Alesis MultiMix16 USB 2.0

Alesis' MultiMix16 mixer has surprises in store with effects, extra routings and bundles of USB audio capability.

The music industry is full of paradoxes. We're told that the future of 'paid-for' music is via internet downloads in the comfort of our own homes, and yet live gig attendances are higher now than for years. Equally, we're told that the future of the studio is software-based and yet hardware seems to be springing up everywhere, with new synths aplenty, channel strips selling like hot cakes and control surfaces a 'must-have' accessory for many a studio. Alesis have been building a solid foundation for their mixer range over the last few years but they've just infused their various offerings with some 21st century spice. Last month, I perused the impressive 'record to iPod' iMultiMix8 console. This month, it's the turn of the MultiMix16, fresh from a fine tune in Alesis' top secret lab.


A heavenly host

In case you're unfamiliar with Alesis' mixer product line, I'll start from the top. The MultiMix16 is a small format console mixer, with direct-to-disc recording via USB2.0. The mixer features 8 mono input channels and an additional 4 stereo ones. Each of the mono inputs feature XLR mic and 1/4" jack inputs with individual gain controls and a high-pass filter to roll off frequencies below 75Hz. The stereo channels offer a pair of 1/4" jack inputs and all connections are made at the back of the top panel. All channels also feature a fixed 3-band EQ, two auxiliary sends, a pan control, a mute switch, a solo button and a volume fader.

The mute switch features an extremely useful secondary function, in that rather than simply switching the output off, it routes the signal to an alternative buss output, labelled 3/4. If this buss isn't connected to a physical output such as a second pair of monitors, the channel is muted, or you could drive more speakers, record a sub-mix or feed an alternative processor for any signals you route here. Clever and useful stuff.

The master section features faders for both Main 1/2 and Alt 3/4 busses, alongside monitoring switches that let you route the output pair of your choice to the Control Room speakers and headphone feeds, including the audio stream returning from your computer, of which more shortly. Above this, you'll find master auxiliary level controls and the built-in effects sections, whose charms you can discover in the 'Effects and Software' box. Alongside the inputs, all output routings are made along the top section where a small green display also indicates the presence of a USB signal. A power switch, one for phantom power and the USB connector are on the back panel, which will bring us neatly onto...


Audio-a-go-go

The ace poised up the MultiMix's sleeve is its USB audio functionality. You might expect a mixer of this type to be able to ship its master output to the computer for real-time audio capture and you'd be right. Additionally, however, every single input channel can also be recorded direct-to-disc, totalling a whopping 18 channels of simultaneous audio recording. So
you can plug in and monitor the whole of your band, with multiple inputs for drums, for instance, and record just these by arming only the channels you wish to capture in your DAW software. The MultiMix will support audio up to 24-bit/96kHz, so there's no shortage of quality on offer. I found the pre-amps to be clean and eminently useable. The only aspects missing from a channel strip signal sent to the computer are its auxiliary returns - because auxiliaries are shared, there would be no way to prevent returns from other channels bleeding into your chosen channel. Obviously, this means that if you want to capture the internal effects, you'll only be able to do so by recording the main outs on channels 17 and 18. The only operational issue I did encounter was that when I reduced the I/O buffer size within Logic to ensure zero latency monitoring, the MultiMix stopped communicating with Logic altogether. When I rebooted Logic with the new buffer size, normal service was resumed, so this isn't too big a deal but worth noting for those 'heat of the moment' sessions.



Options aplenty

What a flexible mixer! It's great to find products like this as, at risk of resorting to cliché, they keep on giving. To discover that each channel can be fed to the computer individually is the most significant feature, as this genuinely means you can patch all of your gear to this mixer and you're ready to record anything at the drop of a hat.
However, even smaller details have been really well thought-out. The additional outputs accessed via the toggled mute switch is a useful bonus, as is the summed 2-track, USB audio return. With this, audio streams from USB or the 2-track RCA inputs are grouped together, so if you're using this mixer live, with audio playing back from a laptop as well as pre-gig PA music, you don't need to re-patch. The mixer oozes flexibility and, as a result, will appeal to many, whether they intend to lock it up in the studio for recording, or take it on the road for PA duties and gig recording. If you need a mixer, audio interface and effects unit in one package, look no further.

MusicRadar Rating

4.5 / 5 stars
Verdict

A compact mixer and audio interface for the road or in the studio. Impressive.

Country of Origin

USA

Features

18-direct outputs for recording and 2 return inputs for monitoring. High–gain mic/line (XLR and 1/4” balanced) inputs with phantom power, 2 stereo balanced 1/4”. Line inputs, aux send (to onboard or external effects), stereo aux return. Switchable 75Hz high pass filters. 100 24–bit onboard preset effects including reverbs, delays, chorus, flanging, pitch and multi–effects. 3–band EQ per channel with high/low shelving and mid band pass/reject. Separate 1/4” balanced main and monitor outs, headphone out. Smooth 60mm faders. 24–bit, 44.1 to 96 kHz operation with high–end A/D and D/A conversion through an integrated USB Audio interface. Compatible with Mac OS X and Windows XP. Steinberg Cubase LE included. Easy–to–attach rack mount ears available.

Description

A hardware mixer with direct-to-disk recording via USB

Audio Inputs

1/4 Inch Balanced XLR

Audio Outputs

1/4 Inch Balanced Headphone Out

Direct Outputs

Yes

Effects

Yes

EQ Details

3-band

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.