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Mixers are a critical tool for any musician who is going to be performing live in an unfamiliar space. They can have a transformative effect on your sound if you use them correctly—and if you have the right one. Finding the best small mixer for you can be a challenge, but there’s no shortage of quality mixers available online.
Here are five of the best small mixers available for live performances. No matter what you’re looking for in a small performance mixer, one of these models will have something to offer!
What Are The Best Small Mixers for Live Performances?
Small Mixers for Live Performances Reviews
This 10-channel mixer is clear and will stay true to the natural sounds coming from all your instruments. No specific audio frequencies are overhyped or emphasized unless you want them to be.
It also has one-knob compressors, onboard digital effects, a 3-band EQ system, and LED metering. Despite its lightweight feel, you won’t be lacking in tone editing controls.
Like some of the other mixers listed, the MG10XU includes switchable phantom power. Phantom power is when DC electricity is transmitted to a receiver that uses active circuitry to work. On the MG10XU, you can toggle phantom power on and off depending on what you have plugged in.
Mixers love it for its sturdiness and its natural sound. With multiple inputs for different instruments, the Yamaha MG10XU is one of the best small mixers for live performances.
- Natural sound that won't interfere with live performances.
- Known for its quality and sturdiness.
- Weighs under five pounds and is extremely portable.
- Onboard effects can be limited, inflexible for bands that need a custom sound.
The Mackie ProFX12v3 has a full twelve channels. If you think you might need to plug in a whole host of instruments, this mixer can support every instrument in your band and then some. It even has four stereo inputs, much more than some of the other mixers listed.
It has an onboard GigFX processor with 24 different effects, including delays, reverb, and auto-wah. It even has a blend function and a quick mute switch.
All you need to do is spin the selector knob until you reach the effect you want, making it easy to manage quick changes during a live gig.
With so many great features and places for you to plug in, the ProFX12v3 is one of the best mini mixers for professional live performers. However, it’s one of the costliest mixers listed here. Beginners might find that a simpler and cheaper mixer will work better for them.
- Twenty-four different effects you can easily switch between during live shows.
- Offers four separate stereo inputs.
- Compatible with several different kinds of microphones and instruments.
- Much more costly than many other mixers.
The Soundcraft EPM6 has six different mono inputs, so you can plug six separate instruments or mics in.
However, if you need more mono inputs for your live performances, the EPM is also available in two other models: the EPM8 and the EPM12. Instead of six mono inputs, they have eight and twelve different mono inputs, respectively. Both of them still come with two stereo channels.
This mixer is extremely simple to use, with clear labels for each switch. There are also peak LEDs for every input channel, so you can check on your sounds’ levels at multiple points throughout the signal path. This means that you’ll be able to control each level with precision.
That makes this one of the best compact mixers for live playing on the market. You want to have a mixer that’s extremely easy to use so you can improvise and easily recreate different tones.
- Heavy duty and difficult to break.
- Extremely simple to use with clear labels, perfect for live performances.
- Includes two stereo inputs on each model.
- Heavier than some other mixers listed here, at nearly 12 pounds.
- Not as many channels to plug into.
The Behringer Xenyx 1202FX comes with a whopping 100 preset effects, including chorus, delay, reverb, and pitch shifter. If you need a small mixer with effects, the Xenyx 1202 FX has plenty. Yet this amp is one of the cheapest listed.
It only comes with eight input channels, but four of them are stereo channels. That’s much more than even some of the costly mixers listed here. It also weighs a mere three pounds, making it extremely portable and easy to plug into any PA system.
Even though you might think that having a mixer that’s decked out with all the special effects and features is always better, it can actually be confusing and make the mixer hard to navigate, especially during live shows.
If you want one of the smallest mixers with plenty of effects to play with, you might love the Xenyx 1202FX. It even includes CD/tape input, so you can play music in those formats via your mixer.
- One of the most affordable options for portable mixers.
- Lightweight design means that you can take it anywhere.
- Has over 100 effects built-in.
- Has fewer capabilities than some other compact mixers.
Mackie’s Mix12FX is like the younger sibling of the company’s ProFX12v3 listed above.
There are twelve digital effects built-in, so you can easily alter the entire atmosphere of your show with just the switch of a dial for a good deal less money. It’s less than the twenty-four digital effects offered by ProFX12v3, but for beginners or mixers who simply want to touch up their live sounds, that may just be enough.
The Mix12FX comes with four stereo channels and eight mono channels. That’s more inputs than many mixers have, so you can plug as many instruments as you want in and give each of them their tone if you need.
Like many other mixers, the Mix12FX uses switchable phantom power on four of its microphone preamplifiers, and it will work with a wide range of microphone types. If you need a compact mixer with effects at a low price, this will be perfect for you.
- Includes four stereo channels.
- Built to last and take a beating.
- Much more affordable than Mackie's ProFX12v3.
- Considerably fewer capabilities than the ProFX12v3.
Small Mixer Buyer’s Guide
The best small mixing board for live performances is one that you can use with ease. You should be able to swap tones and effects without much trouble, at least once you familiarize yourself with the controls.
That doesn’t mean that you need a mixing board without too many controls; it means that you should be able to understand what every switch and button will do.
Before buying your mixer, do some research to understand all the technical specs of each mixing board and identify all the different controls.
Even if you aren’t sure of the mixing terminology right now, here are some basic tips to help you decide what kind of mixer you should get.
How To Choose the Best Small Mixer for Live Playing
- Decide if you want an analog or digital mixer. Physical switches and circuits control analog mixers such as the Soundcraft EPM6; you’ll be able to see exactly what settings you are using just by looking at the board. Digital mixers like the Yamaha MG10XU have greater functionality and can remember certain settings because they have an onboard computer. However, they’re a little more difficult to use.
- Find one with more than enough channels. You never want to be in a position where you have too many wires and not enough inputs. Even if you have enough for your band under regular circumstances, you never know when you suddenly have one extra instrument to plug in. Make sure that you have a few more inputs than you think you need by getting mixers like the Mackie ProFX12v3 or the Mackie’s Mix12FX.
- Determine how much EQ you need. If you’re just looking for a central control panel and don’t plan on altering your sound too much, then a small mixer such as the Behringer Xenyx 1202FX may suit your needs. You may not need a mixer with vast equalizing capabilities. Other bands may need a multi-band EQ to get the sound they want. You probably won’t need as many EQ capabilities for live performances as you do for recordings.
If you need a quality compact mixer with effects that compliment your sound, any of these five mixers will work well. Live performances will always sound a little more different than recorded songs, but that’s part of the fun of going to a concert.
A live mixer won’t take the human element out of your performance but enhance it so that the audience can hear every note.