Allen & Heath ZED 12FX vs. Yamaha TF1: 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. Yamaha TF1.

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 Yamaha TF1. 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.

Yamaha TF1 Digital Mixing Console

I've been using the Yamaha TF1 on and off for about 4 years now, and I've got a pretty solid grasp on what it brings to the table. Let's dive into the good, the bad, and the, well, kind of ugly.

Initial Impressions and Learning Curve

When I first got the TF1, I was pretty stoked. It's a Yamaha, after all. But it's important to note that this isn't built by the same folks who make the more professional QL/CL consoles. It's more of a consumer-level product. The user interface feels a bit like a game on a smartphone. It's intuitive for newbies, but for a pro, it's a bit too simplistic. There's a learning curve, sure, but it's not as steep as with some other consoles.

Limited Functionality and Routing

Here's where the TF1 might let you down. The routing options are pretty limited, especially when it comes to Dante routing. And you're stuck with the Dugan auto-mixer on the first bank of channels, with no option to reassign it. This lack of flexibility can be a bit frustrating if you're used to more control.

Performance: Pros and Cons

The TF1 is pretty solid for its price point. It competes well with mixers like the X32 or the Soundcraft Impact. The sound quality is decent, and it's pretty reliable for live music or corporate events. However, if you're an experienced sound engineer, you might find it a bit too basic.

User Experience: Mixed Feelings

The interface… let's just say it's a bit of a love-hate situation. If you're comfortable with tablet-style controls, you might like it. But if you're more of a knobs-and-buttons person, it can be frustrating. The output patching, especially with a TIO involved, is not the most user-friendly.

On the plus side, the price is attractive. It's a decent console for someone on a budget. It does the job, and from the audience's perspective, it sounds fine.

Final Thoughts

So, after using the Yamaha TF1 for a significant amount of time, I've got to say – it's okay. It's not going to blow your mind, but it's not going to disappoint you too much either. It's great for settings where you've got volunteers running the show, thanks to its simplicity. But if you're looking for something with more depth, more flexibility, you might want to look elsewhere.
If you're considering the TF1, my advice is to really think about what you need from your mixer. If you're okay with the limitations and are looking for something easy to use, it's a solid choice. But if you're after more advanced features, you might want to explore other options in the same price range.

Head 2 Head: Allen & Heath ZED 12FX or Yamaha TF1

After spending a considerable chunk of time with both the Allen & Heath ZED 12FX and the Yamaha TF1, I can confidently say that both mixers have their strengths and weaknesses. However, we are here to find out who emerges victorious in this audio mixer face-off, so let's get down to business.

Allen & Heath ZED 12FX: The Underdog with a Punch

The ZED 12FX is the David to the Goliaths of digital mixers. Its sound quality is like a breath of fresh air in a polluted city – clean, clear, and surprisingly potent. The mic preamps on this baby are akin to having an espresso shot; they deliver a solid punch that wakes up your audio with clarity and gain. Despite having a learning curve that might make beginners break into a sweat, once you've scaled it, you're rewarded with an intuitive layout and controls. The faders and knobs on this soundboard are as smooth as silk and responsive as a well-trained retriever. Where the ZED 12FX shines is its effects. If you love tinkering around with different sound textures like a mad scientist in his lab, you'll appreciate the range and quality on offer here. However, prepare for some head-scratching when dealing with 1/8 jacks for dedicated sends and returns. Now onto the Achilles heel of this audio interface – reliability. Some users have reported pre-amps failing right after warranty periods like clockwork mischief-makers which can be daunting if you plan on using this mixer heavily in your studio recording or live sound setup.

Yamaha TF1: The Contender That Doesn't Quite Deliver

The TF1 is like that popular kid in high school who doesn't quite live up to the hype. Sure, it's a Yamaha, but it's not part of the elite club that produced the QL/CL consoles. The user interface is as simple as a smartphone game, which might be great for newbies but can feel like child's play to a seasoned pro. Routing options on this digital audio workstation (DAW) are limited, especially when it comes to Dante routing. Plus, you're stuck with Dugan auto-mixer on the first bank of channels with no option to reassign – not exactly what you'd want when looking for control and flexibility. The TF1 offers decent performance for its price point and holds its own in live music or corporate events. However, if you're an experienced sound engineer seeking depth and sophistication from your mixing console, this might feel like ordering a gourmet meal and getting fast food instead. The interface can be polarizing – it's either you love it or hate it. If you're comfortable with tablet-style controls, great! But if you're more of an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) knobs-and-buttons kind of person, prepare for some hair-pulling moments. Despite these shortcomings, the TF1's attractive price tag makes it a viable contender in the budget category. It does what it needs to do and sounds fine from an audience perspective – just don't expect any fireworks.

And The Winner Is…

Drumroll please… and the winner is the Allen & Heath ZED 12FX! While both mixers have their merits and demerits, the ZED 12FX edges out with superior sound quality and impressive effects routing and control capabilities. It may have a steeper learning curve than the TF1, but once you've mastered it, this digital mixer offers an experience that's as rewarding as discovering a hidden gem in a sea of pebbles. Plus, its clean and clear audio output, coupled with crystal-clear mic preamps and impressive DSP processing, make it the standout choice for both studio recording and live sound scenarios. The Yamaha TF1 isn't a bad option by any means. But when compared head-to-head with the ZED 12FX, it just doesn't offer the same level of depth and flexibility that experienced sound engineers crave from their mixing consoles. So there you have it folks. In the battle of the mixers, Allen & Heath's ZED 12FX emerges victorious – not by a mile, but just enough to be crowned champion.