Allen & Heath vs Mackie Mixers – Reviews 2023

allen and heath vs Mackie, allen & heath vs Mackie, mackie vs allen and heath

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Allen & Heath and Mackie—if you’re shopping for recording equipment, there are some brand names you’ll see come up again and again. Both are giants of the industry, each offering an array of mixers for both live mixing and recording studios. Deciding which one is the better brand for you means both identifying which features you need in a mixer and determining your maximum budget.

We’ve picked out two of our favorites from each brand and reviewed them below. Whether you’re a professional recording engineer looking to upgrade your equipment or a hobbyist setting up your first home studio, you’ll find something to suit your needs on the list below. You’ll also finally find out which brand will in the Battle of Allen & Heath vs Mackie Mixers.

Allen & Heath vs Mackie Mixers: Allen & Heath

Founded in Cornwall in 1969, this British recording company became a household name when they designed the mixer used by Pink Floyd in their live shows. Their history of innovation has made them a top name among professional musicians, with their studio mixers getting the same high regard as their live sound options.

Allen & Heath’s main focus is on professional-grade equipment, and their pricing reflects this. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t use it in a home studio, but you shouldn’t expect to find a budget option in their catalog. What you can expect are impeccable sound and build quality, along with modern features to satisfy a pro’s recording needs.

Allen & Heath QU-24 Mixer

Let’s start things off near the top of Allen & Heath’s product line. The QU-24 is a 24-channel, 30-input powered mixer with all the on-board effects and features you need for both studio and live mixing. Each channel is equipped with an AnalogiQ mic preamp and has independent controls, including a 4-band parametric EQ.

The on-board effects are impressive on the QU-24 (see full specs). It has an integrated iLive FX engine and can also be used with Allen & Heath’s Qu-Pad app. This gives you access to even more effects, and lets you control the mix wirelessly through an iPad, even when you’re not standing at the board. Overall, it’s the ideal mix of an analog mixing feel with the bells and whistles of a digital mixing interface.

This is a beast of a mixer. It definitely has the potential to be intimidating to a recording novice, and the learning curve will be higher than with a simpler design. Having said that, the addition of a touch screen to the standard knobs and faders expands the mixer’s potential, and it’s intuitive to use once you get the hang of it. If you’re looking for a professional, versatile mixer for venues and studios, this is an excellent option.

Qu-24 30 in / 24 out Digital Mixer

Allen & Heath ZED60-10FX Mixer

If you’re in the market for something a bit smaller, consider the ZED60, the 6-channel offering from the A&H ZED line. This compact mixer has 4 mic/line inputs and 2 stereo channels, making it ideal for rock bands and other small ensembles on the go.

Like its big brother above, the ZED60 has independent controls for each channel, including a 3-band EQ. It also comes with 16 high-quality effects. Since they use the same algorithm on the ZED line as they do on their higher-end offerings, you can count on the effects to sound natural at any level of intensity.

Portability is the biggest advantage of the ZED60. It weighs less than 10 pounds and is small enough to take with you from the studio to your next gig. It’s the perfect choice for bands that want to do their own mixing and recording, giving you professional sound in a compact (and reasonably priced) package.

Allen & Heath ZED Sixty10FX USB mixer demo at Nevada Music UK

Allen & Heath vs Mackie Mixers: Mackie

The first thing you’ll notice comparing Mackie to Allen & Heath mixers is the difference in price. Mackie’s main claim to fame is their ability to provide high sound quality at an excellent value. While you can certainly still spend a pretty penny on a Mackie mixer, the price per channel is among the lowest in the industry—at least if you’re looking for professional quality.

You can think of Mackie as the people’s mixers. They’re easy to set up and use, even for people without a lot of recording experience. This makes them arguably a better choice than Allen & Heath for hobbyists, students, and bands that are just getting started with recording.

Mackie 3204 Mixer

Like we mentioned above, great value doesn’t necessarily mean cheap. With the Mackie 3204 you’ll get a full 32-channel 4-bus mixer for a somewhat reasonable price—an investment, certainly, but not an overly large one considering what this mixer can do.

The Mackie 3204 (see full specs) has 28 XDR2 preamps, along with 24 natural-sounding effects with tap delay so you can use them live. It’s impressively low-noise with a high headroom, another feature that makes this an excellent option for live mixing. For studio applications, it offers 4-track USB recording, giving you a lot more flexibility with your mix.

This is another mixer that might look a bit intimidating, but the layout is intuitive and it’s one of the easiest full-size mixers to learn how to navigate. It’s actually quite compact, too, considering how many channels it offers.

Mackie 3204 VLZ3 Mixer - In-Depth Review

Mackie Mix8 Mixer

Mackie also offers mixers that are truly budget-friendly, like this Mix8. It’s a compact 8-channel mixer that gives you the same high headroom and low-noise design as the bigger 3204 above. With an independent 3-band EQ on each channel, it’s the ideal option for bands that want professional sound without the professional price tag.

The features on this mixer are pretty streamlined. It’s missing two things you’ll find on the other mixers on this list: preamps and on-board effects. While you might miss both, this also makes the Mix8 very simple to use. And it’s a winner in portability, too, weighing only 3.5 pounds. That’s especially impressive considering the durable all-metal chassis. This is really a mixer you can take anywhere without hassle or worry.

Mackie Mix8 - Basic setup

Allen & Heath vs Mackie Mixers: So Which One’s Better?

The question of Allen & Heath vs Mackie honestly comes down to innovation vs value. If you want the most modern, fully-featured mixer money can buy, you want to get an Allen & Heath; if you’re looking to get the best bang for your buck, Mackie can deliver.

The good news is that both companies excel at sound and build quality. All four of the mixers above are versatile choice that will bring out the best of whatever you’re mixing. With functions for both stage and studio, they’re equally appealing for venue owners, recording engineers, and musicians.

Hopefully these reviews have helped you figure out the perfect mixer for your next project! Good luck!

  • Micah Johnson started playing music in high school, when he taught himself the bass to join his friend’s band. He added guitar and drums during his twenties playing in local clubs, and along the way, he picked up unique, hands-on experience from hand drums to studio mixers. On Song Simian, he aims to share this knowledge from 20+ years playing and recording music. When not in gearhead mode, he enjoys photography and travel.

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