One of the very most important pieces of equipment that will affect the sound of your live band is your mixing console. I recently upgraded to the Mackie 2404-VLZ3 24-channel mixer. This mixer features 24 channels with 20 of those channels being XDR2 microphone channels and 4 channels being grouped on two faders as stereo channels. The mixer also features two built-in effects units that feature 24 separate effect presets. The mixer also features 8 separate compressors.
One feature that really sold me on this mixer was the built-in compression. There are four compressors located on channels 17-20 which is great for adding compression to individual instruments like the kick drum or bass guitar. There are four more compressors located on the four sub-group channels. Having the compressors located on the four sub-group channels is great for adding overall compression to the instruments or vocals. I route my vocal mix to sub-groups 1 and 2 and then add compression on those faders. I do the same with my instrument mix on sub-groups 3 and 4. I love the compression feature of this mixer!
Another feature that I really love on this mixer are the built-in effect units. I am able to use combinations of delay, reverb and chorus to my vocal mixes. I like having the tap tempo ability which makes it easy to synchronize the delay setting to the beat of the song. I often have my effects units set so that one unit provides reverb and the other unit provides vocal doubling. The mixer allows you to route the effect outputs to channels 20 through 24 giving you the ability to mix the stereo effects output through the compressors on the sub-groups. You can also simply send the effects output directly to the main mix.
The Mackie 2404-VLZ3 also features a USB output. The USB output sends a 24-bit digital stream to your computer with several routing options. You can send the four sub-group channels simultaneously to allow for 4-track recording on your DAW. You can also send the main L/R mix and AUX 5-6 feeds simultaneously. This gives you some great options for live recording or for multi-tracking in your studio. You can also use the USB as a return from your computer for mixing in signals from your computer.
I also really like all of the output options on the mixer. You can choose either XLR outputs or 1/4″ outputs to send to your amplifier. You have a mono main output as well that you can use to send a feed to your sub-woofer amp or to a mono house mix and it has it’s own output level knob on the back of the mixer. I do wish there was an XLR monitor mix output but the mixer does have a pair of 1/4″ monitor outputs.
I have been extremely happy with my Mackie 2404-VLZ3 mixer and it has made a tremendous difference in my band’s live sound. The compressors have really smoothed out our mix and having the extra effects unit has given our vocal mixes new depth. We’ve made some pretty sweet live recordings using the USB output into a laptop as well. Overall I couldn’t be happier with my 2404-VLZ3.