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Old November 3rd, 2012, 02:20 AM   #1
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Is there such a thing as a high quality, low cost field mixer?

I am in the market for a field audio mixer. Preferably something with four mic inputs, but three will do. It seems though that the price of many of the high quality mixers can easily surpass that of many DSLR cameras.

Is there such a thing as a high quality, low cost field audio mixer? Or do you really have to choose between quality and price?
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Old November 3rd, 2012, 04:18 AM   #2
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Re: Is there such a thing as a high quality, low cost field mixer?

Personally I use the Twelco mixers made in Hungary: Welcome to TW Electronic Components

I have the 6:2 and the 4:2 versions and they have some very pro like features for the money, the guy who designed them is Istvan Wolf a sound recordist himself and he sells them direct via e-bay: TW-LP4 62 6in/6direct/2out ENG/EFP Location Audio Field Portable Sound Mixer | eBay

I use mine for all sorts of work including drama and sports presentation, OK they are not the rolls royce of mixers but offer a lot of facilities for around $1,000
Here is a pic of the 4:2 version:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...DSC_0001-3.jpg
These mixers are modular design so updates and replacement modules can be easily fitted:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...DSC_0001-2.jpg

I have had other budget mixers but the switches and facilities tend to be limited, I have also bought a couple of mono Shure M367 off e-bay for less than $200 each and they are a good low cost six channel battery/mains mixer with some nice pro like features such as line up oscilator and phantom power.
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Old November 3rd, 2012, 05:26 AM   #3
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Re: Is there such a thing as a high quality, low cost field mixer?

Do you mean something like this.

ART MacroMix Four Channel Personal Mixer at Gear4Music.com
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Old November 3rd, 2012, 06:14 AM   #4
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Re: Is there such a thing as a high quality, low cost field mixer?

One other option that is low cost is the Behringer 1002B: Behringer: XENYX 1002B

Not quite so mobile operational friendly but a useful low cost mixer, I use one to do fx premixes or coms mixes I have one of the ART three channel mini mic mixers too and they are OK but have certain limitations like no metering and fixed headphone output.
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Old November 3rd, 2012, 06:44 AM   #5
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Re: Is there such a thing as a high quality, low cost field mixer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Grunseth View Post
Is there such a thing as a high quality, low cost field audio mixer? Or do you really have to choose between quality and price?
No and yes.

You get what you pay for.

High quality microphone pre-amplifiers are not cheap to make and people will pay over £1,000 per channel to get good mic. pre-amps.

The AETA MIXY is a great little unit - very tough, very flexible and very high quality - but it's around £1,500 +VAT in the UK.

Though taking the 24/96 digital out into an inexpensive recorder like the Tascam DR100II will give you quality recordings equivalent to recorders at a very much higher price point as the DR100II is just being used as a "bit bucket".

MIXY Picture


A step down from AETA, but still very good' are the Sound Devices Mixers - the AETA MIXY is a bit like the MixPreD and 302 in the same box.

But it all depends on what you want to do.

Camera technology had plummeted in price over recent years and a camera that you can buy for under £1,000 nowadays would have cost you thousands or tens of thousands a few years ago to get the same quality.

Audio has not had the same drop in price - that drop came a decade earlier.

But, nowadays, you need to spend at least equal - and more likely more - on the audio side than you do on the video side to get matching quality.
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Old November 3rd, 2012, 11:53 AM   #6
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Re: Is there such a thing as a high quality, low cost field mixer?

Before anybody throws flames at me, I realize that Azden is not a name that people here generally aspire to. But I have their FMX42 field mixer and have to say it is most satisfactory, with great features and portability.
I have no complaints about either the sound quality or the construction. It features variable input, mike or line output, limiters, all the convenience stuff. Also a handy mike -out mini plug for a digital recorder beside the XLR outs. I've used it with an attached Edirol R09 as backup to the camera hookup, for example.

There is a newer version, the 42A, with a 10-pin camera plug provided. Their low-end stuff is for amateurs, but this is one Azden product that shows some real quality.
Azden FMX-42a 4-Channel Microphone Field Mixer FMX-42A B&H Photo

If you would rather have LED readout instead of VU meters --- and for watching dBFS, not a bad idea -- you might like the recently-ressurected Sign Video ENG44 field mixer. Sign Video apparently is gone but someone else is making the mixer on a botique basis. I used one of the original ENG44's extensively at work and it was a rugged and very satisfactory device. Here's a link: Mixer

Edit: this link now comes back to a message saying this company is bringing out a newer model. If you find a good used ENG44 it's worth looking at.

Last edited by Battle Vaughan; November 3rd, 2012 at 12:07 PM. Reason: update
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Old November 3rd, 2012, 12:45 PM   #7
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Re: Is there such a thing as a high quality, low cost field mixer?

Thank you everyone for all your input. I obviously need to re-examine my budget for a mixer. Previously I had used Behringer mixers that worked very well for me, they just weren't portable enough or able to be battery powered. I figured finding a portable mixer that could be powered off a battery wouldn't cost that much more for something of equal quality.

I need XLR inputs, phantom power, and line level out. Some of the mixers suggested look fantastic, unfortunately they are just outside the reach of my budget at this time. I am truly appreciative for all of the suggestions.
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Old November 3rd, 2012, 08:52 PM   #8
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Re: Is there such a thing as a high quality, low cost field mixer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Grunseth View Post
I am in the market for a field audio mixer. Preferably something with four mic inputs, but three will do. It seems though that the price of many of the high quality mixers can easily surpass that of many DSLR cameras.

Is there such a thing as a high quality, low cost field audio mixer? Or do you really have to choose between quality and price?
Not unlike your camera.....Price? You can't afford to buy too cheap. It affects your work and then your reputation. Of course, if you're my competition, please buy the cheapest POC you can find. :)

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old November 3rd, 2012, 10:27 PM   #9
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Re: Is there such a thing as a high quality, low cost field mixer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ty Ford View Post
Not unlike your camera.....Price? You can't afford to buy too cheap. It affects your work and then your reputation. Of course, if you're my competition, please buy the cheapest POC you can find. :)

Regards,

Ty Ford
Don't worry Ty, I left the world of broadcast television and make a living off of website design now. I am just doing my own documentary project... Don't think that would have me competing with you.
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Old November 3rd, 2012, 11:37 PM   #10
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Re: Is there such a thing as a high quality, low cost field mixer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Grunseth View Post
Don't worry Ty, I left the world of broadcast television and make a living off of website design now. I am just doing my own documentary project... Don't think that would have me competing with you.
Well at least you did the right thing leaving broadcast TV. :)

Here's my list for doc audio;
If you have a camera with good audio, a Sound Devices 302 Mixer:
Sony MDR7506 headphones, so you can hear what you're doing.
If you plan to be doing this a while and want to sound good, get a Schoeps cmc641 with B5D pop filter.

With that basic kit you never have to make apologies for your audio.

Good luck with the doc.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old November 4th, 2012, 03:11 AM   #11
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Re: Is there such a thing as a high quality, low cost field mixer?

Just to let you know I saw a couple of the Shure M367 mixers on e-bay this morning, it may get you by until you can afford something better and great value at around $200: Shure M367 Battery Powered Microphone Mic Mixer M 367 | eBay

User manual is here: http://www.sisme.com/arcfile/Shurem367_m.pdf

As said I have two of these mixers and have used them for live sports presentation, you can even calibrate the meters and limiter to make them more useable for broadcast work and personally I have mine set up so -18dbfs 0-level .775v 1khz tone is 0db VU with the limiter coming in at -12db.

Mono but 95% of my work only needs a mono location mixer.
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Old November 4th, 2012, 10:01 AM   #12
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Re: Is there such a thing as a high quality, low cost field mixer?

Gary, thank you so much for that link. That will be perfect!

That looks to be the exact same mixer we used in our remote truck at the television station I used to work with. I am intimately familiar with its operation. I think it will be perfect for what I am looking to do right now. thank you.
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Old November 4th, 2012, 11:11 AM   #13
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Re: Is there such a thing as a high quality, low cost field mixer?

You are welcome and for $200 you will still get a very useable 6 channel mixer for location work, they also have a return input and can feed a mic and a live level output at the same time so can be very useful for all sorts of applications.
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Old November 7th, 2012, 09:30 AM   #14
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Re: Is there such a thing as a high quality, low cost field mixer?

A field mixer. Does it need to be portable as in strapped on the shoulder? DC powered? Or just small?
The Shure 367 is probably the best for the money, except that it is not stereo. Do you need stereo for separating 2 voice tracks in an interview? Stereo music?
How many channels do you need? If one or two only perhaps a nice mic pre would work.
If run and gun, a dedicated on camera mixer, such as the BeachTek line which can mount directly on the camera.
(I've used a few inexpensive Rolls boxes and was disappointed. Too much hiss.)
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Old November 8th, 2012, 07:45 PM   #15
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Re: Is there such a thing as a high quality, low cost field mixer?

I had a SignVideo Eng-44 4 channel mixer it was relatively inexpensive $500. It served me well for a couple of years but I recently had to send it out for repair. I damaged it apparently by leaving my camera's phantom power on. I'm inclined to think more expensive mixers could handle that but I can't say definitively on that matter.

I ended up getting a Sound Device 3 channel mixer new for $900 off of ebay. I would have preferred their 4 channel mixer but they no longer make it and in the used market its around $1500 in good condition. Too pricey for me. The advantages I've noticed about the Sound Device mixer are: more durable build, better limiters, easier to read meters, amplifier give exceptional clean sound, compact and well designed.

It really depends on the application and how important the audio is to you. For example, I do legal work where the audio is the most important part but on the other end I've filmed low budget dance recitals where the ambient audio is atrocious. There is no shame in using a lesser brand (search B&H for one in your price range) if it's good enough for you and your client then who cares what we think. I know I won't be offended.
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