Presonus StudioLive 1602 Vs. Zoom LiveTrak L 12: Reviewed & Compared

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: Presonus StudioLive 1602 vs. Zoom LiveTrak L 12.

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 Presonus StudioLive 1602 and Zoom LiveTrak L 12. 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.

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.

Zoom LiveTrak L-12

Zoom LiveTrak L-12: A Multifaceted Digital Mixer

Practical Design, Impressive Functionality

After spending three months with the Zoom LiveTrak L-12, I've found it to be an invaluable tool for a musician, offering versatility in numerous situations. Its compact size belies its powerful capabilities, making it ideal for various settings from practice to live performances.

Rehearsal and Practice Sessions Elevated

Integrated Metronome and Recording Ease

The L-12 excels in practice environments. Its ability to connect multiple devices, such as a computer via USB for playing along with Spotify, is highly convenient. The built-in metronome and easy recording to SD cards are perfect for pinpointing and working on challenging sections. The recording feature is intuitive, simply arm the desired tracks, and you're set.

Rehearsal Powerhouse

Individual Monitoring and Built-in Effects

In low-volume rehearsals, particularly where everyone uses headphones, the L-12 is a game-changer. With five independent aux sends to 1/4″ headphone jacks, it offers personalized monitoring for each musician. The built-in effects, like reverb for vocals, add to the mix's quality.

Writing and Recording Made Simple

Instant Recording and DAW Integration

Capturing spontaneous musical ideas is effortless with the L-12. Its standalone recording capability, combined with the metronome, allows for quickly laying down initial ideas and building upon them. The seamless integration with DAWs for further editing is a significant advantage.

Live Performances and Mixing

Flexible Output Options for Shows

Though more suited as a sub-mixer, the L-12 can handle a full show, especially when using in-ear monitors. It offers up to five different mixes for in-ear monitoring and has both XLR and balanced 1/4″ outputs for speakers. Recording live shows for later mixing is a breeze.

Adaptable for Socially Distanced Rehearsals

Effective for Diverse Rehearsal Setups

The current pandemic has made music rehearsals challenging, but the L-12 adapts well to different scenarios. Whether it's playing in separate rooms or outdoors, it allows for effective mic setups and clear monitoring of all instruments. The ability to quickly transfer recordings to a DAW like Logic Pro X is highly convenient.

Areas for Improvement

Minor Setbacks, But Still a Top Choice

Despite its many strengths, the L-12 has a few areas that could be improved:
1. The compression always writes to the recording and isn’t of the highest quality.
2. The preamps are adequate but not exceptional.
3. The file naming system, while functional, can be cumbersome to navigate.
4. The lack of motorized faders means manual adjustments are necessary when switching mixes.
5. There's no option for individual stereo or mono pairs for monitor outputs in live situations.
Despite these minor issues, the Zoom LiveTrak L-12 stands out for its versatility and comprehensive features at its price point.

Final Verdict

A Robust, Versatile Mixer for Various Needs

Concluding, the Zoom LiveTrak L-12 is an excellent choice for musicians and sound engineers looking for a versatile, all-in-one mixer and recorder. Its strengths in various environments, from studio to stage, make it a valuable asset. While it has some limitations, its advantages far outweigh them, making it a highly recommended tool in the music and recording industry.

Head 2 Head: Presonus StudioLive 1602 or Zoom LiveTrak L 12

PreSonus StudioLive 16.0.2 USB: The Digital Mixer That Feels Analog

From the get-go, the PreSonus StudioLive 16.0.2 USB sends out an inviting vibe. Unboxing this baby is like opening a Pandora's box of musical possibilities. Setup is a breeze, and with an army of YouTube tutorials at your disposal, you’re never far from an answer when you hit a snag.

A Symphony of Sound Quality

The sound quality is like a perfectly brewed cup of coffee – rich, robust, and undeniably satisfying. Whether you're jamming live or recording tracks, the StudioLive 16 delivers sound with impressive fidelity.

Customer Support: It's Complicated

On the flip side, customer support seems to be playing hard to get. It's like that elusive date who sometimes shows up and sometimes doesn’t – leaving you in a state of perpetual uncertainty.

User-Friendly but Demands Commitment

This board and its accompanying DAW are like your favorite pair of jeans – they fit just right no matter your skill level, beginner or intermediate. However, just like any relationship worth having, it does require some time to fully grasp the nuances.

Remote Control: But Comes With Baggage

Being able to control this mixer remotely is pretty cool – it’s like having a personal butler ready at your command! But remember – with great power comes great responsibility (and in this case, additional gear).

Now let’s turn our attention to the Zoom LiveTrak L-12.

Zoom LiveTrak L-12: The Compact Powerhouse

From the moment you lay your hands on it, the Zoom LiveTrak L-12 screams practicality. It’s like a swiss army knife of digital mixers – compact yet packed with useful features.

Practice Makes Perfect

The L-12 is like a personal trainer for your band's practice sessions. With its integrated metronome and easy recording features, it can help you nail those tricky sections and get in sync.

Rehearsal Ready

In the rehearsal room, this mixer shines like a rockstar on stage. Offering personalized monitoring through its five independent aux sends and built-in effects, it elevates the whole practice experience.

Recording Simplicity

Laying down tracks with the L-12 is as simple as pie. Its standalone recording capability makes capturing spontaneous musical ideas a piece of cake.

Social Distancing? No Problem!

In these times of social distancing, the L-12 has shown itself to be quite the chameleon, adapting well to diverse rehearsal setups.

A Few Hiccups Along The Way

Sure, there are some minor setbacks. The compression isn’t top-tier and the preamps could be better. File naming can make you feel like you’re navigating a maze. But hey, no one's perfect!

Drumroll Please… The Verdict Is In!

It’s been quite a journey comparing these two audio titans – both offering an impressive array of features and quality. But in this musical battle, there can only be one victor.

The winner is… drumroll, please… the Zoom LiveTrak L-12! Why? Its compact form factor, versatility, and adaptability to various environments make it a must-have for any musician or sound engineer. While it does have its drawbacks, its strengths far outshine them.

So, whether you're practicing in your garage or recording a live gig, the Zoom LiveTrak L-12 proves to be an invaluable companion for all your audio adventures. Happy jamming!