It might seem that DAWs and multitrack audio interfaces have pushed mixers out of the picture, but just occasionally they come in very handy for bringing external sources back into a mix. For example, if your audio interface has only a couple of inputs but you need to record two or more singers or instruments at the same time, a small mixer will enable you to get the job done. Alternatively, you may have a number of external synths/sound modules that you need to mix down to feed one available stereo input on your interface. And of course there are numerous live-sound applications, such as for solo artists and duos who use backing tracks and also need to DI instruments such as guitars.
ART’s MX622 is a 1U rackmount mixer equipped with three balanced XLR microphone/line-level inputs, plus three stereo line inputs on RCA phono sockets. All six sources have individual level controls on the front panel and up to 56dB of gain is available for mic signals. The balanced TRS jack outputs are stereo at line level, and each XLR input has a rear-panel Mic/Line level push switch, a clip indicator, and switchable phantom power via rear-panel DIP switches — note that the phantom is only 15V, so may not be enough to power true capacitor mics and some active DI boxes.
An external unbalanced ‘EFX’ effects loop, accessed on quarter-inch jacks, takes a mono send from the three mic/line channels and provides a stereo return, complete with a front-panel Effects Level control and loop In/Out switch. This doesn’t affect the stereo line inputs. An alternative use for the loop return is as an additional stereo input, for which the Effects Level control sets the level. I found this to be too hot for using pedals when adjusting for unity gain, but it works fine for units operating at line level.
Master controls comprise a Master level knob plus a basic Treble/Bass EQ (-12dB at 100Hz and 10kHz) that operates on the main output. Mains power comes in on an IEC connector, so there are no irritating external PSUs to deal with. There’s also a stereo record output on RCA phono jacks. The signal-to-noise ratio is quoted as better than 90dB, with distortion below 0.01 percent. There’s plenty of output level available, with up to +24dBu at the main outputs and +20dBu at the RCA and EFX outputs. The main output has a 50Ω impedance. Oddly no frequency response specs are quoted, though there’s nothing about the performance that suggests that it is in any way inadequate.
ART’s products tend to do exactly what they say on the packet, and this mixer is no exception: it delivers a subjectively clean and quiet sound, and there’s plenty of gain available for a typical dynamic microphone. If you don’t need the rackmount format, then the same money will buy you a compact desktop mixer that has the benefit of separate EQ on each channel, 48V phantom power and a choice of jack or line inputs (not having combi inputs on the mono inputs seems a bit of a compromise here) — and most likely a separate effects send per channel too. There are also line-only alternatives if you don’t need the mic inputs.
However, if you simply need to mix some extra sound module outputs and you have the occasional need for an extra mic input — and space or your preference dictates a rack unit — then the MX622 will certainly do the job, as long as the 15V phantom power doesn’t present you with problems.
£178 including VAT.