PreSonus StudioLive AR12c Vs. Zoom LiveTrak L 8: 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. Zoom LiveTrak L 8.

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 Zoom LiveTrak L 8. 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.

Zoom LiveTrak L-8

Zoom LiveTrak L-8: The Portable Powerhouse

I got my hands on the Zoom LiveTrak L-8, and let me tell you, it's like having a field recorder on steroids. This thing's versatile and solid – despite some calling it cheap, my experience says otherwise. I've got two of these, and they've held up well.

Professional Features, Battery-Powered Convenience

The L-8 packs features you'd expect from a pro-level unit – backlighted buttons, effects, presets, recording options, and even a battery backup. After 12 months of use, not a single hiccup. It's got a very robust feel to it. Beginners, intermediates, pros – this mixer's a solid buy for all. David Shanhun on YouTube showcases its capabilities well, so check him out for some real-world usage.

Mac Compatibility and Customer Service Woes

Now, it's not all perfect. I've had issues with my Mac Mini M1 – the mixer doesn't always stay connected after a power cycle. Customer service hasn't been a great help either. Bypassing my USB hub with a direct connection seemed to improve things, though.

Pre-Amps and Recording Excellence

What really stands out are the six high-performance pre-amps, each with phantom power. It's tough finding a portable recorder with this quality. The board's layered menu-driven controls can be overwhelming at first, but they open up a world of great recording possibilities. Those 6 assignable Sound Pads with 13 preset sounds are a blast, adding an extra dimension, especially for podcasters.

Great for Podcasting and Mixing

It's not just for recording; the L-8 is a fantastic tool for podcasting and mixing. The phone integration is a nice touch too. As an audio interface, it's a winner – plug it into a USB power bank, and you're set for high-quality recordings anywhere.

Live Streaming and Solo Acts

For church livestreaming or solo acts, it's a breeze to use. It's got way more features than I've tapped into yet, but it's been smooth sailing so far. The effects are usable, unlike many other mixers I've encountered, which is a major plus for live performances.

Recording and Interface Capabilities

As an audio interface, it's top-notch. You can record at 48/32, which is a step up from most interfaces offering a fixed 24-bit rate. The digital recorder is simple to use – just record your gig, pop the SD card into your computer, and drag and drop the audio files into your DAW.
Final Verdict

This mixer is a dream device for podcasters and small bands. It combines mixing and recording in a portable package that runs on batteries or power banks. The preamps sound amazing, making mics like the Shure Beta 58 sound fuller and richer. The only downside? You can use only one effect for all tracks, so no combining effects or using different ones on different tracks. But overall, highly recommended!

Head 2 Head: PreSonus StudioLive AR12c or Zoom LiveTrak L 8

The Contenders: PreSonus StudioLive AR12c vs. Zoom LiveTrak L-8

The PreSonus StudioLive AR12c is like that promising blind date you've been set up with. It woos you with its looks, fancy features like SD recording, Bluetooth connectivity, and a free software buffet. However, just like the blind date who turns out to be a bit of a letdown when you get to know them better, this mixer seems to have some commitment issues.

PreSonus StudioLive: Promising but Problematic

If there's one thing that gets on my nerves more than an ill-timed joke, it's unreliable equipment. The PreSonus StudioLive AR12c is unfortunately guilty of this cardinal sin. After 2.5 years of what I'd call gentle love and care (read: no roughhousing), the mixer decided it was time for a permanent vacation. That's right – it just stopped working.

Customer service? Think again. My experience was akin to talking to a brick wall – unhelpful and frustratingly cold. I mean, come on PreSonus! A little sympathy for your heartbroken users wouldn't hurt.

But let's not be all doom and gloom here. When it decides to play nice, the sound quality from the PreSonus is pretty sweet – clear, crisp audio that would make even audiophiles swoon. Unfortunately, the form factor does little to redeem itself in light of its reliability issues.

The Zoom LiveTrak L-8: A Reliable Road Warrior

Now onto our second contender: The Zoom LiveTrak L-8. This bad boy is like the reliable friend who always shows up when you need them. It's got this rugged charm that just screams ‘I got your back, buddy!'.

This portable powerhouse comes packed with professional features like effects, presets, and recording options. The six high-performance pre-amps are a godsend for any audio enthusiast. And don't get me started on those 6 assignable Sound Pads – they're a podcaster's dream come true.

Of course, it has its quirks – a rocky relationship with my Mac Mini M1 and somewhat aloof customer service – but nothing catastrophic. It's still standing strong after 12 months of regular use.

The L-8 is versatile – excellent for podcasting and mixing. You can even use it for live performances thanks to its usable effects (a rarity in mixers if you ask me). As an audio interface, it hits all the right notes.

The Winner: Zoom LiveTrak L-8

So who wins this battle of the mixers? Drum roll please… It's the Zoom LiveTrak L-8.

Here's why: The Zoom LiveTrak L-8 offers reliability, versatility, and high-quality sound output. Unlike the PreSonus StudioLive AR12c, it doesn’t bail on you just when you've started to get comfortable. Sure, it has minor issues with Mac compatibility and customer service could be better – but at least it doesn't leave you hanging in the middle of a gig or recording session.

The Zoom LiveTrak L-8 is perfect for podcasters and small bands looking for a robust mixer that combines recording and mixing capabilities. Also, the fact that it's portable and can run on batteries or power banks is a massive plus for on-the-go audio work.

So, there you have it folks! The Zoom LiveTrak L-8 takes the crown in this mixer face-off. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some high-quality recording to do with my trusty L-8.