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Buying a Mixer

29th April 2005 • Dave

Geoff asked me why I bought my Mackie 1202 mixer, as he’s in the market. I figured I hadn’t blogged anything substantial for a while, I’d kill two birds with one stone.

Well I did shop around a little, but there was a little bit of the impulse buy about my getting the Mackie. Before I make any significant purchase I usually try to do two or three things.

First, try and find some reviews of the product I intend buying, and some reviews of similar products. I did look very seriously at mixers from Behringer and Soundcraft, especially the Spirit Folio Notepad. Sites like have a wondrous archive of reviews of audio hardware and I spent many an hour loosing myself on sites like this one.

Second visit the manufacturer website and learn a little about the company and whether I can get documentation in a format I could access. I was able to get a PDF of the 1202 manual before I spent a penny and, and save for a couple of inaccessible diagrams (to be expected in mixer documentation) I found it to be very well written.

Dig around on Usenet and the web to see if the product has a user community. Users will tell you how it really is without the marketing, and the extent to which people are bitching about the product you are interested in buying can be very telling.

And finally compare prices from at least 3 outlets. I can’t remember if I did this with the Mackie. But there are usually lots of deals out there and now more than ever it’s worth shopping around if you’re on a budget. In the event I actually spent over the odds paying around £300GBP and didn’t spend enough time shopping around. Some sites are now showing the 1202 for around $300US.

In an ideal world I also try to get to see the product I’m going to buy. I’m always worried about things like build quality, design and accessibility, so it’s a good idea to try to spend as much time as possible making sure you’re getting exactly what you want. It is the worst feeling in the world to lay out a load of cash on something which you realise a month down the line isn’t what you really wanted. I had 3 pretty lengthy sessions playing with a Mackie 1202 in Alabama last year, and the Mackie really sold itself to me. That’s not to say another mixer wouldn’t have made an impression, but this one felt right and met pretty much all my criteria:

1. It has the best mic preamps in a mixer of it’s class. See:

2. It’s very rugged. I think my having dragged it all the way to South Africa and back has proved that.

3. It has a small footprint making it pretty portable. I took it in my hand luggage when I went to Cape Town.

4. It can do mix minus, ideal for use with a telephone hybrid. although I haven’t spent time figuring this out yet.

Good luck with your purchase Geoff and let us know how you get on.

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