A very common yet reasonable question to ask yourself is whether you should buy an Audio Interface or a Mixer for your home studio, but you could certainly do both, so why not just buy a Mixer with an integrated Audio Interface?
In this post I will go over 8 Mixers that have an integrated Audio Interface which will allow you, not only to use them for live performances, but also to do multitrack recordings in your home studio. Some of them can even record on to an SD card.
This combination of equipment isn’t that cheap, so when I say affordable, I’m talking about $250 and up, but you are getting two for one for a still very reasonable price.
Table of Contents
- Soundcraft Signature MTK
- Zoom LiveTrak L-12
- Presonus Studiolive AR
- Zoom R16
- Behringer XR18
- Behringer X32
- Tascam Model 24
- Allen & Heath ZEDi 10FX
Read also: Best Home Studio Mixers; Analog & Digital.
Let’s get right into the first one on this list…
1. Soundcraft Signature MTK 12 and 22 Series
The Signature MTK 12 and 22 series from Soundcraft are analog mixers which also come with onboard effects and USB multi-track recording and playback. They both allow for 12 or 22 multi-track recording respectively.
It is important to make the distinction between the MTK series and the regular ones;
Both can be connected to the PC via USB but the regular ones only offer two channels for stereo recording and supports 24-bit/192kHz resolution, while the MTK ones offer 12 or 22 Multi-track recording but at a reduced 24-bit/48kHz sample rate.
The MTK series are fantastic for anyone who is building a home studio and wants a good Mixer with loads of inputs and options.
They have the Ghost preamps, which are the ones featured on their Ghost Consoles which are the top of the line. They are of extremely good quality giving you a lot of headroom, wide dynamic range and good signal to noise ratio.
These preamps also come with a Sapphyre Asymmetric EQ, which has two separate mid-bands, allowing you to EQ everything thoroughly.
This Mixer’s interface will also allow you to use the plugins on your DAW for actual live performances in real time as well as for studio monitoring without any latency at all.
They come loaded with studio-quality effects from Lexicon like Reverb, Delay, Chorus, Modulation and other effects and dbx limiters on the input channels.
One would think that these effects are not that good and just here to add something to this mixing desk, but not only do they sound great…
Even better than some commercial plugins, but they are also extremely easy to set with just a pair of parameter knobs.
The consoles have XLR and switchable Hi-Z inputs that enable guitars, basses and other instruments to be directly connected.
The quality of the faders is extremely good, they are really smooth, responsive and accurate.
You get a 48v Phantom Power control, which is global, and also a High-Pass filter (for all mono inputs).
The channel strips have a total of 16 mono and 4 stereo channels, 2 effect busses, 4 group busses and a master fader.
- Free downloads of the Lexicon MPXL native plug-in and Ableton Live 9 Lite.
The Soundcraft Signature MTK 12 and 22 Series (link to Amazon) are simple and easy to use, the recording quality is extremely good and they will serve you well either for live performances or for your home studio, they are my top recommendations for this list.
The great thing is that it’s affordable, most gigging bands can afford one or even a musician who is recording at home and needs a step up in quality and channel count from his regular audio interface.
If you find that buying a mixing board like this one is either too expensive or simply too much for what you actually need, you can always read this article I wrote on the best Audio Interfaces under $300 which offer great recording quality at an affordable price!
2. Zoom LiveTrak L-12
The Zoom LiveTrak L-12 will allow you to record up to fourteen individual tracks to your DAW or to an SD card.
The first 8 tracks have XLR inputs, one and two having a Hi-Z instrument level input while the remaining six have pads, which allow you to reduce the incoming level by 26dB.
The final two channels are stereo inputs which can be on ¼” TRS jacks or RCA connectors.
There are fourteen tracks being recorded because you get the 12 inputs as well as the master output, which is stereo.
The L-12 can also be used to overdub additional parts either in your DAW or internally. The maximum recording quality of this mixer is 24-bit/96kHz.
This one is different from the other ones on this list because it provides 5 headphone outputs and you can create different mixes for each one of them. Each of these outputs has individual volume control also.
Each of the mono inputs (channels 1-8) include a one knob compressor and a 3-band EQ with sweepable mids. You can choose from a variety of effects to add to the tracks while also being able to add a Low-cut. Every channel also has a pan control.
Each channel strip can operate in three different modes; In Audio Interface mode the L-12 transforms into a 14-in/4-out USB interface for your device with flexible routing options.
In USB mode, you can transfer projects and files to a connected drive.
Card Reader mode allows you to transfer files to and from your computer.
The L-12 has the auto record function, which will basically start recording as soon as it detects a certain dB level.
The Zoom LiveTrak L-12 (link to Amazon) is an extremely versatile mixer/interface/recorder.
There’s also a bigger version which supports up to 20 channels. Here’s the Link to the Zoom LiveTrak L-20.
It does everything you need it to do, be it recording a live band, rehearsals, or even just for doing some solo home recording, this mixer will do everything while still being very easy to use and intuitive.
Another option would be to go for one of these two Audio Interfaces which are affordable and have a decent amount of inputs.
3. Presonus Studiolive AR
The StudioLive AR mixers by Presonus offer you a wide selection of mixing desks which range from 8 tracks all the way up to 22. They can do Multi-track recording, sending every Input to your DAW plus the Main mix channels.
These mixers have a nice feature that they call the “super channel” which basically gives you all the inputs on one channel that you could possibly need, RCA (for CD and DVD players), a 1/8” mini jack (For plugging in your phone or anything else you’d like) and even Bluetooth to pair the mixer with your phone.
This comes in handy if you are rehearsing with your band and you want to play the song you are practicing at the same time or if you need to play some music during the breaks.
One extra benefit that the Presonus StudioLive Mixers have is that they can record directly on to an SD card. This is great for live performances, plus you can also playback from the SD card.
Channels 1 and 2 have high-impedance inputs for instruments, this will allow you to connect a guitar or a bass directly on to the board.
The Presonus Studiolive AR mixers provide you with 16 high-quality effects, which include reverb (room, hall and plate), chorus, delay, etc. You can also bypass all of these effects by using a footswitch, which is optional.
All of them, except the smallest one which is the 8-channel mixer, use faders. These are really responsive and feel great! The 8-channel mixer uses knobs to control the volume, these are of great quality but I personally enjoy faders a lot more!
All of these Mixers can record up to 24-bit/96kHz and you also get a 48v Phantom Power control switch which enables it globally.
- Studio One artist Edition (Presonus DAW) and Studio Magic Plug-in Suite for Mac and Windows, which includes seven Plug-ins in VST, AU and AAX formats.
The presonus StudioLive AR mixers are the most versatile ones out there, the 22-track one sells for almost the same price as the Soundcraft Signature MTK22 Series but has a lot of added bonuses.
These mixers I would definitely recommend, especially the StudioLive AR16 and StudioLive AR22 since they will give you a good amount of inputs, plus they are the kind of equipment that you buy once and probably won’t have the need to upgrade from ever again!
Links to Amazon for each model:
- StudioLive AR8 (8 Channel)
- StudioLive AR12 (12 Channel)
- StudioLive AR16 (16 Channel)
- StudioLive AR22 (22 Channel)
Related: I’ve put together a list of some amazing Wireless Mixers which you should definitely check out!
4. Zoom R16
This Mixer is a standalone multi-track recorder and a 2.0 USB computer audio interface as well as a battery powered field recorder.
The first thing that stands out is its size, it’s very compact, thin and light.
You can record a full live band and overdub up to 16 tracks, without ever touching a computer.
Or, you could record ambient sound and use it for a slide show if you’re a photographer, or it can even be really useful for film-making since you can record voice overs.
It features built-in condenser microphones as well as inputs for 8 external microphones and it can record up to 24-bit/96kHz audio quality!
The quality of the preamps is really high and they are actually very quiet.
This isn’t your traditional mixing board from what you can see, it packs a lot of extra features like 135 Built-in effects such as guitar amp modeling to even mastering effects.
These effects can only be used in standalone mode, or when recording on-to the PC.
The reverb, delay, chorus and flange are amazing. The EQ, while being very basic, still does its job and the amp modeling is really fun and sounds pretty good also.
The Zoom R16 also provides a chromatic tuner and metronome.
One cool benefit it has is that it can be used to control the DAW, instead of using your mouse to increase or lower the volumes of the tracks, you can simply use the faders on the R16 and this will adjust it in your PC.
One issue though, which is quite a big deal actually, is that only channels five and six can provide phantom power for condenser microphones.
Channel one has a hi-Z instrument-level switch, which allows you to directly connect a guitar or bass.
- Cubase LE
The Zoom R16 (link to Amazon) is really versatile and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone in need of something portable that can be battery powered as well, should you need to record on the road, in a bar, etc.
A huge plus about the Zoom R16 is that the volume fader in the DAW can be controlled with the faders of the R16 which I love.
5. Behringer XR18
The Behringer XR18 is a digital mixer which features a 18-in/18-out USB audio interface.
It’s a completely different mixer than the other ones on this list for the simple fact that it doesn’t provide any channel strips or analog controls.
The way it works is via Wi-Fi by connecting it to a device like an iPad, Android Tablet, Laptop, etc. through the X-Air App.
This app works almost like a DAW and comes included with loads of effects.
It even has an Auto-Mix feature which can manage fully automated mixes with up to 16 live microphones…
This feature is not really intended for mixing live music, but rather conferences.
16 of the inputs are XLR/TRS combo Jacks which feature their famous MIDAS preamps, and an additional two line inputs, as well as MIDI I/O.
The quality of these preamps is actually pretty good, providing you with an excellent signal-to-noise ratio and good headroom.
It also comes with 6 aux outputs which can be used to create headphone mixes, or for live monitoring, as well as a headphone output.
Lastly, it comes with the “Ultranet” port which connects to the Behringer’s P16 monitor distribution system and allows every musician to create their own headphone mix or their own monitor mix on stage.
When it comes to cost-efficiency, the Behringer XR18 is one of the best ones…
It super affordable and it can be used from a distance, which is excellent for live performances since you won’t have to deal with loads of cables.
Here’s a link to Amazon where you can check the price and read the reviews of the Behringer X-Air XR18.
6. Behringer X32
The Behringer X32 is a 40-input compact mixer that features a 32X32 Audio Interface, meaning that you can record 32 separate tracks on/to your DAW.
This mixer comes with the MIDAS preamps, which are Behringer’s award-winning preamps that sound pretty damn good.
One cool little pro about this mixer is that it features an already built-in talk-back mic. You can, however, use an external one for this.
With the number of ins and outs that this mixer has, you shouldn’t run into any troubles, but if you need more then you can simply use the expansion slot for an additional 32×32.
As far as effects go, it comes with eight true-stereo (16 mono) multi-effects processors including delay, reverb, and all the traditional ones, as well as a 31-band graphic EQ.
Additionally, it has the Auto Mix function which enables automatic gain sharing, providing increased gain to your main speakers while ducking open mics.
It’s also possible to control the volume, panning, EQ and effects via Ethernet or Wi-Fi by using a dedicated app, making this mixer very desirable for live settings since you don’t need to always be right beside it; you can simply walk around the venue and tune everything from a distance with your tablet or iPad.
Now, this one is a bit more expensive than all the mixers I’ve listed so far, but it has loads of ins and outs, and you can control it wirelessly, which is a clear pro.
- Tracktion 4
If you absolutely need a super versatile console, then the Behringer X32 might be the right one; However, in most cases I would recommend one of the first 3 I listed on this post.
7. Tascam Model 24
The Tascam Model 24 has a very unique design and despite having been released on 2018, it has a retro look.
The Tascam Model 24 can record up to 22 simultaneous tracks plus a stereo main mix at 24-bit/48kHz and on the first 16 channels you get XLR inputs with high-quality Tascam preamps in addition to multiple sets of stereo line inputs.
On the first two channels you also get an Instrument/Line-in jack with the ability to switch between them with the press of a button. Also, those two channels have an extra insert on the front.
It can record either to your DAW or to an SD card. It also allows for immediate playback of the tracks you recorded on to the SD card.
Just like the Presonus StudioLive AR ones, the Tascam Model 24 comes with RCA, minijack and Bluetooth connectivity for streaming Audio.
This mixer also provides 16 built-in effects such as Reverb, Chorus, Delay, Flange, etc.
The Phantom Power can be supplied globally, sadly not individually, but this shouldn’t be that much of an issue.
It also has the Routing Mode selector, which is common to all channels. This allows for input assignment of your choice, the live incoming signal, the return from a DAW channel or the return from the internal multitrack recorder to each channel for EQ, processing, etc.
This enables you to overdub in the studio or to play backing tracks, etc.
Just like the Xenyx UFX 1604, the Tascam Model 24 also features a one knob compressor on the first 12 channels plus a 3-band EQ with Sweepable mids, plus also a low-cut. On the rest of the channels you only get a regular 3-band EQ plus the low-cut.
A stereo 7-band graphic EQ can be additionally applied to the main mix or monitors output, which will allow you to shape your mixes to your liking and prevent feedback.
This mixer is fairly similar to the Presonus StudioLiveAR22, in that it shares many of its features. This one is a bit more expensive, but you get the 7-band graphic EQ which really comes in handy during live performances.
The Tascam Model 24 (link to Amazon) is an excellent option for gigging bands who also need to record, this mixer will do a fantastic job at it!
8. Allen & Heath ZEDi 10FX
Another excellent addition to any Home Studio is the Allen & Heath ZEDi 10FX.
This one I would recommend to anyone with a small Home Studio, or to anyone who doesn’t need an extreme number of ins and outs.
This mixer is also a lot more affordable than all the previous ones on this list which is a clear pro.
It is a 4×4 mixer, meaning that you can record the four mic inputs on to separate tracks in your DAW.
The sample rate and bit depth are 24-bit / 96kHz which is perfect for home recording applications.
ZEDi-10FX offers four mono mic/line channels (with phantom power), which are the ones that can be recorded separately on to the DAW, plus two stereo inputs as well as built- in FX.
The four mono channels feature balanced/unbalanced TRS and XLR inputs and use the GSPre preamps, which sound pretty damn nice and can even provide enough gain to drive microphones like the Shure SM7B or the Heil PR40.
The stereo Inputs come via TRS.
The first two channels also include a “guitar mode” which engage the high impedance DI inputs. This means that you won’t need to worry about purchasing a DI box.
The next two channels, 3 and 4, have a Line/Pad button which will drop the input level by 20dB.
All four channels have a Low cut button as well as the typical controls every mixer has; like Gain, balance, FX-Send, mix level, Aux send and a three band EQ.
When taking a look at the stereo channels you will notice that they aren’t as fully equipped as the mono ones:
The first stereo channel only supplies up to 15dB of gain as well as a two band EQ, while the second stereo channel only offers mix level control.
Luckily, the effects sound great, with 61 one presets in total split between the typical effects such as delay, reverb, chorus, doublers, flangers, and more.
This mixer also comes with a ¼” headphone output which should be able to drive most headphones out there.
One huge perk about this mixer is that it comes with these free included software; Cubase LE and Cubasis LE.
Lastly, this mixer feels very solid. It’s clearly been made to last and to be road tough.
- 4 in, 4 out USB Audio Interface (24-bit/96kHz)
- Cubase LE Software included
- Cubasis LE App included
- 2 Stereo Inputs with TRS jack sockets
- 2 Guitar DI high impedance inputs
- Internal FX
Interested? Check it out on Amazon.
You might also want to check out the Allen & Heath ZEDi-10 which is the same mixer only cheaper, but it lacks the effects.
Depending on your needs you might want one or the other.
No matter which of these Mixers you choose, you will be able to do multi-track recording, however not everyone is going to need the same Mixer.
Depending on the amount of inputs you need, you’re going to want a different one. Also, you need to take budget into account.
My top picks would be the Soundcraft Signature MTK 22 and the Allen & Heath ZEDi 10FX, depending on the amount of channels you need which you can both find in my recommended gear page.
The Zoom Live-Trak L-12 is also a mixer that shouldn’t be overlooked.
If you think that you are going to need an upgrade in the future, simply get a mixer with a higher channel count, you will be saving money in the long run.
Can a USB mixer record separate tracks?
This depends on the mixer itself; if it has a built-in audio interface that is capable of recording multiple tracks, then yes.
You can check this by looking at the “Computer Connectivity” specifications; If it says 16×16, for example, then this means that 16 tracks are coming in and 16 are going out, meaning that those can be recorded individually on your DAW.
Do I need a mixer for home studio?
In most cases NO. You can use one with a built-in audio interface, but unless you need all the tracks a mixer has to offer, then it makes much more sense to go with an Audio Interface.
Mixers that can do multitrack recording are also very expensive.
How do you record multiple tracks with a mixer?
You will need a mixer with a built-in audio interface that is capable of multitrack recording. These mixers are usually far more expensive than regular ones, and for a home studio you probably don’t need them anyway.
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