If you went down to your music store for a great digital mixer that didn’t vacuum your pockets, would you choose an eight channel digital mixer for $800 or 12 channel digital mixer for $1200? You need to consider the fact that the mixer you are offered isn’t just a mixer. It’s a completely integrated audio interface as well. For a mere $400 more, who would want to turn down more features and more adaptability in a device that will likely be the center of their musical world for a good decade? That’s what you get with the Yamaha N8 and N12 mixers. A serious piece of kit that tries to integrate your studio like no other mixer you know.
The N8 and N12 Yamaha audio mixer models you may suspect, have motorized faders. As a matter of fact, these aren’t that kind of mixer. These are mixers for musicians, and not for sound engineers. The convenience of motorized controls may be absent. But the mixer does come with dozens of dedicated buttons and switches for all kinds of functions. If it is convenience that you are looking for, the N series of mixers from Yamaha will not disappoint. Yamaha owns Steinberg and Cubase. As such, the N series of mixers are designed to integrate with and work with Cubase products. Connect this mixer via its FireWire interface to the computer running any Steinberg software, and right away, you get to record 16 simultaneous tracks at a 96 kHz 24-bit resolution. Not only can it do that, it can also mix all the channels of audio sent back to it from your Steinberg software, add processing on the onboard effects, add compression, and send a stereo mix right back to the computer. The mixer gives you complete surround sound processing too.
The surprising thing about this Yamaha audio mixer is how deeply integrated it is with Steinberg software. It isn’t just a mixer that works with any software (although it is that as well). The sound quality on this device is just about the best you ever heard on a mid-format of mixer. You wouldn’t quite have expected it on this mixer, but it comes with built-in MIDI as well. All you need to do is to connect a FireWire cable to the computer and you’re fully connected. If there is any reason to complain, it’s the fact that you only get FireWire, and not dedicated digital I/O. On the eight main channels, you do get inserts, but they are completely in the analog domain. What this means is, that you can’t just insert outboard effects on any tracks coming in from the computer (because those are digital).
So should you buy this Yamaha audio mixer, or should you choose something from a competitor, perhaps the Mackie Onyx? While that would certainly be a viable competitor, it all comes down as a matter of personal taste.in the end.