Allen & Heath ZED 12FX Vs. Mackie 1402VLZ4: 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. Mackie 1402VLZ4.

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 Mackie 1402VLZ4. 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.

Mackie 1402VLZ4

I'll be honest, I only bought the Mackie 1402VLZ4, a 14-channel compact mixer, to test it out and review, but here's what I think…

First Impressions

Right out of the box, the mixer's design caught my eye. It's sleek and not as bulky as some of its counterparts, making it a good fit for smaller spaces. The build, however, felt a bit different compared to the older VLZ3 models. The glide knobs, for instance, seemed a bit on the cheaper side. Despite this, the sound quality didn't disappoint. It's that clear, crisp Mackie output I've come to expect from their mixers.

Usability and Features

Functionally, this mixer does its job well. The monitor mix setup is simple and intuitive. Especially useful was the way the first monitor mix worked with the monitor master and the second with the slider control. This distinction is great for managing different vocalists or instruments. The mixer’s sound is good and quiet, which is a plus for recording or live settings.

Durability Concerns

A notable change from previous models is the move from a metal to a plastic case. This shift might raise some durability concerns. I can't shake off the feeling that it might not withstand the rigors of frequent transportation or heavy use.

Quality and Longevity

While the overall performance of the Mackie 1402VLZ4 is commendable, it's hard to ignore the change in quality over the years. There have been some issues with the volume trim pots becoming scratchy or cutting out prematurely, which can be frustrating. It seems like a step down from the legendary durability Mackie mixers used to boast.

Head 2 Head: Allen & Heath ZED 12FX or Mackie 1402VLZ4

The Allen & Heath ZED12FX has been a companion for my audio adventures for some time now. This analog mixer has proven itself to be a tough cookie, especially for folks stepping up their mixing game. It delivers a sound that's as clean as a whistle and as clear as a summer's day. You can trust this little beast to do a bang-up job in both studio recording and live sound environments.

Say Hello to the Learning Curve

Don't expect to buddy up with this mixing console right off the bat. The manual is about as helpful as asking your cat for directions, so unless you're already tight with mixers, there's some trial and error on the horizon. But fear not! Once you've gotten past the first date jitters, the layout and controls make sense, like finding that perfect groove in your favorite song. The faders and knobs are smoother than butter on hot toast, making it fairly easy to handle.

Gotta Love Those Effects

The ZED12FX doesn't skimp on effects either. Its range could give an opera singer a run for their money, and the quality will have you grinning ear to ear. But there's one oddball: the dedicated send and returns being 1/8 jacks instead of sticking with industry standards feels like ordering sushi at an Italian restaurant – weird but not necessarily bad.

Is She Built to Last?

Now let's talk about something that might keep you up at night: long-term reliability. There have been whispers of pre-amps giving up the ghost right after warranty periods end – yikes! I haven't faced this personally, but it’s something worth considering if longevity is high on your list.

On the flip side, there's the Mackie 1402VLZ4. This 14-channel compact mixer packs a punch in a sleek package. It’s like one of those tiny houses on wheels – small but surprisingly functional. Its design is space-friendly and doesn't hog up your desk like some of its bigger cousins.

First Impressions

The knobs don't feel as solid as their predecessors, but they get the job done. The sound quality is classic Mackie – crisp as an autumn apple and clear as a mountain stream.

Usability and Features

This audio interface doesn't disappoint when it comes to function either. The monitor mix setup is simple enough that even my grandmother could figure it out (and she still uses a rotary phone). And the sound? Quiet as a mouse, perfect for recording or live settings.

Can She Take A Beating?

Now here's where things get interesting: the move from metal to plastic casing might raise an eyebrow or two. It feels like trading in your steel-toed boots for flip-flops – not exactly confidence-inspiring if you're planning on moving this thing around a lot.

Quality and Longevity

Unfortunately, there have been grumblings about volume trim pots getting scratchy prematurely or cutting out altogether. Not what you'd expect from Mackie mixers that were previously tougher than old boots.

And The Winner Is…

So it's time for the final verdict: which one takes home the trophy? After careful consideration, drum roll please…the winner is the Mackie 1402VLZ4. Despite the minor concerns about build quality and durability, it edges out the Allen & Heath ZED12FX with its user-friendly design, clear sound, and intuitive functionality. It's a versatile little workhorse that's perfect for both newbies and pros. So whether you're setting up your first home studio or taking your live sound mixing game to the next level, this mixer has got your back.