Adding a mixer to your home studio might give you the control you want over every frequency and sound you use. Mixers offer a host of features that you can apply to individual tracks and mixes to create a professional-sounding song.
Mixers can be quite the financial investment, though. Many top-notch quality mixers are worth hundreds—sometimes thousands—of dollars.
This sometimes leads many aspiring and even professional producers to turn to Digital Audio Workstations, which are considerably cheaper.
That being said, this article’s purpose is to show you everything a mixer has to offer as well as run through some of the best mixers for home studios, so stay put.
What Are Mixers for Home Studio?
Mixers are audio-mixing devices that allow you to input audio from various sources and combine them into one unified output signal.
Generally speaking, the audio sources can be as many as the available channels in the mixer. For example, if you have two microphones, a bass, and an acoustic guitar, the mixer receives the audio from each source through its channels and simply mixes them together.
An audio mixer enables you to:
- Adjust the volume of each channel separately or all together.
- Balance the audio so that the different audio sources produce a good-sounding mix.
The Best Home Studio Mixers
There’s a multitude of home studio mixers on the market, which can make it hard to pick one. To simplify your selection process, here are the four top-recommended home studio mixers:
- Portable, Feature-Packed Mixing Desk - 8-channel mixer with 1/4" line level inputs, a high impedance input / switch for electric guitar and bass (DI), plus XLR inputs with 48V phantom power
- Ready for Any Situation – Separate 1/4" main and monitor outputs connect to PA speakers, active monitors, amplifiers and recording devices; headphone output with independent level control
- Recording Essentials – XLR inputs with gain trim and switchable high-pass filters; channel EQs with sweepable Mid (Ch 1 and 2 only); Multicolor LED metering for real-time level feedback
- Built in Studio Effects - 15 DSP effects with channel FX Sends (pre and post EQ) and Master FX return level
- Perfect Capture – Class compliant (Mac & PC) USB audio interface records at 16-bit, 44.1/48 kHz resolution and sends computer audio to powered loudspeakers and headphones
- 25-total-bus Digital Mixer with 16 Programmable Mic Preamps
- 5" Col TFT - Rackmountable
- 17 Motized Faders
- Virtual FX Rack
- The compact ZED range of mixers feature the same high-level audio and build quality as A&H’s large format touring consoles, with separate internal channel boards, Neutrik connectors and every pot fixed to the chassis.
- GS-Pre XLR microphone preamps, developed from those featured in the highly acclaimed GS-R24 studio console, these provide exceptionally low noise, massive headroom and plenty of clean gain for a full, warm sound that brings the best out of any microphone. Two HiZ connections also allow direct connection of high impedance sources such as electric, electro-acoustic or bass guitars and most clip or stick-on pickups for acoustic instruments, without the need for a separate DI box.
- A 100Hz High Pass Filter on every mono input allows unneeded low frequencies to be removed, then the 3-band MusiQ EQ uses carefully selected frequencies to ensure your sound sculpting is always musical. Cut or boost high, mids and lows to get the tone you’re after without the fear of going wrong!
- A built-in, studio quality multi-FX unit provides 61 different, tweakable FX types including reverbs, delays and modulation with tap tempo to keep everything in time. These are not your average compact mixer FX either, using algorithms developed entirely in-house by our DSP experts and derived from those found in our flagship digital consoles.
- A built-in, high quality, 96kHz 4x4 USB interface makes it easy to capture or stream the whole mix or individual channels with ease. With options to route Aux and FX sends it can even be used to add FX and processing from a computer. It’s also class compliant and does not require drivers, meaning not just Mac and Windows computers can be connected, but also many mobile devices such as tablets or even smart phones.
- USB/FLASH READER/MP3 COMPATIBILITY - Connect your external USB, computer PC, flash drive or Bluetooth device to mix and record. Use the built-in controls to play/pause, skip tracks and switch between modes.
- BLUETOOTH WIRELESS STREAMING - Hassle and cable-free audio streaming ability directly to the console unit. This audio mixer can wirelessly stream music tunes from iPad, iPhone and Android Smart Phone with mixing board from Pandora or Spotify.
- MIC AND STEREO LINE INPUTS - Supporting XLR and unbalanced 1/4" Plug with plus 48V Phantom button, highly accurate LED Peak Level Indicator and Ultra-musical 3-band EQ on all channels. Ultra-low noise, high headroom mixer with super easy functionality.
- RUGGED STEEL CHASSIS - With sealed rotary controls to resist dust and grime, this compact DJ Mixer will provide total dynamic control. This incredibly versatile mixer is great for high quality on stage performance, live gigs and Karaoke.
- NEW MULTI-VOLTAGE POWER SUPPLY - 100V-240V (plus/minus 15V DC power adapter) ideal for worldwide usage. Enjoy a value packed mixing solution today with performances that sound great each time.
- USB/Flash Reader /MP3 Compatibility : Connect your external USB, computer PC, flash drive or Bluetooth device to Mix & record; Use the built in controls to play/pause, skip tracks and switch between modes
- Bluetooth Wireless Music Streaming : Hassle and cable free audio streaming ability directly to the console unit; Mix your iPad, iPhone, Android smart phone to your DJ session; This audio mixer makes it a breeze to wirelessly stream all your favorite music tunes to the mixing board easily from Pandora or Spotify
- MIC plus Sterero Line Inputs : Supporting XLR and unbalanced 1/4" plug with plus 48V phantom buttons, highly accurate LED peak level indicator and ultra musical 3 band EQ on all channels; Ultra low noise, high headroom mixer with super easy functionality for professional vocal and instrumental sound
- Rugged Steel Chassis: With sealed rotary controls to resist dust and grime, this compact DJ mixer will provide total dynamic control for the ultimate in punch and clarity; This incredibly versatile mixer is great for high quality on stage performance, live gigs, and Karaoke; Effortlessly achieve premium quality crystal clear studio level quality musical playback
- New Multi Voltage Power Supply : 100V 240V (plus/ 15V DC Power adapter) ideal for worldwide usage; Enjoy a value packed mixing solution today with performances that sound great each time
- USB/FLASH READER/MP3 COMPATIBILITY - Connect your external USB, computer PC, flash drive or Bluetooth device to mix & record Use the built-in controls to play/pause, skip tracks and switch between modes
- BLUETOOTH WIRELESS STREAMING - Hassle and cable-free audio streaming ability directly to the console unit This audio mixer can wirelessly stream music tunes from iPad, iPhone and Android Smart Phone with mixing board from Pandora or Spotify
- MIC AND STEREO LINE INPUTS - Supporting XLR and unbalanced 1/4" Plug with +48V Phantom button, highly accurate LED Peak Level Indicator and Ultra-musical 3-band EQ on all channels ultra-low noise, high headroom mixer with super easy functionality
- RUGGED STEEL CHASSIS - With sealed rotary controls to resist dust and grime, this compact DJ Mixer will provide total dynamic control This incredibly versatile mixer is great for high quality on stage performance, live gigs and Karaoke
- NEW MULTI-VOLTAGE POWER SUPPLY - 100V-240V (+/-15V DC power adapter) ideal for worldwide usage. Enjoy a value packed mixing solution today with performances that sound great each time
Features to Consider When Looking for a Home Studio Mixer
There are various features in a home studio mixer that you should consider when in the market for one. These features include:
Types of Home Studio Mixers
There are two types of mixers for home studios. Each is widely different from the other but excellent at what it does. This could be why both beginners and experts have differing opinions on which to use.
Although digital mixers are relatively new, they’re the more popular type of mixers. You can find them more common in professional studios.
Pros of Digital Mixers
- Digital mixers allow you to connect several devices simultaneously. This is beneficial if you’re looking to mix multiple hardware instruments.
- You can pre-program digital mixers ahead of recording time, which helps you reduce actual recording time.
- Because digital mixers process digital information, they cancel out any distortion or white noise.
Cons of Digital Mixers
- These added features end up making digital mixers much more expensive than analog mixers. The more features a digital mixer has, the pricier it can get.
- Adjusting digital mixers to produce high-quality audio can consume time and energy.
Analog mixers have been around longer than digital mixers. They’re much simpler and old-fashioned, but that doesn’t make them any less beneficial to those who use them.
Pros of Analog Mixers
- Analog mixers can be suitable for beginners because these mixers tend to have much fewer buttons and features. They are designed simply to be efficient and fast.
- If you’re on a budget, analog mixers can be quite affordable since they have fewer customized features.
Cons of Analog Mixers
- The more affordable options of analog mixers have limited external-device connections.
- Although some people don’t see this as a con, analog mixers don’t cancel out white noise, which can cause the audio to sound slightly colored.
Every audio mixer has a number of channels that create signals to pass to the mixer’s buses. The more channels a mixer has, the more audio sources you can connect and route through it.
The channels of an audio mixer can range from two to 96. So, the number of channels you need is one thing that you should consider when purchasing a mixer.
A quick round-up of your hardware instruments, as well as any possible future additions, should give you a relative idea of the number of channels you need.
Each channel in a mixer has its own set of controls for each sound input. This is called a channel strip.
The set of controls can include an equalizer, a fader, a pan control, and a compression. As a result, a channel strip allows you to directly record into any device without having to use a mixing interface.
Usually abbreviated to I/O, the inputs and outputs are where the mixer receives signals from input sources and routes them to output devices.
While some mixers have basic low- and high-frequency adjustments, many come with an equalizer. This gives you the ability to shape and direct sound, by amplifying or reducing it.
Generally, the multiple sound inputs to the mixer may not come out perfect for immediate usage. The numerous instruments and vocals can sometimes create feedback problems. That’s where equalizers come in handy.
Most mixers use parametric equalizers equipped on each channel. Through the equalizer, you’ll be able to adjust the volume of each frequency band to highlight the best of the sound inputs and reduce any unwanted noise.
Onboard Effects Processor
One feature that makes some mixers more appealing than others is their onboard effects processors.
An onboard effects processor saves you the money and space of external tone-tweaking hardware. In most mixers, the onboard effects processors can be found in every channel.
In addition, the more processors a mixer has, the less money you’ll have to spend on outboard processing gear.
Why Buy a Mixer for Home Studio?
A mixer is an excellent addition to any home studio for a variety of reasons. To begin with, most mixers allow you to mix and layer without having to boot up a computer or a particular software to play sounds.
Moreover, mixers come with multiple channel strips that include features, like equalizers and faders. They can also have various effects, like reverb and delay. These features and effects can be applied to the individual tracks, giving you full control over your mixing.
Another added benefit is that mixers have gain staging, one of the most crucial processes in mixing. In this process, you can boost or reduce input signals, which allows you to produce tracks that are clean and loud.
A mixer for your home studio will allow you to take mixing matters into your own hands, quite literally. You’ll be able to amplify and reduce the best and worst of individual tracks. In addition, you’ll be able to mix them and balance them to create a professional-sounding result.
You can choose between a digital or an analog mixer. Digital mixers have more connection ports, allowing you to connect numerous devices at the same time. Analog mixers are simple and affordable, which makes them great for starting out.
The best mixer for home studio use, according to the data we’ve accumulated, is the Allen & Heath ZEDi 10FX. It’s a sturdy, compact, high-quality analog mixer that features an integrated USB interface. It’s a perfect all-rounder for aspiring producers and artists.