In this post, we’d like to give you an overview of the best digital audio mixers in 2023. From small-format budget desks to full-blown consoles, digital mixers have long succeeded analogue ones.
With the ability to save, recall, and automate, today’s digital mixers are insanely powerful tools that replace the one-knob-per-function design of their predecessors with lots and lots of possibilities and, if desired, a small footprint. All modern digital audio consoles have superb sound quality and are easy to set up and operate. Latency is not an issue anymore and the era of analogue multicore cables is history.
Allen & Heath SQ5: Tradition – affordable and rack-able
Allen & Heath’s SQ5 is a feature-rich digital mixer for recording, FOH and monitoring. The 48-channel mixer can be rack-mounted with an optional mounting kit. With its bright 7“ touch screen and lots of dials and buttons, the SQ5 is very easy to use. 17 faders in six layers, assignable soft buttons and helpful illumination allow for a perfect overview and quick reaction. 16 XLR inputs come in handy when using the A&H SQ5 as a recording console or in smaller venues, but there is of course an SLink socket and an expansion card bay. The Allen & Heath is compatible with Dante, Waves and more – and it excels in
recording applications, too, as it’s also a 32×32 USB audio interface. Sound-wise, Allen & Heath is state-of-the-art: Great preamps, the “DEEP” plug-ins and a sampling rate of 96 kHz always ensure best results for any application. And in case you’d like to have more faders under direct control, the Allen & Heath SQ6 and SQ7 are what you are looking for.
Looking beyond the rigid channel concept: Behringer Wing
Despite its highly flexible routing possibilities and comprehensive set of features, the Behringer Wing is very easy to set up for a live show or a recording session. There is even an Automix option for leveling the preamp gain controls. Not only its 10“ touch screen, but also the well-arranged sections with lots of soft
buttons, additional meters and mini displays and of course the easy-to-use channel strip section on the top left make the Behringer Wing a sheer joy to work with. Still, it is necessary to be able to adapt to the needs of a job and tailor your tools to your individual preferences. This is where the custom control section comes into play.
The Behringer Wing is certainly no digital mixer that lacks connectivity to the outside world – it is quite the opposite. 8 Midas preamps and several other analogue inputs and outputs are supplemented by various digital connection options via expansion cards: Dante, Soundgrid and MADI. The network connection isn’t just for communication, but of course also for audio, be it stage boxes like the Behringer S16 or personal monitoring mixers like the Behringer Powerplay P16-M. Three AES 50 “SuperMac” orts allow for 144 inputs and 144 outputs over just three cables running up to 80 metres. And what’s under the hood is amazing! With 28 busses and ample routing options, nearly everything is possible. There are tons of effects, too, like 6-band EQs on the inputs, 8-band EQs on the outputs, as well as 8 premium and 8 standard effects engines. Dynamics are available almost everywhere, and emulations of Lexicon, t.c. electronic, EMT and Quantec processors are built-in! Last but not least, the Behringer Wing is also an audio interface with the stunning number of 48 inputs and 48 outputs.
Small one: Midas M32R Live
A digital audio mixing console loved by many is the Midas M32R Live. In contrast to the larger M32 Live, it is the perfect match for you, if you’re on the lookout for a smaller, straightforward digital mixer. With 16 Midas preamps right on its back and under direct fader control, the M32R Live is great for smaller venues and conferences. But that doesn’t mean that it lacks in the feature department: The M32R Live connects to many sources and destinations, for example via its two AES50-ports and an Ultranet-socket. And like other professional consoles, it features a built-in audio interface (32×32) and many more amenities.
A mixing console that does not look like one: Behringer X32 Rack
Consoles can of course be remote-controlled. The Behringer X32 Rack is a grown-up professional digital audio console that does not really resemble a mixing “desk”. It is a 19″/3U box without even a single fader. Still, it is a mighty tool with 32 channels, 16 mic preamps, and plenty of processing power for routing and effects. It also offers an AES50 pair, doubles as a 32×32 audio interface, and much more. The X32 Rack can be controlled either via its touch screen and easy-to-use buttons and dials or remotely from a tablet or computer. The Behringer X32 Rack means: Towering features for a small price.
Studio and live: Presonus StudioLive 32SC
Especially when working in AVB network environments, the Presonus StudioLive 32SC is an excellent choice. Users love it for its “Fat Channel” and especially the “vintage” effects. 32 channels, 26 (!) busses, 32 track onboard SD recording and a built-in 64×64 (!) audio interface make the Presonus StudioLive 32SC a powerful digital mixer not just for live and studio applications. Presonus StudioLive consoles are available in several sizes to suit all applications.
Tiny Tool: Soundcraft Ui12
This is one of the smallest digital mixers available – and one of the most budget-friendly. You will need a WiFi-capable or LAN-connected device to control the Soundcraft Ui12, and it’s probably not the best choice for mixing a full band on a big stage. But with 8 mic preamps, 4 additional inputs, lots of routing options and effects, RTA and built-in feedback suppression, this tiny tool is the perfect companion for many jobs where a huge console is not needed.
Your Feedback – digital mixers 2023
Which mixer do you need to suit your needs? Let us know in the comments!
> The X32 Rack can be controlled either via its touch screen and easy-to-use buttons and dials or remotely from a tablet or computer
But X32 Rack does not have touch screen!