The Nady SRM-10X is a good example of the current trend toward small-footprint utility mixers for simple audio chores.
The Size of Quality
Looking at it in the photograph on the front of the box, you get a sense of the SRM-10X?s small size. That could translate into small and unsubstantial, however. After we unpacked the unit and picked it up, we found it to be surprisingly weighty. It felt much more solid than we expected. And with good reason: the compact metal chassis houses a lot of functionality.
The SRM10X has a total of 10 channel inputs. The first two input channels are mono hybrid XLR/Phone jacks, that is the jack will accept a 3-pronged XLR cable at Mic level or a line-level 1/4-inch phone plug. There are four additional left/right pairs (eight channels) of standard stereo 1/4-inch line-level jacks. Additionally, there is a pair of L/R RCA tape inputs (audio engineers never seems to count those as channels, even though you can route them into the mix). That?s twelve total mono inputs. The two mono XLR inputs have 48V DC phantom power that can be globally turned on and off. Peak indicator LEDs help you adjust the gain to the right level. All of the inputs and outputs on the mixer are on the top surface, with none on the rear panel. This is handy in a portable mixer, since you?ll probably be plugging stuff in and out for every location you move to.
Each of the four primary channel strips include a trim potentiometers (pots), two bands of EQ (high and low), an AUX input control (which can be assigned to pre- or post-fader), a pan pot and a gain control which also has an assignment button marked PFL (Pre-Fader-Listen). The PFL button lets you bypass the channel strip and directly monitor the signal patched into that channel. For output, there are two sliders, one feeding a single MONO OUTPUT 1/4-inch phone jack and the other feeding a pair of similar jacks labeled STEREO OUT.
In the area of basic performance, the SRX-10X worked as promised. We tested the unit with a variety of dynamic and condenser microphones and the mixer did a fine job of routing and passing the signals. Adding a line-level signal to the mix in the form of a music feed, the SRM-10X had no problem balancing the microphones and line levels signals, which is one of the most basic functions of any audio mixer.
The SRM-10X isn?t just a basic mixer, however, and it has some advanced features, including Insert inputs on the two Mono channels that let you put an effect (such as reverb) into the processing chain. The Trim control on those channels also guarantees that you?ll be able to handle the variable sensitivity of inputs you?ll find in your source microphones. The separate Master Mix, Control Room (CTRL R OUT) and Headphone outputs let you monitor the mix in a variety of ways before the audio hits your camcorder. So what?s the difference between this product and mixers costing much more? As they say, the devil?s in the details.
The Wiggle Factor
Okay, I?ll admit this is a personal prejudice of mine. I don?t like controls with a sloppy feel. One of the things you?ll notice as you move up in mixer quality is that all the controls start to feel more solid as the build quality increases, from sliders to rotary pots to the very buttons you?ll press. Now, to be fair, this is a mixer designed to sell for well under $100 on the street and, as such, can?t be expected to sport premium quality components. Also, to be fair, one can argue that it?s more important in an audio mixer design to concentrate on the quality of the sound and, if you?re going to shave costs, shave them on the fit and finish stuff. Still, the SRM-10X is only fair in the “wiggle” arena. The main rotary pots have a pretty solid feeling, but the twin sliders and all of the little selection buttons feel much more “loosey-goosey.” This may not be the deciding factor for anyone choosing one mixer over another, but it?s a difference that might indicate the durability of the unit over the long haul. Note that I am being very picky here: the overall quality and construction of the unit is very good and is much better than most other mixers at this price.
Another small, but peevish, annoyance came up when two of the rubber feet on the back of the mixer sent for our review came unglued in the first week of testing. Under the missing rubber pads there were small holes obviously designed to accept a screw or some other mechanical connection to keep the pads in place. Why Nady elected to forgo using screws to secure the feet is a mystery.
The SRM 10X is a competent performer. It does what it promises and it has a sensible layout that packs a lot of flexibility into a small space. It?s audio performance, the whole point of an audio mixer after all, is comfortably within the range that anyone should expect for a unit at this price. The overall mixer sound is clean and there are enough basic features and functions (phantom power, AUX send/return) to give the beginning audio-for-video practitioner some room to learn and grow.
If you connect something to every input and output of the unit, it?s quite possible that you?ll end up with more money invested in your cables than the mixer itself. The SRM-10X probably won?t be the last audio mixer you?ll ever need, but it does a competent job of what it?s designed to do and nearly impossible to fault it at this price point.
Channels: 10–2 mono (XLR Mic, 1/4-inch line +48V DC phantom), 4 stereo (L/R pairs)
Additional Inputs: L/R stereo RCA (tape input, line level)
Mono Channel Controls: Trim, Low EQ, High EQ, Aux Send, Pan, Gain, Low Cut, Pre/Post, PFL switch, and Insert
Stereo Channel Controls: Low EQ, High EQ, Aux Send, Balance, Gain, Pre/Post and PFL switch
Tape In Controls: Gain and PFL switch
Master Output: Left and Right Main unbalanced outputs with slider control
Mono Output: With slider level control and AFL switch
Meters: Dual 6-segment LED bargraph, Peak LEDs on Mono channels
Printed Manual: 15 Pages
Dimensions (inches):8.125 x 1.625 x 9 (206mm x 41mm x 228.6mm)
- Good sound, solid construction
- Flexible features
- Great price
- Sliders and pots could be tighter
The Nady SRM-10X is a compact mixer with a wealth of features that is a real value at under $100.
Bill Davis writes, shoots, edits, and does voiceover work for a variety of corporate and industrial clients.
6701 Shellmound Street
Emeryville, CA 946080