Allen & Heath ZED 12FX vs Behringer XR18: Compared and Rated

Choosing the right mixer when there are so many on the market these days isn't easy.
Especially when many of them are built for one specific need but being marketed as an all-rounder 🙄
But not to worry, I've got ya!
I have taken a deep dive into two beasts in the audio-mixing game and gone head to head with them: Allen & Heath ZED 12FX vs. Behringer XR18.

We're looking at things like:
  • Sound Quality: This is the heart of the matter, right? How each mixer holds up in delivering crisp, clear audio. Are we talking about a mixer that makes your tracks sound like they're live from the garage, or are we hitting studio-quality sound?
  • Ease of Use: Nobody wants to spend hours figuring out which button does what. I’ll break down the user interface of both Allen & Heath ZED 12FX and Behringer XR18. Are they plug-and-play easy, or will you need a PhD in mixology to use them?
  • Features and Functions: Ie. What's under the hood? Let's find out what sets them apart.
  • Durability: No matter your reason for buying, you want something that's gonna last, not fall apart after a few light sessions.
  • Price Point: Yep, money talks. When it comes to prices, we need to see which mixer gives us more bang for our buck. Is the higher price of one justified by its features, or is the other a hidden gem at a bargain price?
  • Customer Reviews and Feedback: What's the word on the street? Sometimes real-world use tells a different story than what the sales page says.

Allen & Heath ZED-12FX

After using the Allen & Heath ZED12FX for about six months, I think it's a solid piece of gear, especially for those transitioning from basic to more advanced mixing needs. The sound quality is notably clean and clear, making it a reliable choice for both studio and live environments. Working with it, I've found that the preamps deliver a crystal-clear sound, and there’s an impressive amount of gain available, which is a step up from some lower-priced mixers I've used in the past.

Learning Curve and Usability

Although the mixer is fairly user-friendly, I believe beginners might find it a bit challenging at first, mainly due to the underwhelming instruction manual. It's more about trial and error unless you're already familiar with mixers. However, once you get the hang of it, the layout and controls become intuitive. The faders and knobs are smooth and responsive, adding to the overall ease of use.

Effects and Features

The ZED12FX stands out for its effects. The range and quality are commendable for a mixer in this class. It adds significant value, especially if you're into experimenting with different sound textures. However, the dedicated send and returns being 1/8 jacks is a bit puzzling. It's an odd choice considering the rest of the board adheres to industry standards. This might limit some traditional uses, but it's not a deal-breaker.

Reliability Concerns

One of the downsides I've noticed is the question of long-term reliability. I've heard about issues like pre-amps failing just after the warranty period, which can be a major concern if you're planning to use this mixer heavily. While I haven't faced this issue personally, it's something to keep in mind.

Overall Experience

In terms of overall experience, the Allen & Heath ZED12FX has mostly been a positive journey. The sound quality, ease of use (once you get past the learning curve), and the additional effects make it a worthy investment for someone looking to upgrade from a basic setup. Just be wary of the potential long-term reliability issues and ensure you have a backup plan in place.

Behringer XR18

This is another mixer I got hold of just to review. It has a semi-hefty price-tag but what I will say is this: the Behringer XR18 is a unit that delivers far more than its price suggests. After several months of continuous use, I've faced zero reliability issues, making it a standout in its category.

Unbeatable Feature Set for the Price

The XR18's feature set is its biggest selling point. There's a wealth of options here that you'd struggle to find in other mixers within this price range. The audio quality is top-notch, and the control options are extensive. It's particularly great for those who need comprehensive control in a live setting or a studio environment.

Minor Downsides

Despite its strengths, there are a few areas where the XR18 could improve. One noticeable absence is the ability to do time-alignment, a feature available in the higher-class X32. There's also the matter of the built-in Wi-Fi, which can be a bit unreliable in live situations. I always ensure a hard-wired connection during critical events to avoid any potential connectivity issues. Lastly, there's a bit of a learning curve when switching between the software interfaces on different platforms, like iPad and computer.

Robust Software and Solid Hardware

The software is robust, offering comprehensive control over the unit, albeit with some platform-specific quirks. Hardware-wise, the unit feels solid and well-built, suitable for regular gigging.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, if you need a feature-rich mixer and the XR18 ticks all your boxes, go for it. It's an excellent investment, especially considering its price point. Sure, it has a couple of minor drawbacks, but these are easily outweighed by its overall performance and reliability. Whether for live use, studio work, or even podcasting, the XR18 is a versatile choice that won't disappoint.

Head 2 Head: Allen & Heath ZED 12FX or Behringer XR18

Stepping right in, let's dissect the Allen & Heath ZED12FX, a compact yet powerful analog mixer. My first impression after six months of usage is that it's a solid piece of professional audio gear that delivers excellent sound quality, noted for its clean and clear output. The preamps are a gem, providing quality gain that outshines some lower-tier mixers I've encountered.

Get Cozy with the Controls

For those new to the world of mixing consoles, you might find navigating this audio mixing desk a bit tricky initially. That's partly due to the somewhat undercooked instruction manual. But trust me when I say this: once you get over that initial hump, it's smooth sailing from there on out. The faders and knobs are not only responsive but also feel good to the touch.

Sprinkle Some Effects

The ZED12FX really shines when it comes to on-board effects. You get quite an assortment here, perfect for those looking to play around with different sound textures in their studio equipment. However, there’s one peculiar design choice – the send and returns being 1/8 jacks rather than standard XLR inputs/outputs. It's not a deal-breaker by any means but certainly something to keep in mind.

Reliability – A Potential Pitfall?

It’s worth flagging potential reliability issues with this mixer – some users have reported pre-amps failing just after warranty expiration. That can be quite infuriating if you're heavily reliant on your mixer for live sound or recording sessions.

Now let's shift gears and look at our second contender: Behringer XR18, a digital mixer with an impressive USB recording interface.

A Feature-Packed Beast

The XR18's expansive feature set is its biggest USP. The audio quality it delivers, coupled with extensive control options, makes it a powerhouse for live sound and studio work alike. The built-in Wi-Fi can be a bit temperamental though, so I'd recommend a hard-wired connection during any crucial gigs.

A Few Hiccups

Despite being an incredible piece of kit, there are a few areas where the XR18 could use some polish. Time-alignment is notably absent, a feature that's available in the more premium X32 model. Also, there's a bit of a learning curve if you're switching between different software interfaces.

Robust and Reliable

Despite its minor setbacks, the XR18 stands tall when it comes to reliability and resilience. The software offers comprehensive control over the unit and the hardware feels solid – perfectly suited for regular gigging.

So who takes the crown in this mixing console showdown? After careful consideration, I'd say the victor here is – drumroll please – the Behringer XR18. The XR18 not only offers an unbeatable feature set at its price point but also impresses with its reliability. Yes, it has room for improvement in certain aspects, but these minor quibbles are easily overshadowed by its overall performance and versatility. While Allen & Heath ZED12FX does have its merits – especially with excellent sound quality and on-board effects – potential reliability issues weigh it down. Plus, from my experience as an audio professional who values robustness in equipment for live sound events or studio work, the Behringer XR18 just nudges ahead. In conclusion: if you're looking for a mixer that ticks all boxes around features, versatility, and reliability, the Behringer XR18 is your best bet. Whether you're a budding podcaster or an established studio engineer, this digital mixer is a sound investment that won't let you down.