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Samson MPL2242

22-Input Rackmounting Mixer By Derek Johnson
Published June 1994

This new mixer from Samson can't lay claim to much originality but does offer a good array of features for its sub‑£1000 price tag. Derek Johnson checks it out.

Back in the March issue of SOS, the prize for our monthly competition was a Samson MPL2242 mixer. We had a tremendous response to the competition, and the lucky winner is to be announced shortly — so it looks as though I don't even have to sell you on this desk: a quick look at its spec and facilities has been enough to convince a lot of you that it's just what your studio needs. Understandably — on paper the MPL2242 looks impressive for its price, with 22 inputs, six auxiliary sends, 4‑band EQ and four sub‑groups. The more keen eyed amongst you may have noticed that it bears quite a resemblance to the Mackie CR1604 — the popularity of which has prompted many a mixer manufacturer to develop a product to capture some of its compact stylishness, not to mention some of its market share! Indeed, quite apart from the Samson unit under review, I can think of DOD's 1642 and Soundcraft's new Spirit Folio Rac Pac, which are both cut from a similar pattern.

Input Channels

Back to the Samson, which is housed in a 19‑inch rack‑mounting package occupying nine rack spaces. The rack ears can be removed (and optional decorative side panels added) for table‑top use, and the armrest can also be taken off to make rackmounting easier. On the facilities front, the 2242 offers a total of 22 inputs, plus four stereo auxiliary returns which can be routed to two pairs of sub‑groups, making the desk ideal for multitrack recording; the sub‑groups are hardwired to the main stereo output.

The main inputs are configured as 10 mono channels and six stereo channels. The mono channels are each equipped with balanced mic inputs on XLRs, balanced jack inputs, insert points and a trim control adjustable from +4dB to ‑50dB. Each of the six stereo channels (numbered 11‑22) has a pair of unbalanced mono jack inputs, with a trim control on each stereo channel offering a range of +4dB to ‑30db. These stereo channels are ideal for the stereo outputs of keyboards, CD players, effects units and so on.

Apart from gain range of the Trim controls, all input channels, stereo and mono, have the same facilities. A sophisticated 4‑band EQ is a novel feature, and presents very useful sound shaping possibilities: the shelving high and low frequency controls offer 15dB cut or boost at 12kHz and 80Hz respectively, while upper and lower mid controls offer a peaking (bell) curve with 12dB cut or boost at 2.5kHz and 800Hz. Each channel also features four aux send controls, which feed six auxiliary buses. This is a typical configuration for this kind of desk, although Aux 1 is wired pre‑fade only (as opposed to being switchable pre/post on the Mackie desk), so is best suited for setting up a monitor mix. The remaining auxes are post fade and perfect for effects. Aux 2 is fixed, but the remaining two auxiliaries are switchable between two aux send busses each: one knob can access either aux 3 or 5, and the other can access either 4 or 6. There follows a pan pot (it's a balance control on the stereo channels), bus routing switches, PFL/solo switch and a rather nice fader. Curiously, this is detented in the middle of its travel (at a nominal 0dB), just like the Mackie 1604.

There is no dedicated channel mute/on switch, but the bus (sub‑group) switch does the job to an extent. It selects between two pairs of buses (1 and 2 or 3 and 4), and so only works as a mute if you're not using a pair of output buses, since they're both always wired to the main mix. There is no way of addressing the main mix output directly, which may be a little restricting for some users. On a more positive note, the Solo/PFL switch allows for Pre‑Fade Listen or Solo In Place: PFL allows the pre‑fade signal to be monitored and checked in the headphones without upsetting the main mix, while Solo mutes all channels except for the channel being checked. The choice of PFL or Solo is made with a switch in the master section.

Master Section

The master section features four aux return level and balance controls, an aux return PFL/Solo switch, bus monitor switches (select one or both pairs of buses for monitoring via headphones), main mix level control, headphones socket and volume control, four bus (sub‑group) faders, and metering. The meter shows either pair of sub‑groups, or the Solo/PFL levels — a master switch here decides which you'll be using, with an LED in the meter display indicating current status. There is also a global 48V phantom power switch for the 10 balanced XLR mic inputs. That's about your lot. It's a simple design, yet allows for plenty of flexibility and, most importantly, loads of inputs.

All connections are found on an adjustable jackfield at the top (or back, depending on your orientation) of the mixer. The main stereo output is balanced, while the aux sends, bus outs and aux returns are all unbalanced. Note that aux returns cannot be routed to the bus outputs. It would have been nice to have the opportunity to route effects to the bus outs, but it's not missed terribly, and the facility would doubtless have added to the overall price.

Surprisingly, the main outputs do not feature insert points (a la Mackie CR1604), so if you wish to process your overall mix, compressors or whatever will have to be patched in‑line between your desk's stereo outputs and your mastering machine. Since there is no separate stereo mix/monitor output, your mastering machine will have to be likewise patched in‑line with your monitoring system. Even with a patchbay, this is a little untidy. Shame.

Samson have provided the MPL with the ability to swivel its jack panel to two positions — the Mackie, with the addition of a Rotopod, has all manner of different positions for its jack section, and the 'jacks forward' position I favour makes using it with a patchbay a doddle. While the MPL's patch panel can only have two positions (top and rear facing), moving it is much easier since it's fixed to a central pivot point; moving the Mackie's jack panel involves messing about with ribbon cables and physically mauling the section into place.

In Use

Being a Mackie 1604 user myself, I took a special interest in trying out the Samson. For the most part, using the MPL2242 was rather like wearing the same coat in a different colour, but even so there are features I prefer on Samson's mixer. For example, the four genuine sub‑groups, lacking on the 1604, were an immediate source of increased flexibility. Multitrack recording is definitely possible with the Mackie (I know — I do it), but it requires a little ingenuity and careful planning. I also preferred having 10 channels of balanced mic inputs as standard (more mic inputs are available only as an option for the CR1604), and the Samson's 10 insert points are an improvement on the Mackie's six.

Even without a true channel mute or channel‑to‑stereo‑mix routing facility, using the MPL's bussing system made for easy multitracking. I could easily manage 8‑track recording, and could just about go to 16 if I didn't mind a date with a patchbay and a little careful planning and repatching. The 4‑band EQ is really very good, giving just that little bit more flexibility over the standard 2‑ or 3‑band found on most affordable mixers. Most manufacturers trying to offer you more in a limited space tend to provide a swept mid, but I found the Samson's choice of high and low mid frequencies to be musically useful and satisfying. Plenty of oomph at the bottom, sizzle at the top and definition in the middle — great! The mic amps on the 10 mono channels are also rather good: they offer very low noise for the size and price of mixer, and can handle a lot of level before cracking up. When tracking vocals, the MPL simply doesn't get in the way, resulting in clean, noise‑free vocals on tape.

The MPL2242 is no trouble to drive for anyone who's ever been within sniffing distance of a multitrack desk; and for the beginner, there's the manual, which, while not as quirky as the Mackie's manual, is still perfectly informative. As the introduction says, the MPL2242 has been designed to allow experienced users to dive in and get going without reading the manual, which is there as a safety net for absolute beginners. There are plenty of application notes and tips on using the desk with a patchbay, in a multitrack setup, on stage, and so on.


There are some features not implemented on Samson's desk or which were done better by Mackie on the 1604. As mentioned previously, the flexible jackfield section is more flexible on the Mackie, and auxiliary send 1 is fixed pre‑fade on the MPL2242 (it's switchable post/pre fade on the Mackie). There is also no indication of any expandability or future modifications for the Samson, while several Mackies can be patched together with an external box, and the Mackie can have a MIDI‑controlled fader and muting package added. On the other side of the scale is the Samson's sub‑grouping, making multitracking much easier, its 4‑band EQ, 10 balanced mic inputs and attendant insert points. So there are plus and minus points for both mixers.

There's nothing like being spoiled for choice — this sector of the mixer market is now getting refreshingly crowded, and that's got to be good news for the musician. The MPL2242 is priced similarly to its immediate competition, but it still crams an attractively large number of inputs and features into a mixer costing less than £1000.

Brief Specification

  • Frequency response: 10Hz‑20kHz (+/‑1dB)
  • Total Harmonic Distortion Main mix out: less than 0.03% Bus out: less than 0.015%
  • Max. gain (Mic to main mix out): 90dB
  • Channel to channel crosstalk (1kHz): ‑85dB
  • Dimensions: 482W x 435D x 148mm
  • Weight: 8.7kg
  • Power consumption: 46W


  • A total of 30 inputs when mixing (10 mono channels, 6 stereo channels and 4 stereo returns).
  • Real sub‑grouping.
  • Great EQ.


  • No channel mutes or direct access to stereo mix output.
  • Aux 1 fixed pre fader.
  • No EQ bypass.
  • Forward‑facing jacks would have been a nice option.


The MPL2242 is priced on a par with similarly specified rack‑mounting mixers, yet it quietly impresses with good sound, low noise performance and ease of use.