The 4 Best Summing Mixers – Review 2017

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Photo by Sergiu Bacioiu / CC BY

If you are a recording engineer or if you are a musician managing your own recordings, and if your idea of an ideal sound is raw, organic, digital-free, analog-driven vibe, you’ll probably want to consider treating yourself with a summing mixer.

Summing mixer is an analog audio mixer that typically utilizes a set of four, eight or 16 channels. It’s standardly crafted to sum the signals in analog, rather than digital form.

Essentially, summing mixers force you to create a good natural sound coming directly from your instrument and amplifier. They rob you of any artificial digital tools and vibe, and leave you with the guitar’s organic audio output.

In situations like these, it’s do or die, but if you cope well, you’ll get the sound those digital dudes can only dream of. So join us for a brief rundown as we narrow down to the 4 best summing mixers on the market:

TC Electronic Studio Konnekt 48

We’ll start with the TC Electronic Studio Konnekt 48,  a very solid choice that will provide you with a professional sound at a mid-range price.

What should instantly be pointed out is the top-notch quality of built-in effects of this fella. Every FX that you can use offers great depth, warmth, and sonic power. You’ll be able to play around with them for days and are bound to get some good results guaranteed.

As for notable features, the device (see full specs) offers an extensive I/O section with a pack of Impact II preamps, mic preamps, a dozen analog inputs, and 12 analog outputs.

We’re talking about a 24/8 channel digital mixer with 48-bit double precision summing and the aforementioned top-class DSP effects.

Also included in the mix is the Dice II JetPLL technology for jitter elimination, along with such tasty tidbits as the Advanced Clock Recovery operation that ensures super stable audio streaming without any loss of quality.

Overall, if high-end effects, a fair price and high quality are what you need, treat yourself with this TC Electronic product ASAP. This is one of the best summing mixers for the money.

Black Lion Audio PM8 MKII

If you want something a tad different than the Studio Konnekt 48, but still within the same quality and price range, we’d like to recommend the Black Lion Audio PM8 MKII.

While the TC Electronic boasted amazing audio effects, the Black Lion here is more old-schooled and basic. The original, organic sound from your instrument is placed to the forefront and given a very strong natural boost, making the PM8 MKII perfect for fans of top-notch raw, vintage sound.

The device packs a set of eight channels of transformer-coupled inputs, along with a pack of three separate master outputs: Passive, Transformerless, and Transformer-Coupled.

Also included in the mix is the mute, volume and pan capability on each of the channels, a DB25 connection, and a grain oriented silicon steel input and output transformers.

If you want the vintage vibe, get this product. It’s one of the best summing mixers on the market.

Focusrite Control 2802 Small Format Analog Mixing Console

Alright now, let’s pick it up a notch! This is without doubt the finest item on the list, albeit the most expensive one. Needless to say, it’s worth every penny.

The mixer goes by the name of Focusrite Control 2802 (see full specs), and it’s been hailed by recording experts as “a dream come true” when it comes to summing mixers.

The sound is very crisp, clear, loud and strong, while the on-board set of effects is also top-level stuff. You can just tweak this thing for days, it will genuinely inspire you to work on more music, and that’s no mean feat.

The device features a stereo mix bus compressor with parallel compression feature, a set of transparent class A mic preamps. It’s a genuine high-end analog summing mixer with 32 inputs that allow mixing within a natural analog workflow.

Also included in the mix is a comprehensive ethernet-based DAW control layer. Thus, in a nutshell, if you want the ultimate summing mixer period, buy this mixer.

Mackie 802

The 802-VLZ3 is a more compact version of the company’s 1202-VLZ3 mixing board, and indeed its relatively small footprint is one of the main things that makes it stand out from the competition. It gives you two mono channels, two stereo channels, and a fifth channel that can be used for either, each with its own designated mic and line inputs as well as channel inserts. Since it also gives you a stereo auxiliary return, you could mix a total of ten different lines—pretty impressive for such a small mixer.

The 802-VLZ3 can also be used as more than just a summing mixer. It gives you an excellent variety of signal shaping options for each of the five channels, including a three-band EQ, pan, mute, and solo. There’s also an auxiliary send on each channel, in addition to the master toggle switch. There’s also a designated volume knob for the headphone jack, a feature many mixing boards don’t have that makes it perfect for both home and studio use.

The main reason the 802-VLZ3 is able to be so light-weight is because of its power supply. Unlike other Mackie mixers that have power transformers inside the chassis, the 802 requires a power supply with a mini-XLR connector. This makes it a bit trickier to replace parts if they’re lost or damaged, but considering the other ways it excels at the convenience factor, most people find this an acceptable trade-off. If you’re on a budget, the 802-VLZ3 is likely the best summing mixer for you.

Why should I buy a summing mixer?

There is hardly a definite answer for this question, since much like any thing in music, liking a specific sound is a matter of taste. But if you like your recordings free of the frequently bashed “plastic” vibe of modern digital technology, you should definitely consider one of the four gents listed above.

At a fair and even affordable price in some cases, summing mixers provide you with all the sonic power and technology you need to get an organic, raw, strong, powerful and professional recording.

They might require you to invest some extra time into mastering your craft, as there are no shortcuts here. But if you do master the craft, you will never deal with cheap-sounding digital recordings ever again.

In our personal opinion, this is the way to go, and analyzing these products was a hoot. All we can say about these products is that each is highly recommended and earns major thumbs up!

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