Alesis MultiMix 8 FireWire Audio Mixer Review

Mix It Around, It’s All Good!

Alesis is at it again with a FireWire update to the compact MultiMix 8 audio mixer. The new MultiMix 8 FireWire retains features from the USB model, and ups the ante by allowing users to mix simultaneous tracks at 24-bit quality. The USB model only allows for 16-bit. This higher quality audio feature is sure to attract pro and intermediate users alike. And with painless installation, we are sure you can start taking advantage of the new features immediately.

The MultiMix 8 is shipped with a printed reference manual, CD, and a long FireWire cable to boot. The reference manual is very user friendly; it’s sixty pages of upfront information on the product. No technical labyrinths here. They go so far as to include a step-by-step guide for working with the bundled software, Cubase LE. Those who are new to recording audio over FireWire will truly appreciate Alesis’s effort in this department. You’ll also be happy to find the CD contains drivers for both Windows and Mac OS X, along with the Cubase LE version 1.0.8 audio mixing software.

A Packed Plate


This new audio mixer may have an ultra-small stature, but it’s a feature-laden device that demands attention. The result is an audio mixer that weighs less than most small laptop computers. As with any portable device, durability of the product is essential. We were impressed by the overall manufacturing quality of our unit during our audio mixer review: nice, smooth knob-style pots offer differing amounts of resistance depending on location, sturdy XLR inputs, and pyramidal thick rubber feet give this mixer a solid feel. Each of the balanced inputs has its own three-band EQ, high pass filter, gain control, pan control, and level control. There are, however, no slider-style pots or mute buttons, which some audiophiles may find difficult to get used to. Alesis engineers probably decided there was simply not enough room on such a compact unit (9.8″ x 9.1″ x 3.2″) and we agree. Despite its compact size, the design never felt cramped during our audio mixer review tests.

It’s the Little Things


On the backside of the MultiMix 8, the power input has a threaded collar that prevents it from accidentally pulling out. This feature is especially handy when you have “wandering feet” during a recording session. Alesis also had their thinking caps on when they gave the power and phantom power switches different feels. Of the two switches, the I/O power switch is much harder to depress than the switch to its immediate left. Small nuances like these make it highly functional for the price.

Upon installing the drivers CD, we noticed that the disk was a bit marred. While the disk was loading, CPU fans in our desktop blew louder than normal. After the required reboot, our desktop CPU still ran about 25 degrees warmer than before the install. A buggered up disk may have been at fault. Windows users will need a version of Windows XP or higher, while Mac OS X users are required to have version 10.3 or higher for installing MultiMix 8 drivers. To be fair, once we plugged in the mixer and started recording we had no other problems to speak of.

Adjusting your computer’s master audio preferences to use the new MultiMix 8 takes only a few seconds. You’ll want to do this right away to avoid any feedback that may arise if you have the mixer powered up. You may also have to change the preferences in your audio software. Both Cubase LE and Soundtrack Pro recognized the MultiMix 8 right off the bat and were easily adjusted to start recording through FireWire. Once this step is complete, you’re ready to record each of the mixer’s eight channels and the main stereo mix for a total of 10 channels.


Why FireWire


Alesis’s DICE II technology paired with FireWire can support 24-bit quality for simultaneous recording and playback of sound that USB cannot. This lets the user add more tracks to the mix without adding bulk. The 24-bit fidelity exceeds that of Compact Discs and offers both 44.1kHz and 48kHz operation. The MultiMix 8 can also handle 2 incoming tracks from the desktop computer.

As part of our audio mixer review, we tested the MultiMix 8 FireWire with a vocal condenser mic requiring phantom power, as well as an ENG (Electronic News Gathering) style super-cardioid microphone. The audio mixer proved to be a delight to use. The high pass filter helped smooth out the canned sound produced by the super-cardioid. As expected, the preamp gain worked well with the Hi, Mid, and Lo equalizers to cut any line noise. Two new buttons also appear on the FireWire model: “2 TK To Mix” and “2 TK To CTRL Room.” These new features allow for even more flexibility when routing audio through the MultiMix 8 by adding the RCA Two Track into the Main Mix, or out to the Control Room for monitoring. Also of note are the one-hundred onboard digital effects including pitch shifting, multiple reverbs, and delays. Not only are they entirely usable, they are all 28-bit professional quality. This quality is much better than you would get from adding analogue filters either live or in post-production.

If you want a portable audio mixer for under $600, look no further than the MultiMix 8 FireWire. Alesis may have the answer for video pros on the go, or those just looking for a space-saving option. Either way, the MultiMix 8 FireWire goes above and beyond the call of duty.

TECH SPECS

Input Channels: 8

Types of Inputs: Balanced XLR; ¼” Phono; RCA

Mono Inputs: 4, Balanced XLR and ¼”

Stereo Inputs: 2 Pairs, Left and Right ¼”

Phantom Power: es

Types of Outputs: Balanced ¼” Outputs to Main Mix,
Ctrl Room, Ext Aux Send; RCA Tape Out

Stereo Output: Yes

Meter Type: Dual Multicolor LED, with Peak Indicator

Microphone Gain Range: +10 to +60 dB

Line Gain Range: +10 to +60dB

Overload Indicator: Yes

EQ Bands: 3 per Channel; 12kHz, 2kHz, and 75Hz

Cue: Yes

Fader Type: Knob with hard stops

Auxiliary Sends Returns: Yes; -0 to +15dB, Mono and Stereo

Battery Operation: No

Dimensions: 3.5″ x 9.25″ x 10.25″ (H x W x D)

Weight: 4.5 lbs

Carry Case: Not Included

STRENGTHS

  • Higher Quality 24-bit Output with
    FireWire
  • No-Hassle Installation
  • Compact, Sturdy Design

WEAKNESSES

  • Some users may want sliding pots

SUMMARY

The MultiMix 8 FireWire offers hassle free pro audio mixing in a compact design.

Andrew Burke has worked in all areas of video
production, on three continents around the world.

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