« Awesome Little Mixer »Published on 09/05/14 at 12:48
On the main panel you get:
-4 XLR mic channels accompanied each by an optional 1/4 inch line in
-4 1/4 inch stereo line ins
-2 aux sends with 2 stereo aux returns
-Stereo RCA Tape input and output
-1/4 inch Stereo Main output
In total there are 12 possible channels to send in to the mixer, 8 of which you would get by doubling up on line in's 5-12 stereo inputs.
Each channel has 2 knobs for controlling Aux effects sends, 3 EQ knobs, a Pan knob, mute and solo switches, and Gain knob. The EQ is 3-Band, with Hi, Mid, and Low control. Additionally, the 4 Mic channels have a knob for controlling the Trim level.
On the right side of the unit is your master controls, which include an Aux master, Aux select, EFX Select, Aux return level knobs, Control room source select switches, Submix gain control, Main Mix Gain control,and stereo graphic lights for monitoring your levels.
On the back of the unit you find:
-Phantom Power switch
- Main Stereo XLR outputs
-Mic output attenuation switch
-Stereo 1/4 inch Control Room output
-Stereo 1/4 inch Alternate Output
-4 Channel Insert 1/4 inch sends and returns.
There is no support for automation, and the knobs are all standard, NO motorized knobs or sync ports here so everything you do to your sound at this stage happens on the Mixer itself.
The mixer is all a nicely weighted metal construction, and the knobs and buttons are all plastic.
The mixer is very straightforward and simple to use if you have experience using a mixer before. The whole thing is 1 knob or button per function, which is the best way to go for live mixing if you find yourself needing to make quick on-the-fly edits.
The knobs are color coded so with adequate lighting you don't have to waste time searching for the correct label. Black is Aux EFX level and Pan, Blue is EQ, and White is Gain.
I do find that sometimes the knobs on the EQ feel a little too close together and tiny. I think Mackie did what the could to utilize the space, but if you have big fingers this could pose difficulties nonetheless.
Setup is as easy as plugging in your gear correctly and flipping on the power switch. It runs smoothly with no problems.
The manual is sufficient for learning how to use the mixer, and even includes some examples of things you might do with the on-board features.
I mostly use the mixer to add some punch to my vocals, digital synthesizers and plugins.
There is a bit of noise added to your sound, especially if you bring up the gain really high, but this is of a level common on all similarly priced analog mixers.
I find manipulating my sound with this mixer works very well. The EQ is solid and you can hear the difference when you use it. I almost always turn the EQ off on my digital synthesizers and use this for equalization instead because the sound is so well-rounded.
The mixer adds what I can only describe as a warmth and balance to your sound. Not the sort of effect you would get using a compressor, something different. When I use it with multiple instruments, it makes them automatically sound like the belong in a mix together. This is something you don't get with most digital mixers, but it's also something worth paying attention to- it DOES change the character of the instruments you are running through. It is not the most transparent mixer out there.
You can get plenty of volume out of this provided you are using it for an appropriate setup. I have used mine in my studio and in band performances with great success.
Another thing I found useful is that I run the sound of a complete mix through a stereo channel and back into my DAW before bringing it to the mastering stage as 1 stereo track. It gives the whole project an even and unique character.
Things I like most about it-
-Ease of access to all parameters
-Heavy enough to be stable, light enough to carry around
-Multiple options of output routing
Things I like least-
-The button switches for things such as "Mute" and "Solo" on each channel are color coded by gray on top, white underneath. Honestly it is very hard to see if some of the switches are on or off sometimes. The switches don't have a large distance they cover between the two options and I find myself having to bend down and check sometimes to make sure one is on or off.
This is the only analog mixer I use. My father gave it to me, and I don't think he used it much or knew the potential of its use. I have tried a few other mixers since getting this one, all in a similar price range, and I don't think I would ever switch to something else. The VLZ Pro is reliable, compact, and gives you the best sound for your money.