Soundcraft Signature 22MTK 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: Soundcraft Signature 22MTK 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 Soundcraft Signature 22MTK 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.

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.

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: Soundcraft Signature 22MTK or Zoom LiveTrak L 12

Soundcraft Signature 22MTK: A Game Changer for Multitrack Recording

Straight off the bat, the Soundcraft Signature 22MTK is quite the beast when it comes to multitrack recording. This audio mixer has made a significant impact in my daily jam sessions with my band, allowing us to record up to 22 tracks simultaneously. It's like having your own personal recording studio, right there in the garage.

The Analog Sound of Heaven

When it comes to sound quality, this analog/digital mixing console hits all the right notes. It delivers that warm, analog sound we all crave and provides a balanced frequency range that makes our music come alive. The on-board effects bus is like a creative sandbox, letting us experiment with how our music sounds.

A Bit of a Learning Curve for Beginners

I'll admit though, setting up this digital mixer with Windows was more challenging than trying to explain quantum physics to my toddler niece. The lack of useful online resources and vague manual didn't help either. So beginners beware! You might need some extra patience while getting acquainted with this mixer.

Packed with Features but Missing Some Basics

Despite its initial challenges, I've grown fond of the routing capabilities of this recording interface, especially when it comes to outboard gear. The onboard Lexicon effects are top-notch and being able to use DAW plugins during live play – now that's just showing off! Although I'm still scratching my head about why there's no on/off switch or inserts…

A Question Mark Over Long Term Reliability?

Unfortunately, I've already had some issues with channel one having low gain and a hum that's more annoying than a mosquito at bedtime. This raises some eyebrows about the mixer's long-term reliability, especially considering it hasn't seen much use yet.

Zoom LiveTrak L-12: The Swiss Army Knife of Digital Mixers

Now let's talk about the Zoom LiveTrak L-12. I've been using this multitalented mixer for three months now and it’s been a great all-rounder. It's like the Swiss Army knife of digital mixers – compact, versatile, and ready for anything from practice sessions to live performances.

A Practice Partner Like No Other

This audio mixer is a musician's best friend during practice. The built-in metronome and easy SD card recording make smooth work of working on rough patches. Plus, being able to connect your computer via USB for Spotify sessions is a sweet bonus.

The Workhorse for Rehearsals

This USB interface stands out when it comes to low-volume rehearsals. With five independent aux sends to 1/4″ headphone jacks, each musician gets their own personalized monitor mix. The built-in effects take it up another notch by adding quality to the mix.

Simplify Your Writing and Recording Process

Capturing spontaneous musical ideas is as effortless as humming in the shower with this digital mixer. Its standalone recording feature makes quick work of initial idea capture, while seamless DAW integration allows further refinement without breaking a sweat.

Mix It Up with Live Performances

Although it shines brighter as a sub-mixer, this recording interface can handle a full show 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. Plus, recording live shows for later mixing is as simple as pie.

Adaptable Even in Pandemic Times

The Zoom LiveTrak L-12 is flexible enough to adapt to socially distanced rehearsals, whether you're playing in separate rooms or outdoors. It allows for effective mic setups and clear monitoring of all instruments, making it a reliable partner even during these challenging times.

A Few Hiccups Along the Way

Despite its many strengths, the L-12 has a few areas that could use some improvement. The compression isn't top-notch and always writes to the recording. The preamps are decent but nothing to write home about. And while the file naming system is functional, it's about as user-friendly as trying to herd cats. Also, lack of motorized faders means manual adjustments are necessary when switching mixes and there's no option for individual stereo or mono pairs for monitor outputs in live situations.

And The Winner Is…

After careful consideration, I must tip my hat off to the Zoom LiveTrak L-12. This digital mixer steals the show with its versatility and comprehensive features at its price point. While it may not have the high track count of the Soundcraft Signature 22MTK, it outshines with its user-friendly features and intuitive design that make studio recording, live sound mixing, and multitrack recording effortless. So whether you're planning on rocking out at your next gig or laying down some sweet tracks in the studio, the Zoom LiveTrak L-12 is your go-to audio mixer.