10 Best Audio Mixers To Buy In 2021 (With Buying Guide)

Audio mixers are a great way to record your mixes or podcasts. With a great audio mixer, you can reach many people easily as it amplifies the sound. Audio mixers transform the entertainment industry largely and continue to deliver great performance.

Whether you need an audio mixer for your live performance, small events, broadcasts, production, or for your band, these devices can be a great addition to music expeditions.

If you are looking for that amazing mixer that will not disappoint, you should not only look at the brand name or appearance but also the features it offers for your needs. Some of the features you should look at include the audio performance, the user interface, its controls, the ability to save custom settings, smart technology, automated features, the input and output modes among many other features.

We understand that looking for the best audio mixers can be a huge challenge if you are not familiar with the best ones. That is why, in this article, we are going to review the best ones in the market. In our search, we made sure that we considered the different needs users can have and the different capabilities that these mixers can provide. Let us jump right into it.

best audio mixers

Best Audio Mixers Summary:

Best Buy #1
Soundcraft GB8 48 Professional 48-Channel Mixer Console
Best Buy #2
PreSonus StudioLive 24.4.2AI Active Integration Digital Mixer
Best Buy #3
BEHRINGER, 32 40-Input 25-Bus Digital Mixing Console, Black (X32)
Soundcraft GB8 48 Mixer
Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro
Yamaha Audio YAS-209 BL Sound Bar
  • Convenient mixer for performance venues and small touring.
  • Has 4- band GB30 EQ
  • Has 4 mute groups
  • Limiter on Alternate Stereo and Record Output
  • Comes with GB30 Microphone for great performance
  • Direct outputs on mono inputs
  • Has a 40×26 FireWire Recording for live recording
  • Great signal processing on 24 channels and 4 buses
  • Convenient networking and wireless control
  • 24 XMAX preamplifier with phantom power
  • Flexible connectivity through analogue inserts and direct outputs.
  • Active Integration Technology makes controls intuitive
  • All physical outputs and inputs have adjustable line delays
  • Has features that make live mixing natural
  • Very powerful processing with 6 band EQs
  • The DSP and programmable mic preamps bring about low latency
  • Has Virtual FX Rack for high end simulation such as Lexicon 480L
$5,809.00
Price not available
$2,499.00
Best Buy #1
Soundcraft GB8 48 Professional 48-Channel Mixer Console
Soundcraft GB8 48 Mixer
  • Convenient mixer for performance venues and small touring.
  • Has 4- band GB30 EQ
  • Has 4 mute groups
  • Limiter on Alternate Stereo and Record Output
  • Comes with GB30 Microphone for great performance
  • Direct outputs on mono inputs
$5,809.00
Best Buy #2
PreSonus StudioLive 24.4.2AI Active Integration Digital Mixer
Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro
  • Has a 40×26 FireWire Recording for live recording
  • Great signal processing on 24 channels and 4 buses
  • Convenient networking and wireless control
  • 24 XMAX preamplifier with phantom power
  • Flexible connectivity through analogue inserts and direct outputs.
  • Active Integration Technology makes controls intuitive
Price not available
Best Buy #3
BEHRINGER, 32 40-Input 25-Bus Digital Mixing Console, Black (X32)
Yamaha Audio YAS-209 BL Sound Bar
  • All physical outputs and inputs have adjustable line delays
  • Has features that make live mixing natural
  • Very powerful processing with 6 band EQs
  • The DSP and programmable mic preamps bring about low latency
  • Has Virtual FX Rack for high end simulation such as Lexicon 480L
$2,499.00

Top 10 Best Audio Mixers 2021

1. Soundcraft GB8 48 Mixer

The GB8 mixer has a 1kHz oscillator and offers great performance. The mixing console is light, small, and is useful in many events. Some of the features it comes with include master controls, stereo input strips, and bus configurations.

Design

The Soundcraft GB8 mixer measures 1.6m with a durable steel chassis. For the power, the console has rails for 48V and 17V, which is an internal power that also comes with an external back up. Further, the power supply has LED indicators.

The 48 Channel analogue mixer has eight channels and a master section. It also has a meter bridge and four mute groups. The mute groups enable you to mute many channels simultaneously.

Inputs and Output

The mono inputs have a phase reverse, a switchable phantom, and HPF. For the Record and Alternate output, it comes with a limiter, which comes in handy if you are looking to record a mix. There is also direct routing from the mono inputs to the outputs.

GB30 Microphone

For that amazing tone, the GB30 Microphone makes it possible for you to enjoy original sound content. The GB30 microphone has a preamplifier circuit that makes overtones and harmonics amazing. To improve clarity, the mixer uses high output and a low noise floor.

Pros
  • Convenient mixer for performance venues and small touring.
  • Has 4- band GB30 EQ
  • Has 4 mute groups
  • Limiter on Alternate Stereo and Record Output
  • Comes with GB30 Microphone for great performance
  • Direct outputs on mono inputs
Cons
  • Some users find the mixer a little crammed since the manufacturer place many features in a small frame.

2. PreSonus Studio Live Digital Mixer

The PreSonus Studio Live Digital Mixer provides the user with both analogue and digital features. In addition, it uses Active Integration Technology to improve its performance and sound quality.

Live Recording

The PreSonus Live mixer comes with a FireWire Recording, which allows you to create your live records on the go. It also has a Studio One 2 Artist DAW software that enables you to add virtual tracks as you record. The live console also offers quality and clear sound since it has a low nice floor and high headroom.

Processing

The PreSonus Digital Mixer has a Fat Channel Processing for all the tracks. It is extremely fast and offers a 4-band EQ. Further, With this processor, you will be able to obtain live feedback through a separate pan display, labelled knobs and an LED display.

Connection and Plug Ins

If you would like to create your own tracks and mixes, the audio mixer allows you to connect wirelessly to your iOS device using LAN. Therefore, you do not need to carry heavy hardware or a computer connection. Additionally, if you would like to add a touch to your mixes, the mixer comes with 4 digital effects processors and a Studio Magic Plug in Suite.

Pros
  • Has a 40×26 FireWire Recording for live recording
  • Great signal processing on 24 channels and 4 buses
  • Convenient networking and wireless control
  • 24 XMAX preamplifier with phantom power
  • Flexible connectivity through analogue inserts and direct outputs.
  • Active Integration Technology makes controls intuitive
Cons
  • Need to install new software if you want to add multiple mixers

3. BEHRINGER X32 Mixer

Known for their great audio equipment, BEHRINGER brings unique features with this audio mixer. The BEHRINGER X32 Mixer is a 40- input channel with 25 buses. It offers Live Recording capabilities, which makes it a great mixer to add to your list.

Design

BEHRINGER X32 Mixer offers a simple design for users.  Its framework comprises of a portable 19- inch rack, the input comprises of six auxiliary inputs and a stereo USB.

The interface is intuitive and comes with simple controls, which allows you to adjust effects on your mix simply from the front of the console. The audio mixer also has a 7-inch high-resolution display where you can view your live mixes. Due to its design, the mixer is ideal for outdoor events.

High Quality Audio

Behringer X32 produces sound that is powerful and of great quality. The 6 band EQ together with the 25 automated mm faders makes sound quality exceptional. Its Digitally Controlled Amplifiers allows you to make several signals at once.

Additionally, there are 32 microphone channels, which have fully programmed preamps and have a MIDAS design. The mixer also has low latency, which ensures that you have clear audio and depth.

Pros
  • All physical outputs and inputs have adjustable line delays
  • Has features that make live mixing natural
  • Very powerful processing with 6 band EQs
  • The DSP and programmable mic preamps bring about low latency
  • Has Virtual FX Rack for high end simulation such as Lexicon 480L
Cons
  • USB input does not support MP3 files or connected iOS devices

4. Allen & Heath QU- 16 C Digital Mixer

The Allen & Heath QU mixer is a great digital equipment that comes with 16 mic inputs, 16 busses and 4FX returns. To improve the workflow, you can connect 18 channels on a USB hard drive for your live mixes. If you’d like to have an easy time while providing powerful audio mixes, then this QU -16 C will work for you.

Design 

The metallic appearance of QU-16C gives it a durable and modern feel. Within this frame, you’ll find knobs that ensure you have hands-on experience with the controls. It also comes with an 800x 480 touch screen that allows you to gain access to settings and adjust controls.

iLive FX and Recall

As a live console, QU-16C comes with 4 stereo iLive FX. The effects library is wide and offers delays, flangers, modulators and reverbs.  Apart from the, with a 4 band PEQ for FX Return, you are able to add to your mono and stereo input.

QU -16 C allows you to recall up to 100 full scenes easily. You can also save your custom settings as a library pre-set making it easy for you to repeat scenes.

Motorized Faders 

To enable you to access channels easily, the audio mixer has 17 motorized faders. The ALPS bring about fast mixing, as they are also automatic. For your mix, you have a dedicated master fader that ensures all your tracks function as you desire.

Pros
  • Has a fader automation
  • You can assign 4 mute groups
  • Offers iLive FX and USB audio streaming
  • Great audio quality
  • Offers a big library of pre-sets and recall
Cons
  • Does not support many external effects
  • Only has two auxiliary busses

5. Yamaha 01V961 16 Channel Mixer

If you are looking for an audio mixer for your personal records or events, then this Yamaha mixer is a great pick for you.  The audio mixer offers 16 channels and multitrack recording for your tracks.

USB Streaming

The Yamaha O1V961 ensures that you enjoy recording 96kHz of audio from your computer using USB because it has a multi- channel I/ O. All you need to do is connect this channel mixer to make those live shows great.

Advanced Technology

Yamaha’s audio mixer has Virtual Circuitry Modelling for analogue effects. It brings the original effects back to life since they come preinstalled right out of the box. The analogue effects enhance flexibility and easy control. Further, there is the 01V96i Editor Software that enables you to adjust settings from your PC.

Controls

The mixer has DAW control that allows you to obtain an efficient workflow. It also has a digital audio workstation that gives you the ability to edit settings and full control on mixing. Further, you also have access to the Steinberg’s Cubase AI, which allows you to mix.

You will find a balanced stereo and monitor outputs on the mixer that provide quality audio mixes. The mixer can also mix many tracks as the mixer allows up to 40 channels for simultaneous mixing.

Pros
  • A great mixer for different occasions
  • Offers multitrack recording and mixing
  • Has Virtual Circuitry Modelling
  • Has Analog, Coaxial and Optical Inputs
  • Has Integrated Editor Software
Cons
  • The digital interface can be difficult to use

6. Mackie VLZ4 Series, 16 Channel, 4 Bus Compact Mixer

The Mackie VLZ4 Series mixer is a great audio mixer for 16 channels that come with an Onyx preamplifier. You are able to get good audio mixes since it reduces external noise.

Great Performance

 Mackie VLZ4 is a mixer with an amazing microphone preamplifier. The wide 60dB range enables high frequency response. As such, the performance is high with minimal distortion.  You will also be able to make professional mixes with the microphone preamps for your events.

Regardless of the application you are using, the mixer will give good quality audio. You are able to connect high output with +22dBU signals right to your mixer.

The Build

Mackie VLZ4 Series mixer has a compact design that’s durable. It also comes with phantom power, 4 stereo returns and 3-band EQ.

To make use of the mixer in environments with low light, the mixer has contrasting knobs that offer bright light. It also has a sealed rotary control to avoid dust making it that perfect device for events.

Sound Quality

The mixer has 12 stereo meters that provide high resolution. Further, it improves the clarity of sound by having a high headroom and low noise floor. Hence, this makes it a great device for broadcasts, multitrack studio, live mixing and more.

Pros
  • High Quality Onyx preamplifiers
  • Low noise design and high clarity
  • Affordable price
  • Reliable from its build and controls
  • Professional Multichannel mixer
Cons
  • The grip on the knobs is rough.
  • Hard for a new comer to learn

7. Zoom Live Trak L-12 Digital Mixer

The Zoom Live Track makes it to the list due to the unique features. The mixer offers 5 headphone outputs while the L-12 acts as an SD card.

Multi Channels and Connections

You will appreciate the multiple channels that the Zoom Live Track Mixer supports. The mixer makes it possible for you to record to your SD card while also sending audio to your computer. It is also easy to pick up your settings from the L-12 after you switch off power.

Additionally, you can also copy data from a USB and also transfer files to it. For a musician who would like to connect your foot medal, this audio mixer allows that.

Headphone Output

The Zoom Live Track has modern features. You are able to create five different set ups of your podcast and route them to separate headphone outputs.

The headphones have amplifiers and come with gain knobs. That way, you are able to control the volume easily. The preamplifier offers clear audio to the different outputs.

Automatic

The L-12 digital mixer enables you to customize your settings and save them. You can recall the settings later on automatically making your workflow easy. When the master fader detects a dB level, the mixer is able to pick this up once you program it. You can also record comments; which ensures that you keep your band in sync with this mixer.

Pros
  • Can record audio to SD card and send files to your PC at the same time
  • Ability to save mixes to headphones to 5 outputs
  • Has powerful microphone amplifiers
  • Easy controls for live mixing
  • Offers USB connection and affordable
Cons
  • The mute control only works for the master mix

8.Yamaha EMX5014C Powered Mixer

Yamaha does not disappoint when it comes to building great audio mixers.  The Yamaha EMX5014C Powered Mixer has great effects and is useful in large halls, including places of worship.

Mixing Capability

The mixer has single knob compressors that help you get a clear mix, which allows you to work easily through the mixer. With over 10 channels and 14 inputs, the mixer is a great addition for improved performance.

Further, the channels have a switch. If you want to include a channel in the mix, you simply put the switch on. The audio mixer also comes with a PFL switch that enables you to monitor each channel. Note that the Yamaha EMX5014C mixer has 16 engine effects, which are a great addition for depth to your mix.

Feedback Channel Locator

If you want to obtain visual feedback while using the mixer, the mixer has a FeedBack Channel Locator to allow you to include creativity as you record. The feedback is also necessary as it allows you to adjust effects easily.

Processor and Amplifiers

The signal processing has 16 selected programs from Yamaha’s SPX series processor, which include the echo, reverb, chorus, flanger, drum ambiance and phaser.  You will also find the YS Processing tailors that ensures signals are optimum.

Yamaha EMX5014C also has two 500W amplifiers. One amplifier runs the monitors while the other runs the main. Together with the Yamaha Club Speakers, you are able to get great audio mixes.

Pros
  • Has air compression on the 6 inputs
  • Has a feedback channel locator
  • Uses the Yamaha SPX processor
  • There are 16 effects that you can choose
  • Improves sound powerfully
Cons
  • The stereo graphic EQ only affects the mains

9. Behringer Europower Audio Mixer

The Behringer Europower audio mixer is a powerful device that has tons of features to ensure that you provide high quality audio mixes.

Class D Amplifiers

Behringer Europower has powerful amplifiers fitted with Class D technology. The amplifiers reduce power consumption and results in a lighter mixer. Besides, these class D amplifiers are also responsible for delivering powerful effects.

The Processor

The mixer comes with a 24 bit processor, which offer over 100 pre-set effects. Hence, you do not have to worry about using many effects to get that perfect one. All you need to do is use any of the effects to your channels and you are good to go. You will also find a footswitch jack that enables you to switch the mixer on or off remotely.

It also comes with a standby switch to allow you to get rid of noise during breaks. Further, there is a 3 band EQ for mono channels and +48 V phantom power.

The Feedback Detection System

During mixing, it is easy to get overwhelmed as there are multiple channels and inputs. The Feedback Detection System allows you to know the frequencies that have feedback. It is also easy to adjust the frequencies to get quality sound.

Pros
  • Has a light weight while having many features
  • Is powerful with great audio performance
  • Has Class D Amplifiers Technology
  • Built with FX processors that comes with 100 pre-sets
  • Has a 20 channel mixer and a feedback detection system
Cons
  • The monitors have to use a speaker

10. Tascam DP 24 SD Mixer

The Tascam audio mixer is a nice device that will allow you to mix 8 tracks at the same time. You will delight at the features that this mixer offers since it helps you to produce a sound that you like.

SD Media and Screen

The mixer has SD card brings about confidentiality. You are able to store your vocals and hits easily without fear of losing them. Using the SD card also minimizes any distortion and shock since most SD cards have minimum interruptions.

It also has a 3.5” screen, which helps you see settings and content. Adjusting the effects based on the feedback that you obtain is super easy with the screen.

Faders

The Tascam DP has 19 faders. 18 of them are track faders while one fader is a master fader. The faders are very important as they give fast access to your tracks.

Inputs and Outputs

The audio mixer has 12 mono tracks and 6 stereo tracks. The inputs have phantom power with one input supporting an instrument. Hence, it is easy to connect your guitar or any other instrument you may have. It has a rear output, which most users compliment it for its unique positioning. If you want to connect the audio mixer to your computer, you’ll find a USB output, which sits next to the SD card reader.

Pros
  • You can record 8 tracks simultaneously
  • Offers a 24-track playback
  • Has 19 faders for easy access to tracks
  • Has an LCD screen that provides feedback
  • Very affordable
Cons
  • You cannot convert to MP3 files from the device

Best Audio Mixer – Buying Guide

An audio mixer helps you blend and edit audio signals that come in from multiple sources. The mixed, as well as blended audio, is then sent to various output jacks or recording systems. This is not a small investment. Therefore, to purchase the best audio mixers, consider the factors wisely.

Best Audio Mixer buying guide

Looking at the sheer amount of terms, shopping for mixers can sometimes bounce off your head. Let’s first start with the basic terminology that you will come across- 

  • Channel- A signal path is referred to as a channel. The more the number of channels, the more the number of routes and connections. Channels accept microphones, amplifiers, preamps and all other line-level devices.
  • Channel Strip– It is a group of circuits and controls designed to perform in conjunction as a mixer channel. They alter and impress the audio signals passing through them. 
  • I/O- It stands for Input/Output in a mixer. The number of I/O points is determined by usage. For example, live sound mixing requires a larger number of I/O than mixing prerecorded audio.
  • Buses- It is an intersection point of the output of several channels. Every mixer channel has a preferred route to a specific bus. Master bus collects signals from all the channel faders and then directs them toward output speakers or recorders. 
  • Groups- When a mixer has multiple channels, they need a function that would allow the controlling and processing of several channels. A group is basically a sub-mixer. 
  • Inserts- This allows external sound processors like equalizers and compressors to be connected to individual channels at the next stage of preamp. 
  • Cue System- This system allows for specific channels to be listened to without interfering or affecting the output. The headphone amplifier and speakers receive the signal. It has two options pre-fader which is before mixing and after-fader which is after mixing. Advanced mixers have Solo In Place, which allows for everything else to be tuned out. 

Types of Audio Mixers

Audio mixers are common of three types. Analog, Digital and Powered Analog. 

  1. Analog Audio Mixer

These fuss-free, inexpensive mixers are a great choice for those looking to record live sounds or recordings. An analog mixer has one control performing one function. It is easy to identify the activity of the mixture and make various adjustments. The functions here are knob, faders and switches controlled. This allows for an intuitive experience rather than an AI experience. 

The disadvantages of analog mixtures are that they have a larger than a normal footprint. They also miss out on the automation that digital mixers provide. For some, it is easier to mix sounds rather than use complicated displays intuitively; some require advanced mixing automation. It is also manually operated without any remote access or control. 

  1. Digital Mixer

This type of audio mixer enables a broader range of control options. They not only have all the functions of an analog mixer, but they also are cost-effective as they save investment in advanced hardware like multi-effects processors, outboard equalizers, noise gates, compressors. They also have a setup that can be saved and recalled. Rapid and instant scene-by-scene changes are easily possible during productions. 

They are capable of remote access and control. It is easier to implement multiple audio effects to many channels. It doesn’t warrant investing in the outboard effect. The disadvantages of digital mixers are their complicated usage. Digging through the multiple options on the touch screen to apply a change or make an adjustment can be cumbersome. Hence, multiple changes need to be preprogrammed.

  1. Powered Mixer

An analog mixer that has a built-in amplification is called the powered mixer. They are compact, easily assembled and used and portable. They work well with non-powered PA speakers. Powered mixers commonly have two amp channels.

It is possible to power one speaker and monitor two speakers with it. They also have in-live outputs, which make the system expandable. The disadvantage is that one needs to calculate the number of input and output outlets. Neither does it allow for a variety of features or power.

What is the intended use?

Is it meant for beginners?

If yes, then a good option would be to invest in a live sound bundle. This bundle, on average, includes hardware, cables and all electronic components. They feature powered mixers along with preset functions.

Are you an acoustics player?

Then the best for you would be an analog audio mixer that allows easier and knob and switcher control. It will enable you to adjust as you play. It is also superior in performance.

Rock bands, recording studios

Prefer a digital mixer. They have advanced functions, remote access and other benefits that help tune live sound and recordings. 

Features:

Features for an audio mixer can be divided into three broad categories:- necessary, handy and digital features.

These features are necessary and commonly found –

  • Microphone Preamps 

While most claim to have different sounds, they actually are not. Most mixers have similar-sounding microphone preamps.

  • Phantom Power 

Phantom power is required to work. Microphone units commonly in mixers is the unit that elaborates a switchable supply that has 48-volt phantom power. Choose those which allow phantom power use for channels.

  • Main outputs

A mixer is designed to churn out a stereo output signal for reinforcing or recording; an audio mixer requires noise-free wiring connections, XLR or ¼” TRS, balanced outputs. If you use it for shorter periods, then an unbalanced RCA connector is adequate..

Additional Features to Have:

  • Pad

When you need to control the incoming signals from an electronic instrument because their output is way more substantial than the mixer’s preamp, then the need is to have a pad. The pad reduces the strength of the signal.

  • Insertion jack

This is also known as the I/O jack. The insertion jack allows the electronic effect to be added across the signal.

  • Assignment buttons

A channel’s signal output can be sent to the specified output BUS with the help of an assignment button.

  • Low-cut / high-pass filter

This is a handy feature to have onboard when one needs to eliminate the bass rumble, which the vocal mics tend to pick up. They also help to prevent feedback.

  • Auxiliary and monitor buses and outputs

The number of buses on your audio mixer must be at minimum the number of monitor mixes required by the band playing.

  • Compressors

Compressors help in preventing the signal from getting to the extreme of strength or weakness. They are required for sudden high pitches in sounds. 

  • On/off or mute buttons

This helps to mute outputs and channels when they are inactive or not used, preventing loud accidents.

Digital Features:

  • Recallable presets, scenes, and automation

When working with an audio mixer on similar compositions, then presetting your changes and preferences is a boon.

  • Control via network app

The ability to control remotely is one of the biggest boons.

  • Digital input and output

A digital mixer needs to have a minimum of two channels for digital output. They also need to have Ethernet, Firewall, USB ports. 

FAQs About Audio Mixers

1. Does a mixer improve sound quality?

The primary function of an audio mixer is to blend along with mixed sounds and vary the bass, mids, treble. This helps in yielding better sounds from the sum of the output from channels. This, therefore, means that a mixer not only optimizes sound it also helps filter it. This improves the output sound quality from the input.

2. How long do audio mixers last?

Most commonly, the expected life of audio mixers is 3-5 years. This is when they give a return on the investment made on them. Having said that, audio mixers that last longer than 5 years do not become obsolete or junk. They last a really long time and can be scaled to meet changes in technology.

3. Why are audio mixers so expensive?

The quality of the built, their functionality and their reliability make them worth the price one pays. Audio mixers require a lot of effort and labor, are detailed and time-consuming. The transformer needs to be well balanced and that comes with trials and cost. Therefore, audio mixers are an investment.

4. What softwares work best with audio mixers?

Selecting software that works well requires careful consideration and planning. Some of the best softwares range from being free to be an investment in themselves. Our favorite picks are Wondershare Filmore, Adobe Audition, Logic Pro X, Reaper, HyaWave, amongst others.

Bottom Line

There are many great audio mixers for your everyday use. Every audio mixer is different from the other since all of them have unique features. A key factor to consider when selecting the best audio mixer is to think about your needs and the reliability of the unit will be for those needs.

In our opinion, our favourite audio mixer is the Soundcraft GB8 48 mixer.  The audio mixer allows you to adjust controls easily. It also comes with a limiter on its Records and Alternate Output, which make it a great option. Besides this, the backup power supply makes it is a reliable mixer as you are able to have great audio mixes without inconveniences. You also benefit from its great sound clarity for your content with this simple mixer, especially when you are recording.

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