or studio equipment. The portable plastic chassis of this little mixer houses four XLR mic inputs with gain knobs and switchable phantom power. No matter how quiet the source is, you can increase the signal with the mic preamps’ incredible 70dB gain to catch it. Each channel has digital processing, including a low-cut filter to reduce low-frequency background noise and a limiter to stop overloads. Four headphone outputs with separate volume controls are also included with the P4.
Gather around the coffee table, grab one of the best podcast mics and some headphones, and start recording a multi-person podcast. The P4 has a 1/8-inch TRRS connection that allows you to connect any device with a standard headphone jack to record an interview, whether outside or on a screen via Zoom or another online source. Remote interviews are a significant component of many podcasts. The unit contains a Mix-Minus option that can be toggled on any channel that mutes the sound of the interviewee’s voice to prevent the unusual delays you occasionally hear in such conversations. Record your podcast to an onboard SD card, then transfer the individual files to your computer for editing in your preferred podcast editor. These files should include a stereo mix of the entire show with specific tracks for the sound pads. Alternatively, you can stream a stereo mix to your computer via the built-in audio interface.
- You can save your podcast to an SD card.
- Sound pads for launching advertisements, music, and sound effects
- Utilizing a 1/8-inch TRRS input, you can record phone calls made using mobile devices.
- records that are just 16-bit/44.1kHz in quality
- plastic makes up the outer body
- The interface features only two inputs.
Q: Do I need a mixer for my home studio?
A mixer is not required for your home studio. However, if you intend to record bands or ensembles that require many inputs, you may require one. Most audio interfaces have two to eight inputs; if they permit expansion, you must purchase a second device. In contrast, mixers with 12, 16, 20, 24, and more inputs are available. A mixer will also provide excellent tools for configuring headphone mixes and allow you to EQ and compress on input, something most audio interfaces do not.
Q: Are digital mixers better than analog?
Whether digital mixers are better than analog mixers depends on your definition of “better.” Some individuals prefer the sound and simplicity of analog mixers. However, because digital processing provides additional capabilities and flexibility, you can often get more for your money with a digital mixer. Furthermore, many digital mixing features can only be realized with analog hardware. Saving all of the parameters from a processor or the whole state of the mixer for later recall are two instances, as is operating the mixer with a remote app.
Q: Which sound mixer is the best?
Your needs and preferences determine which sound mixer is best for you. If you’re mixing and recording bands or ensembles, the Behringer X AIR XR18, PreSonus StudioLive 16.0.2 USB, and Zoom LiveTrak L-20 are the best mixers to consider. They provide a lot of I/O and a great selection of effects. Both the PreSonus and the Behringer have potent interfaces. The L-20’s onboard SD recorder might be worth considering if you want to record your band live. However, if you require tight integration with a DAW, a professional feature set, and a large amount of included computer software, look to StudioLive. If portability, durability, and bus-powered operation are essential to you, the K-Mix is the solution. In addition, if you want to produce podcasts on a tight budget, the PodTrak P4 is a viable option.
Digital mixers are valuable instruments for many forms of mixing. The most excellent digital mixers can make your musical life more convenient, productive, and exciting, whether you’re using one as an audio interface in your home studio or mixing your band live.