Choosing the best home studio mixer or mixing desk is a challenge, it’s not because they come in different shapes and sizes.
We’ve seen a wide range of musicians and performers use mixers for quite a few applications, some buy it for their home studio setup, others Djs or musicians who perform live regularly may need a mixer to bring around to their gig as well.
When it comes to choosing a small mixer for live performers, there are a few things we may find end up looking at, it has to be portable, durable, and it has all the features you need depends on how you setup your live set, such as whether it has enough channel for your equipment or doesn’t it comes with built-in effects or USB interface and so on.
In this article, we’re gonna talk about some of the best small mixers that we think may fit into this category. So, without further ado let’s jump right into it.
1. Allen & Heath ZED & ZEDi Series
Allen & Heath mixers are definitely one of the best series you could possibly get in the industry, the Zed series mixers give you all the benefit of analog mixing plus a high audio quality interface in one compact unit.
The only difference between the ZED and ZEDi series is that the ZEDi comes with an onboard USB interface, for you to connect with your Mac or PC.
The entire family shares some common features, they all have very robust construction, in fact, the individual is based on individual cards on each channel, this is something you would often see in high-end mixers.
Despite the great-looking design, They all come with a really great preamp as well as the guitar DI high impedance jack inputs on channels 1 & 2 which makes it a huge plus for guitar players.
The 2 models equipped with onboard effects processing, the Zed 6 effects, and the Zi 10 effects, include 94 presets, all the essential effects from reverb, delays, flangers, to choruses and more, you could add those onto any of the channels in your mix.
The versatility and all-rounded mixers make it one of my top choices when it comes to choosing a small mixer for live performing or a home studio setup.
2. Behringer Xenyx Q502USB
The Xenyx is a very small and compact mixer.
It’s great for touring musician or singer-songwriter who is looking for a small enough mixer that could be easily fitted into your backpack.
This premium 5 input 2-bus analog mixer does come with a built-in USB/Audio Interface as well for you to plug in your computer for recording and playback. You could also use an analog RCA connector to connect your 2 track recorder to record your mix.
The British style 2 band eq, on channel one gives you the essential need in tweaking your sound, although there is no gain knobs on the 2 stereo channels.
The Xenyx comes with a compressor that goes into all the channels, that is something you will hardly find on such small mixer like this.
I personally have one of these mixers myself and I find the compressor sounding very natural to me, easy to use, definitely loving it.
3. Yamaha Mg10XU
Yamaha is a really great brand that needs no further introduction.
Their product has great sound quality, ease of use, and rugged reliable durability, and for the MG series mixers we got a 6, 12 16, and 20 channel to choose from.
Each one of those has two different flavors, one with effects and then some will also have a USB interface, regarding the topic we have today for choosing a mixer for live performers, we may look for a more portable mixer to gig around.
I think the 6 channel mixers will be fitted into this category.
The MG line has exceptional clean preamps, especially for this price point, and there are many more features that you may be looking for in a mixer like the high pass filter, 26db pad, 3 band EQ, phantom power on the mic channels, XLR out, one-knob compression on the channel 1 & 2, effects, and there’s even a mic-standing mounting at the back which you would seldom see it on a small mixer.
So I think they have pretty much covered all your need.
And again on the FX, you have 24 effects for you to choose with, so you could really rely on it without bringing an additional effect pedal with you to your gig.
One thing that I wish they could fix is that when you are recording anything to your computer, the signal will be significantly decreased.
I find many people come across the same issues and talking about it as well. I didn’t seem to find a solution for this yet. I think that’s their default setting for certain reasons.
It’s totally fine if you are just using it to record guitar or vocal at home, or performing live with Daw-less setup.
But if you are playing a liveset with your DAW the moment you want to record into the software itself, you would have to manually turn up the gain every time after pressing the recording button.
I find it a bit troublesome for the workflow. Other than that, it’s a pretty damn good small mixer for this price.
4. Yamaha AG 06
The AG series has some similar features with the MG family.
Although they are in the same category they are two different mixers with different applications, technology, benefits, and pros & cons.
There’s only one phantom power on channel 1, unlike the MG that the phantom power buttons are applied to the 4 mic channels but there is a guitar mode on the second channel that sets the impedance appropriately for that input and also you will find an amp synth button on that channel.
The Yamaha AG06 has a digital compression EQ and effect mode that is controlled by the software when you connect this to your computer.
In terms of the power of the device, it’s bus-powered from the USB cable.
The USB section is one of the main reasons that this stands a little bit apart from the other, you have a couple of different modes here for you to send the dry channel 1 & 2, input mix, or loopback (which is the same as the input mix but it allows you to also grab a USB feed from your computer.
5. RCF F 6X
RCF is an Italian brand, they are also one of the leading hi-tech brands in professional audio.
The RCF F6x has 2 microphone inputs, 2 stereo inputs, an onboard Pro DSP FX processor with 16 studio-quality effects, a balanced signal path from input to output, a mono channel with 3-band EQ, stereo channels with 2-band EQ, 1 Aux/FX, high-quality preamp with phantom power.
The F6x may seem slighter than other 6 channel mixing consoles, but the rugged construction of this mixer features a durable metal chassis with the protective plastic bumper on each side, making it easy to grab and go, a very reliable mixer.
6. Art Pro Audio Tube Mix
This is a very well-built 5 channel small mixer with USB out that has a very classic look to it with the old school view meters and the wood panel sides.
It has a button for amp simulation to make it sound more natural. You’ll notice that there are two auxiliaries which are not very common for a small format mixer of this size.
Auxiliary is marked left and auxiliary two is marked right, you could assign these to the main mix out, giving you better separation than if you were to use the actual left and right out.
Besides, it also has a tube assign button so you assign the tubes to either channels 1 & 2 or channel 5 to warm the instruments that you’re about to record.
So, as you can see this mixer is filled with features especially if you’re to look at recording interfaces, you have all this power before recording your tracks to your Daw.
7. XTUGA AM6 Audio Mixer
This professional 6 channel mixing console is very compact and lightweight. Even though it is just made of hard plastic, not metal, it feels quite solid.
It features four XLR inputs at the top as well as two more TRS inputs, making it a six-channel mixer., Each channel features a gain knob, a high and low EQ, a send to effect channel.
You could use anything from the condenser or line microphones to line-level instruments like a keyboard or guitar.
Something that has to be mentioned is that the AM6 can be powered by USB and another very cool feature about this mixer is the Bluetooth capabilities, which allow you to control your phone or device with your mixer.
8. Mackie 402VLZ4
The Mackie mixer is a very travel-friendly device, you could just throw this into your backpack and travel with you, lots of power packed into a little package that’s why people call it an ultra-compact mixer.
It gives you a solid feel with the metal-built material, very durable.
This 4-Channel Mic/Line Mixer comes with the Onyx preamplifiers which are Mackie’s best preamps so far.
This mixer has phantom power on it but if you often recording in situations or home office or live gig that isn’t ideal for recording, you most like will be using a dynamic mic to limit the external noise, that’s going to take more gain, the Mackie goes up to plus 60db of gain.
Although it’s not a USB mixer you bring this one into your computer via analog out, there is a unique stereo pan switch that will pan channel one to the left and channel two to the right, that is sort of a trick when you record into a software.
If you are a live performer looking for a small and reliable mixer to plug your mic, guitar, and keyboard with a good built-in preamp, the Mackie 402VLZ4 has everything you need.
9. Mackie ProFX4V3
The Pro-FX series here for Mackie is primarily designed for live sound applications and not so much for recording.
They have versions ranging from four channels to 30 channels, the four-channel version we’re looking at is the most basic one and doesn’t have a USB interface. If having USB is important for you, you could get the 8 channels and above.
There are vita mic preamp and low cut buttons on channels one and two, but the Hi-Z switch is only available on channel one, it’s used if you want to plug in a bass or guitar.
One interesting thing about this mixer is that it does not have a pan control, the same as the Mackie 402VLZ4 above. But if you engage the stereo pan to switch located at the middle of channels one and two, it will pan channel one left and channel two to the right, so that it allows you to record 2 channels with the mic line input on your pc or laptop.
Then you have a stereo graphic EQ on the mixer board for eq-ing the main output, and you can switch that between either the main mix or monitor mix or bypassing it.
The ready FX effects allow you to switch between 16 different presets, and I like the 16 segment dB meters it has, which is something you do not often find in a small mixer like this.
10. Pyle PMXU68BT
If having a small size mixer with more mic input is what you are looking for, then you should really take a look at this Pyle pro mixer here.
The Pyle PMXU68BT featuring 4 mic inputs, all comes with separate phantom power and Hi-Z buttons on each channel.
Adding on to that you will also get a stereo input on the channel 5 and 6. Something I find special about this mixer is the built-in Bluetooth mp3 player options on this device, you can play music from your phone, computer, or pen drive into this unit.
And it comes with some basic built-in effects like repeat, delay, and ratio to the main volume, it’s the same for his little brother PMXU48BT as well which is the 2 mic pre-version of this series.
It’s a very nice and easy mixer to be used for professional DJ studio applications, Audio Recording, on-stage performances at a super affordable price, It’s definitely a very versatile mixer you should take into consideration.
11. Alesis Multimix 4 FX
A very standard 4 channel mixer with 2 stereo input and output.
XLR/line inputs on channels 1 and 2, nothing very fancy on this mixer, but it does the job well for you, with that price range and that comes with a handful of built-in FX effects for you to choose with?
Come on there is really nothing much to complain about.
Alesis is known for their decent product with a very affordable price just like Behringer, although their product may often give you the plasticky, cheap-feeling sometimes. But I think that’s part of their strategy to aim for the lower range market, by cutting down the cost on the hardware material, and giving you a decent device at a very cheap price.
What’s more important is that they actually work, they definitely are not the best in the industry, but they do their job, I actually do own an Alexis keyboard myself for many years, I had no problem with it. To start off, this is one of the perfect devices.
12. Alto ZMX862fx
The Alto ZMX 862 is the perfect professional take anywhere tool although heavier than some competitors weighing 3.75 pounds, this 8-channel, the 2-bus mixer provides two-track inputs for audio playback plus the ability to plug in dynamic, wireless, and all condenser microphones into the initial two channels.
The 3-band eq makes a great warm sound that is unparalleled to competitors.
Adding on to that, you will also get another 2 stereo input channels with balanced TRS jacks for keyboards, drum machines, and other instruments. Besides that, there are also 2 Aux sends pre-channel for external effects and monitoring.
It gives you superior sound quality, high headroom, circuitry offering extra dynamic range, and ultra-low-noise for the best performance from your studio microphones.
13. Alto Zephyr ZMX52
Another great small mixer from the company Alto I would be recommending is the ZMX 52.
The Alto Zephyr ZMX52 is a fully-featured analog mixer and works great for people on the go, musicians who need a nice little rig that they can mix their audio through.
It’s kind of similar to the Behringer Xenyx Q502USB that we have mentioned earlier, it has an XLR microphone input as well as line input on channel one, also featuring a gain knob, 2 band EQ, pan, and volume control.
Then you will also have another two stereo channels with independent volume control and balance too.
Additionally, you will also find your RCA inputs and outputs that you can use for tape input, iPod, output for your recorder whatever you like.
One thing I like the most about this mixer here is the big main mix knob, so you can control your mix very simply. This unit does feature phantom power as well so you can power your microphones.
14. Neewer Mixing Console Compact Audio Sound 4-Channel Mixer for Condenser
Neewer is a company from China, the company was founded in 2010, many people know this company from their photographic equipment and accessories. But they actually do sell audio equipment including mixing consoles as well, and there are a couple of mixers that I find pretty convincing me.
This great-designed mixer we are looking at here is the 4 channel mixer designed by Neewer. Although it might not has an outstanding pre-amp like Yamaha or Allen & Health has to offer nor fancy features on this device.
But It’s still packed with a lot of useful function on this console, such as the 2-band EQ, gain knob, phantom power for your condenser mic, although the panning knob is missing here but for living performance usage less likely you would have to mess around with panning on the stage, so it’s acceptable for me.
I think it has everything you need for a portable sound mixer for small gigs, and it’s the cheapest on the list so far.
A workable mixer in pocket size for you to plug in your mic, guitar, or keyboard, offering you a fraction of the price that other big brands offer, respectively speaking I think it’s still very competitive with many other small mixers in the industry.
15. Roland Go Mixer Pro
The Roland Go Mixer Pro is a very special and unique mixer, a bit of a master for mobile musicians.
It’s the revamped version of the previous model Go Mixer, a bit larger but it’s still very compact light, and portable.
They have similar features and inputs but it now also comes with a phantom-powered XLR input so you can connect your condenser mic for more professional recording, and the phantom power it’s completely powered by your phone.
The combo mic jack accepts both XLR and 6.3 millimeter or quarter-inch TRS plucks, the line instruments inputs allow you to connect your guitar, synthesizer, and drum machine.
You can also hook these out an Aus output of the FOH mixer to record your band’s performance from the mixer directly instead of setting up the mic at the venue which will give you a better quality sound.
All in all, mixers that were mentioned will be great but only if you really know what’s your need in buying a mixer, what kind of gears or instrument you’re gonna be using in your live set?
How much is your budget?
That’s all that really matters.
If this is your first time buying a mixer, a round-up like this could really help you in saving a lot of your time in browsing through the internet doing the research yourself and avoid spending money on the wrong gear.
I hope you will find this article useful to you and getting the best mixer for your live performance, all the best!
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