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Buyers Guide: Audio Mixers

Components at the heart of audio systems


The Shure SCM820 is an eight-channel digital automatic mixer designed for use in speech applications, including sound reinforcement, broadcasting and audio recording. It uses the company’s Intellimix technology to improve audio quality in any application where multiple microphones are required.

The SCM820 delivers seamless automatic mixing and reduced background noise through dynamic channel gating and attenuation. The “Last Mic Lock-On” feature keeps the most recently activated microphone open until another microphone is activated, minimizing silent moments. The unit’s internal processor ensures that only one channel is opened per sound source, reducing comb filtering for clear and intelligible speech.


The Roland M-5000C controls include a 12-inch color touchscreen, 20-channel faders in three groups, multifunction knobs and buttons, and a user-assignable section. Remote control software (Mac/Windows) will soon be available that extends the user interface beyond the built-in GUI.

Along with a 96 kHz sampling rate for excellent sound quality, the M-5000C has a 72-bit summing bus, discrete analog circuitry and redundant power supply. In addition to 16 inputs and eight outputs on the console, the M-5000C also features two expansion interface slots that can accommodate REAC, Dante, MADI, Waves SoundGrid and other XI-Series expansion cards.


The Yamaha MGP24X is a general-purpose analog audio console for concert sound and television studio applications. The unit has 16 mic inputs, all capable of 48 VDC phantom power. There are also 24 line inputs, including four stereo pairs, and the mixer also has USB inputs for digital audio devices.

With audio purity in mind, Yamaha’s MGP series uses discrete Class-A microphone preamps and individual-channel equalization controls to contour the sound. The mixer also features iPod/iPhone connectivity and built-in compression that keeps the sound output steady to avoid peaks and too-quiet levels.


The Mackie 1604-VLZ4 is a 16-input analog mixer featuring updated preamps that deliver low noise and high headroom (0-60 dB gain range, 130 dB dynamic range, +22 dBu line input handling and distortion under 0.005 percent). Other features include a DC pulse transformer for RF rejection, 60mm long-wearing logarithmic-taper faders, three-band channel EQ with sweepable mids, phantom power, solo switches, balanced main inputs/outputs, four aux sends, four stereo aux returns and eight direct outs.

The 1604-VLZ4 has phantom power can be applied to all the mic/line inputs, and the mixer can be operated from a table/console or rack mounted. High-resolution stereo meters give a fast visual indication of the signal levels.


The Wheatstone Series Two is an IP networked console that has the size, feel and module width that are conducive to live television production. Available in a 16-fader frame, the Series Two has a complete tally system, motorized faders and true surround with up/down mixing between 5.1 and stereo, plus buses and mix-minuses galore (two main mix buses, four subgroups, up to 32 bus-minuses (N-1), four mix-minus busses, and two aux sends).

The Series Two features automatic studio muting, machine control logic, de-embedding inputs, 5.1 surround capability, balanced or unbalanced AES inputs, router integration and flexible monitoring capability.


The Allen & Heath GR05 is a five-input, four-output analog zone mixer for sound installations requiring two mics and three stereo line inputs and up to four mono or two stereo zones. Internal jumpers allow custom configuration protected for day-to-day operation by non-technical staff, and zone volume may be remotely controlled. Ducking, EQ and muting can be configured, and further inputs and outputs are possible using the expander system.

Internal trimmers also provide two-band EQ, hi/mid frequency adjustment with sweep and low-frequency shelving. The front panel has three-color LED meters and level controls for all routed outputs.


The Audio-Technica AT-MX351a automatic mixer is targeted at meetings, seminars, teleconferencing, worship services, courtroom proceedings, radio and TV broadcasting and A/V applications. All switching is under microprocessor control with proprietary algorithms for quick and smooth operation. An individual priority pre-select switch for each mic/line channel allows choice of one-channel-at-a-time operation, all active, or any mix of moderator override.

The AT-MX351a features a “last-mic-on” capability so that ambient sound is never muted. Plus, many AT-MX351a mixers can be linked to create a system for large multi-mic installations. The priority control system extends throughout the entire chain.


The Behringer XENYX XL2400 mixer features 24-inputs and four mixing buses, and includes 20 of the company’s high-quality XENYX mic preamps. Its architecture includes four stereo channels with four-band equalizers, and a dedicated talkback section for communicating with the talent. All mono channels feature 48 VDC phantom power, our ultra-musical, four-band channel EQs with two semi-parametric mid bands for tweaking flexibility. The mixer also has a variety of inserts, direct outs and six available aux sends.

The mixer’s XENYX preamps offer 130 dB of dynamic range, with a bandwidth that extends from below 10 Hz to well above 200 kHz.