Best Zone Mixer

Carole Stephens
• Wednesday, 28 October, 2020
• 10 min read

The audio requirements of a live setup are many and varied and typically include mic, line and instrument sources, alongside monitoring, auxiliary and headphone outputs. Some of these don’t go beyond simply combining a few signals, while others provide integrated multi track recording, USB DAY interfacing and Wi-Fi based remote control.

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That’s a pretty wide remit, and even more so when you consider some follow a traditional desk layout, while others opt for the increasingly popular rack mount plus remote design. Whatever the features make no mistake these mixers are the best of the best from market leading manufacturers.

Gain is set using 4 small rotary controls and the output is via two unbalanced 1/4” jacks with overall unit power coming from an 18V external PSU. Phantom power is in an ‘always on’ state, which isn’t ideal but should be fine for most modern condenser and dynamic mics.

The MX4 is very much a case of what you see is what you get, but if you’re simply trying to combine the particular analogue inputs it handles and don’t want interfacing or processing, it’s a very affordable option. Sound craft’s Notepad-5 is a simple ultra compact desk and the smallest in their Notepad range.

The mono input features a quality Sound craft preamp alongside basic 2-band EQ, low cut filter, Hi-Z switch and peak level meter. This feeds a single jack output with level control that can be switched between stereo for headphone use and mono for stage monitor use.

Affordable analogue mixer with plenty of inputs and Mackie build quality Mackie's latest live mixer range, the Mix Series, is unashamedly affordable and primarily aimed at those situations where a convenient, low profile mixer is needed to blend together a few signals.

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You also get independent Control Room and Phones outputs with shared level and 60 mm channel and Main Mix faders, providing both visual and tactile feedback. With the Mackie stamp of quality, it should deliver reliable service for a number of years.

A flexible compact mixer with onboard recorder and USB interfacing Zoom’s Liberal L-12 is a compact digital desk that can blend 8 mono mic/line inputs (inputs 1 and 2 are also Hi-Z instrument compatible) and 2 stereo signals, adding EQ, effects and dynamics.

5 separate powered headphone outputs keep multiple performers happy while onboard SD recording at up to 24 bit 96kHz and integrated metronome also make it a self-contained recording solution. The largest desk from Alto’s traditional analogue Live range gives you 24 inputs (16 mono and 4 stereo) including 18 of their DNA mic preamps, plus 4 group outputs and main output.

There are also 100 onboard effects courtesy of Alexis and an integrated Graphic EQ on main output. Much like the smallest 802 mixer (review link below), the Live 2404 is feature packed and excellent value.

Behring er’s XR18 is a super compact and sturdy rack based digital mixer. Mic preamps are quality Midas designs and inputs 1 and 2 also get high impedance support.

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Control connectivity is via onboard Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet, and USB 2.0 provides 18 channels of DAY I/O. Behring er’s Ultranet protocol output can carry 16 digital sources for onward use in Behring er’s P16 Personal Mixers or Turbo sound’s IQ PA systems.

Onboard processing including EQ, dynamics, routing and effects (there are four multi-effects modules) are handled remotely via the cross-platform X AIR Edit software (PC, Mac, Linux, Raspberry Pi, iOS and Android). Meanwhile, the Meter page provides a quick overview of signal activity.

With both Wi-Fi remote and front panel operation, this 16 input 16 buses mid-priced digital desk is ideal for small live and performance setups. Processing parameters and routing are handled via the 7” touch screen, however you’ve also got physical input gain knobs, input metering and 9 motorized 100 mm faders (8 channels and 1 master) which means the desk retains some traditional feel.

Launch price: $999/£849/€985 | Connectivity: USB 2.0 | Audio resolution: 24 bit, 44.1 or 48kHz | Analogue inputs: 18 | Analogue outputs: 14 | Digital connectivity: Allen & Heath snake | MIDI I/O: No Allen & Heath’s snake equipped Audiotapes can extend the connectivity further (potentially 38 ins, 24 outs) and it’s compatible with their ME Personal Mixing System.

Mixer control is app based via iPad only (you’ll need to hook up your own Wi-Fi router). All told the Quest is an excellent and scalable device, with some great options and impressive iOS apps.

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Smart processing and flexibility from this touchscreen based digital desk The largest of MSC’s Touch mix series (there’s an 8 and 16 channel versions too) kicks it out of the park with 24 mic inputs, 16 outputs, 8 subgroups and 32 mixing channels all in a compact standard digital desk format.

On board processing includes 4-band EQ and dynamics on all input channels, 6-band EQ and limiter on all outputs, six multi-effects engines and ‘wizard’ style processors for anti feedback and room tuning. Most settings including faders are handled via the integrated 10” touchscreen and remote control is also possible using the Touch ID app for iOS and Android.

Launch price: $3999/£3199/€3895 | Connectivity: USB 2.0, MADE, ADAM, Dante | Audio resolution: 24 bit/192kHz | Analogue inputs: 40 | Analogue outputs: 18 | Digital connectivity: AES50, Ultranet and AES/EBU | MIDI I/O: Yes With 32 award-winning Midas preamps, 25 100 mm motorized faders, LCD scribble strip, integrated talk back and per channel level and dynamics metering the M32 delivers traditional desk style features.

However, these are coupled with global physical encoders and buttons for channel strip settings (EQ, dynamics and auxiliaries) that combine with the 7” TFT screen, 8 onboard effects slots, snapshots, and cross-platform wireless remote control to deliver impressive digital flexibility as well. Throw in plenty of physical connectivity, flexible routing and an expansion card slot that can house various I/O modules (USB, MADE, ADAM and Dante) and you’ve got professional level options as well.

If you bake a lot of cookies and frequently make bread and pie dough, you’ll appreciate the ability of a stand mixer to power through thick batters and stiff dough without causing your arm to ache like a hand mixer might. There are two factors to consider when choosing a stand mixer : what types of batters and foods you plan to use it for, and how much space you have to store it.

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As for storage, most stand mixers have a tilt head that lifts to insert the mixing bowl, so if you're using it near upper cabinets, make sure there's enough clearance. If you're into more savory foods, using a meat grinder or pasta maker attachment can expand your repertoire in the kitchen, getting even more mileage out of your stand mixer.

In CR's labs, to test mixing performance we make chocolate chip cookies. We top off our tests by timing how long it takes to whip a half-pint of heavy cream into airy peaks.

It has the distinction of being the quietest model in our tests, earning an Excellent rating for noise: Whipping cream in this mixer is much quieter than making a smoothie in a blender. The 12-speed mixer comes with a 4.5-quart stainless steel bowl, flat beater, dough hook, and wire whisk.

The 10-speed mixer comes with a 5-quart stainless steel bowl, flat beater, dough hook, and wire whisk. The 10-speed mixer comes with a 4.5-quart stainless steel bowl, flat beater, dough hook, and wire whisk.

At 31 pounds, it’s the heaviest stand mixer in our tests, so you might want to find a place for it on your counter to avoid moving it back and forth. This model comes in four colors, including Medallion Silver and a snazzy Candy Apple Red.

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CR’s take: Meg is known for making kitchen appliances in bright colors with a retro style. This 10-speed mixer comes with a 5-quart stainless steel bowl, flat beater, dough hook, and wire whisk.

A great mixer will also be one that saves you counter space by including accessories and attachments that make the machine more versatile. Accessories allow you to prepare pizza and cookie dough as well as whisk eggs or batters and grind and shred meat.

Timer feature automatically stops the machine after 30 minutes, so you can take your eye off the clock. If you are looking for a safe and efficient mixer for either commercial or home purposes, this machine from Uniworld is our number one choice.

This mixer was built to last with the alloy steel gears and durable motor, it can withstand even the most intensive use. This mixer from Uniworld has a 10-quart capacity which is large enough to prepare food in small batches, saving you time.

With features such as a 30-minute timer that automatically stops the mixer when it ends, you can bake and cook efficiently. The safety cut switch will make sure that interrupts the power if you change the gear will keep the mixer on while ensuring that you do not get hurt and no mess is made.

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This versatile machine has included accessories that allow you to make dough as well as whisk and, grind and shred meat. Accessories allow you to prepare pizza and cookie dough as well as whisk eggs or batters and grind and shred meat.

Timer feature automatically stops the machine after 30 minutes, so you can take your eye off the clock. With three exact fixed speeds to choose from you can ensure that your recipes can be replicated precisely every time.

This is why this mixer has design elements such as the easily operable bowl which allows you to toss in extra ingredients without having to take apart multiple pieces. The size is perfect for creating food in larger batches, saving you time in a fast-paced restaurant or school kitchen setting.

The stainless steel bowl and parts are sturdy, durable and long lasting so that you can repetitively use this machine without worry. This professional commercial food mixer from Happy buy is perfect for a variety of functions such as schools, stores, restaurants, and bakeries.

There are three stirrers including the spiral dough hook for pizza or cookies and the flat beater perfect for mashing potatoes or mixing cake batters. Versatile mixer with three stirrers including the spiral dough hook, flat beater, and wire whip.

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The timer option matched with the continuous mixing at any speed of your choice between 45 and 130 RPM gives you complete control so that your recipe can turn out exactly how you like it. With ten varying speeds, you can easily create all of your favorite dough, batters and baked goods, all in one machine.

Kitchen’s commercial mixer has attachments that allow you to mix, knead and whip all of your ingredients quickly and easily. The quiet motor is perfect for preparing your food on location, without noise bothering any of your customers.

Even with intensive use, this durable stainless steel mixer will last the test of time, so you can save your money on replacements. Included with this machine are dual beaters, a dough hook and wire whips so that you can prepare all of your favorite mixed dishes with ease.

With the added Nutrition Baker’s accessory pack you will also receive a bowl scraper and cookie and cake paddles. Bosch Universal’s powerful machine can knead 14 loaves of bread dough or 34 dozen cookies all at once.

The open bowl design is convenient, so you can easily add in extra ingredients as the machine mixes. Included with the mixer are dual beaters, bowl scraper, cookie and cake paddles, a dough hook and wire whips.

This makes it perfect for restaurants, stores, smaller scale product manufacturers, schools and canteens. The strong motor and sharp blades have the capacity of mixing everything you put in the machine, so you can prepare dishes without having to keep a constant eye on the mixer.

Included with this stand mixer are a flat beater, stainless steel wire whips and Kitchen’s unique Power knead spiral dough hook. The mixer has a powerful motor and sharp blades which ensure you do not need to help the mixing process.

Included spiral dough hook, flat beater, and, wire whips allow you to create a variety of recipes all in one machine. This professional machine is trustworthy, built to meet the requirements of the North American Electrical Standards.

To save you counter space, this machine is extremely versatile with accessories like a dough hook, a flat mixing paddle, and, a whisk included. To make sure that mixing stays clean Cuisinart included a splash guard so that your kitchen will remain mess-free.

Mixers are versatile allowing you to knead dough, mix ingredients, mash veggies, make a cake batter or whisk eggs, all with one machine. To make sure that you are purchasing the perfect commercial mixer for your needs it is important to keep certain factors in mind.

On the other hand, if you are making huge batches of food at once for products or catering purposes perhaps consider a mixer with a larger bowl capacity. To ensure that your mixer is capable of performing all the tasks needed for your purposes, pay attention to the accessories, stirrers and attachments included.

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