Mackie 1402VLZ4 vs PreSonus StudioLive AR12c: 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: Mackie 1402VLZ4 vs. PreSonus StudioLive AR12c.

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 Mackie 1402VLZ4 and PreSonus StudioLive AR12c. 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.

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.

PreSonus StudioLive AR12c

Presonus StudioLive AR Series Mixer: In-Depth Review After Extensive Use

Initial Impressions and Functionality

After over two years of using the Presonus StudioLive AR Series Mixer, I've got a lot to share. Initially, this mixer impressed with its robust features – SD recording, Bluetooth connectivity, and the abundance of free software it comes with. The multi-track software, particularly useful for recording and editing, adds significant value. Its form factor and features like the microphone preamps and USB-C connectivity seemed promising for a range of applications – from music production to podcasting.

Performance and Reliability Issues

Short Lifespan and Quality Concerns

The major downside, however, has been the mixer's reliability. It worked flawlessly for a period, but after 2.5 years, it abruptly stopped working. This was particularly frustrating as the mixer was handled with care and never subjected to any rough use. The lack of durability for a high-end piece of equipment is a significant drawback, especially considering the cost of repair, which can run into hundreds of dollars.

Customer Service Experience

Lack of Support and Warranty Concerns

My experience with customer service was less than satisfactory. When the mixer failed, I reached out, only to be told that it was out of warranty. While this is technically true, the expectation for a quality mixer to last beyond 2.5 years is reasonable. The company's approach to customer service and their unwillingness to provide support or reasonable repair options is a major red flag.

Sound Quality and Features

Excellent Audio but Some Limitations

On the positive side, the mixer's sound quality is excellent when it works. The microphone preamps, while needing to be turned up high for certain mics, provide clear and crisp audio. The multi-track capabilities are user-friendly and the mixer is fairly easy to navigate, even for those new to audio equipment. The inclusion of SD card recording and Bluetooth adds to its versatility, although the SD recording could benefit from more informative display features.

Form Factor and Build

Good Design with Some Build Quality Issues

The mixer's form factor is appealing – it's compact and fits well in various setups. However, the build quality seems to be a concern given the longevity issues I've experienced. The unit feels sturdy initially, but the internal components may not be as reliable.

Overall Experience

Mixed Feelings Due to Reliability Issues

In summary, while the Presonus StudioLive AR Series Mixer offers a range of impressive features and excellent sound quality, its reliability is a major concern. The poor customer service and the mixer's short lifespan significantly overshadow its initial appeal. For those considering this mixer, it's crucial to weigh these factors. The possibility of encountering similar issues and the lack of support from Presonus might be deal-breakers for many potential buyers.

Head 2 Head: Mackie 1402VLZ4 or PreSonus StudioLive AR12c

Gettin' Down with the Mackie 1402VLZ4

Catchin' Your Eye and Your Ears

The Mackie 1402VLZ4 is a sleek, compact audio mixer that's perfect if you're tight on space or just like things neat and tidy. This analog mixer has a design that screams class without shouting “I'm bulky!” But don't let its slim figure fool you — the 1402VLZ4 is a soundboard packing serious power. The sound quality is as clear as a summer's day: crisp, clean, and oh-so-Mackie.

Easy-Peasy Mixing

This studio mixer has got the right features in all the right places. The monitor mix setup? Simple as pie. The first monitor mix works with the monitor master while the second pairs with the slider control – perfect for managing different vocalists or instruments. And let's not forget that it’s sound is hush-hush quiet, making it a darling in both recording and live sound settings.

Mackie: Did You Miss a Step?

A Question of Durability

While I love many things about this Mackie mixer, I do have some concerns. It seems Mackie decided to play dress-up with plastic instead of sticking to their old metal threads. Call me old-fashioned, but this new look spells potential durability issues when it comes to heavy use or constant transportation.

Quality: A Slippery Slope?

Some users have reported scratchy volume trim pots and early cut-outs, which aren't exactly music to my ears. It's a bit disheartening to see such issues creep into the Mackie line, which has always been synonymous with longevity and reliability.

A Date with the PreSonus StudioLive AR12c

First Impressions: A Feature-Packed Beast

The PreSonus StudioLive AR12c is a digital mixer that came ready to impress with its robust features. With SD recording, Bluetooth connectivity, and a boatload of free software, this soundboard seemed ready for anything from music production to podcasting. The form factor, microphone preamps, and USB-C connectivity further raised my hopes.

PreSonus: A Story of Unfulfilled Promises?

Sudden Goodbyes and Quality Issues

After 2.5 years of smooth sailing, my PreSonus suddenly decided it was time for a break — an eternal one. This unexpected failure was a heavy blow considering the mixer wasn't subjected to any rough use. You'd expect more durability from such an expensive piece of equipment.

Customer Service: A Test of Patience

Reaching out to PreSonus' customer service was like talking to a brick wall – frustrating and unproductive. Despite the mixer's early demise, there was no help or reasonable repair option offered because the warranty had expired. Such lackluster support left a sour taste in my mouth.

The PreSonus Experience: A Mixed Bag

Sound Quality: The Silver Lining

The StudioLive AR12c does deliver excellent sound quality when it's up and running. The microphone preamps are solid, although they do need some extra tweaking for certain mics. The multi-track capabilities are a breeze to use, and the SD card recording and Bluetooth features add to its versatility.

Form Factor: Compact but Not Invincible

The AR12c's compact form factor is a plus, but like the Mackie 1402VLZ4, I've got concerns about its build quality. It's great initially, but it seems like those internal components have a shorter lifespan than you'd expect.

And the Winner Is…

Despite some concerns about the build quality and longevity of its pots, I'm crowning the Mackie 1402VLZ4 as the winner in this head-to-head comparison. Why, you ask? Well, it's simple. This analog mixer delivers where it matters most: sound quality. It provides a robust and intuitive set of features that make mixing a breeze. Plus, Mackie's reputation for durability still carries weight despite some recent hiccups. In contrast, the PreSonus StudioLive AR12c failed prematurely and offered subpar customer service when things went south. This mixer might be feature-packed with excellent sound quality, but reliability is key when investing in an audio mixer. So there you have it! The Mackie 1402VLZ4 takes home the gold in this match-up of studio mixers. Remember, while every recording console has its pros and cons, ultimately it's about finding one that best fits your specific needs — and for me right now — that’s the Mackie 1402VLZ4.