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Upgrading my Mackie 802 VLZ4

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Upgrading my Mackie 802 VLZ4

Postby ThanosF » Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:34 am

Hello there, I'm looking to upgrade my Mackie 802 VLZ4 mixer, cause I need more channels (12 channels minimum) and maybe upgrade the sound quality as well without going above the 400€ if possible. So I'm looking at Soundcraft, Allen & Heath and Yamaha mixers in that price range and I'm wondering if you have any suggestions. I'll mainly use my mixer for mixing and recording analogue modular synths. Curious to hear your opinions! ;)
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Re: Upgrading my Mackie 802 VLZ4

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:49 am

Mackie preamps are decent, you might struggle to improve quality and get 12 inputs for under £400. But the difference between really expensive mic preamps and decent budget stuff like the Mackie is pretty small anyway.

But you need line inputs rather than mic inputs so the differences will be even less.

All the makes you mention will get the job done so find the ones with sufficient inputs and go and have a play in a shop. I like the Allen and Heath Zed series, they just feel solid and well made (a vague concept I guess) but you might like some features of one of the others.
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Re: Upgrading my Mackie 802 VLZ4

Postby Arpangel » Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:51 am

Some may disagree, but I really don't think there's any point in upgrading based on sound quallity in the price range you are talking about. The mic preamps on these Mackie mixers, I own a 1202, are very respectable indeed, and you're not even using those so....
Just get a bigger Mackie if you want more inputs, or something like a Soundcraft EFX12, if you want fancy EQ and nice coloured knobs! but most of the mixers in this range, and the £500/£1,000 mark are just a matter of subtle diffferences, build, facilities etc, you won't notice a major difference in sound quallity.

Sorry Sam, must have posted at the same time!
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Re: Upgrading my Mackie 802 VLZ4

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:00 am

At least we agree :clap: :clap: :clap: :bouncy:
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Re: Upgrading my Mackie 802 VLZ4

Postby Mike Stranks » Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:58 am

Just checked the circuit diagram for the mixer in question before responding...

Like the majority of prosumer mixers the line inputs on this mixer are routed through the mic preamps - they're just padded by about 20dB.

So the argument that you're using line-ins as opposed to mic ins is a bit of a red-herring. You're still using the mic preamps... you're not bypassing them.
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Re: Upgrading my Mackie 802 VLZ4

Postby Rich Hanson » Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:14 am

Mike Stranks wrote:Just checked the circuit diagram for the mixer in question before responding...

Like the majority of prosumer mixers the line inputs on this mixer are routed through the mic preamps - they're just padded by about 20dB.

So the argument that you're using line-ins as opposed to mic ins is a bit of a red-herring. You're still using the mic preamps... you're not bypassing them.

Out of interest, what are the advantages of that design? I'm guessing it's a cost advantage.
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Re: Upgrading my Mackie 802 VLZ4

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:15 am

I would have said so, yes.

Mike Stranks wrote:Just checked the circuit diagram for the mixer in question before responding...

Like the majority of prosumer mixers the line inputs on this mixer are routed through the mic preamps - they're just padded by about 20dB.

So the argument that you're using line-ins as opposed to mic ins is a bit of a red-herring. You're still using the mic preamps... you're not bypassing them.

Good point well made, would the higher signal, padded down, drive the preamp in the same way? I'd have thought that, being pragmatic, lower gain settings would be needed so less noise but I've been wrong before. :blush: Either way you are right WRT colourful fish......

Basic point still stands that improvement in quality will be hard to come by at that price point.
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Re: Upgrading my Mackie 802 VLZ4

Postby Mike Stranks » Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:50 am

Sam Spoons wrote:I would have said so, yes.

Mike Stranks wrote:Just checked the circuit diagram for the mixer in question before responding...

Like the majority of prosumer mixers the line inputs on this mixer are routed through the mic preamps - they're just padded by about 20dB.

So the argument that you're using line-ins as opposed to mic ins is a bit of a red-herring. You're still using the mic preamps... you're not bypassing them.

Good point well made, would the higher signal, padded down, drive the preamp in the same way? I'd have thought that, being pragmatic, lower gain settings would be needed so less noise but I've been wrong before. :blush: Either way you are right WRT colourful fish......


I think you're right... but wait for the Hon member for Worcestershire South to put us straight! :lol:

I think we'd all use the line inputs of a mixer wherever possible for the reasons as outlined, but the quality of the preamps can't be totally discounted...
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Re: Upgrading my Mackie 802 VLZ4

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:30 pm

It's become pretty much standard practice in all but the very high-end gear that, where there are mic preamps, associated line inputs are simply padded down and routed through the mic pre. Typically, we're talking a 30dB pad and 20-30dB of preamp gain (depending on the device's internal operating level).

The reason for this approach is primarily for cost, as has been said, because it saves one or two op-amps for a dedicated balanced line receiver (and all the associated passive parts), and one less gain potentiometer. Perhaps more importantly, it also reduces the amount of PCB and panel space required per channel since each channel needs only one gain knob instead of two and a combi-XLR can be used as only one input format can be used at a time anyway.

In terms of technical performance, there is a theoretical penalty in padding down a line-level signal only to re-amplify it again: that process should result in increased noise and distortion...

However, in all the equipment I've tested the actual realised penalty is fractions of a dB more noise, and an infinitesimally small increase in distortion. It is measurable, just, but it's certainly not audible. So for the vast majority of applications and products, it's a perfectly valid and practical compromise with negligible drawbacks.

I have some equipment here with dedicated line inputs separate from the mic inputs, but the majority of stuff I have (including some quite pricey things) uses the padded-line-input approach and it doesn't bother me in the slightest, either conceptually or practically.
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Re: Upgrading my Mackie 802 VLZ4

Postby ThanosF » Fri Jun 14, 2019 2:32 pm

Thnx for the responses guys! I do indeed use the mic pre-amps for some of the sounds that need beefing up or slight distortion and I'm fine with the Mackie and I can definitely just get one with more inputs BUT I want your opinions in comparison with the A&H, Yamaha and Soundcraft mixers on the 300-400€ range.
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Re: Upgrading my Mackie 802 VLZ4

Postby The Korff » Fri Jun 14, 2019 2:40 pm

For that price range I'd go second hand — there's a couple on Readers' Ads at the moment that would do the trick! An A&H Zed24 for £375, or for a bit over your budget there's a Midas Venice (lovely desks, and a bit of a jump up in quality compared to the A&H, but not by too much).
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Re: Upgrading my Mackie 802 VLZ4

Postby Mike Stranks » Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:42 pm

I've owned multiple mixers from Soundcraft, Yamaha and A&H over the years and have been pleased with all of them.

Nothing I could put my finger on, but having used several Mackies they've always felt slightly less robust than the other makes. Only ever used them live so detailed comment on sound quality is much more difficult.

If you pressed me I'd opt for A&H over the other two brands just for general usability and well-put-togetherness. I'm now on my third ZED of various configs. All that said, if you pressed me I'd be perfectly happy with Soundcraft and Yamaha. Somewhat subjectively I'd put the pres of the models I've used in the order of A&H, Yamaha and then Soundcraft - but IME of the ones I've used they're all outshone by Presonus!
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Re: Upgrading my Mackie 802 VLZ4

Postby James Perrett » Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:02 pm

I'm not 100% sure about current models but A&H build many of their mixers with each channel having its own PCB. This makes servicing much easier. Most other manufacturers of affordable mixers share a single PCB between many channels which makes it more difficult to dismantle them if servicing is ever needed.
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Re: Upgrading my Mackie 802 VLZ4

Postby Bob Bickerton » Fri Jun 14, 2019 7:17 pm

Preamp wise you’d probably not notice much difference between any of the brands you note, so it’s probably more to do with features. If you use onboard effects, I’d probably lean towards Soundcraft.

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Re: Upgrading my Mackie 802 VLZ4

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Jun 14, 2019 7:22 pm

James Perrett wrote:I'm not 100% sure about current models but A&H build many of their mixers with each channel having its own PCB. This makes servicing much easier. Most other manufacturers of affordable mixers share a single PCB between many channels which makes it more difficult to dismantle them if servicing is ever needed.

I'd be very surprised if the Zed series were built that way TBH. My old GL series 24/4/2 was when my previous Soundcraft 24/4/2 was on four large boards housing 8 channel strips each and the master section, but that's a few years ago.
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Re: Upgrading my Mackie 802 VLZ4

Postby Bob Bickerton » Fri Jun 14, 2019 7:47 pm

Just noticed the Soundcraft Signature 12mtk is within your price range, has Ghost preamps, which are supposed to be rather good, and is also a fully fledged audio interface: https://www.thomann.de/gb/soundcraft_signature_12mtk.htm

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Re: Upgrading my Mackie 802 VLZ4

Postby James Perrett » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:25 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:
James Perrett wrote:I'm not 100% sure about current models but A&H build many of their mixers with each channel having its own PCB. This makes servicing much easier. Most other manufacturers of affordable mixers share a single PCB between many channels which makes it more difficult to dismantle them if servicing is ever needed.

I'd be very surprised if the Zed series were built that way TBH.

According to Paul White's review of the Zed 14 they're still made that way...

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/allen-heath-zed14
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Re: Upgrading my Mackie 802 VLZ4

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:00 pm

Wow, impressed :clap: . Another good reason to consider one when I eventually pension off the Mackie 1202. I wonder how far down the range that construction extends?
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Re: Upgrading my Mackie 802 VLZ4

Postby Arpangel » Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:05 pm

ThanosF wrote:Thnx for the responses guys! I do indeed use the mic pre-amps for some of the sounds that need beefing up or slight distortion and I'm fine with the Mackie and I can definitely just get one with more inputs BUT I want your opinions in comparison with the A&H, Yamaha and Soundcraft mixers on the 300-400€ range.

As I said, it's not worth making quallity comparisons in this area of the market. Dare I say it, but Behringer are worth checking out, they've really upped their game and are much cheaper of course. They even do a "sort of" version of the Midas Venice series, without the annoying fan of the original, plus the Venice are primarily PA desks, and you have to do annoying work arounds for recording and studio monitoring. Mackie are expensive now, compared with the competition, TBQH, either get another Mackie if you're happy with the sound, or, get a Behringer like mine a QX2422USB, I can't find any fault with it at all, more than enough inputs and routing.
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Re: Upgrading my Mackie 802 VLZ4

Postby ThanosF » Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:45 pm

I get it that there are no big differences in this price range.
I'm also frustrated by the A&H and Mackie "14 channel mixers" who actually have 6 (!) mono channels, so actually 10 channels. I only need occasionally 1 or 2 stereo inputs. 4 stereo inputs is an overkill for me and it makes me look at higher mixers for 16 channels for no reason. Also Mackie has added a bus path for any channel you choose, which is AMAZING. Can't see this feature in any other mixer on this price category. Weird!
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