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Audio Review: Soundcraft FX16ii

Mar 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By John McJunkin

A small-format mixer with the capacity to do multitrack recording.


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Soundcraft FX16ii

It seems like every time you turn around, there's another small-format digital mixer. I don't mean to sound disdainful. I'm a digital mixer owner myself, but I do plenty of work that simply doesn't require the sophistication that digital mixers deliver — such as recall, automation, robust displays, and so on. On the other hand, having digital effects is nice, mainly because it may save a little weight and space in the rack. There are numerous small-format analog mixers with built-in effects, but what of the capacity to do multitrack recording with direct outs from the mixer? That's a desirable and less-common convention, and the Soundcraft FX16ii has it.

The FX16ii sports 16 primary channels, each with a mic pre. Starting from top to bottom, each channel has a gain knob, a high-pass filter (HPF) switch (100Hz cutoff, 18dB/octave slope); a three-band EQ section with sweepable mids; four auxiliaries; a pan knob; mute, busing, and solo buttons; a peak/solo indicator LED; a switch that toggles the mixer's direct outputs pre or post fader; and long-throw (100mm) faders. The entire channel strip is book ended by dual scribble strips — a nice little extra. The EQ section provides three bands: low and high shelving types and a sweepable mid with a Q of 1.5. All three offer 15dB of boost or cut. The high-shelf cutoff is at 12kHz. The low shelf is at 80Hz, and the mid sweeps from 150Hz to 3.5kHz. Auxiliaries 1, 2, and 3 feed actual physical outputs, while auxiliary 4 feeds internally to the onboard Lexicon effects unit. Auxiliary 2 can toggle pre/post fader, adding some flexibility to the mixer. The auxiliary masters have after-fader listen (AFL) buttons so an engineer can get a quick listen to monitor mixes.

Two switches directly above the faders route signal to the mixer's sub bus, the main mix bus, or both. The sub bus has balanced 1/4in. outputs and insert jacks, as does the mix bus, but its outputs are represented by XLR connectors. The sub bus can also be routed directly into the mix with the push of a button directly above the sub and mix master faders — which are color-coded red and yellow, respectively. The mixer's phantom power supply is switchable in two banks: channels 1-8 and 9-16. To the right of the primary channels and above the master faders are four stereo returns, each of which can be routed to auxiliaries 1 or 2 and simultaneously to the sub or mix buses. A metering section features a 10-segment LED stereo-level meter, along with level controls for monitors and the mixer's built-in headphone jack — which is nicely located on the front panel, making it easily accessible in a rackmount application. Three pushbutton switches above the meter determine which signal is being metered and monitored in the headphones — two-track input, mix bus, or sub bus. Indeed, the mixer features a two-track input, which has a level control and can be routed to the mix bus. Both solo-in-place and pre-fader listen (PFL)-solo modes are available; these can be toggled by a switch near the meter, and they are indicated by LEDs in the same area.

The mixer's back panel is dominated by the 16 main channel inputs, each of which has an XLR mic-level input and 1/4in. balanced TRS-line-level inputs and insert jacks. Other inputs are the mixer's four stereo returns; by connecting exclusively to the left jack of any given pair, that return is established in the mix as monophonic. The only other audio input is an RCA stereo pair representing the two-track return. Directly to its right is a 1/4in. jack that accepts input from a foot switch for the purpose of muting effects. Two 1/4in. balanced jacks represent the mixer's monitor outputs, which are next to the mixer's XLR main mix-bus outputs. As stated before, 1/4in. TRS jacks facilitate insertion of external processors in the mix-bus and sub-bus paths. The physical outputs of the sub bus are 1/4in. balanced jacks, as are the outputs for auxiliaries 1, 2, and 3. Rounding out the rear panel are an IEC AC power inlet and a power switch.



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