Yamaha TF1 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 TF1 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 TF1 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 TF1 Digital Mixing Console

I've been using the Yamaha TF1 on and off for about 4 years now, and I've got a pretty solid grasp on what it brings to the table. Let's dive into the good, the bad, and the, well, kind of ugly.

Initial Impressions and Learning Curve

When I first got the TF1, I was pretty stoked. It's a Yamaha, after all. But it's important to note that this isn't built by the same folks who make the more professional QL/CL consoles. It's more of a consumer-level product. The user interface feels a bit like a game on a smartphone. It's intuitive for newbies, but for a pro, it's a bit too simplistic. There's a learning curve, sure, but it's not as steep as with some other consoles.

Limited Functionality and Routing

Here's where the TF1 might let you down. The routing options are pretty limited, especially when it comes to Dante routing. And you're stuck with the Dugan auto-mixer on the first bank of channels, with no option to reassign it. This lack of flexibility can be a bit frustrating if you're used to more control.

Performance: Pros and Cons

The TF1 is pretty solid for its price point. It competes well with mixers like the X32 or the Soundcraft Impact. The sound quality is decent, and it's pretty reliable for live music or corporate events. However, if you're an experienced sound engineer, you might find it a bit too basic.

User Experience: Mixed Feelings

The interface… let's just say it's a bit of a love-hate situation. If you're comfortable with tablet-style controls, you might like it. But if you're more of a knobs-and-buttons person, it can be frustrating. The output patching, especially with a TIO involved, is not the most user-friendly.

On the plus side, the price is attractive. It's a decent console for someone on a budget. It does the job, and from the audience's perspective, it sounds fine.

Final Thoughts

So, after using the Yamaha TF1 for a significant amount of time, I've got to say – it's okay. It's not going to blow your mind, but it's not going to disappoint you too much either. It's great for settings where you've got volunteers running the show, thanks to its simplicity. But if you're looking for something with more depth, more flexibility, you might want to look elsewhere.
If you're considering the TF1, my advice is to really think about what you need from your mixer. If you're okay with the limitations and are looking for something easy to use, it's a solid choice. But if you're after more advanced features, you might want to explore other options in the same price range.

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 TF1 or Zoom LiveTrak L 12


Yamaha TF1: A Solid, if Somewhat Limited, Digital Mixer

When it comes to the Yamaha TF1, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship. Like that old pair of jeans you can't part with because they're comfortable but not quite stylish enough for a night out. The TF1 is a reliable workhorse, but it lacks the wow-factor.

Getting to Know the TF1

Initially, the TF1 gives off a vibe akin to smartphone gaming – intuitive and user-friendly for beginners but somewhat lacking in depth for professionals. It's like jumping into an automatic car after years behind the wheel of a stick-shift. Sure, it's easier, but where's the thrill? A digital mixer should offer more than just simplicity.

Limited Flexibility and Routing Capabilities

In terms of functionality, the Yamaha TF1 left me wanting more. It's like ordering a burger only to find out they're out of pickles – it'll do in a pinch, but you can't help feeling disappointed. Dante routing options are limited and there's no way to reassign Dugan auto-mixer from the first bank of channels – talk about frustrating! This lack of flexibility is akin to trying to put together IKEA furniture with only half the tools.

Performance: More Hits Than Misses

Despite some limitations, the TF1 holds its own in live sound environments compared to comparable mixers like X32 or Soundcraft Impact. It’s like comparing apples and oranges – different flavors but ultimately satisfying on their own terms. The sound quality enhancement is decent and provides reliable service at live music or corporate events.

UX: Could Use Some Improvement

The user experience with the TF1 is as mixed as a poorly made cocktail. If touchscreens are your thing, you'll find it enjoyable. But for those of us who prefer tangible buttons and knobs, it's a bit like trying to text on a flip phone. And let's not even get started on the output patching – a multicamera production could turn into a nightmare.

Final Take on the Yamaha TF1

All things considered, the Yamaha TF1 does its job as a digital mixer but isn't quite the star of the show. It's best suited for volunteer-run settings thanks to its simplicity. But serious sound engineers might find it more frustrating than an out-of-tune guitar. So before you make your move, consider what you want from your mixer – if simplicity and budget-friendliness are your focus, then Yamaha TF1 may be your go-to.


Zoom LiveTrak L-12: A Multifunctional Powerhouse

All-In-One Wonder

On the other hand, we have Zoom LiveTrak L 12 that punches well above its weight class in terms of functionality and versatility. It’s like finding an oasis in a desert – surprisingly refreshing.

Practice Makes Perfect with L-12

Easy Recording and Built-In Metronome

Imagine having your own portable mixer right in your practice room – well that's exactly what the L-12 delivers! With features like built-in metronome and easy recording capabilities to SD cards, it’s as intuitive as using an audio interface connected to a computer for Spotify jamming sessions.

Recording and Rehearsals with L-12

Personalized Monitoring and Quality Effects

The L-12 is like a Swiss Army knife in low-volume rehearsals, particularly when everyone uses headphones. It offers individual monitoring via five independent aux sends to 1/4″ headphone jacks, and the built-in effects are like icing on the cake.

Live Performances: L-12 Shines

Multiple Outputs for Shows

While it might be more comfy in the studio, the L-12 can hold its own on stage too. It's like a chameleon adapting to its environment – offering up to five different mixes for in-ear monitoring and both XLR and balanced 1/4″ outputs for speakers. It’s a live sound professional’s dream.

Final Verdict on Zoom LiveTrak L-12

A Versatile Mixer for Diverse Needs

The Zoom LiveTrak L-12 is a bit like your favorite coffee shop – it meets all your needs, throws in some extras, and leaves you satisfied every time. Despite minor setbacks (like lackluster compression and average preamps), its strengths far outweigh its weaknesses. For musicians and audio pros seeking versatility from studio recording to live performances, the Zoom LiveTrak L-12 takes the gold medal.

So there we have it, folks! While both mixers have their pros and cons, I'm going to hand the crown to Zoom LiveTrak L-12. With its versatility, functionality, and all-around better user experience, it's clear that the L-12 outperforms the Yamaha TF1 in this head-to-head comparison.