Allen & Heath ZED 12FX Vs. Presonus StudioLive 1602: 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. Presonus StudioLive 1602.

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 Presonus StudioLive 1602. 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.

Presonus StudioLive 16.0.2 USB

After having a little play around with the Studio Live 16 from PreSonus, here's my verdict:

Setup and Software Integration

Straight out of the box, the setup was a breeze. There are tons of YouTube tutorials available that make configuring individual channels for various inputs like mics, drums, and guitars pretty straightforward. The recording software, Studio One, is a gem – intuitive and powerful. I even upgraded to the professional version because of a sweet 50% off deal they were running, and I'm glad I did.

Sound Quality and Recording Capabilities

The sound quality, both live and recorded, is top-notch. There's a certain accuracy in playback that makes the live music sound just as it's being played. The mixer does a great job in capturing the essence of live performance without any loss in sound quality.

Customer Support: A Mixed Bag

While I personally didn't run into major issues, I've heard some chatter about PreSonus' customer support being a hit or miss. One user mentioned an issue with warranty support on a unit just 45 days old, which is concerning. It seems like your experience might vary depending on the problem at hand.

User-Friendliness and Learning Curve

For beginners, this board and the accompanying DAW are a godsend. They're easy to learn and use. Even if you're at an intermediate level, like me, you'll find the Studio Live 16 to be quite adaptable. You can record jam sessions, concerts, and even phone calls with ease.

Remote Access and Portability

A standout feature is the ability to control the mixer remotely via a laptop and router, which adds a layer of convenience, especially in live settings. However, some users might find this setup a bit cumbersome, as it requires extra gear (laptop and router) for remote access.

Overall Experience

Overall, the Studio Live 16 is a great piece of equipment for semi-pro studios, small churches, and clubs. Its integration with Studio One DAW is seamless, and the mixer itself offers a great range of features. However, the learning curve can be a bit steep, especially if you're transitioning from analog to digital, and the remote access setup might not be ideal for everyone.

In short, if you're looking for a digital mixer that feels somewhat analog, has scene-saving capabilities, and offers remote access (with a bit of setup), the Studio Live 16 could be a solid choice. Just keep in mind the potential support issues and the learning curve involved.

Head 2 Head: Allen & Heath ZED 12FX or Presonus StudioLive 1602

The Allen & Heath ZED12FX: A Solid Bet for Aspiring Audio Professionals

This little audio mixer has made quite the impression on me. For those ready to take their recording console game up a notch, the Allen & Heath ZED12FX is a strong contender. It's like graduating from a bicycle to a motorcycle, albeit with more knobs and faders.

The sound quality is top-notch with clean and clear audio output that can make even the most amateurish garage band sound semi-pro. Its preamps are the unsung heroes here – they deliver crystal-clear sound, so don't expect any unwanted crackles or hisses. It's definitely ahead of some cheaper mixers I've had the misfortune of using before.

Taming The Beast: Usability & Learning Curve

Now, let's not sugarcoat it. This analog mixer does come with its fair share of challenges, especially for beginners. Think of it as learning to drive stick after only knowing automatic. The instruction manual isn't exactly the Holy Grail of guides, so there's a lot of trial and error involved.

But once you get past the initial learning curve, navigating this piece of professional audio gear becomes second nature. And let me tell you, those smooth faders and responsive knobs? They make mixing feel like conducting an orchestra – except in this case, your baton controls the reverb.

Effects & Features: More Than Just A Pretty Face

This studio equipment shines when it comes to effects. The range and quality are commendable for an analog mixer in this class – perfect for those who enjoy experimenting with different sound textures during live sound scenarios. However, I must admit, the decision to use 1/8 jacks for dedicated send and returns does seem a bit left field. It's like wearing sneakers with a tuxedo – sure, it can work, but it's not exactly the norm.

Reliability: The Achilles' Heel?

Now on to the elephant in the room – long-term reliability. There are whispers of pre-amps failing just past warranty. It's not a deal-breaker, but it's something to consider if you're planning on using this mixer heavily or in professional gigs.

Presonus StudioLive 16.0.2 USB: Digital Mixing With An Analog Vibe

On the other side of our audio interface coin is the Presonus StudioLive 16.0.2 USB. This digital mixer treads that fine line between analog familiarity and digital convenience.

Setup & Software Integration: Plug and Play

The setup here is smoother than a Sinatra ballad. With plenty of tutorials available and the intuitive Studio One recording software included, you'll be up and running in no time.

Sound Quality & Recording Capabilities: As Live As It Gets

Here's where this mixer shows off its chops – live sound quality is stellar with playback that captures every nuance of your performance faithfully.

Customer Support: A Mixed Bag But Not A Show Stopper

Customer support seems to be a mixed bag with Presonus – while some users have had less than stellar experiences, others have found them helpful and responsive.

User-Friendliness & Learning Curve: A Beginner's Best Friend

For those new to the world of professional audio gear, this recording console and its accompanying DAW are a dream come true. It's easy to learn and use, making it a great gateway into more complex studio equipment.

Remote Access & Portability: A Feature Not To Be Overlooked

The ability to control this audio interface remotely is a nifty feature, especially in live settings. However, this does require additional gear (laptop and router), which might not be ideal for everyone.

And The Winner Is…Presonus StudioLive 16.0.2 USB!

After weighing all factors, the Presonus StudioLive 16.0.2 USB takes the cake! It offers the best of both worlds – the familiarity of an analog mixer with the convenience of a digital one. Plus, its seamless integration with Studio One software and remote access capabilities make it perfect for those looking to up their game in live sound and recording scenarios.

That being said, if you're just starting out or if you're more of an analog purist at heart, the Allen & Heath ZED12FX is still a fantastic choice. But remember – no matter which mixer you choose, make sure it's one that hits all the right notes for your specific needs!