Mixer For Live And Studio Use, the Phonic Helix Board 18 MK1 FireWire

Phonic Helix Board 18
Phonic Helix Board 18 MK1 FireWire

   I’m always on the lookout for good deals on products that you can use for multiple purposes. Today I’m going to tell you about the Phonic Helix Board MkI FireWire. It has been replaced by the MkII but is virtually the same board with a few cosmetic changes. I’m talking about the MkI because you can get a great deal on it right now on eBay.  

   The great thing about this board is it’s versatility both in a live setting and in the studio. The fact that you can connect this mixer to a PC or a Mac via the FireWire interface is just amazing in a mixer in this price range.

   The mixer can handle your bands live mixing requirements with 6 Mic/Line channels with inserts. These channels can either accept a microphone or a 1\4″ mono input signal. It also has 2 stereo input channels that can also either accept the 1\4″ stereo or mono input or 2 additional microphone inputs. That’s a total of 8 mic preamps complete with phantom power for powering your studio condenser microphones. The mixer also has 2 additional stereo auxiliary inputs for a total of 18 inputs. That should be plenty of inputs for a typical band of 4-5 members. The mixer also features a built in 24-bit digital multi-effect processor with 16 programs plus one main parameter control, tap control and a footswitch jack. For a full list of features I’ve included a link to the Owners Manual at the bottom of this post.

    I’ve listed just some of the features of this mixer and as you can see, it’s got you covered for hooking up your entire band without a lot of fuss. Now the true advantage this board has is it’s built in FireWire interface. This will allow you to stream up to 16 individual channels to any PC or Mac allowing for recording, editing and tweaking of tracks. You can either record with the onboard effects unit or use any of the plugins for the Cubase LE audio software included with the Helix Board 18 FireWire MK1. My preference would be to use this board as an input mixer for the very powerful Sony Acid 6 Music Workstation software. The boards drivers are compatible with both Mac OSX and Windows XP. What makes this really great is if you want to record your bands live shows you can hook it to a laptop and record a sixteen track take of your live show. Having sixteen tracks to work with at mixdown is a huge advantage for mixing a live show for commercial release.

   I don’t own this board yet but I LOVE the features. In researching it, I’ve read both positive and negative reviews of the board. By and large everyone agrees that for this price you just can’t beat it’s features though some people have experienced breakdowns with the board. I will offer this opinion from my experience with budget equipment. Make sure you buy from a seller that can at least guarantee that the board will be covered under the manufacturer warranty. Most equipment will fail within the manufacturer warranty if it’s going to fail at all. I’ve found that if you treat your budget equipment with care you can really get some good use out of it. If any of you that read this have experience with this board, please leave it in the comments section.

   The best deals on the Internet that I’ve found on this board are on eBay. Just click the links below to search and find the best price on the Helix Board 18 FireWire.

Read the Owners Manual
[phpbay]Phonic Helix Board, 10[/phpbay]

Author: Live Musician Central

My name is Matt Rushton. I have been playing in bands for 27 years. I've been playing professionally for 21 years. I have opened for Sheryl Crow, Barenaked Ladies, Joan Jett, Little River Band, and Quiet Riot.

9 thoughts on “Mixer For Live And Studio Use, the Phonic Helix Board 18 MK1 FireWire”

  1. As I am reading your post I am listening back to some of my tracks on this very board.

    I like to balance my toys so that I only have great stuff and don’t have weak links. Since I can buy the good stuff I do…. which leads me to my thoughts on this board. I have no problem plugging my U87ai’s or my Rode NTV that I usually run through my Avalon pre’s into this board. This is a great board! There was some negative noise going on about the Phonics boards but then we all know that makers like Mackie employ people to do nothing but trash other companies gear. I use my ears to to judge sound. If I had paid $1,200 for this board I would have felt like I got a great deal.

    I’ve only owned the board a short time but have been using it daily. It feels well built but only time will tell for that. Everything on it is sturdy feeling and all the knobs, faders and inputs feel as good as my Ghost board did – it cost me about $5,000 back in the day.

    The pre amps are very clean (read don’t add anything). I actually like personality to preamps but then that is what $2000 stand alone units and plug ins are for.

    without going through each feature, I’ll just say they are all good. I would have liked a few things on this that it doesn’t have like metering for individual tracks. Its too bad Phonic doesn’t have it as an add on. All you get is a peak light …. That’s ok, I’ll live with it for the price !!

    Buy this on a whim and feel lucky like I did….. you won’t regret it.


  2. Is that a bastard child of a Behringer? It looks just like one. Who stole from whom? Or did Phonic buy Behringer?

  3. My first thought when I saw the mixer was “That’s a Behringer!” since it looks a lot like the Behringer Eurorack Series. The big, big difference though is the Phonic board has a built in FireWire interface that can stream 16 tracks simultaneously. For the same price as a Behringer. That’s why I wrote it up because the FireWire interface in that price range is a heck of a deal.

  4. Schweet!

    I’ve got a Behringer rig, but this looks like it could be a candidate for the next time I upgrade.

    Appreciate all the comments!


  5. I’ve been looking at the Mackie mixer with a firewire or USB interface and have been told that it’s great for mixing live music but has problems with recording. If Phonic board can do both then I’m going to look a lot more seriously at it.

  6. I am an Assistant Radio Chief for an NPR station and we have many voicing booths and a Reading for the blind service. I also do a lot of live remote recordings. The Phonic factory builds for Behringer and Yamaha as well. I have 2 Mackie 24x8x2 a Mackie 16x4x2, several 1201 vlz, Behringer UB2442FX pro and several Phonic AM series and smaller Behringer 2 mic boards along with Allen Heath and Soundcraft 4 bus mixers The Helix series while looking like the Behringer stops at look. The Helix build is much beefier all around. ( I did order a pop up mixer case) I have had more problems (scratchy or dead channels) with the Mackies (both 24x8x2 and 16x4x2) and no problems with Begringers (except 1) or Phonics. I have replaced strips on both Soundcraft and Allen & Heaths at prices that would buy a few of the Behringers and Phonics. All of the above mentioned units are used daily 7 days a week. I have only had to send the Behringer UB2442FXpro back for a bad channel and even though it was past warranty, the fixed it upgraded the chips and only charged $15 for shipping. But the subject is the Phonic Helix…the one I am using 24MKII version 3.2.0 is a great investment if you are on a small budget.

  7. Thanks for the excellent comment Otis. That’s some great info on the mixers you’re using. I also have a Behringer UB2442FX-Pro that hasn’t let me down during a lot of hours of road use. Now if it just had the firewire interface like the Phonic…

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