The first thing you’ll notice about this mixer is it’s form factor. It’s the flattest mixer I’ve seen. A weird quality to highlight but it does catch your attention. It has a very low profile which could be good or bad depending on your setup. But it’s very light and could easily be stuffed into a bag for easy transport.
The Mackie Mix8 is light because it’s encased in plastic and aluminum. While I prefer the build quality of the Mackie 402VLZ4 (steel), the Mix8 is built well and should withstand the rigors of travel and certainly should hold up over time, on your desk.
Why This Mixer?
The primary reason for testing the Mix8 was because it’s a Mackie with an aux send for less than one hundred dollars.
Audio recorded with the Mix8.
Being a step down from the VLZ line, the Mix series has Mackie’s generic preamp. Generic in the sense that it’s not branded like the Onyx preamps and from what I can tell it’s Mackie’s base level preamp. However, quality is not sacrificed.
Mackie is known for making quality gear and even this lowest level mixer produces clean gain at max level. While the Onyx preamp gives you +60db of possible gain, the Mix8 preamp provides+50db of possible gain.
Key for podcasters looking to setup a mix-minus to record Skype interviews, is the Mix8’s aux send channel.
The Mix8 has one aux send channel to allow you to setup a single mix-minus. The only reason I would buy this mixer instead of the 402VLZ4 is if I needed to perform a mix-minus. If you simply need to connect to Skype and plan to use call recording software for Skype then you don’t need a mix-minus setup.
However, if you want to then send the audio to some recording software or connect an audio recorder to your mixer for a backup recording (recommended) then you’ll want that aux channel for the ability to control which audio the person on Skype can hear and more importantly which audio they can’t hear…themselves.
The Mix8 is an all analog mixer meaning it has no USB output or internal FX. In order to take audio from the mixer to your computer, you’ll need to get the appropriate cables and/or an analog to digital converter like the iMic.
The only downsides of the Mix8, for me, are the lack of an on/off button, limited LED audio meters, and a weaker preamp.
With no on/off switch you have to plug and unplug the mixer to power on and off. Not a big deal especially if you plug it into master switch that would give you the same control but it is an inconvenience.
The LED audio meters are sufficient for setting and monitoring levels but with only four LEDs it’s hard to tell exactly where your peak level sits at any given time. Again not a big deal but it’s nice to have a much more granular view of your levels like the one you get on the 402VLZ4 with double the LEDs.
And finally, shaving 10db of gain off the preamp seems like it would make a significant difference but I didn’t notice the drop in available gain as much as I thought I would. Again, I was able to power my microphones to a good level for recording and the preamps did so even being at their maximum gain.
Of course being at max gain means that you need to have a quiet enough space to record in or else your mic will pick up most of the background sounds.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the Mackie Mix8. At the price point, with the addition of an aux send and a better build quality than the Behringer, I thought this mixer might not be a strong contender, but it was. I would definitely recommend this mixer if you are on a sub $100 budget, need an aux send and are a fan of Mackie’s build quality.
In terms of the mixer shootout, three of the four mixers made the cut. The Mix8, the Q802USB and the 402VLZ4. For overall quality, the 402VLZ4 was my favorite but if you need an aux send the Q802USB and Mix8 are your two options for less than $100.
These two mixers are a pretty close tie but if you also wanted a USB output the Q802USB would be your only option. I’d tend to favor the Mix8 over the Q802USB for its build quality but you get so much from the 802 that it’s really a coin toss for which is better.
The key to your decision will be what is better for your setup? Regardless of which one you chose you’ll be getting a quality product.
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