AER Pocket Tools Dual Mix
AER is perhaps best known for its impressive range of acoustic amps, but has now channelled its expertise into the Pocket Tools - a new range of easily portable compact processors that each offer different useful elements of AER's technology for acoustic instruments.
The size of a large stompbox and designed to sit firmly on the floor, the unit is extremely well put-together, with a solid black anodised aluminium body and ergonomic rubber-coated knobs.
"The Dual Mix's high and low EQ knobs offer a very natural EQ that can gently cut or boost your sound."
It comes in a smart zippered carrying case, with an identical case holding the power supply, which is an in-line 24V DC adaptor with a little over four metres of cabling to let you reach across the stage or studio floor.
The Dual Mix is a two-channel mini mixer with EQ and effects. Two jack/XLR combi sockets are the entry points for any signal. Each channel can be switched for a line or microphone level signal and also has independent switching for phantom power at 24V to cater for microphones that need it.
Rotary knobs with associated clip LEDs set the gain. Each channel has knobs, with centre detent position, for high and low shelving EQ - up to 12dB of cut or boost in the high end at 10kHz and 10dB down below at 100Hz.
An effects section offers control of the level and panning for four onboard digital effects - you get short and long hall reverbs, a 320ms delay, or a deep chorus effect.
The overall signal after EQ and effects can be sent from an XLR DI output, a standard jack output and a standard stereo headphone jack. If you want to add another source into the mix, there's an auxiliary input on a pair of RCA phono jacks.
AER has identified what it sees as three main uses for the Dual Mix - as an add-on to expand the feature set of a current combo amp, as an onstage preamp, or as a headphone preamp so you can rehearse and play wherever you want.
With the two channels available it's possible to have a combination of inputs - if you have two electro-acoustic instruments that you use onstage, they can be both connected at once to save a lot of plugging and unplugging, as you can just use the gain knobs to switch between them.
Alternatively, you could mic up your instrument and blend the microphone sound with the pickup sound or just use a pair of mics. Be aware, though, that not all condenser mics will work with 24V phantom power - some need the full 48V.
The high and low EQ knobs offer a very natural EQ that can gently cut or boost the top or bottom end of your sound, enhancing rather than transforming it, while the well-chosen effects add a classy ambience or a touch of sweetening when the chorus is used subtly.
It's in headphone practice mode that the aux input becomes invaluable, allowing you to use the level knob to mix in some music that you want to either play along with or learn.
With low noise and plenty of headroom, there's no doubting the quality of this little boxand the price reflects that - this is a professional tool for players who are serious about getting the optimum sound.
Anyone gigging regularly with just an electro-acoustic guitar would do well to carry a Dual Mix with them rather than rely on the vagaries of any particular venue's own DI boxes.
With its headphone facility, aux input and effects, the Dual Mix is an all-rounder.
Solid build quality. Quiet operation. Useful mix of facilities.
It only has 24V phantom power, as opposed to the standard 48V, so you'll need to run some high-end condensor mics.
A useful all-rounder for a high quality DI signal, sound sweetening and practice.
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