Best Small Mixer Board for Live Performance: Mini Mixers with Effects

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

Choosing The Best Small Mixer Board For Live Performances

When choosing the best small mixer board 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 mixer boards 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 board 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!

Update: I just purchased a Behringer Xenyx 1002FX mixer board for use with a small karaoke setup. The only difference between the Xenyx 1002FX and the Xenyx 1202FX is that the 1002FX has two fewer XLR channels. I don’t need more than two microphones, so this isn’t a big deal for me. I’m extremely impressed with the small footprint and sleek look of this tiny mini mixer! Most importantly, the sound is excellent. Plenty of gain and headroom with no noise! I can certainly push the gain and level knobs up toward their limits and get some noise, but I’m getting a great sound and signal without needing to push it. The headphone output is also excellent. I’m using Neumann NDH20 closed back headphones and this little board pushes them nicely. I’m also impressed with the on-board effects. There is a nice range of reverbs, delays and multi-effect combinations to pick from and they actually sound pretty darn good! I’m amazed at the quality of this little board for a mere $100 bucks!! This little mixer also includes a set of RCA inputs for old school disc jockeys and a set of RCA outputs for older analog recorders. There’s no doubt that for the price, these little mixers would be perfect for live performance. In addition to the two (or four) XLR inputs there are four stereo channels with 1/4″ TRS inputs for bluetooth receivers, keyboards, drum machines or usb interfaces. Just pick the four XLR input version or the two input XLR version and get ready to rock!Read Amazon Reviews | Comparison Chart

Mackie PROFX10V3

The Mackie PROFX10V3 is the long awaited upgrade from the PROFX8V2. Two added channels make for another excellent offering from Mackie’s small mixer board lineup. I used a Mackie 1604 back in the nineties and was always blown away by the clarity and definition that mixer delivered. This 10 channel board features 4 of Mackie’s own Onyx low noise preamps (upgraded from the the Vita preamps of the PROFX8V2), on-board effects (Mackie’s new GigFX engine), phantom power, and 2×4 USB inputs/outputs for recording live or in your home studio. Mackie did fix one of my biggest gripes about the PROFX8V2: There are now 4 dedicated XLR inputs and two dedicated stereo inputs. With the previous version, two of the XLR channels doubled as stereo channels, effectively making the mixer a five channel mixer. There is a USB digital input for one more stereo channel (for a total of six channels). I find the USB input invaluable for live performance because it provides a clean digital signal from my laptop. The new version does offer two notable downgrades and a tradeoff. The graphic EQ is no longer included and all channel volume controls are now knobs versus faders. The tradeoff is that the board is smaller and more portable. For my needs there are several downsides to this small mixer. Actual faders are nice, but I prefer the smaller footprint and added portability. The graphic EQ was rather limited and I rarely tweek EQ unless I have a feedback issue. Feedback is not a huge issue to me because I have auto feedback control on the powered speakers that I would use with this mixer! I find the changes to be huge improvements and would not hesitate to buy this feature packed mini mixer.
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 board 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 mixer boards 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 board, 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 board 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 Mixer Board Feature Comparison

Behringer Xenyx 1202FXMackie PROFX10V3Allen & 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