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Old Allen & Heath MixWizard (mk1) or a new Mackie VLZ4 mixer

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Old Allen & Heath MixWizard (mk1) or a new Mackie VLZ4 mixer

Postby ThanosF » Wed Jun 26, 2019 8:02 pm

Hello everyone,
I've found in good condition (no issues) an old A&H MixWizard from 2005 in a really good price (lower than 300€) and I was wondering if that would be a better choice than a new Mackie VLZ4 series. I know that mixers have been improving the last few years and that we don't need to spend too much money for a decent one, but I've also heard that the MixWizards are for many people very special mixers that add character to your mix. I cannot spend the money for a new one, so my choice is either this old one or a new Mackie VLZ4 mixer. What do you guys think? Can the MixWizard from 2005 still beat a Mackie from 2019?
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Re: Old Allen & Heath MixWizard (mk1) or a new Mackie VLZ4 mixer

Postby James Perrett » Wed Jun 26, 2019 8:47 pm

There has been very little technical improvement in sensible analogue mixers for over 30 years although cheaper construction methods and far east manufacturing have allowed prices to come down so that really low end budget mixers are now far better than they used to be but mid-range mixers are still of a similar quality but slightly cheaper.

I'd class Allen and Heath and Mackie as mid range mixers and the quality of the Mix Wizard range is good. I like Allen and Heath mixers as they sound good and are easy to service if something goes wrong so, as long as I've had the chance to view and test it, I'd have no hesitation in going for a used one - in fact I did exactly that with my main studio mixer and it is still the centrepiece of the studio after nearly 25 years.
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Re: Old Allen & Heath MixWizard (mk1) or a new Mackie VLZ4 mixer

Postby nathanscribe » Wed Jun 26, 2019 9:06 pm

+1 for A&H. I've had a Zed R16 for several years, an upgrade from a Mackie VLZ1604 I think. The A&H felt like an instant improvement, as soon as I hooked it up I thought it sounded better, and it's solidly built.
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Re: Old Allen & Heath MixWizard (mk1) or a new Mackie VLZ4 mixer

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jun 26, 2019 9:13 pm

+2 for the vintage A&H desk -- as long as you have tested it fully and are sure its controls are crackle-free. I think is sounds better and, as James mentioned, would be easier to service.
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Re: Old Allen & Heath MixWizard (mk1) or a new Mackie VLZ4 mixer

Postby Mike Stranks » Wed Jun 26, 2019 10:11 pm

+3
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Re: Old Allen & Heath MixWizard (mk1) or a new Mackie VLZ4 mixer

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:32 pm

+4

I remember reviewing several of the early compact MixWizard mixing desks for SOS (the WZ20:8:2 in 1997, WZ20S in 1999, and WZ1442 n 2002), and was well impressed with each and every one.


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Re: Old Allen & Heath MixWizard (mk1) or a new Mackie VLZ4 mixer

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jun 27, 2019 4:47 pm

Interesting thread. Without having looked at the mixers in question my gut response would have been to avoid anything 30 years old with moving parts... :)
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Re: Old Allen & Heath MixWizard (mk1) or a new Mackie VLZ4 mixer

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Jun 27, 2019 5:02 pm

Depends on the gear.

I have a much loved Calrec Minimixer II from the mid-90s which still has the original electrolytic caps throughout, yet it measures and sounds absolutely spot on. Nothing crackles, everything works. Brilliant! :D
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Re: Old Allen & Heath MixWizard (mk1) or a new Mackie VLZ4 mixer

Postby James Perrett » Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:59 pm

blinddrew wrote:Interesting thread. Without having looked at the mixers in question my gut response would have been to avoid anything 30 years old with moving parts... :)

That's where buying something like Allen and Heath is a good investment. While the faders on mine seem to go noisy if not used, they respond well to cleaning and the other pots seem fine.
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Re: Old Allen & Heath MixWizard (mk1) or a new Mackie VLZ4 mixer

Postby VTypeV4 » Sun Jun 30, 2019 12:51 pm

+5 for A&H - I've used most of their console model / series built in the last twenty years or so from ZED and WZ through GL to ML and iLive - I still have very little to complain about. :thumbup:

No problem with Mackie as I have a CFX12 that's over 15 years old and is fine but I'd still take an A&H.
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Re: Old Allen & Heath MixWizard (mk1) or a new Mackie VLZ4 mixer

Postby Arpangel » Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:30 am

I have a Mackie VLZ4 desk and a Behiringer QS2442 in my basement, as I've just gone ITB.
I was going to sell the Berry, but I've withdrawn it from sale. I got the Mackie out last weekend, it's a 1202VLZ4, I needed it for our BBQ sound system, in comparison to my Berry it sounded quite harsh, not nice. It was a good thing to do, I'll keep the Mackie, as it's small and useful, but if I was in the market for a new small-ish desk, I wouldn't choose a Mackie or an A&H, they don't sound anything special "for the extra money" you can pay considerably less for a Berry like mine and IMO get a slightly better sound. They are quiet, smooth, and the mic pres are very useable, to say the least.
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Re: Old Allen & Heath MixWizard (mk1) or a new Mackie VLZ4 mixer

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jul 02, 2019 5:21 pm

I haven't tried or tested the VLZ4 mixers, but I found the original VLZs could become quite hard- and even harsh-sounding if driven above about +6dBu, and definitely so when above +10dBu.

Below that I found they sounded quite sweet, so when I use it for recordings I simply recalibrate the A-D I use with it to reach 0dBFS with a +12dBu input. That way, when leaving my usual 6-10dB headroom margin, everything sounds fine. And if I'm using it for live sound, I just keep signals hovering around the 0dB mark on the meters and rarely go any higher.

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Re: Old Allen & Heath MixWizard (mk1) or a new Mackie VLZ4 mixer

Postby ThanosF » Tue Jul 02, 2019 11:19 pm

Are you actually advising me to go for a Behringer instead of the A&H or Mackie?
Seriously? I have them in my mind for sure but I was looking for something with better quality.

Arpangel wrote:I have a Mackie VLZ4 desk and a Behiringer QS2442 in my basement, as I've just gone ITB.
I was going to sell the Berry, but I've withdrawn it from sale. I got the Mackie out last weekend, it's a 1202VLZ4, I needed it for our BBQ sound system, in comparison to my Berry it sounded quite harsh, not nice. It was a good thing to do, I'll keep the Mackie, as it's small and useful, but if I was in the market for a new small-ish desk, I wouldn't choose a Mackie or an A&H, they don't sound anything special "for the extra money" you can pay considerably less for a Berry like mine and IMO get a slightly better sound. They are quiet, smooth, and the mic pres are very useable, to say the least.
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Re: Old Allen & Heath MixWizard (mk1) or a new Mackie VLZ4 mixer

Postby Mike Stranks » Wed Jul 03, 2019 8:45 am

ThanosF wrote:Are you actually advising me to go for a Behringer instead of the A&H or Mackie?
Seriously? I have them in my mind for sure but I was looking for something with better quality.


He might be... I, most definitely, am not! (Only qualification would be if it's a digital mixer)

I've had, and used, several B mixers in my time. Some very good, some average, some stinkers.

I've also owned and used Mackie, Soundcraft, Yamaha and A&H. (... and also, Uher, Sony, Tascam, Presonus and probably a couple of others!)

In reverse order of preference:

Mackie
Behringer
Soundcraft
Yamaha
A&H
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Re: Old Allen & Heath MixWizard (mk1) or a new Mackie VLZ4 mixer

Postby Arpangel » Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:02 am

Mike Stranks wrote:
ThanosF wrote:Are you actually advising me to go for a Behringer instead of the A&H or Mackie?
Seriously? I have them in my mind for sure but I was looking for something with better quality.


He might be... I, most definitely, am not! (Only qualification would be if it's a digital mixer)

I've had, and used, several B mixers in my time. Some very good, some average, some stinkers.

I've also owned and used Mackie, Soundcraft, Yamaha and A&H. (... and also, Uher, Sony, Tascam, Presonus and probably a couple of others!)

In reverse order of preference:

Mackie
Behringer
Soundcraft
Yamaha
A&H

Maybe I've been lucky Mike, but I don't think so, I have friends who have bought B mixers for sub-mixers, and general recording, all have been very pleased, like me. B have changed and aern't the same as they used to be.
Of course, the proof will be how long it lasts, but I've got B gear that is fifteen years old and still working so....
Hugh is definitely right about the harsh sound when going above about 0db, not so with the B, I've always thought Mackie mic amps were the best of this type of mixer, but again, no, I used my B for a lot of mikes recently and it sounded very good, slightly warmer than the Mackie, and just nice.
I'm not interested in promoting Behringer, I'm just quoting my experiences.
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Re: Old Allen & Heath MixWizard (mk1) or a new Mackie VLZ4 mixer

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jul 03, 2019 10:24 am

I've recently used newish boards by Behringer, Soundcraft and Yamaha* and whilst I felt had a slight preference for the pre-amps in the Yamaha it's far more likely to be a room effect as I couldn't swear to it when monitoring on my headphones.
Either way, I think you'd be very hard pressed to find a situation now where the mixing desk was the determining factor in your sound. Room and speakers will have far more effect.
So then you're down to features and longevity/repairability, features for price you're unlikely to top the Behringer stuff, A&H have had the nod for longevity above, I can't really comment on the repairability of my behringer mixers as none of them have gone wrong. :)

I think the entry level kit nowadays has come on hugely in the last 20 years, and the gap between entry- and mid-level has shrunk accordingly. The bang for you buck that you get at the bottom of the market is pretty incredible really.
So choose the mixer that does the job you need, at the price you can afford, for whatever reasons you want.
There's really never been a better time to be buying music gear. :)
I reckon...

*I don't think I've ever used a board by Mackie or A&H.
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