"Designed, assembled and tested in the USA", Eventide Mixing Link Mic Preamp (ML) is a unique device. Although other units on the market cover the single functionalities offered by the ML, the ML manages to concentrate all of them in a simple to use, very compact box.
I'm sure I forgot something but the ML can work as:
- DI - microphone amplifier (with 48V phantom power) - signal splitter - mixer - stereo headphone amplifier - iPad/iPhone interface - Effect loop controlled (for instrument and microphone)
From the construction viewpoint, the ML uses an unusual approach. The enclosure itself appears to be a classical die-cast aluminium box similar to the type used in the majority of pedals. However, instead of printing the top of the enclosure with the unit's graphics, Eventide printed the indications on a separate piece of plastic around 3mm thick that was subsequently attached to the enclosure. The result is a very professional looking unit with the numerous labels clearly visible.
The send and return connections of the effect loop are placed under the main input and output (i.e. closer to the south side of the pedal). It is an unusual choice especially for live usage where the loop control should be close the performer. It's not a deal breaker but I would have liked to see them closer to the north side of the unit.
The sound is excellent - in line with the well-deserved reputation that Eventide has worldwide. I couldn't hear any noise or distortion. The frequency response is as flat as it is rarely the case with stomp boxes. With the "inst. input" and "to amp output" I could only notice a gentle roll off that leads to -0.5dB at 7Hz. For the non-technically minded, it is an exceptionally good frequency response. Bass guitar players will appreciate the transparency at the low frequencies.
The headphone amplifier works very well. The sound is consistently defined regardless the volume level and input signal. The frequency response is flat as the amp output. Any roll-off is well outside the audible range and the range of usual amplification systems.
The DI functionality works very well. As for the other input/output the sound is clean, linear without any coloration or distortion.
The microphone preamplifier is very transparent. I tested it with a Rode studio condenser microphone and the result was excellent. The ML microphone preamplifier is not the type of preamplifiers that add the unfathomable colour that (allegedly) only some super-expensive high-end preamplifiers are capable of. The ML does not add or take away anything - and I think it is a good thing.
The unit operates can operate with batteries but in this case you cannot use the +48V phantom power. The phantom power coming from an external device to the DI/Line out does not power the unit.
For the the +48V phantom power, the ML needs to be powered by an external 9V-DC, 2.1mm centre negative power source. In other words, any good quality guitar pedal would do the trick.
The unit I received had a 9V-DC power supply unit. Although it is nice that Eventide thought about it, in these days the vast majority of musicians already have a standard 9V-DC power supply unit. Adding a power supply unit means increasing the cost, more pollution and ultimately something that a very few people need. I would have liked a few EUR/$/£ less on the price and no power supply unit.
Overall, the ML is a great unit that I'm sure many musicians will find useful and that it will quickly find its place in their set up.
I recommend also the ML to all the musicians that don't need a mic preamplifier, a DI or any other of the ML functions often but they need a tool that can cover all them when it's required.
I'm using the mixing link as the input stage for a pedal board so I can use the same setup (pedal board, kemper profiler direct to recording interface or PA) for my bass, electric guitars, sax and 'cello. It give me the option to switch instruments by simply plugging into either the mic input or the 'inst in'.
I have pedals set up in the mixing link's effects loop where I'm likely to want to control the wet / dry mix globally, so an EHX sitar pedal and I'm planning to put the organ simulator in there as well, the knob on the mixing link then allows me to dial in the amount of effect before sending the signal into the Kemper for further processing.
In use the preamp stage is effectively noiseless, to the extent that I'm entirely happy running everything through it even in cases where I could plug directly into the profiler - there's absolutely no appreciable difference. I'm using the exact same setup for recording in my home studio and playing small gigs with my band where I run directly into the PA from the Kemper.
The Mixing Link is one of those pieces of kit that you probably aren't going to get all that excited over, but I very much appreciate how it sits in the corner of my pedal board and allows me to plug pretty much any instrument (or vocalist, although we've not tried this) into a set of perfectly normal pedals. It's saved me from carrying a lot of other things, or from having to rip up and re-lay my pedal board when I do a gig on the 'cello rather than bass, or when I'm using it for my sax. It's probably not the use originally intended by the designers, but it's perfect for my requirements.
I've deducted one star from the handling and feature set because I'd have really liked a detent in the gain dial, or preferably a dedicated switch, to set unity gain or entirely bypass the built in pre-amp when using the 'inst in' input. The pedals in the effects loop already expect a guitar level input, and my guitar produces one so it would be nice to be able to tell the mixing link that it didn't need to change levels. A unity gain would be ideal, as you'd still get the buffering effect of the preamp but without having to fiddle around and work it out. I've resolved the problem by sticking a bit of tape on and marking where unity is, but some indication built into the device would have been better. It gets five stars overall though because it's just so useful in my particular case.
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