If you are planning to mix music in your home recording studio or want to upgrade from your existing audio interface, you’ll want to get a home studio mixer.
When most beginners start out, they start with a standalone audio interface such as the Focusrite Scarlett Solo or the PreSonus Studio audio interface. These interfaces allow you to record microphones, instruments and send line-level signals to your computer where you can mix them on the DAW software.
However, if you want to mix your audio without having to constantly adjust the settings on your software control panel, then a studio mixer may be ideal for you. This is especially true if you are recording live music or podcasts, or doing multitrack recordings with a band, and don’t have the flexibility of constantly adjusting line-level inputs to your computer. A studio mixer simplifies all of that by giving you the option of adjusting things on the spot.
Audio interface vs studio mixer: Key differences explained
A studio mixer works just like an audio interface with one key difference – you get immediate hands on control over your music without having to pause your recording and adjust settings on your DAW.
Unlike an audio interface, the studio mixer gives you plenty of hands on controls for you to adjust the EQ settings or compression within each channel. Need to turn up the volume on your microphone channel? Just turn up the volume for that channel with a flip of a button. Need to adjust EQ or add compression? You can just do this directly on a studio mixer without loading up plugins or accessing your DAW. Need to add sound effects? Use the built-in sound effects on your mixer to do that.
Another key advantage is that a studio mixer often offers full multichannel audio recording, so you can easily multitrack with your band and adjust each individual sound source on the go.
In summary, the key advantage that a studio mixer gives you is convenience as you can mix each individual channel on the fly without having to do this on your computer or DAW software.
The Best Home Studio Mixers
Not every home recording studio will need a studio mixer. If you are recording solo, chances are that a standalone audio interface will suffice. However, if you are thinking of multitrack recording with a band and need the convenience of adjusting the sound inputs / outputs on the fly, then you should consider upgrading to a studio mixer.
1. Yamaha MG10XU 10 Input Audio Mixer
One of the most versatile audio mixers you can find on a budget…
The Yamaha MG10XU is a 10 channel mixer with USB and SPX digital effects with an easy to use interface. It’s one of the more versatile audio mixers you can find in the market with 10 channel inputs / outputs with 3-band equalizers on all mono channels for precise control.
This mixer is basically loaded with features – they have the balanced XLR outputs with gain controls for each mic, while channels 1 and 2 have compression if you have high impedance equipment or need to give your mic a boost.
It also features two stereo line in connections with both ¼” and RCA connectors, while the third line has a direct USB feed from a PC using the Yamaha Cubase driver at 24 bit/192kHz. The line in from the PC using USB has very little latency and virtually zero ground loop interference.
Furthermore, we liked that there is phantom power to all mic channels and 24 SPX effects that can be injected into each channel to mix your music powered by MG01 op-amps to each channel.
The MG10XU also features Yamaha’s SPX digital multi-effect processor which provides a suite of digital effects that can enhance your mix and add depth to your music.
It also features a 3 band EQ and high pass filters to give you maximum control to eliminate unwanted noise for a much cleaner mix.
The only issue that we had with the MG10XU is that it can get a little hot sometimes, but other than that is a great home studio mixer that delivers good value for money.
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2. Alesis MultiMix 4 Channel Compact Studio Mixer
One of the most portable home studio mixers available…
The Alesis MultiMix 4 is designed to be a portable with feature-packed mixer with 4 channels and1/4” line level inputs. It features one high impedance input for electric guitar and bass, and XLR connectors with 48V phantom power for your microphone.
This audio mixer connects to all your studio equipment with its stereo 1/4″ outputs and a headphone output with independent line level control. Each XLR microphone input also comes with gain trim and switchable high pass filters with dual-band EQ channels.
This home studio mixer comes with a complete USB recording audio interface which allows you to plug it into your Mac or PC without the need for software driver installation.
Furthermore, the MultiMix 4 USB FX comes with high-quality Alesis DSP effects that includes reverbs, delays, phasers and an effects processor that allows you to add extra depth to the sound.
All in all, the Alesis MultiMix 4 is a really good value for money home studio mixer that comes with many features including USB, microphone inputs, 2x stereo line-ins for keyboards and drums and a passive guitar line-in.
This mixer also comes with a range of sound effects including AKAI professional MPC beats to spice up your music recordings.
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3. Pyle Professional 4 Channel Studio Mixer
A compact affordable studio mixer that’s perfect for podcasting, recording or livestreaming…
The Pyle Professional Audio 4-channel studio mixer sets itself apart for its affordability and feature rich sound board console. This studio mixer features USB / flash reader compatibility which allows you to connect your external USB, computer PC, flash driver and Bluetooth device to mix and record. It has plenty of built-in controls to play/pause, skip tracks and switch between modes without you having to ever touch your DAW.
This studio mixer comes with multiple mic and stereo line inputs which supports XLR and unbalanced 1/4” plug. You can use phantom power with two mics with a +48V phantom power button, and also includes a neat 16-setting reverb FX option.
We liked that the studio mixer has a near zero-latency headphone output for easy monitoring. It also features an accurate LED peak level indicator and 3-band EQ on all channels with ultra-low noise.
The entire chassis features a sturdy build with removable/replaceable knobs, and versatile mic input connectors that allow you to connect either XLR or 6.35mm (1/4”) plugs.
Finally, the studio mixer is essentially plug and play and simple to set up. The USB interface with media control keys also allow for input and output from a PC simultaneously, and works well in combination with mixing software.
Although the Pyle Professional studio mixer comes with Bluetooth wireless streaming, it is recommended to use the line level inputs for better sound quality.
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4. G-Mark MR80S 8 Channel Professional Studio Mixer
An ideal option for home studio musicians who need up to 8 input channels…
The G-Mark MR80S is a really versatile multi-channel studio mixer suitable for those who are looking to record with a band or with multiple artists at home. This studio mixer comes with a 8 channel mono input with 48V of phantom power supply and each channel features 3 segment equalization.
This studio mixer has 7 mono and 1 stereo input, with auxiliary channel output and low noise at the monitor port for accurate monitoring. Each channel also supplies +48V of phantom power which makes it great for direct power condenser microphones. It provides balanced sound for microphone XLR inputs and balanced line TRS inputs.
We also liked the ability to connect the computer to the mixer via USB connection. The MR80S also comes with lyrics display and a 7-bit LED display. It features built-in analog effects with an LED display, or it can be connected to digital effects for other mixing options.
If you are looking for a really versatile studio mixer that can handle up to 8 channel inputs, the G-Mark MR80S will not disappoint. It has plenty of customization options and line level controls with plenty of gain customization and sound effect options.
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5. Soundcraft Notepad 12FX Studio Mixing Console
One of the better studio mixers designed for professional engineers…
The Soundcraft Notepad 12FX mixing console stands out for its pristine sound quality and 12-channel analog mixing console. This super versatile mixing comes with 5 input channels, one XLR 1/4″ combo, two RCA and two 1/4″ connectors that deliver really smooth audio quality.
Designed for songwriters and podcasters, the Notepad studio mixer provides a console layout that is familiar for audio professionals. It comes with a channel stripe layout that includes EQ, aux send, master fader level and rotary headphone volume controls.
One thing we noticed about the Soundcraft Notepad is how good the sound quality actually is. When playing audio from input channels, the music sounds pristine, clear and well-abalcned. The audio components in this studio mixer are top-notch.
Furthermore, the Notepad 12FX features studio-quality effects by Lexicon to give you the desired sound effects without having to use additional plug-ins and equipment. You can enhance your recordings with reverb, choros, or delay with tap tempo control. The on-board Lexicon effects sounded much better than we envisaged.
We also liked the USB audio interface which makes connecting to a PC or laptop seameless for recording and editing.
With that said, if you intend to run the Soundcraft Notepad through a PC, you’ll need to install ASIO Windows drivers which are not included together with the unit and need to be downloaded from the Soundcraft website.
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6. Yamaha MG06X 6-Input Studio Mixer
A smaller version of the Yamaha MG10XU…
The Yamaha MG06X is a 6-channel stand-alone mixer with onboard SPX digital effects and 48V phantom power to boost your microphone signal. It is equipped with the latest Class A D PRE amps with Darlington circuitry to provide flat, naturing sounding bass and smooth highs. It is essentially the perfect studio mixer if you are mixing alone or with one or two artists in your home studio.
We liked that the Yamaha MG06X allows you to shape your music and podcasts easily with a flip of a switch, and gives you control over the line-level inputs with 3 band EQ and high pass filters. It’s also equipped with 1 knob compressors that allow you to easily control live guitars and deliver punchier bass lines for a cleaner vocal sound.
We would say that the Yamaha GM06X is among the very best of budget studio mixers. It has true 48V phantom power for condenser mics and features a solid robust build with LED level metering.
Do note however that there are two versions of the MG06 – the MG06X with sound effects and the MG06 without sound effects. We would recommend getting the MG06X with sound effects as they are important for vocals and making the sound fit properly within your recording environment.
When we tested the studio mixer, we found the sound output very clean and it works great with Shure microphones with nice sound effects. You can also mix your vocals with music at a professional studio recording level with very organic output and natural sound, which is pretty impressive.
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7. StudioLive 16 USB 16×2 Performance Digital Audio Mixer
Designed for professional home recording studios…
The StudioLive 16 USB 16×2 digital audio mixer is a professional grade studio mixer that features a massive 16 channel inputs with 8 mono and 4 stereo channel inputs with 60mm faders. It comes with more advanced tech including 12 Class A XMAX solid state amplifiers for more phantom power, and 4 auxiliary buses and 2 internal FX buses. This studio mixer is equipped with 2 stereo 32-bit digital effects processors for stereo line inputs.
What we really liked about the StudioLive 16.0.2 USB mixer is that it provides plenty of DSP power with practically no limitations and no shared resources – each channel has dedicated power processing. It also features a unique flat channel which provides a compressor, limiter, expander and 3-band semi-parametric EQ on every bus and channel. The studio mixer also has a highpass filter on each channel with phase reverse for the channel mic preamps.
We seriously have nothing but good things to say about this studio mixer. It delivers pristine sound quality and also comes with Studio One software for digital sound processing – this DAW is easy to use and powerful.
There’s a stereo, 31-band graphic EQ on the main bus together with two 32-bit delay/reverb effects processors with its own dedicated mix bus. These mixers provide up to 48 kHz for high-definition mixing and recording and high-quality converters on every input and output to provide the best dynamic range without audio distortion.
We ran a couple of lines through this studio mixer and the quality of the playback and original live music coming into the PC via this mixer is extremely accurate. Once you adjust the levels set for the inputs on the recording devices, your music will sound just like it is being played live.
If you are looking a professional studio mixer that can deliver performance for your home studio, look no further.
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8. Rockville RPM1470 14 Channel Powered Mixer
A high-powered studio mixer with 14 channels, USB and effects…
The Rockville RPM1470 is a 14 channel mixer which includes 12 mono channels, 1 stereo channel and 14 high-quality XDR2 mic premaps with switchable +48V phantom power for condenser mics. These XDR2 mic preamps are built to deliver ultra-low noise and distortion, and are currently some of the best sounding mic preamps you can find in a studio mixer.
This studio mixer features a built-in USB which allow you to play songs from yoru computer or thumb drive, and comes with a built-in recording which allows you to record your main mix onto the USB or SD card. We also liked that this console comes with 24 bit digital effects processor with 16 preset digital effects including reverb, chorus, delay, phase, flinger and various other multi-effects to mix your music.
You can also adjust the effects of each output individually; it also features an effects mute button, FX footswitch to turn your effects on or off, and a 4-band EQ per channel.
As with most professional studio mixers, the Rockville RPM1470 supports gain, aux control, FX control, pan control and volume control for each individual channel. It also has a peak LED indicator that has a red LED that indicates a signal level below 5dB below clipping. With aux send and aux returns on every channel, you can connect all types of external effects and processors and control your mix through your headphones.
One thing we did notice is that the amp does not overheat even after hours of use. There’s also a dual 7-band master EQ, a 4-band EQ on each channel and pad and solo buttons on each channel.
We were very happy with the results and sound performance of this studio mixer. The sound feels clear and has a cool soundstage warmth and there are multiple limiters and output level LED indicators to prevent the channels from clipping.
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9. Tascam DP-24SD Digital Portastudio Recorder and Mixer
For those looking to build a professional home recording studio…
The Tascam DP-24SD is the perfect option if you are looking to go for a full professional studio mixer and studio recorder. This massive multi-track audio recorder is a 24-track workstation which allows eight tracks of simultaneous recording together with a built-in mixer that includes virtually everything you need for a professional sounding mix. The mixer also includes EQ and reverb to amp simultation and multi-band mastering effects. You can literally create finished music productions without the need for a computer with the DP-24SD.
The DP-24SD has a large, full color LCD display which displays tracks, meters and effects parameters. It also features a set of 12 encoders to control EQ, effect sends and panning. Other build-in effects also include compression, guitar amp modelling, delay, reverb and a total of 10 effects processors available during mixing.
Furthermore, the Tascam dP-24SD provides eight XLR mic/line inputs to provide phantom power for condenser mics, switchable in banks of four. One input also includes an instrument-level impedance switch for direct input recording of guitar or bass. There are also balanced monitor outputs and effect sounds on the rear. There’s also a USB output that allows tracks and mixers recorded on the SD card to be transferred to a computer.
Compared with other audio recorders and mixers, the DP-24SD offers a very intuitive interface. You can easily record your tracks, mix and master them on the go, or transfer them to a PC to master them.
If you want to create professional recordings that sound superior to computer recordings with full studio mixing capability, the Tascam DP-24SD is the perfect option for professional home studios.
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10. Mackie Mix series 8 Channel Compact Mixer
For artists looking for a compact 8 channel studio mixer for music production…
The Mackie Mix Series 8 is a 8-channel compact mixer with high-headroom, low-noise performance which makes it great for home music production. The entire mixer is designed to be portable and compact, and is perfect for straightforward sound recording with minimal input needs.
This studio mixer comes with 1 mic/line input with studio-level audio quality and a 2-abnd EQ with clean and precise tone shaping. It also comes with phantom power for studio condenser mics and features 2 stereo 1/4″ line inputs. It also features dedicated stereo RCA inputs and outputs for playback and recording with main L/R outputs. The Mackie Mix also has a headphone output with separate volume control for easy monitoring.
You should note that the Mackie Mix Series compact mixer is not a powered mixer and you will need an amp and powered speakers, as the Mackie does not come with a built-in amplifier. This console has phantom power (+48V) which is enough for condenser mic inputs. You can also use it together with a Bluetooth receiver to hook it up to studio monitors if required. The Mackie Mix Series features a 3-band EQ that makes it ideal for sound effects with FX controls.
With that said, the Mackie Mix Series can heat up after prolonged use, so it is advisable to place it on an elevate surface to provide some ‘breathing’ room for the heat to dissipate. This studio mixer also does not come with an on/off switch, so you have to disconnect the AC power from the back of the unit to turn it off.
While the Mackie Mix Series 8 channel mixer isn’t perfect, is has plenty of useful line inputs and mixing controls to make it a compact and portable studio mixer you can find on a budget.
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To learn more about how to set up your home recording studio and tutorials on setting up your audio interface, check out these posts: