Latest in the ever-expanding Spirit Folio range is the Lite, a general-purpose 12:2 mixer which is unashamedly designed to cash in on the Mackie 1202 market. Powered by an external PSU, the Lite is solidly constructed from sheet steel, and measures only a little larger than its A4 manual, at 300 x 265.5 x 37.70mm. Other than the slightly wobbly knobs, the build quality is fine, though the case is so slim that Soundcraft could almost fax it instead of posting it!
Of the 12 input channels, the first four are equipped with balanced mic inputs, with globally switchable phantom power and insert points. The four line-only channels are stereo, and feature the same channel strip controls as the Mic/Line channels. There's also a stereo return and provision to connect a 2-track tape machine, which may be monitored in the usual Mix/2-track way, fed into the overall mix.
All channels feature an input gain Trim, two-band EQ (16dB of cut or boost at 60Hz and 12kHz), two Aux sends, a Pan/Balance control and a rotary Level control. Aux send 1 may be globally switched from pre- to post-fade operation by means of a switch in the master section, while Aux 2 is fixed post-fade for use with effects. This global pre-post switching is a neat idea, and to my knowledge, no other mixer of this type uses it. All the sends on the stereo channels are mono-sourced from a mix of the left and right channel signals, and the Pan control is replaced by a Balance control, which allows the relative left/right levels to be adjusted.
Each channel features a conventional PFL button, which enables a channel to be monitored in isolation via the Phones or Monitor output. The true PFL level is also shown on the dual bargraph meters to aid setting the gain Trims. All the line-level signal connections are on raised quarter-inch jack sockets; stereo versions are used for the insert points and Phones socket.
The Master section of the mixer is both simple and compact, with rotary level controls for FX Return, 2-Track level, Stereo Mix and Monitor. Latching buttons are used for Phantom Power (global), 2-Track to Mix, 2-Trck/Mix selection, Aux 1 Pre/Post selection and PFL. The manual wisely points out that selecting 2-Track to mix when recording is not a good idea as the output of the tape machine will be fed directly back to the input with the usual consequences!
The PFL button in the master section overrides the current Monitor selection, and replaces it with the PFL signal, which is in true stereo for the stereo channels and mono for the four Mic/Line channels; in other words, to use the PFL, at least one channel PFL button must be down as well as the master PFL button. Using this master PFL button, you could preselect several channels to solo and then bring them all up using just the Master PFL button, but I think that the real reason for its inclusion was to save the cost of fitting a relay. Stereo mix inserts are also included, which is useful when you want to patch a compressor or exciter across the entire mix.
Though intended as a basic, affordable mixer, the Folio Lite has the benefit of Soundcraft's newly designed mic preamp circuitry, and an audio bandwidth extending from 20Hz to 30kHz +/- 1dB. The noise figures compare well with serious recording consoles, and there is sufficient headroom to accommodate +4dBu operating levels if required.
In use, the mixer is both quiet and predictable, with the simple two-band EQ providing enough range to fine-tune most sounds that need only general brightening or warming up. The provision of a separate stereo Monitor output is both welcome and unexpected on a mixer of this size, and with a little lateral thinking, it could be used in conjunction with the PFL to provide an additional two output groups, simply by soloing selected channels and turning their channel Fader pot right down. The pre-post switching on Aux 1 means the Spirit Lite can be used to its full capacity in both live sound and recording environments, while the serious mic preamps and phantom power make it suitable for location direct-to-stereo recording. On a small mixer such as this, the fact that the usual faders have been replaced by rotary controls is only a minor inconvenience, and given the price, this is a very flexible little mixer which must be considered excellent value for money.
Good sound quality.
Slightly wobbly knobs.
No moving fader automation (just kidding!).
A useful, general-purpose mixer suitable for keyboard mixing,
live sound, live recording and general small studio applications.
£ Spirit Folio Lite £ 311.38 inc VAT.
A Soundcraft Electronics Ltd, Cranborne House, Cranborne Industrial Estate, Cranborne Road, Potters Bar, Herts, EN6 3JN.
T 0707 665000.
F 0707 660482.