Allen & Heath ZED 12FX Vs. IK Multimedia iRig Pro: 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. IK Multimedia iRig Pro.

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 IK Multimedia iRig Pro. 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.

IK Multimedia iRig Pro

Unboxing and First Impressions

The IK Multimedia Quattro I/O is a compact yet feature-rich audio interface that stands out in its class. It's impressively lightweight and efficient, making it a versatile choice for musicians and audio engineers alike. When I first unpacked it, its intuitive control surface, reminiscent of other IK Multimedia devices, immediately struck a chord with me.

Recording and Input Quality

Crystal Clear Recordings with Zero Lag

My initial tests involved recording simple tracks into Logic using a microphone and guitar direct line. The input levels were a breeze to set, resulting in crystal clear recordings with no noticeable lag. The device was instantly recognized by Logic, offering seamless integration. The onboard phantom power efficiently powered my condenser mic, though it required some fine-tuning to achieve the perfect level.

Build and Connectivity

Sturdy Design with Versatile Connection Options

The build quality of the Quattro I/O feels durable, and its provision of MIDI in and out, high-end XLR output, and a variety of power options (battery or USB) add to its versatility. Its compatibility with computers and mobile devices is a significant advantage, making it a great choice for both studio and mobile use. The inclusion of all necessary cables and a tripod attachment is a thoughtful addition, enhancing its usability in live settings.

Standalone Mixer Functionality

Limited EQ Controls, but Stellar Sound Output

As a standalone mixer, the Quattro I/O performs admirably. While it lacks EQ controls on the surface, the quality of sound output when paired with external mic preamps or effect pedals is outstanding. This capability makes it a valuable tool for live performances.

Portability and Power Efficiency

Battery Life and Mobile Device Compatibility

The device's portability is enhanced by its ability to run on battery power when used standalone or with mobile devices. While I haven't fully tested the battery life limits, its performance in this mode has been reliable. The quick response from IK Multimedia support regarding a missing serial number/registration card was impressive and speaks volumes about their customer service.

Pros and Cons

Deep Feature Set with Room for Improvement

Pros: The Quattro I/O excels in its compact and lightweight design, making it easy to transport. Its deep feature set, including excellent mic pres, flexible input/output options, and compatibility across devices, sets it apart. Its functionality as a standalone mixer and inclusion of 48-volt phantom power are also noteworthy.
Cons: Despite its many strengths, there are some limitations, particularly for specific uses such as DJ'ing streaming, as some users have reported issues with sound quality and device freezing. Additionally, some users have found difficulties in processing effects on iPads.

Head 2 Head: Allen & Heath ZED 12FX or IK Multimedia iRig Pro

First off, let's talk about the Allen & Heath ZED-12FX. This audio mixer is a beast when it comes to delivering top-notch sound quality.

I've been using this digital mixing console for a while now and it has never failed to impress with its crystal-clear sound output. The preamps are nothing short of amazing, delivering oodles of gain that make this piece of home studio equipment an absolute joy to use.

Taking It for a Spin

The learning curve might be a bit steep for newbies, mainly due to the lackluster instruction manual. But hey, who said music production tools were supposed to be easy? Once you figure out the ropes though, you'll find that everything falls right into place. The faders and knobs are smooth as butter – just the way we like them!

Effects Galore

Where the ZED-12FX really shines is in its effects range. This bad boy gives you room for experimentation like no other mixer on the market. The only real head-scratcher here is the peculiar choice of 1/8 jacks for send and returns – not exactly your industry standard. But hey, it's not going to stop you from producing some killer tracks!

Will It Stand the Test of Time?

The main gripe here is with long-term reliability. Some users have reported pre-amps failing just after warranty period – not something you want when investing in recording equipment. However, I haven’t personally faced any such issues so far.

Now let’s switch gears and take a look at IK Multimedia iRig Pro. This sleek little USB audio interface had me hooked from unboxing itself with its intuitive control surface – something that IK Multimedia products are known for.

Diving into Recording

Recording tracks was a breeze with this baby. The device integrated seamlessly with Logic and the resulting recordings were crisp and lag-free. The onboard phantom power was a handy feature although it required a bit of tweaking to get the levels just right.

Built Like a Tank

The build quality is top-notch and the variety of connection options makes this audio interface a versatile piece of live performance gear. The inclusion of all necessary cables and a tripod attachment is like icing on the cake.

Standalone Mixer Capabilities

While it lacks EQ controls, the iRig Pro delivers stellar sound output when paired with external mic preamps or effect pedals. It's compact, lightweight, and can run on battery power – talk about being mobile-ready!

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

On the plus side, this little dynamo works well across devices and functions as an impressive standalone mixer. However, there have been instances of sound quality issues during DJ'ing streaming along with some difficulties in processing effects on iPads.

After careful consideration, I'm going to have to crown the IK Multimedia iRig Pro as the winner here. While both pieces of equipment are quality products in their own right, I think that for most users in today's digital age, portability is king.

And that's where the iRig Pro really pulls ahead with its compact design and versatile connection options making it suitable for both studio and mobile use. It's also more beginner-friendly than the ZED-12FX which makes it an excellent choice for those new to music production tools. So go ahead and give your music that professional touch with IK Multimedia iRig Pro!