Best Small Mixer for Live Performance: Mini Mixers with Effects

Is the ZEDi 10 the best small mixer for live performance?

Choosing The Best Small Mixer For Live Performances

When choosing the best small mixer for live performance I consider several factors. Physical size, weight, number of channels, on-board effects, vocal compression and phantom power are just a few. Obviously high quality preamps, low noise, high headroom, and reliability are also huge factors. Many small mixers can also act as digital i/o via a USB port. I like having USB as an input option because it provides crystal clear digital audio for my backing tracks. For me a simple layout, reliable performance, and on board effects are biggies. I also like different mounting options because I generally handle my own mixing on stage and want easy access to the mixer. Let’s take a look at the Behringer Xenyx 1202FX, the Mackie PROFX8V2, the Allen & Heath ZEDi-10FX, and the Yamaha MG10XU and focus on their use during a live show. Hopefully this will help me narrow down my options and find the best small mixer for my future gigs.

Behringer Xenyx 1202FX

The Behringer Xenyx 1202FX is a nice small budget mixer with clean preamps and built-in effects on all channels.  Don’t let the 12 channels fool you though, there are actually 4 mono channels with balanced XLR inputs and 4 stereo channels with balanced 1/4″ inputs.  Beyond the built-in multi-effects processor there are no other extras such as bluetooth or USB.  The Xenyx 1202FX does; however, offer a main stereo mix as well as a control room mix, which can be nice for a monitor mix on stage.  The weight, size and form factor are just right for placement just about anywhere on stage.  If you don’t need bluetooth streaming or USB i/o, this board is an excellent budget choice! Read Amazon Reviews | Comparison Chart

Mackie PROFX8V2

The Mackie PROFX8V2 is another excellent offering from Mackie’s small mixer lineup. I used a Mackie 1604 back in the nineties and was always blown away by the clarity and definition that mixer delivered. This 8 channel board features 4 of Mackie’s own Vita low noise preamps, on board effects, phantom power, USB stereo input / output and a graphic EQ that can function for either the main mix or the monitor mix. One of my biggest gripes about this mixer is the claim that it is an eight channel mixer. It’s actually a five channel mixer (three of the channels are stereo). There is a USB digital input for one more stereo channel (a total of six channels). Other than that, this board checks all the boxes for me. I find the USB input invaluable for live performance because it provides a clean digital signal from my laptop. For my needs there are several downsides to this small mixer. In my opinion this mixer does not provide enough input channels to suit my tastes. The actual faders are nice, but that also adds to the larger footprint of the board itself.
Read Amazon Reviews | Comparison Chart

Allen & Heath ZEDi-10FX

Allen & Heath is a huge name in pro audio mixing consoles. The ZEDi-10FX is a compact mixer that is derived from Allen & Heath’s popular ZED line of mixing boards. The board has 7 channels (3 in stereo). The ZEDi-10FX has all the bells and whistles including: USB digital i/o, phantom power, even onboard effects with a tap to tempo button! Channels 1 and 2 have Hi-Z instrument inputs to eliminate the need for direct boxes. This is a huge plus in my book. I often play acoustic guitar and sing with a friend who also sings and plays an acoustic guitar! Channels 1-4 have balanced XLR inputs for mics with a three band EQ and a low-cut switch. This makes for ample adjustment of vocals, guitars, etc… Channels 5/6 are a stereo pair of 1/4″ balanced inputs which makes it perfect for a keyboard, drum machine or any other line source stereo device.  In addition to these features, there are lots of options for monitoring including the ability to individually assign each channel to the headphone mix. The Zedi-10FX is certainly a small, capable mixer. It would shine in a studio or in a live performance.
Read Amazon Reviews | Comparison Chart

Yamaha MG10XU

The Yamaha MG10XU is the last in the line up. Like many of the other mixers in this review, it has 4 mono channels with balanced XLR inputs; however, channels 1 and 2 provide compression to help vocals cut through the mix! The MG10XU has 3 stereo channels, two with stereo paired 1/4″ unbalanced inputs and stereo paired RCA inputs, and one with stereo paired 1/4″ unbalanced inputs and USB i/o. This board has an effects processor and ample monitoring options with one caveat: Each channel has only one effects send. All of the other boards provide a separate monitor / aux send and an effects send. One major plus that makes this mixer excellent for live performance is that Yamaha makes an optional mic stand adapter. This means the mixer can be safely standing within reach for easy access at all times during the performance.
Read Amazon Reviews | Comparison Chart

The Best Small Mixer For My Future Performances

After analyzing the capabilities of each small mixer, I decided on the Yamaha MG10XU. I truly do believe it’s the best small mixer for live performance. I’m actually torn because the Allen and Heath board has so many nice features that would be great for recording purposes, but I had to remind myself that this mixer will be mostly used for live performance. I’m a solo act, so the lack of an added aux out for monitoring isn’t a big concern for me. I actually use a compact line array speaker and sit just to the side of it, so I really don’t even need a monitor! The MG10XU does provide a USB input for digital playback of my backing tracks, this is a big plus for me. Yamaha also makes a mic stand adapter for this board, which was actually the deciding factor for me. If it weren’t for those two features, I may have gone with the Behringer board due to it’s minimal size and price point. I hope my journey to selecting the best small mixer for my needs helps you find just the right compact mixer for yours! Be sure to check out my other posts for the best in pro audio! | Check Out the Yamaha MG10XU on Amazon!

Small Mixing Board Feature Comparison

Behringer Xenyx 1202FXMackie PROFX8V2Allen & Heath ZEDi-10FXYamaha MG10XU
Channels8 Total
(4 Mono, 4 Stereo)
5 Total
(2 Mono, 3 Stereo)
7 Total
(4 Mono, 3 Stereo)
7 Total
(4 Mono, 3 Stereo)
Footprint8.7″ x 9.5″ x 1.9″15.6″ x 17.9″ x 7″13.1″ x 10.8″ x 3.8″9.6″ x 11.6″ x 2.8″
Weight3 lbs10 lbs4.85 lbs4.63 lbs
Mic Preamps with XLR Input4444
Effects / ReverbYesYesYesYes
USB i/oNoYesYes
Volume Faders or KnobsKnobsFadersKnobsKnobs
48v Phantom PowerYesYesYesYes
Available Mic Stand MountNoNoNoYes

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