PreSonus StudioLive AR12c Vs. Soundcraft Signature 22MTK: 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 AR12c vs. Soundcraft Signature 22MTK.

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 AR12c and Soundcraft Signature 22MTK. 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 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.

Soundcraft Signature 22MTK

Everything The Product Sales Page Doesn't Tell You About The Soundcraft Signature 22MKT

I tested the Soundcraft Signature 22MKT for a couple of weeks. I know, not that long, but it's been a revelation every day.

I work with a local piece band and they've been able to lay down live recordings in one take, capturing everything onto separate tracks in the DAW.

The ability to record up to 22 tracks simultaneously has been a game-changer in this respect.

Sound Quality and Support

Warm, Analog Sound

The sound quality is exactly what we were looking for. The mixer provides a broad, balanced frequency range, delivering that warm, analog sound.

Plus, the onboard effects buses allow for creative mixing. Not to mention, the support from Soundcraft has been exceptional, both before and after purchase.

Who Is The 22MKT For? Not Beginners

Difficult Setup and Poor Documentation

I always have to give the good, bad and the ugly… so here it is:

It's not all smooth sailing. Setting up the mixer with Windows was a nightmare, with no useful online resources.

The manual was no help either. It's a great board for those who know what they're doing and know their way around boards, but I can definitely see how for a beginner, it would be a steep and frustrating learning curve.

Early Impressions ✅

Impressive Functionality

In the early days of testing out the 22MTK, I was impressed with its routing capabilities, especially to outboard gear.

The onboard Lexicon effects are a bonus, and the ability to use DAW plugins during live play is a huge plus. However, the lack of an on/off switch and inserts is a bit puzzling.

Channel Issues and Sturdiness

Some Quality Concerns

Unfortunately, I soon ran into issues with channel one having low gain and a hum. This was unexpected, especially considering the mixer hadn't seen much use.

While the mixer is generally sturdy, these issues do raise some concerns about its long-term reliability.

Perfect for Specific Needs

Ideal for Unique Applications

This mixer was perfect for running a mic through guitar pedals. Its small footprint and built-in effects make it versatile for creating unique sounds. It's a solid choice for those needing a compact mixer with good functionality.

Soundcraft 12MTK: A Better Choice For Beginners

I know I have kind of shifted between the 12 and the 22 and thats because they are pretty much the same thing, you either need the extra channels (22MTK) or oyu don't (12MTK).

But the like its big bro, the Soundcraft 12MTK offers good sound quality and is fairly lightweight. The preamps are notable, as is the mid-range EQ. However, there are significant design flaws, like the problematic gain ratio and the lack of an on/off switch, which can be frustrating. It's a good mixer overall but be prepared for some quirks.

Head 2 Head: PreSonus StudioLive AR12c or Soundcraft Signature 22MTK

PreSonus StudioLive AR12c: A Player with a Short Game

Stunning First Impressions, Short-lived Reality

The PreSonus StudioLive AR12c steps onto the field with a swagger that's hard to ignore. Its feature roster is impressive – SD recording, Bluetooth capabilities, and free software that would make an audio engineer weep with joy. The multi-track software is a cherry on top, perfect for those late-night editing sessions. With its sleek form factor, this mixer seems like it could be the studio wingman you've been looking for.

Brief Brilliance, Long-term Letdown

The Dream Turns into a Nightmare

However, this flashy player has a short game. After 2.5 years of smooth sailing, it pulled a Houdini and disappeared without warning. This level of reliability would be more fitting for a cheap karaoke machine rather than a high-end mixer like the PreSonus StudioLive AR12c.

Contacting Ghostbusters: Customer Service Experience

When There's Something Strange with Your Mixer…

…who you gonna call? Not PreSonus customer service apparently! Their response to my mixer's sudden demise was pretty much “Sorry pal, you're out of warranty.” Sure, I get it – rules are rules. But when your device gives up the ghost before its third birthday party? That's just poor form.

Promises of Greatness: Sound Quality and Features

A Symphony Marred by Static

On the brighter side, when it's behaving itself, this mixer belts out sound quality that could rival a symphony orchestra. The microphone preamps are like the virtuoso violinists, delivering crisp and clear audio. The multi-track capabilities are as easy to navigate as a well-rehearsed waltz. But the SD card recording could use an upgrade. It's a bit like trying to read sheet music in the dark.

PreSonus StudioLive AR12c: A Lonely Swan Song

Beautiful but Ultimately Hollow

The PreSonus StudioLive AR12c has all the makings of a great mixer, but it let down by its reliability issues. A mixer that plays hard to get after 2.5 years is not really playing fair, especially when you consider its high-end price tag and poor customer support.

Soundcraft Signature 22MKT: The Dark Horse That Could

Impressive Capabilities but Not for the Faint-hearted

Enter Soundcraft Signature 22MKT, the more grizzled veteran of this comparison. It's been around the block a few times, and it shows in its capabilities. With this beast, you can record up to 22 tracks simultaneously – a feature that leaves the competition eating dust.

A Sound as Warm as Your Favorite Sweater

Analog Goodness with Stellar Support

This mixer delivers sound quality that's warmer than your favorite sweater on a chilly autumn day. The onboard effects buses add an extra dash of creativity to your mix, and Soundcraft's customer support is like having your own personal audio guru on speed dial.

Not Beginner-friendly: A Steep Learning Curve

A Mixer That Plays Hard to Get

However, this mixer is not for the faint-hearted. Getting it set up with Windows is akin to wrestling a bear. The manual offers as much help as a map without any roads. But if you're willing to stick it out, the Soundcraft Signature 22MKT will reward your efforts.

Soundcraft Signature 22MKT: A Versatile Performer with Some Quirks

A Reliable Workhorse with a Few Hiccups

The Soundcraft Signature 22MKT is a sturdy workhorse that occasionally throws in an unexpected buck – like channel one's low gain and hum issues. Despite these hiccups, this mixer is still a reliable performer that delivers impressive functionality, from its routing capabilities to its built-in effects.

The Showdown: PreSonus StudioLive AR12c vs Soundcraft Signature 22MKT

The Winner Takes It All

After a close-fought battle, it's clear that only one can reign supreme. And the winner is…[the Soundcraft Signature 22MKT](! Despite its steep learning curve and some minor quality concerns, the Soundcraft Signature 22MKT rides off into the sunset with its superior sound quality, exceptional customer support, and versatile functionality. While the PreSonus StudioLive AR12c put up a good fight with its impressive features and sound quality, its reliability issues and poor customer service left it singing a lonely swan song. So for those in search of a reliable companion for their audio adventures, saddle up with the Soundcraft Signature 22MKT.