This compact mixer could be a godsend if you've got more sound modules and effects units than soundcard inputs.
How many times have you been in the situation where you need to mix a few signals, but you don't want the cost or complexity of a full-blown mixer? For example, you may have a computer-based studio and simply need to combine the outputs from your soundcard with those from one or two keyboard synths, or, as in my case, you may have a digital mixer with one stereo aux return but have two or more stereo effects units you want to bring into the mix. In this type of situation, the MAM MLM62 may be all you need.
I knew I was going to like the MLM62 when I found the manual covered only one side of a piece of A4 paper! The unit itself is powered from the inevitable AC adaptor and comes as a 1U rackmount unit only around 2.5 inches deep. On the front panel are the controls for two mono mic/line channels plus two stereo line-only channels that may also be used as mono by connecting just to the right input.
Technical information is sparse, but, as far as I can tell, all the line inputs and outputs are unbalanced on quarter-inch jacks while the mic inputs are balanced on XLRs, but without the benefit of phantom power. All the connections are on the rear panel, as are two gain trims for the mic inputs, which is a little inconvenient if you plan to rackmount the unit. Interestingly, although the mixed output is stereo, the mixer may also be used in mono by connecting only to the right output. The left inputs on the stereo channels are also wired to accept stereo feeds on a single stereo jack, and the output works in a similar way, where the left jack carries an unbalanced stereo output, so it's clear some thought has gone into the design of this little box.
In addition to mixing the two mono and two stereo channels into a single stereo stream, the MLM62 also features a single post-fade effects send buss accessible by both the stereo and mono channels. A stereo return is provided on the rear panel, so if you don't need an effects unit you can use this as another stereo line input with a level control (the master Effect knob). A separate control sets the overall output level from the unit.
Looking more closely at the individual channels, the Mic/Line sections have knobs for Volume, Bass, Treble and Effect, in addition to the rear-panel mic gain trims, but, as stressed earlier, there's no phantom power option and there's also no visual level metering system of any kind. The stereo channels have Volume, Balance and Effect controls, but no EQ.
Conceptually, then, the MLM62 is very simple, but how does it perform in practice? Despite the lack of overload metering, the mic amps turned in a surprisingly good performance, even with relatively low-sensitivity dynamic microphones, with no obvious noise or coloration. The musically sensitive EQ section is limited by having only two bands, but it worked fine for gently shaping sounds or adding high-end sparkle or warmth. Having the mic trims on the back panel is a bit of a pain, but panel space is somewhat limited in this format.
The line inputs worked without seemingly adding noise or changing the essential tonality of the signal, so the MLM62 must get an overall thumbs up for delivering a simple and affordable solution that doesn't compromise on audio quality. I can think of many situations where a few extra mixer channels would be useful, and this solution certainly achieves its objective without taking up too much space.
The SLE82 line mixer also forms part of MAM's new mixer range, with similar dimensions and styling to the MLM82. You get eight pairs of line inputs (which also accept mono signals) mixed to a stereo master output. All level controls are on the front panel, and each channel has level and balance, as well as a single post-fader effects send. In addition to these, there is a Master level control an Effect knob to mix in signals arriving at a stereo effects return — with the effects return, that gives you a 10:2 mixer in a single rack space!
As with the MLM62, the lack of metering can be problematic. Even overload LEDs would have been better than nothing, and I found that it was quite easy to overload the channels and mix buss with three stereo sound modules and two stereo effects units going. Still, given that the channels seemed very quiet, I found that I could afford to keep the faders fairly low without things getting noticeably noisy. Overall, the sound is clear and this unit deals with small-scale mixing tasks in an absolutely straightforward way. Mike Senior