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Mackie ProFX16 Mixer

May 25, 2012 12:43 PM, Reviewer: John McJunkin

Its USB I/O opens up new possibilities.


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Aside from the USB I/O and great sounding 32-bit digital effects, the other major standout feature of this mixer is the existence of compressors on input channels 5-8. I produce podcasts for a living, and I consult clients on the development of simple podcast production studios in their homes and offices. I’m often asked what one thing makes the podcast sound professional more than any other factor. The answer is usually “compression” because it lends a broadcast-like sheen to the podcast, and helps to tame unruly speech levels and facilitates a higher output level, psycho-acoustically speaking. These compressors are also simple for the end-user who’s not accustomed to the various parameters of a typical compressor—just a single knob that controls threshold. The ratio is fixed at 6:1, and the compressor exhibits soft-knee performance for a smoother onset. This feature truly does lend a more professional sound for both spoken word and singing, and it sounds quite good.

To my ear, this mixer sounds good all the way around. The fixed EQs are placed at appropriate and musical frequencies, and the cut and boost don’t feel quite linear to me – there seems to be quite a bit of grab right from the start, which is preferable in my book. I don’t want to have to get close to the end of the knob’s throw before substantial boost or cut becomes blatantly audible. The mic pres sound great too. If I had my druthers, I’d love to see analog inserts on the stereo bus outputs like there are on the first four channels. De facto digital inserts exist via clever signal routing – send signal out from subgroups 1 and 2 via USB to any processing you’d like on your computer (bearing in mind that there will be latency, of course) and return it via USB to your analog stereo bus. This is probably only useful for a suite of “mastering” type processing on the stereo bus – EQ and dynamics, or maybe even multi-band dynamics, but it’s useful nevertheless. And of course, that same stereo signal can be recorded by your computer with virtually any recording software. Mackie includes its Tracktion 3 software, which I’ve always really liked, largely due to its support of VST and VSTi plug-ins.

The Mackie ProFX16 is a big step forward for Mackie with the inclusion of USB digital I/O and built-in compression (the compressors are only available on the 16- and 22-input versions). I really like this little mixer, and considering the features, the price is right. Overall, this mixer represents a good value, and will open up new possibilities with its USB I/O.

Product Summary

Pros: USB I/O, onboard effects, compression on four inputs, break button.

Cons: Signal bleed through stereo bus, effects rotary selector does not “wrap around”, graphic EQ bypass button not intuitive (depressed=bypassed, up=engaged)

Applications: Corporate AV, restaurant, club, small venue PA, portable sound

Price: $499.99 MAP

Specifications:

Noise characteristics (20Hz-20kHz, 150Ω, EIN)

Mic in to insert send out, max gain: -128.0dBu

All outputs, master levels off, all channel levels off: -95 dBu

All outputs, master levels unity, all channel levels off: -85 dBu

All outputs, master levels unity, 1 channel level unity: -85 dBu

Frequency response (mic input to any output, unity gain): 20Hz – 20kHz

Distortion (THD+N, 20Hz- 20kHz, mic in - main out): <0.01%@+4 dBu output

Attenuation and Crosstalk (20Hz-20kHz bandwidth)

Adjacent Inputs @ 1kHz: -90dBu

Fader off @ 1kHz: -75dBu

Mute switch/break switch mute @ 1kHz: -100dBu

Common mode rejection ratio (CMRR)

(Mic in to main out, channel gain at max: 50 dB @1 kHz): 70dB

Maximum Levels

All inputs: +22 dBu Main mix XLR: +28 dBu

All other outputs: +22 dBu

USB

Format: USB 1.1

I/O: Stereo in & out

A/D/A: 16-bit, 44.1kHz or 48kHz

Input and Output Impedance

Mic In: 3.3kΩ

Channel insert return: 10kΩ

All other inputs: 20 kΩ

Tape out: 1 kΩ

Phones out: 25Ω

All other outputs: 120Ω

AC Power Requirements

Power Consumption: 40W (ProFX16); 45W (ProFX22)

Universal AC power supply: 100-240VAC, 50-60Hz

Power connector: 3-pin IEC

Physical Dimensions and Weight

Front height: 1.7in./44 mm (both)

Rear height: 3.8in./97 mm (both)

Depth: 16.0in./407 mm (both)

Width: 18.7in/475mm(ProFX16); 25.1in/639mm(ProFX22)

Weight: 13lb./5.9kg (ProFX16); 18lb./8.2kg (ProFX22)

John McJunkin is the principal of Avalon Podcasting in Chandler, Ariz. He has consulted in the development of studios and installations and provides high-quality podcast-production services.



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