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The State of Mixing Monitors

© Feb 24, 2015

Back in 2002, maybe 2003, monitor mixing as we knew it changed. Many were frustrated with mixing monitors from FOH and simply didn't have the money to add a 2nd console to mix monitors, so there was a bit of an outcry for a cost-effective, musician accessible way to mix their own monitors. It's with this very premise in mind that Aviom came to be, and they entered the market in a big way with their A16 personal mixers that allowed the musicians to mix their own in-ears from the stage.

Flash forward to 2015 and it seems hard to remember the days where our only choice was to mix monitors from a full size audio console. Shoot, today we don't even need a physical console in order to allow a musician to mix their own ears. With at least a half dozen great personal mixer options and some new, interesting alternatives, I thought it might be fun to look at some of our favorite options for mixing monitors.

Personal Mixers

Behringer - Powerplay 16

Not to be out done by other manufacturers, Behringer has stepped up to the plate with their P16 mixers and true to Behringer form, these are extremely cost effective solutions. Like the rest of the X32 digital mixing system, the P16's are full of user friendly features like 16 channels of mixing, 3 band EQ per channel, easy operation, and "drummer-proof" output levels. Especially if you're using the X32 or M32 series mixers, the P16 personal mixers from Behringer are bang for the buck, hard to beat.

Elite Core - PM-16

One of the most rugged and cost-effective personal mixer solutions out there, the PM-16 came on the scene a few years ago with a great sounding, extremely user-friendly mixer that users everywhere have enjoyed. With 16 channels of mixing on 16 volume knobs and 16 pan knobs, operation of this mixer couldn't be any more straightforward. And with its steel construction and built in compression, it will withstand the most rockin stage you can find.

Digital Audio Labs - Livemix

A newer player to the personal monitor game, the Livemix solution for personal monitor mixing has quickly become a favorite for us. With 24 individual channels, touchscreen control, Dante integration and even an intercom function, this little mixer packs a big punch at a pretty fantastic price. And it's one of the only mixers out there that gives you not one mix per box, but two completely independent, fantastic sounding, 24-channel mixes per mixer.

Aviom A360 and A320

The little blue box is still the standard for many, and of course it's seen its share of upgrades over the years. With Dante or analog audio integration and features like One Touch Ambience, Network Mix Back, and a 36 channel mix engine for up to 17 mono or stereo mixes, the A360 should gain strong consideration from anyone looking at personal mixers. And if you're looking for something a little stripped back and light on the budget, the A320 offers many of the same features in a more cost-effective package.

Allen & Heath - ME-1

With a capability of mixing 40 channels into 16 configurable groups, the ME-1 is one of the highest capacity personal mixers available right now. The bright, OLED display offering custom naming for all of your channels and their simple one knob approach makes this personal mixer extremely user friendly. Plus the fact that the ME-1 is compatible with MADI, Dante, Ethersound or analog audio makes it one of the most versatile systems around. It not only sounds great but it's capable of playing with just about any system.

New Approaches

While I love what personal mixers allow us to do, for some the extra equipment on stage can be a bit too much clutter and an unwelcome distraction. But as digital audio consoles become more affordable and more accessible, we're seeing an interesting trend in monitor mixing. More people are buying small to medium format digital consoles for monitor desks and then have musicians use their mobile devices to remote in and mix their own monitors, which are then fed via wireless in-ears. Nearly every major manufacturer of digital audio consoles today include this feature, including:

  • Allen & Heath
  • Behringer
  • Digico
  • Mackie
  • Midas
  • PreSonus
  • Roland
  • Soundcraft
  • Yamaha

Mixing monitors is a necessity of live sound, but over the last 15 years we've seen tremendous advances in technology expand the way we can go about doing it. Whether personal mixers work for you, or adding an iPhone/iPad accessible digital console makes sense, it's no longer simply a matter of either a FOH or monitor engineer mixing your monitors. Which one is right for you? Give us a call, we'd love to help you figure that out.

Duke DeJong
Church Relations Director, CCI Solutions

Duke has over 14 years of experience as a technical artist, trainer and collaborator for ministries. Duke travels around the country for CCI Solutions and is available to help your ministry.