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Audio Review: Behringer Ultrazone ZMX8210

Aug 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By John McJunkin

Zone mixer provides surprising functionality for low price.

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There are audio manufacturers that are exceedingly focused on a small group of very specific and esoteric products, and there are those that develop and manufacture a large diversity of distinct products in numerous domains pertaining to sound. To say that Behringer is one of the latter type of organizations would be a vast understatement. Over the years, Behringer has offered a massive array of products ranging from pro audio to musical instruments and back again. One domain into which the company has never really ventured is contractor-oriented public address — the stuff we talk about in these pages such as in-ceiling loudspeakers, podium mics, and zone mixers. Behringer's absence from this domain has recently ended with the introduction of the Ultrazone ZMX8210 zone mixer.

The Behringer Ultrazone ZMX8210 zone mixer is very simple by comparison, without the highly sophisticated features of more costly zone mixers from other manufacturers. It has always been Behringer's modus operandi to fill a niche — specifically, low-priced technology exhibiting quality that surpasses what you'd expect for the price. And it's appropriate that Behringer's entry into this market is represented by an entry-level product. Indeed, the owner of a family restaurant/lounge probably doesn't need an advanced zone mixer with ducking prioritization and sophisticated matrix functions. Rather, a simple zone mixer that facilitates the use of a handful of mics and a couple of recorded music inputs would do the trick, and Behringer's got it covered. In essence, the ZMX8210 is simply an 8×3 mixer with a gate that is activated by the first input. It also sports some equalization, and it provides Euro-type connectors, the ability to gang multiple units, and remote potentiometers and switching. Come to think of it, it's not that unsophisticated after all.

Starting from the left, the mixer's front panel sports controls and indicators for inputs 1 through 6. Each channel has a level knob and a three-segment LED level indicator (green for -24dB, yellow for 0dB, and red for clip). Each channel also has a pushbutton switch to engage a 20dB pad, to engage 48V phantom power, and to determine signal routing. Specifically, there are three bus buttons: left, right, and aux. The controls for channel 1 also include a recessed trim pot that determines the threshold for the system's bus muting scheme. The effect of this system is to mute inputs 2 through 8 in the left and right busses when input 1's signal surpasses the level set by this trim pot — essentially an auto-mute activated by input 1. To the right of the first six inputs are inputs 7 and 8, which are slightly different from the other six. They lack phantom power and a pad, and the routing possibilities are a bit different. Additionally, they are stereo inputs, facilitating the introduction of background music or other stereo signals. Each of these two inputs has a mono pushbutton switch, which sums the left and right signals together so a mono signal appears at all three of the system's busses. Otherwise, left goes to left, right goes to right, and left and right are summed in the aux bus. A channel-select button resides between the two channels' LED meters, and it's used to determine which input is being fed to the busses. (The inputs from both cannot be routed to the busses simultaneously.) Each of these eight inputs across the front panel has a white scribble strip so the contractor can name them.

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