Allen & Heath ZED 12FX Vs. Midas MR18: 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. Midas MR18.

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 Midas MR18. 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.

Midas MR18

After thoroughly testing the Midas MR18 for a few months, I'm ready to spill all the details – the good, the bad, and the not-so-pretty. This mixer is a powerhouse in a compact package, perfect for both live sound and recording. Here's the full breakdown for anyone eyeing this mixer.

Sound Quality and Performance

Right off the bat, the sound quality is top-notch. The MR18 delivers a pristine audio experience with impressively low latency. Whether you're mixing live or laying down tracks in a studio, the clarity and warmth of the sound are remarkable. Plus, the variety of outputs offers immense flexibility, making it a versatile choice for various audio setups.

Build and Connectivity

The mixer is built tough with Neutrik connectors, ensuring robust and reliable connections. This is a big plus for anyone who's had to deal with flimsy ports in the past. The MR18's ease of configuration is another high point. It offers numerous signal routing options, catering to both planned and spontaneous audio needs. The price-to-quality ratio is exceptional, putting it ahead of competitors like the X-Air 18, especially with its superior Midas converters.

User Interface and Software

The software is intuitive and musician-friendly, not overly complicated like some gear designed with tech whizzes in mind. There's a wealth of online resources and user communities, which is a godsend for troubleshooting and getting creative with your setup. As an audio interface, it boasts 18 inputs and outputs, offering ample connectivity for most studio and live situations.

Challenges and Considerations

However, it's not all smooth sailing. While the MR18 is user-friendly, there's still a learning curve, especially if you're not used to digital mixers. It might take a bit of time to fully grasp all the features and make the most out of this mixer.

Also, while it works great as an audio interface, those who are looking for more integrated DAW control might find its capabilities a bit limited. It's more suited for live mixing and straightforward recording setups rather than complex studio productions.

Final Verdict

All in all, the Midas MR18 is a solid investment. It's especially great for live sound applications and straightforward recording needs. The sound quality is exceptional, and the flexibility in routing and connectivity is a major win. Just be ready to spend some time getting to know this mixer inside out. For its price point, you're getting a lot of bang for your buck. Just remember, while it excels in many areas, it might not be the perfect fit for those needing advanced studio integration.

Head 2 Head: Allen & Heath ZED 12FX or Midas MR18

Allen & Heath ZED12FX: A Worthy Competitor

The Allen & Heath ZED12FX audio mixer is undoubtedly a contender in the world of mixing desks. This analog mixer provides clean, clear sound quality with an impressive amount of gain at your fingertips, elevating it above other mixers at similar price points. The preamps are particularly noteworthy for delivering crystal-clear sound, making it a solid pick for both studio recording and live sound scenarios.

Navigating the Learning Curve

The ZED12FX isn't exactly plug-and-play for beginners – the instruction manual leaves much to be desired. But don't let that deter you; with some trial and error (and maybe a few YouTube tutorials), you'll get the hang of it. Once you do, you'll find that the faders and knobs on this mixing console are smooth, responsive, and downright satisfying to tweak.

Effects: A Cut Above

Where this soundboard truly shines is in its effects. The range and quality offered are impressive for a mixer in this class. If you're an audio adventurer looking to experiment with different sound textures, this is your playground. However, I must confess my puzzlement over the 1/8 jacks for send and returns – not exactly an industry standard choice.

A Question of Reliability

A word of caution here – there have been murmurs about long-term reliability issues with some units failing just post-warranty. While I haven’t encountered this problem personally (knock on wood), it's something to bear in mind if you plan on pushing your mixing desk hard.

Midas MR18: Small Package, Big Impact

Now, let's get into the Midas MR18. This digital mixer may be compact, but it packs a punch. Whether you're mixing live or laying down tracks in a studio, the sound quality is simply exceptional – clear, warm, and with impressively low latency.

Tough as Nails

The MR18 doesn't just talk the talk; it walks the walk with a rugged build and robust Neutrik connectors. No more worrying about flimsy ports here. Plus, this audio interface offers a myriad of signal routing options for both planned and spontaneous audio needs.

User Interface: Simple and Intuitive

The software is user-friendly without sacrificing complexity or capability. There's also an abundance of online resources for when you hit a snag or need inspiration for your setup. As an audio interface, the MR18 boasts 18 inputs and outputs, offering plenty of connectivity for most scenarios.

Challenges: Know What You're Getting Into

But let's not sugarcoat it – there's still a learning curve with this digital mixer. It might take some time to fully master all its features (but hey, that's part of the fun). Also, those looking for more integrated DAW control might find its capabilities somewhat limited – it leans more towards live mixing rather than complex studio productions.

The Verdict: And The Winner Is…

After closely examining both contenders, I'm crowning Midas MR18 as the winner of this face-off! While both mixers bring plenty to the table, what sets the MR18 apart is its superior sound quality coupled with its versatility in connectivity and routing options. This makes it perfect not only for live sound applications but also for straightforward recording needs. Both mixers have their learning curves, but the wealth of online resources for MR18 makes it less daunting. And while the Allen & Heath ZED12FX is a worthy adversary with its quality effects, the potential long-term reliability issues give me pause. So, if you're in the market for a punchy, reliable, and versatile mixer that delivers outstanding sound quality and flexibility, look no further than the Midas MR18.