Let me forgive you if you are scratching your head wondering who Mixars are. Their main company AEB Industrial is a professional audio company from Bologna, Italy that was founded in 1974 and recently entered the DJ market at NAMM 2016 with a new line of DJ equipment under the brand name Mixars. That being said having an Italian designed DJ brand we should see some sleek looking equipment going forward. The initial offering from Mixars at the 2016 NAMM show was a lineup of 4 mixers and a Super OEM turntable. One of those mixers we are going to look at today is the entry-level 4 channel mixer – Mixars MXR-4.
- 4 multi-source stereo inputs (2x Phono (Line)/Line/USB, 1xLine/USB, 1xLine/Line/USB) with gain control, 3-band Kill-EQ (+12/-26dB) and 10-LED level meters
- Smooth dual-rail 60mm channel input faders
- 2x Mic inputs (1x Combo/1x TRS connector) with level control, mutual 2-band EQ, individual “on air” switches and manual talk-over
- Fully assignable 45mm smooth dual-rail crossfader, front detachable/exchangeable, with switchable steep/flat transition curve and reverse switch
- Internal preparation for InnoFader™ refit
- Master section with two separately controllable outputs and assignable dual 10-LED level meter
- Balanced (XLR) and unbalanced main outputs
- PFL section with PFL/Main mix and Blend/Split option
- High-power dual headphone output (6.35+3.5mm TRS)
The MXR-4 is constructed of an all metal chassis and a brushed metal faceplate that feels fairly solid and should stand up to some light abuse. The brushed metal faceplate gives the mixer a bit of style while the 10 segmented led lights are definitely bright enough even for the beach gigs. Also on the front is the display for the FX section which is an orange lcd panel giving you BPM and FX details which I will explain later.
The Top Panel
The MXR-4 has 2 sources to select from on each channel.
Channel 1 – USB or Line
Channel 2 – Phono (Selectable Line) or Line
Channel 3 – Phono (Selectable Line) or Line
Channel 4 – Line or Line
There is also 2 – 1/4″ mic inputs (one the back panel,the other on the top face plate)
Moving down to the EQ and Gain section. The MXR-4 is equipped with gain and 3 band EQ adjustments(Hi/Mid/Low) The EQ is adjustable from a very hot +12db to -26db cut. This EQ will not kill the frequencies as with an ISO EQ so music will bleed through. This section does have a very nice LED level metering strip for each of the 4 channels. The mic section has 2 mic level controls and share a common EQ( Hi/Low) with talk over button. The Master output controls are based on Master 1 and Master 2 – Master
The main fader area is your standard 4 channel 60mm faders and the crossfader is 45mm. Note The crossfader is replaceable with an Innofader and most recently Mixars has partnered with Pro-Fade to produce faders for them.
The Cue options on the MXR-4 include split cue/master and the blend option that allows you to adjust the level of pre listening. Headphones can be plugged in on the top panel using either 1/4″ or 1/8″ jacks which is always convenient.
The most striking visual on the front panel is the bright orange lcd display for FX and BPM and has 3 buttons inset to control FX beat sync and also manual/auto BPM counters. Just below the display there are 2 large buttons for FX routing and FX selection. Also below the display there are 2 knobs that function as FX intensity/time and Wet/Dry and last but not least the standard On/Off FX button.
The Rear Panel
On the rear panel, you find your equipment inputs and outputs.
The outputs on the MXR-4 consists of dual master outputs ( XLR/RCA on Master 1, Master 2 is just a set of RCA) each with independent knob controls on the top deck. There is also a set of RCA outputs for record on the back panel as well. If you have noticed and are wondering why Channel 1 is the only line that has a USB input, well thats because this unit only has a 2/2 USB sound card meaning you can only send one stereo channel and receive one stereo channel. This means there will be a need for an external sound card from Serato or Traktor to mix 4 output channels using the MXR-4. If you are sticking to Vinyl or CDJ’s you’re golden and you can use the USB to record your set or use the USB from the output of a DAW into Channel 1.
Now that you have the general layout it seems like a very basic 4 channel mixer which is great, it’s an entry-level mixer, but does it have the internal quality to make it stand out. I found that the sound was fairly clean on both the main outputs and headphones outs. One thing I did find a little weak in the sound was the depth of low-end. I found myself constantly adding low-end EQ to all tracks which is a sign the signal processing is a little thin but keep in mind it is an entry-level mixer so it can be forgiven.
The 4 channel faders while in use had a solid feel and should last without concern. The crossfader on the other hand was definitely of a grade lower than the channel faders which is to be expected ( Innofader Replaceable). I found it to have about 3mm of cut-in before sound balanced out and had a little too much wiggle for my liking. This is a minor gripe…just replace it with a superior crossfader if you plan on scratching.
The EQ section was the usual norm for this type of mixer, one thing I did love was the rubber feel of the over sized knobs which is a refreshing change from the small rotary pots found on most mixers. It would have been nice if they had included a HI/LO pass filter on the channel strips but you can’t wish for everything. One thing I can say they missed the boat on was not including a 4 stereo channel USB sound card.
The main striking feature on this mixer is the FX section, this is where a bad implementation can cripple the mixer. I had high hopes for this mixer when it was introduced and why I specifically requested to review it. The FX unit has a great set of specs you can choose your source for the FX using the SOURCE button below the display. Your choices are Channels 1-4, Mic and Master output. Below are FX options you can apply to the source you choose.
- Flanger – Serial
- Phaser – Serial
- Chorus – Serial
- High Pass filter – Serial
- Low Pass Filter – Serial
- Gate/Sutter – Serial
- Panner – Serial
- Pitch Shift – Serial
- Vocoder – Serial
- Low-Fi – Serial
- Hall Reverb – Parallel
- Gated Reverb – Parallel
- Reverse – Parallel
- Single Delay – Parallel
- MultiTap Delay – Parallel
- Ping Pong Delay – Parallel
- Phater – Parallel
- Sub Synth – Parallel
It has an impressive list of FX, the problem I have with this is that not all of the FX can be applied to all sources. For instance the FX that are marked with Parallel in the list above are you’re only FX options you can to apply to Channels 1-4 and Mic input. This is a shame because the bulk of the Serial FX are what should be used on a channel basis. Who wouldn’t want to apply a Low Pass Filter to just one channel? Yet in this implementation you’re only choice is to apply to the entire mix. This is my biggest gripe with this mixer….Some may disagree as it is a personal choice on your style of mixing. It may also just be simplified for the entry user, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.
So how does it stack up with the big boys in the mixer market. It does have the design appeal and looks great! The sound quality is good for an entry-level mixer compared to others in this category (Numark, Behringer, American Audio). Construction is sturdy and the feel of the channel faders are very smooth. I really like the rubberized feel of the oversized EQ and parameter knobs, a very nice change from other manufacturers. All though the crossfader is a little weak this is not a scratch mixer and the fader can be replaced with an Innofader or Pro-fader, so it’s not really that big of an issue. In a world that club mixers are costing thousands of dollars The Mixars MXR-4 fits into the market segment it is designed for – Entry level/Bedroom DJ and priced accordingly.
It is refreshing to see a company like Mixars come straight out of the gate with some great products. In the near future I will be reviewing the Mixars Duo Serato mixer teamed up with the Mixars LTA turntables. I wound like to thank my suppliers as always for making these reviews happen 🙂