As seen in:
Mackie
12-Channel Compact Effects
Nady
4/8 Mini Mixer
Behringer
5-Channel
Peavey
PV6 USB Mixing Console
Yamaha
10-Input Stereo
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Good

High-quality sound and effects. Offers more inputs (12) and recording options than any other contender on our shortlist.

A budget-priced sound mixer with eight mono inputs.

An affordable sound mixer with professional touches like preamp and 2-Band British EQ.

A satisfactory, mid-priced contender with a good performance track record and only minor drawbacks.

Built-in compression, 48V of phantom power, and smooth digital effects (including reverb) create a strong, clean sound.

Bad

A slight humming noise has been noted during USB recording. This noise can easily be eliminated by adjusting USB control.

Requires a 9V battery or 9V adapter to run. Frequent reports of extraneous noise when using battery adapter.

A few reports of a faulty (loose) power supply.

Only 15V of phantom power (you might need up to 48V). Not appropriate for larger ensembles.

USB interface can be difficult to use.

Bottom Line

The best audio mixer money can buy. Ample inputs, easy-to-use USB functions, hearty construction, and a terrific sound.

Can be a sufficient choice if you are able to work around the distortion/extraneous noise.

The best amateur sound mixer on the market in terms of sound quality and affordability.

A solid, multi-purpose mixing system from a reputable company.

A close competitor of the Mackie. Great specs and quality sound from a highly regarded company.

How we decide
BestReviews is committed to providing comprehensive and trusted reviews for products that matter to consumers. We do the research to help you save time and money.
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Products received from manufacturers
88
Models Considered
37
Hours Spent
2
Experts Interviewed
181
Consumers Consulted

Best Audio Mixers

You could spend tens of thousands of dollars on an audio mixer if you wanted to, but all of the mixers on our shortlist are on the affordable side. We've catered this review toward amateurs and semi-pros who want a highly rated tool to help them balance their sound and record/play their music.

Products we Considered

Mackie
12-Channel Compact Effects
Nady
4/8 Mini Mixer
Behringer
5-Channel
Peavey
PV6 USB Mixing Console
Yamaha
10-Input Stereo

Considerations

Sound

If you're shopping for a mixer, sound quality is no doubt at the top of your priority list. All of the mixers in this review have received high ratings from owners, but we provide specific details about what you can expect from each product. Is there a problem with feedback or distortion? What type of venue and level of professionalism is appropriate for each model? We tell you what you need to know.

Inputs

How many inputs does each mixer have? Are they mono, stereo, or a combination of both? The number of inputs on our top contenders ranges from five to twelve. Before you buy a mixer, consider how many voices will be playing in your performance. The larger your ensemble, the more inputs you're likely to need. If you're using your mixer professionally, you'll want to make sure it can accommodate the type of equipment you use.

Product Quality

Of course you want a top-notch sound mixer, and all of the contenders on our list are great products. In this section, we identify each product's strengths and weaknesses to help you make an informed decision. Is the product durable? Does it come from a reputable company? What sort of problems could potentially arise with each model? What do owners say about it?

Price

This review doesn't focus on the type of mixer used by sound engineers for the New York Philharmonic. Instead, it focuses on the type of mixer everyday music amateurs and semi-professionals can use. You could spend tens of thousands of dollars on an industrial-strength mixer, but we don't focus on industrial-strength equipment in this review. Instead, we focus on five of the best, most affordable sound mixers that can be used by the average person.

Considerations

Sound

Nady MM-242 4/8 Channel Mini Mixer

Customers call the Nady a “good little mixer” for the price. It's not a professional-grade mixing device, and potential buyers should note that it comes with no mic preamp (unlike the Behringer, which offers one preamp). However, it gets the job done for smaller groups of amateurs who don't want to spend a fortune to get a decently balanced sound. The Nady MM-242 runs on a 9V battery, but if using a battery doesn't appeal to you, you can connect the device to a 9V AC adapter. A potential problem with this adapter set-up, according to more than a few customers, is the loud, extraneous humming noise that emanates from the device when the adapter is in use. This noise can be tamed, however. One owner tells us that when he uses a regulated, filtered adapter (such as a universal AC to DC adapter), the extraneous noise goes away. Another user tells us that when he uses his Audacity program (free multi-track recording software available on many operating systems), the noise can be easily siphoned out. Furthermore, most customers who use a regular 9V battery tell us they don't have a problem with extraneous noise at all.

Behringer XENYX502 5-Channel Mixer

For the price, the Behringer is a capable amateur sound mixer. It comes with a preamp that can accommodate either a dynamic or condenser mic and features 2-band British EQ, a sound equalizing capability that is known for its rich, warm tone. There's only one standard cable mic input, but you can input up to five mics if you use ¼-inch cables. Potential customers should note that only the mono channel has tone control. Because this mixer is designed for non-professionals and smaller ensembles, this may not be an issue for most potential buyers. One owner we spoke to says this mixer is ideal for one mic, two guitars, and his tablet computer; he uses his Behringer during private jam sessions and small parties. Note: if you intend to broadcast what you play with this mixer, you'll need an amp, as the Behringer is not a “power” mixer.

Peavey PV6 USB Mixing Console

The Peavey Electronics Corporation, headquartered in the U.S., is one of the largest manufacturers of music equipment in the world. The company's reputation is a good one, and the Peavey PV6 is a highly rated mixer that has satisfied amateurs and professionals alike. One owner we spoke to (who happens to be a DJ for several small bars and clubs) raved about how clean the sound is and how easy the Peavey is to carry around to various gigs. Another owner who hosts her own radio show told us that the Peavey “seamlessly” integrates her laptop, smart phone, and digital recorder for “truly amazing” results. Other potential uses for this mixer include auxiliary sound (for example, in video recording), podcasting, and PA system disc jockeying. If you want a reliable mixer and don't mind paying the mid-range price of the Peavey, this piece of equipment is a good and reliable choice.

Yamaha MG10XU 10-Input Stereo Mixer

Customers who opt for the higher-priced Yamaha MG10XU get more "high-tech" reassurance that their sound will be good than those who buy a lower-priced machine. While it's true that the Yamaha has 10 inputs -- just two more than the less-expensive Nady -- potential buyers should note that this machine boasts four mono lines and three stereo lines, resulting in more recording versatility. It also comes with built-in channel compressors and preamps (compatible with both dynamic and condenser mics) that significantly enhance sound quality. One owner who records karaoke told us that the Yamaha's preamps, built-in compression, and reverb settings help vocals sound clearer and instrumentals more refined. You also get some sweet digital effects with this package that you wouldn't get with other products – a money-saver if sound effects are something you need. If you're looking for a good mixer for live venues, the consensus among owners is that this portable machine is a good choice. If you're looking for a professional-grade mixer for studio recordings, our research suggests that this product is adequate in this realm as well -- though not perfect. The Yamaha MG10XU is still a fairly new product, but several owners have already told us that the USB function does not work well for them, eliminating the possibility of recording onto the computer.

Mackie PROFX12 12-Channel Compact

The Mackie PROFX12 is made by the U.S.-based Mackie company, a world leader in professional-grade recording equipment. Recordings and mixes made with this tool sound rich and vibrant thanks to "sound sculpting" tools like graphic EQ (found on all 12 channels), six preamps, built-in DI (direct input), and 16 on-board digital effects. One singer told us that the Mackie makes him "sound like a professional." The company itself advertises this piece of equipment as a professional-grade mixer for smaller ensembles. For amateurs and small-time professionals, it's on the higher end of the pricing spectrum, but Mackie's endless parade of stellar customer reviews are a sure indicator that you "get what you pay for" in this situation -- a top-notch mixer for personal and professional use.

Recordings and mixes made with the Mackie PROFX 12 sound rich and vibrant thanks to "sound sculpting" tools like graphic EQ (found on all 12 channels), six preamps, built-in DI (direct input), and 16 on-board digital effects.
Considerations

Inputs

Considering that the Nady MM-242 is a “mini” mixer, it has a surprisingly high number of inputs (eight mono). Each input has its own individual volume control – an advantage over some other mini mixers in its class that don't offer this option for each voice. If you're an amateur who needs to record between four and eight voices and you don't mind doing it without stereo, this inexpensive mixer could be a viable solution for your needs.

The Behringer has a small number of inputs (five) when compared to pricier machines like the Yamaha and Mackie. With this purchase, you also get RCA-CD/Tape inputs which you could feasibly use to play pre-recorded music at parties or other gatherings. This product does not have USB capability; you cannot record to a computer using the Behringer XENYX502.

Potential buyers should know that, while the Peavey PV6 is advertised as a six-channel mixer, Channels 1 and 2 are the only “discrete” channels it has. Channels 3-4 and 5-6 are stereo channels that share volume, gain, and other controls. Therefore, if you plug two different instruments into 3-4 or 5-6, the settings for those instruments will be the same. This is not necessarily a deal-breaker, but at this price point, customers who don't do a little investigation first might be surprised and/or disappointed when they discover this limitation. As one satisfied customer said, “If your needs are basic, this is a good choice.” Unlike the Nady and Behringer, the Peavey does have a USB input that theoretically allows you to record onto a computer. This is a handy feature to have, but a few of the owners we spoke to told us the USB did not work for their particular set-up. In short, the USB is not the "star" feature of this mixer, but it is an option for those wishing to record onto their computer.

The Yamaha MG10XU renders an astonishingly good sound, especially when you consider the fact that this machine offers only 10 inputs (four mono lines and three stereo lines). Like the Peavey and Mackie models on our shortlist, the Yamaha offers USB recording. Like the Peavey, however, several customers told us they had difficulty getting the USB interface to work. However, if your goal is top-notch sound at live venues, the Yamaha is a fairly affordable option with a history of success and high customer ratings.

On our shortlist of affordable, highly rated sound mixers, the “Most Channels” award goes to the Mackie PROFX12. You get four full-stereo channels with this machine and four mono channels, yielding even more versatility than the Yamaha (at a similar price point!) The Mackie also offers USB connectivity, and according to our research, this function is easier to use on the PROFX12 than any of the other USB-compatible mixers on our list. While some owners tell us that they hear a high-pitched hum during USB use, this sound can be effectively eliminated by keeping the USB control dial at 50 percent or less.

The Mackie's USB interface is easier to use than any of the other USB-compatible mixers on our shortlist.
Rick
Expert Consultant
Rick
Recording Studio Professional

Rick is a loving husband and the proud father of six children. He has been creating music and using audio technology non-stop for the past 20 years in a variety of studio and live event settings. For Rick, finding the perfect products and equipment to enhance his clients’ creative process is extremely important.

Considerations

Product Quality

Nady MM-242 4/8 Channel Mini Mixer

Our research on the Nady MM-242 turned up a majority of positive customer reviews. That being said, some owners have expressed disappointment with this product – particularly the extraneous noise we address in our “Sound” section. For such a low price, however, you get a lot for your money, and there are some creative ways to circumvent the extraneous noise problem. (We address these in our “Sound” section, too.) If you're an amateur who is looking for an inexpensive, portable, durable device that will accept up to eight mono inputs, the budget-priced Nady MM-242 is worth a look.

Behringer XENYX502 5-Channel Mixer

The Behringer XENYX502 5-Channel Mixer is a top seller for several reasons, one of which is its terrific low price. The quality of this machine also gets high ratings from lots of customers. As one owner raved, the Behringer XENYX 502 gives a “superlative sound” but is “completely noiseless” when it comes to unwanted interference. Our biggest concern with this product is its power supply. Our research uncovered more than a few incidents of power failure due to a wobbly or loose cord. One owner lost sound during a gig; another lost valuable recording material due to a defective cord. If you decide to purchase this product, take care not to bump or wobble the power supply while it is in use, and be sure to save your receipt and other paperwork in case you are the recipient of a defective cord and need to return it.

Peavey PV6 USB Mixing Console

The consensus among Peavey PV6 owners is that it is a hearty and reliable piece of equipment that delivers good, clean sound. If you're looking to use the Peavey PV6 for small-time professional gigs, it's an admirable choice. Potential buyers (especially those who are looking to make money with their mixer) should be aware of all the specs before purchasing this mid-priced tool. If your mic requires 48V of phantom power, for example, you need to know that the Peavey offers only 15V of phantom power. (There's a workaround for this – buying an external phantom supply -- but that would add to your overall financial burden, and it may be more cost-effective to pay the money for a more advanced model to begin with.) It's also important to note that four of the Peavey's six channels are stereo and share volume and gain controls. This could be somewhat limiting for larger ensembles and more complicated recording/performance endeavors, but it depends on your needs. Overall, the Peavey PV6 is a great middle-of-the-road choice. We give it high ratings for its solid performance -- with the caveat that potential buyers should scrutinize its specs for compatibility first.

Yamaha MG10XU 10-Input Stereo Mixer

The Yamaha MG10XU can be thought of as a new and improved version of the Yamaha MG82CS (an eight-channel mixer with high ratings that has been discontinued). It hails from a company with a great reputation for quality musical instruments and equipment. As such, we find it to be a fairly trustworthy product. Our research did turn up a few instances of equipment failure shortly after purchase, but the majority of owners we spoke to were more than happy with their Yamaha MG10XU. If you need 48V (or more) of phantom power, you get it with the Yamaha MG10XU. (You don't get this with the Peavey PV6 and would have to purchase external phantom supply at an additional cost.) Phantom power supplies generally cost $30-$120, so this could be considered a savings right off the bat! You can even mount this mixer on a mic stand for live-venue recording – a bonus in versatility and portability that no other mixer on our shortlist offers. We like the built-in compression and various reverb choices that enhance vocal sound. We also like the metal chassis -- an hearty improvement over the plastic casing found on the MG82CS.

Mackie PROFX12 12-Channel Compact

The Mackie PROFX12 is a long-lasting mixer that's loaded with goodies: 12 channels, 6 preamps, active 3-band EQ on ALL channels. The mixer can be mounted on a rack to save studio space, although if you wish to do this, you must purchase wings to mount the sides. This mixer is meant for the recording studio, and unless you're “recording for the New York Philharmonic,” it is likely to suit you just fine, according to one satisfied customer. The icing on the cake: our consumer research indicates that USB recording with the Mackie PROFX12 is much easier than with any other model on our shortlist. Some owners report hearing a humming noise during USB recording, but this can be controlled by adjusting the USB dial to 50 percent or less. The majority of consumers we consulted about this product cannot say enough good things about the Mackie PROFX12.

The Behringer, with its superlative sound and "completely noiseless" canvas, is a top seller for several reasons -- one of which is its terrific low price.
Considerations

Price

Nady MM-242 4/8 Channel Mini Mixer

At a cost of just $25, some people buy the Nady MM-242 out of curiosity. Could such a low-priced mixer really deliver the goods in a situation where you'd need eight inputs? The answer to this question is yes, but buyer beware: a lot of consumers report extraneous noise and distortion when using the Nady. This is especially true if a 9V adapter is involved. Some owners tell us that using a real battery solves the problem. If you're intrigued by this affordable product, it may very well be worth your while to check it out.

Behringer XENYX502 5-Channel Mixer

An affordable contender, the Behringer XENYX502 is an extremely popular audio mixer among amateur musicians. Its preamp and 2-band British EQ hint at the professional-grade quality of the Mackie and Yamaha, but at a cost of $52, the Behringer is a far less expensive option. Bottom line: if your recording/performance needs are basic, chances are that they can be easily met by this product.

Peavey PV6 USB Mixing Console

At a cost of $170, the Peavey falls in the middle of our price range. For the money, you get a machine that will meet your basic mixing needs with integrity. The USB interface is not a boon to this product (according to several users), but the rugged durability of this machine, in combination with its good, clean sound and Peavey dependability, makes it a worthy investment.

Yamaha MG10XU 10-Input Stereo Mixer

If you're a Yamaha fan, you may be interested in this top contender on our shortlist. Selling for a price of $199, the Yamaha MG10XU is a close competitor of the Mackie PROFX12 in many ways. It's a fairly new model, but high customer ratings prove that the MG10XU has continued Yamaha's tradition of excellence. With 48V of phantom power, built-in compression and reverb, and 10 inputs, this is a quality option for small to mid-sized ensembles. Like its predecessor, the eight-channel MG82CS, this model can be conveniently mounted onto a mic stand using a mic stand adapter (sold separately). You're not likely to be disappointed with this product as long as the specs suit your particular performance and/or recording needs.

Mackie PROFX12 12-Channel Compact

At a cost of $279, the Mackie PROFX12 is one of the most expensive audio mixers on our shortlist. It also offers the most in terms of inputs, USB functionality, and sound quality -- which is why we like it so much! Built with a steel chassis, this rugged machine stands up to travel very well and holds its own when it comes to recording and streaming balanced mixes. The Yamaha MG10XU is a close contender, but the Mackie is still a cut above in many ways. As one satisfied customer told us, the company has continued its "tradition of excellence" with this product.

Built with a steel chassis, the rugged Mackie PROFX12 stands up to travel very well and holds its own when it comes to recording and streaming balanced mixes.

Best of the Best

Clean and smooth: these words describe the Mackie PROFX12 very well. If you're an amateur or small-time professional looking for a great sound mixing board, the Mackie PROFX12 stands out as the "Best of the Best" for several reasons.

This machine as 12 inputs – the most of any contender on our shortlist. It comes with a host of sound-enhancing features, including six preamps and a fabulous selection of on-board digital effects. Whether you're a professional or not, this device can help you sound like one. It's the ideal sound mixer for small to mid-sized ensembles and venues.

Then there is the Mackie's USB connectivity. This sought-after feature is often not easy to use, even in top-performing models like the Peavey PV6 and Yamaha MG10XU. The Mackie PROFX12 takes the mystery out of USB recording, however, and many of the owners we spoke to enjoy the benefits of recording to their computer with the help of this mixing tool. If you use the PROFX12 for USB recording and notice a humming sound, simply turn down the USB control to 50 percent or less. You'll then have the clean palate of silence you need to mix your sounds.

A final characteristic that makes this machine the “Best of the Best” is its durability. Mackie is known for its rugged, durable machines, and if history is an indicator, customers can count on this model to serve them well for many years. Compared side-by-side to the Yamaha MG10XU, we acknowledge that these two models are comparable – or nearly so – in many ways. However, the extra inputs, highly rated USB functionality, and overall durability push the Mackie to the front of the line. For all of these reasons, we endorse the Mackie PROFX12 as the “Best of the Best” on our shortlist of audio mixers.
Best of the Best
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Mackie is known for its rugged, durable machines, and the Mackie PROFX12 is no exception.

Best Bang for your Buck

Affordable price. Quality sound. The Behringer XENYX502 is a top seller in the world of amateur audio mixers for a reason. If you've been searching for a mixer for your solo gig, small ensemble, or DJ venture, look no further: the Behringer has the professional touches you want at the price you desire.

Potential customers should bear in mind that there are only five inputs in this mixer, but the inputs can each accommodate a mic using ¼-inch cables (in mono). The Nady, by contrast, offers eight inputs, but it runs off a 9V battery, and some annoying issues have been reported with Nady's sound quality and distortion. The Behringer, by contrast, does not appear to have any issues with unwanted noise. In fact, that's one of its major selling points – this product provides an absolutely noiseless canvas on which to play your music.

It's an ideal tool for jam sessions with one or two guitars and a singer. It's also a great piece of equipment to have on hand at a party where you want to play pre-recorded music, make public announcements, or do karaoke. If you plan to cart this piece of equipment around much, take extra care with the power supply. (Try not to bump or wiggle it, and keep it away from strong vibrations as much as possible.) Our research did uncover a few instances of unhappy customers who lost power during a performance due to a wiggly/loose cord. Because this is a known defect in a handful of products, we suspect the problem could have been with a particular production batch. Behringer is a reputable and conscientious company, and the defect may very well have been a one-time incident. Nevertheless, it's always wise to save your receipt in case you should need to swap out a defective mixer for a new one.

The slight power cord risk is definitely worth it for many owners who tell us they are absolutely delighted with their purchase. If you want a budget-priced mixer that is low on interference and high on quality – and if you're certain that the number of inputs will suit your needs – you simply cannot beat the Behringer XENYX502.
Best Bang for your Buck
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The Behringer XENYX502 has the professional touches you want at the price you desire.
The team that worked on this review
  • Michael
    Michael
    Creative Lead
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Editor
  • Jess
    Jess
    Researcher
  • Jimi
    Jimi
    Product Analyst
  • Ben
    Ben
    Operations