04-01-2011 01:01 AM - edited 07-09-2013 01:01 PM
Digital mixers were supposed to be “the next big thing.” But while Yamaha made a pretty good go of it, they never quite took off as expected when the world went virtual. Mackie’s D8B stalled out early on, as did offerings from several other companies. Panasonic did reasonably well with their DA7 console – which frankly, I thought was a genius piece of gear and I still have mine – but they overprojected how many they would sell, and there never was a follow-up.
So here we have Phonic trying to get traction with a digital mixer in a virtual age. If you’d told me two years ago “Hey, Phonic has a digital mixer” my reaction would be have been “Yeah, whatever.” But that was before I did a Pro Review on their PAA6 audio analyzer, which while perhaps not the sexiest product in the world, surprised me with its functionality, user interface, and original thinking. Then I did a Pro Review of their Firefly 808 interface, and was very impressed not just by the cost-effectiveness, but the specs – in some respects, it outperforms far better-known, and definitely more expensive, products.
The Phonic Digital Mixer 16 goes for a street price of under $1,900. That link takes you to the Digital Mixer 16 page on the MF site, where you can check out the basic specs and such to get an idea of what we’ll be covering. I was rather taken aback by the 102-day wait from order to shipment; maybe this means they’re selling enough to be back-ordered. In any event, it’s a pretty eye-raising price for a mixer of this type, so it will be interesting to see how it shakes out on the test bench.
There's a LOT to cover here - it does USB and FireWire interfacing, has moving faders so you can switch among various layers and have the faders return to where they were on any given layer, includes effects, and the whole thing is controlled by a lot of physical controls as well as a full-color touchscreen. Let's take a look at the main view.
The layout is fairly conventional - a row of faders along the bottom, a patch bay along the top, output section to the right, and a variety of controls and buttons. I probably should have chosen a more exciting screen to show off the touch screen, but we can take care of that now...
This is the screen for a channel strip, which has EQ, dynamics, delay, the various sends, and so on. You can also dive deeper into individual effects; here's the dedicated compressor screen.
If you look around the back, you'll see a bunch of connectivity. We'll get deeper into each section, but this will give you an overview.
So...indeed, it's a digital mixer. As to how to cover it, probably the best idea is to go through the functionality first - what's the I/O, what does it do, how many fader layers does it have, and so on. Then it would probably make sense to get into the effects and the touch screen, then into the computer interfacing. But of course, pro reviews tend to sort of follow their own path, so we'll see what happens.
There are two limitations I want to get out of the way from the outset. First, the moving faders are solely for restoring levels when you switch layers; there's no internal sequencer you can sync to a DAW for automated mixing, nor is there MIDI I/O so don't think of this as a controller - it's a mixer. Second, the touch screen is cool for reasons we'll see later, but it's generally used for selecting parameters, and you use a data wheel for varying the actual value - it's not like the touch screen on, say, a Korg M3 where you actually change the values on the screen. However, the data wheel is detented, so this approach has the advantage of making it easy to dial in settings.
Anyway, it's late - I did a ton of pictures, and prepping them always takes time, so that's it for now. However, this should give you a taste of an interesting mixer, and we'll find out why it's interesting as we proceed.
04-14-2011 06:34 AM
04-14-2011 09:49 PM
04-30-2011 09:07 PM
05-02-2011 10:50 PM
05-03-2011 03:36 AM
05-04-2011 03:26 AM
05-04-2011 09:13 PM
05-05-2011 11:40 PM
05-06-2011 09:51 PM
05-06-2011 10:03 PM
05-07-2011 05:52 AM
05-07-2011 08:19 AM
05-07-2011 08:28 AM
05-07-2011 09:10 AM
05-08-2011 08:43 PM
05-17-2011 12:54 AM
05-17-2011 06:45 PM
05-17-2011 07:55 PM
05-19-2011 09:59 AM
HarmonyCentral.com is the leading Internet resource for musicians, supplying valuable information from news and product reviews, to classified ads and chat rooms.