Yamaha MG12XU 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: Yamaha MG12XU 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 Yamaha MG12XU 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.

Yamaha MG12XU

Compact Powerhouse: Yamaha MG12XU

Surprisingly Small, Yet Highly Functional

The Yamaha MG12XU, smaller than anticipated, delivers on functionality. Perfect for various needs, it's a testament to Yamaha's reliability in audio equipment. The delivery was swift, and the product arrived well-protected and in immaculate condition. A clear choice for those seeking a compact yet powerful mixer.

Optimal Recording with Analog Console

Exceptional Instrument Recording

This mixer shines in analog recording, making instrument recording truly incredible. Its design and capabilities cater to both casual and professional users, offering quality sound recording in a compact package.

Yamaha's Unmatched Quality

Consistent Excellence Across Products

Yamaha's reputation for quality is well-earned, and the MG12XU reinforces this. The brand's consistent delivery of superior products makes it a go-to choice for many audio enthusiasts.

Headphone Output: Room for Improvement

Additional Amplification May Be Needed

Despite the overall impressive performance, the headphone output volume is a notable downside. Users might need to invest in a headphone amplifier, which is an additional cost and somewhat diminishes the mixer's value proposition.

Versatility and Clarity in Mixing

Substantial Build with Intuitive Features

The Yamaha MG12XU offers a versatile mixing experience with clear signal routing, as detailed in the user manual. Its substantial case, smooth controls, and impressive feature set place it above competitors like Mackie and Behringer. This mixer excels in various settings, from live performances to home studios.

USB Interface: A Mixed Bag

Good Analog Mixing, USB Driver Issues

While the analog mixing capabilities are commendable, the USB driver can be finicky, leading to distortions and static issues. However, once the right driver (version 2.03) is installed, the mixer performs flawlessly. This hiccup can be a bit frustrating but is manageable with some technical know-how.

Seamless Setup and Reliable Performance

Effortless Integration with Existing Systems

The setup process is straightforward, taking only about 30 minutes to fully integrate with various inputs. Its excellent signal-to-noise ratio and smooth, silent control operation make it a reliable component in any sophisticated audio setup.

Impeccable Packaging and Delivery

Secure Shipping, Excellent Condition

The packaging for the Yamaha MG12XU was done exceptionally well, ensuring the mixer arrived in perfect condition even when shipped internationally. The lack of any humming noise and the smoothness of the long-throw faders are highlights, offering a substantial improvement over previous mixers like Behringer.

Pre-Owned Yet Functional

Value for Money in Used Purchase

Purchasing this mixer used proved to be a wise decision. Despite being pre-owned, the mixer exhibited minimal damage and continued to function effectively, providing significant savings without compromising on quality.

Need for Better Support and Durability

Consider Other Options for Long-Term Use

While the Yamaha MG12XU offers excellent features, its durability and the lack of supportive customer service can be concerning. The mixer may encounter output issues over time, and the cost of repair might outweigh the benefits of keeping it. Prospective buyers should weigh these factors and possibly explore other mixers for more reliable long-term use.

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: Yamaha MG12XU or Zoom LiveTrak L 12

Yamaha MG12XU: Small but Mighty

This audio mixer is a testament to the phrase “good things come in small packages.” The Yamaha MG12XU, while smaller than you might expect, is a beast in the studio. It arrived swiftly and was well-packaged, making an excellent first impression. Its compact size makes it a great portable mixer for on-the-go recording sessions.

Analog Recording at its Best

This is where the Yamaha MG12XU truly shines. If you're looking for studio quality sound, look no further. Whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting out, this digital mixer delivers exceptional instrument recording.

Quality You Can Trust

When it comes to audio equipment, Yamaha's reputation precedes them. The consistent excellence across their product range is evident in the MG12XU – it's a testament to Yamaha's commitment to delivering superior products.

The Need for an Extra Boost

The headphone output volume leaves a bit to be desired. You might find yourself needing an additional headphone amplifier – not exactly ideal, but still manageable.

Mixing with Clarity and Versatility

The Yamaha MG12XU allows for clear signal routing and versatile mixing experience. From live performances to home studios, this mixer boasts impressive features that place it ahead of competitors like Mackie and Behringer.

A Slight Hiccup with USB Interface

The USB interface can be finicky at times causing distortions and static issues. But no worries! Once you get the right driver (version 2.03), this portable mixer is smooth sailing.

Zoom LiveTrak L-12: The Musical Swiss Army Knife

After spending some time with the Zoom LiveTrak L-12, I've concluded it's essentially a Swiss Army knife for musicians. Its versatile functionality and compact size make it perfect for various audio needs.

Elevating Practice Sessions

The L-12 takes rehearsal and practice sessions to another level. From an integrated metronome to easy recording, this digital mixer caters to the needs of every musician.

Rehearsal Powerhouse

The Zoom LiveTrak L-12 is a game-changer in low-volume rehearsals. With individual monitoring and built-in effects processor, it offers personalized monitoring and enhances the mix's quality.

Recording Made Simple

Laying down initial ideas or building upon them is effortless with the L-12. Combined with its seamless integration with DAWs, this audio mixer makes writing and recording simpler than ever.

Live Performances & Mixing

Even though it's more suited as a sub-mixer, the L-12 can handle a full show, especially when using in-ear monitors. From flexible output options to easy live sound recording, this digital mixer has got you covered!

Adaptable for Socially Distanced Rehearsals

In these pandemic times, socially distanced rehearsals have become the new norm, and the Zoom LiveTrak L-12 adapts well to such scenarios. Whether it's playing in separate rooms or outdoors, this multitrack recording mixer ensures clear monitoring of all instruments.

Minor Setbacks

The Zoom LiveTrak L-12 isn't without its flaws. The compression could be better, the preamps are adequate but not stellar, and the file naming system can be a bit cumbersome. That said, these minor setbacks don't detract from its comprehensive features and versatility.

Final Verdict

After a detailed examination, the clear winner is the Zoom LiveTrak L-12. While both mixers offer excellent features, the L-12's versatility in various environments – from studio to stage – gives it an edge over the Yamaha MG12XU. Despite its minor limitations, its strengths far outweigh them, making it a highly recommended tool in the music and recording industry.