Allen & Heath ZED 12FX vs. Tascam Model 16: 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. Tascam Model 16.

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 Tascam Model 16. 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.

Tascam Model 16

I picked up one of these used to review for a few hundred. Here's the lowdown:

Initial Impressions

Right out of the box, the Tascam Model 16 felt like a good deal. Even though I got it ‘Used-Acceptable', it appeared brand new and functioned perfectly, saving me a significant amount. It's a testament to Tascam's build quality that a used unit can still perform like a fresh piece.

Usability and Versatility

The Model 16 is incredibly user-friendly. Its intuitive design blends low-tech ease with high-tech versatility. For someone who finds computer software a flow-breaker while recording, this Tascam is a dream. It allows recording directly to an internal SD card and then mixing on a computer, offering the best of both worlds.

Quality of Sound and Inputs

The sound quality is fantastic, making it perfect for both recording and live sound. However, I was initially taken aback by the “virtual” tracks 15/16 and the designated Bluetooth channel, limiting its effective input channels. It's a minor issue but something that should be clearer in the product description.

Recording and Playback Experience

When it comes to recording, the Model 16 shines. The process is straightforward, and playback quality is impressive. I especially appreciated the analog summing and HDDA preamps, which add a warm, rich tone to the recordings. The unit’s simplicity in recording makes it ideal for capturing live performances.

Software and Connectivity

A drawback is the mixer's limited software side. Unlike its smaller sibling, the Model 12, the 16 lacks MIDI connectivity, making time syncing with external gear a bit of a hassle. Additionally, the absence of FX return means using external effects requires sacrificing tracks, which can be limiting.

Overall Performance

Overall, the Tascam Model 16 is a solid performer with great sound and build quality. Its drawbacks are mostly in the finer details of software and input/output flexibility. It's a great piece of gear for those looking to record live performances or who want an easy-to-use interface for home recording. Despite its limitations, the Model 16 offers enough features and quality to justify its price.

Head 2 Head: Allen & Heath ZED 12FX or Tascam Model 16

After spending a good amount of time with the Allen & Heath ZED 12FX and the Tascam Model 16, I'm ready to dive into the nitty-gritty. Let's jump right in.

The Allen & Heath ZED12FX: A Clean Sound Machine

The first thing that stands out with this audio mixer is its crystal-clear sound quality. It's like getting a new pair of glasses – you don't realize what you've been missing until you experience it. The preamps on this digital mixer are like freshly squeezed orange juice on a Sunday morning: refreshing, invigorating, and oh-so-satisfying.

Time to Hit the Books… Or Not

The learning curve here can be as steep as a San Francisco hill if you're new to mixing consoles. However, once you've climbed that hill, everything becomes as clear as day. The faders and knobs are smoother than butter on hot toast, making your mixing experience feel like a dream.

Let's Get Funky with Effects!

If variety is the spice of life, then the FX effects processor on this analog mixer is a whole spice rack! You can experiment till your heart's content, creating unique sound textures that will make your tracks stand out. But watch out for those pesky 1/8 jacks! They're like that one weird cousin at family reunions – they just don't fit in.

Is This Mixer Built to Last?

Now let's talk about longevity. There have been whispers about preamps failing post-warranty period, which can be unnerving if you're planning heavy use of this studio recording equipment. It's like buying a shiny new car, only to have the engine fail just after the warranty expires. Ouch!

The Tascam Model 16: A Solid Performer

The Tascam Model 16 came out of the box looking and functioning like it was fresh from the factory. This live sound mixer is a testament to Tascam's build quality, proving that you can't judge an audio console by its age.

Easy Does It

This mixing console is user-friendly, with an intuitive design that's as easy to navigate as your local supermarket. The lack of MIDI connectivity is a bit like forgetting to bring your shopping list, though – it makes things a little more difficult than they need to be.

Sound Quality and Inputs: A Mixed Bag

The sound quality on this USB interface is top-notch, making it perfect for both recording and live sound. However, the “virtual” channels and designated Bluetooth channel are about as welcome as socks at Christmas – not exactly what you were hoping for.

Recording Made Easy

The Model 16 makes recording as easy as pie, with impressive playback quality to boot. The analog summing and HDDA preamps add a warm, rich tone that's so delicious you'll want seconds.

The Verdict

Choosing between two great options can feel like trying to pick your favorite pizza topping – almost impossible! But after careful consideration (and possibly a few slices of pizza), I'm ready to declare the Tascam Model 16 as our winner here. Despite its minor limitations with inputs and software, this 4-bus mixer offers a solid mix of usability, sound quality, and recording simplicity. It's like the perfect pepperoni pizza – reliable, satisfying, and never disappoints. Whether you're recording live performances or looking for an intuitive home recording interface, this XLR inputs/outputs equipped mixer will serve you well. So here's to the Tascam Model 16 – the pepperoni pizza of audio mixers!