A mixing desk, mixing board, or mixing console – call it what you may – is a key piece of your setup, especially if you dabble in multi-track recording. Plus, a mixing console usually sports individual volume control (faders), tone-shaping tools (EQ, compressor), and other bells and whistles that it can route along the way.
The right mixing console in your home studio (or any modest recording environment) will drastically improve your scope of recording. They can handle sums and signals from multiple instruments and/or vocals to blend them into a combined output signal.
You’ll find a wide range of digital and analog mixers in today’s market. Some have analog/digital hybrid design, others have great low-budget units for summing, and others have a super-transparent or beautifully colored preamp.
After scouting every small and medium-format board, I’ve rounded up eight awesome choices for home studios. Whether you are a bedroom producer, an up-and-coming mix engineer, or a music production enthusiast, you’ll find 8 stellar choices itching to integrate into your setup.
So let’s dive right into it:
8 Best Digital Mixers for Home Studios
A rugged hand-on mixer with digital FX, routing options, and “A&H pedigree”.
- 4 Mic/Line Inputs
- 24-bit/96kHz audio quality
- 2 Stereo and 2 Guitar DI inputs
- GS-R24 inspired mic preamps
- Integrated audio interface – 4in/4out
- Built-in Digital FX
The ZED10FXi is also the love child of the collab between IK Multimedia and Allen and Heath. It ships with the X-Gear modular amp modeling software that can run with or without a DAW. I’ve picked the 4mic/line inputs version to create a versatile roundup. However, you have several options in the ZED series to suit your line input and digital FX needs.
Returning to this particular unit, we’ve got ourselves a compact studio router or mixing console with exceptional GS-R24 inspired preamps and two dedicated, high impedance Guitar Di inputs. It also boasts of USB connectivity, individually mounted circuits, and a juicy onboard FX suite.
Each channel has its own gain, level, and HPF options. It has +48V phantom power and a responsive 3-band EQ for tone sculpting. The master section also offers lots of output options and individual controls.
The mono channels with DI make recording guitars an effortless experience. Beginners will also find the nifty signal flow map (on the top panel) to be helpful when configuring the internal routing options. The tap tempo (for FX) is also a clever addition to the unit.
This plug-n-play mixer is a straight-talking unit that punches way above the asking price. Use it as a monitoring cue, external USB effects processor, or as an audio interface – it scores well across the board. With the ZEDi-10FX, Allen and Heath have pulled off an efficient and affordable mixer for small setups.
2. Behringer XENYX 1202 and 1202FX – Best Budget Option
A 2-bus mixer that is easy on the pocket and good enough for small recording environments.
- 12 inputs (4 Mic / 4 Stereo)
- 24-bit/192kHz audio quality
- 130dB dynamic range
- 4 XENYX preamps
- 100+ Built-in Digital FX (on the 1202FX version)
The internet has a love-hate relationship with Behringer. Some people take a rain check because they think it is ‘budget gear’, and others think it offers great value for the price. We tend to agree with the latter. That’s why we’ve picked the XENYX series and the 1202 for our roundup.
The Behringer XENYX 1202FX is a cost-effective mixer with 12 inputs, 4 stereo and 4 mono with XENYX mic preamps. Each channel has a post-fader FX for external devices and you also get the usual fare of 3-band EQ, ¼” stereo channel inputs, and 1/4″ balanced outputs.
The XENYX 1202FX is another interesting option, especially if you want to make use of its FX engine and 100 built-in effects. However, both boards have level knobs instead of individual faders. I also wasn’t charmed by the flimsy non-standard power adapter.
The XENYX preamps are nothing to write home about, and I can’t equate what makes the EQ “British”. Either way, the mixer is musical, low-noise and has reasonable headroom. The construction, audio quality, and features are good for the price. It is, after all, the cheapest in the segment.
Overall, the Behringer 1202 and 1202FX can be a budget-friendly workhorse for bedroom producers, students, and novices. It’s the cheapest option to add a good quality mix console to a home studio, small venue, or jam room.
A powered 14-channel analog mixer with versatile signal routing.
- 14-channel powered mixer
- +48V DC Phantom Power (ON/OFF)
- 1000W Amp & Onboard Digital Effects
Yamaha EMX5014C mixer is a lightweight and compact console-style powered mixer with power amps, graphic EQ, and digital effects. This 14-channel beaut is ideal for a broad range of uses in small or mid-sized venues and studio environments.
The input channel functions feature HPF, a PFL (pre-fader listen), 3-band mid sweep, parametric EQ insert (PEQ), and inserts. The highpass filter is set up at 80 Hz to get rid of unwanted noise and rumble in the low end.
I recommend it for home studios because of the versatile signal routing options. Plus, the power amp output can be toggled between 75, 200, and 500-watts per channel, and the mode selector can be configured to Mono + Aux 1, Aux 1 + Aux 2, and Main + Main.
The EMX5014C will cater to venue operators, live performers, or anyone out for a light/portable powered mixer. It has a host of other features such as Channel On switches, single-knob compressors, signal/peak indicators, and feedback locator LEDs on individual inputs.
We’ve come to expect great things from Yamaha but they still surprise us with a compact unit that packs plenty of features. That said, the EMX5014C does carry some heft in its price tag. Although based on its performance, I’d say that is money well spent.
4. Presonus StudioLive AR12c – Editor’s Pick
A modern analog mixer with a full-featured audio interface and Bluetooth connectivity.
- 14-channel analog hybrid mixer
- 18-in/4-out USB audio interface
- 18-track recorder
- XMAX preamps
- Built-in effects and 3-band EQ
- Weight: 14.1 lbs (xx kg)
The Presonus ARc Series offers three variants. The modest AR8c, the medium-sized AR12c, and the ‘big-honk’ AR16c. All three mixers have nearly identical features (give and take a few) with different channel counts. AR8c doesn’t have faders, so that might be worth noting. Catch an overview of all three in this video:
We’ll take the middle road and discuss the Presonus AR12c. It’s an analog mixer with an integrated audio interface, software, and stereo SD recorder.
It features the StudioLive AR16c audio interface with 12 XMAX mic preamps and a USC-C connection. It can record pristine audio at up to 96kHz. The interface can playback 4 streams (for monitoring) with a click track. Plus, it can record 16 inputs alongside the main mix.
The biggest draw for me was the Super Channel feature that makes the AR16c a compelling choice for the modern home studio.
Whether you are a recording artist, a songwriter, a DJ, or a band, the AR12c can don many hats to do good by you. It has no-latency onboard effects, stereo recording capability, and connections ranging from RCA to a smartphone (1/8”) to Bluetooth connectivity.
It’s an all-in-one package that is raring to go right out of the box. Despite the long list of features, the price tag seems very reasonable. Plus, it ships with a rack-mount kit, Studio One Artist DAW, and Studio Magic plug-in suite (included in the price) – now that’s a sweet deal.
A versatile mixer for home recording with the acclaimed Onyx mic preamps.
- 12-channel mixer with USB
- 24-bit/192kHz sound quality
- Ultra-low noise Onyx mic preamps
- 2×4 USB I/O
- GigFX Engine w/ 24 effects
- Software/plug-in bundle included
The Mackie Pro FX12v3 isn’t facetious. It doesn’t claim to be the ‘best-in-class’. Instead, it is a dependable workhorse with versatile functionality, 24 built-in effects, 24-bit/192kHz sample rates, and a host of features such as zero-latency hardware monitoring and 2×4 USB I/O.
Their ProFX range offers models with 6 to 30 channels. I’ve picked the 12v3 for a handful of reasons. Killer XLR preamps, easy-to-use effects, rock-solid casing, excellent sound quality, and reasonable price. Viola! The FX12v3 ticks all the boxes without complicating things.
It’s an equally great mixer for small gigs and band rehearsals (3 or 4-member bands). The Oynx preamps and GigFX engine are serious improvements (over v1 and v2). They propel the V3 in a more awesome league. The best part is, the preamps might help you save – or at least stall – the expense of a DI box. Yup, that good.
Mackie mixing consoles are keepers that last for a long, long time. The FX12v3 has all the hallmarks of solid construction and high-quality components. You are likely to outgrow this unit before it shows any sign of wear.
The FX12v3 includes Waveform OEM, 23 plug-in bundle (Mackie Exclusive), and Pro Tools First software packages. But even without that, it’s one of the most reliable and affordable options for home recording studios.
The super-digital mixing console with Onyx pres and iPad docking.
- 16-channel Digital Mixer
- 8 balanced outputs
- Weight: 7.9 lbs
- 16 ONYX mic preamps
- iPad docking and companion app
The DL1608 is a super-digital mix console with 16-in and 10-out with Onyx mic preamps and a touch-based mixing screen. If you’re down with getting an iPad and a Wi-Fi router, you can put this compact and capable digital mixing console to great use. To hell with cables!
To start with, all the inputs can handle mic-level signals simultaneously thanks to the Onyx preamps. It also features 6 aux outs plus stereo and headphone outs. It also sports flexible effects such as reverb, compressor/limiter, and a full-sized 31-band graphic equalizer.
The Master Fader iPad companion app is well-designed without any bugs. The operation is smooth and the touch faders are large, responsive, and fairly precise. You can access the effects and dynamics through detailed and dedicated pages on the app. As for the iPad, you can dock any model to the mixer or use it without docking.
If you own an iPad, this combo marries technology with convenience. Moreover, it can eliminate the headaches of cables and routing. However, you do need to be fairly tech-savvy to get past the learning curve. The last thing you want is to be trawling tutorials for every little thing.
In conclusion, the Mackie DL1608L was intended for live sound and performers. Yet, it has all the features you may need in your home studio rig. The Onyx preamps, Cirrus Logic converters, and modest price tag make it a tempting option, especially if you also play live gigs.
A neat device with audio quality, routing flexibility, and flick-of-a-switch functionality.
- 12 channels (8 mono / 2 stereo)
- 14-in/14-out USB audio interface
- 5 customizable headphone outs
- 16 built-in effects
- Scene saving & 14-track simultaneous recording
Who doesn’t love the H4 recorder? Well, Zoom has expanded their flagship handheld recorder into the L-12 – an all-encompassing mixing console for home studios and live performances. It’s multi-use, compact, versatile, and modern. In a nutshell, Zoom delivers in style.
The uber-compact L-12 has12-channels, each with a 3-band parametric EQ and 16 send effects. That’s eight mono and two stereo channels, with a dedicated compressor for each mono. You can record 24-bit/96kHz audio to your DAW or the built-in SD card.
The L-12 features a headphone amp, USB connectivity, and five customizable monitoring outputs that can be saved for quick recall. It can double up as a 14-in/4-out audio interface to route inputs/outputs direct-to- DAW.
The overdub function, quick-punch overdub function, and Card Reader mode are some of its key tricks primed for music production. With flexible routing options, impressive preamps, and auto recording mode, the LiveTrak is a worthy tool for both hobbyists and experts.
The L-12 stands out because it’s a versatile one-stop device that can act as a live mixer, a quick recording device, and an audio interface. Props to Zoom for achieving that while still keeping the design simple and easy to navigate.
A 22-channel beast with a tour-grade build with top-shelf components.
- 12-channel mixer
- 24-in//22-out USB audio interface
- Sapphyre-inspired EQ
- ProMic preamps
- Onboard Lexicon Effects
Soundcraft’s Signature series mixer is an assemblage of the juicy tidbits from their rich heritage. The series features the regular 10, 12, 16, and 22 versions with 12 MTK and 22 MTK. MTK signifies that the mixer has a built-in playback interface and USB recording capabilities.
The 22 MTK, our premium pick, has 14 mono channels with XLR and TRS inputs. Four channels offer stereo, but can also be used as mono mic/line channels. 2 channels have standard TRS inputs and the last two have phono + USB ins.
The housing is rugged and the layout is intuitive. Input sections have an HPF (100Hz), USB return selector, faders, and LED to warn you about clipping. Its recording capabilities and sound quality are stellar. Just based on ease-of-use, it’s a highly desirable small-format mixer with a mid-level input count.
Soundcraft has used the low–noise ProMic preamps from the Soundcraft Ghost console, routing from the GB-series, and ‘British EQ’ from the Sapphyre consoles. All of those are top-notch resources. The preamps, in particular, sound rich and provide copious headroom.
Feeding wet signals or creating cascading effects is very simple with the MTK. The Lexicon digital effects processors have dedicated return channels and full output routing. Unfortunately, the lack of insert points means you’ll have to patch external effects.
Soundcraft Signature 22 MTK has as many goodies as you can cram for this price point. The good thing is, they are all top-shelf features that will charm you right out of the box. If are shopping in the under $1000 category, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better analog mixer with a multi-track USB interface.
How can you decide which of these mixers is the best for your home studio? I recommend making a simple list to narrow down your options. For instance, if you need something under $500, that will already eliminate a few options.
If you want an analog mixer or really killer preamps, that will further narrow down the choices. Once you find two or three units, the decision will seem a lot less daunting. Plus, it ensures that you don’t pay for features like connectivity or portability if you don’t ever plan to use them.
Here’s a small checklist to help you identify your needs:
- Digital or Analog with or without USB
- Signal paths (aka inputs on the mixer)
- FX engine or built-in effects
- Mic preamps
- Budget range
- Connectivity Options (USB, Bluetooth)
In an ideal world, we’d all be mixing over a premium console or a modded Yamaha. This post is for home studio owners and bedroom producers. I’ve intentionally sidestepped mixing consoles with high input channel models, especially the ones with four and five-digit price tags.
There are many options out there, but to my knowledge, these are the most accessible and well-regarded options in the current market. I hope they will lead you to a mixing console that can work in tandem with your needs and expertise.