12 channel mixer for £300???
The dear old days when a band's P.A. system consisted of a 100 watt 'P.A.' amp and two 4x12 columns have just about gone for ever. True, a lot of outfits are limited to this sort of gear when they begin, but nowadays even small bands look at proper mixers, power amps and bin/horn set-ups, once they get into more serious gigging.
But using a mixed system isn't automatically a guarantee of getting a good sound mix for your audience. There are still a lot of bands around who'd sound a great deal better leaving their backlines un-miked and sticking to mixing only vocals and drums through the P.A. Part of the reason behind this is the lack of experience on the part of these groups' roadies, part the size of the venues being played but a certain major factor is the use of cheap quality gear inducing unwanted but only too audible distortion into the mix. Moral — if you're trying to do a professional job you really do need equipment of a suitable quality.
Does that mean that bands anxious to present a professional sounding show must start with gear which only hire companies can afford to run? Well, it all depends on what you want and certainly it's just not worth buying rubbish equipment in the vain hope that it'll mix your sound like a fully pro system.
To the rescue of the smaller, poorer band however, have come Atlantex Ltd. who have given us an exclusive look at a brand new mixer they are introducing onto the market; a mixer which should enable any band with just about £300 to buy a mixer capable of doing a very good job — the sort of job that a lot of pub and club bands need doing very badly indeed!
The Atlantex mixer is quite a revelation when you first set eyes on it. To start with it's very nicely constructed. The casing is a really good looking tough black high technology plastic which contributes to a lightness which would enable even a midget to lift and carry it one handed. It's actually a very deceptive lightness, this, because the unit is certainly strongly made and should withstand the rigours of life on the road with no problems at all.
"IT'S STRONGLY MADE AND SHOULD WITHSTAND THE RIGOURS OF LIFE ON THE ROAD WITH NO PROBLEMS AT ALL."
Back panel facilities begin with a locking socket for a lead in from the separate mains supply unit. This locking socket is typical of the thoughtfulness behind the whole product — who needs their mixer becoming disconnected in mid number? With the Atlantex it shouldn't happen.
The rest of the back panel is taken up with jack sockets, two auxiliary outputs (for feed to reverb or other effects units) and then a separate section with left and right outputs and left and right returns. The twelve channels have two standard jack sockets each, one for a balanced mike input and one for a line level. That about completes the very neat arrangement of the back panel.
On the top, a very logical and easy to operate arrangement provides the actual mixing section. Each of the twelve channels offers you a slider fader for channel gain, then colour coded pots for pan 1, aux 1, bass, middle and treble. Finally, topping each channel is a red pot for gain control. Down at the 'stereo out' end, the Atlantex 12-2 features twin VU meters (internally illuminated) plus master faders for left and right, return levels, bass mid and treble controls.
"FROM AN OPERATIONAL POINT OF VIEW, WE FOUND THE ATLANTEX TO BE A VERY NICE PIECE OF EQUIPMENT."
Obviously, then, what we have here is a more than adequately equipped twelve into two mixer. But that's only half the story. The Atlantex is very nicely laid out, well provided for with facilities and obviously very simple to use — ideal in fact for the band who are buying their first proper mixer. Twelve channels should be more than enough for most bands, and any roadie lucky enough to find himself perched behind this mixer (whatever his level of experience) should find himself growing familiar with this sturdy item very quickly.
What really impresses one about this Atlantex aren't the facilities as much as the sheer ease of use of them and the very low retail price of around £300 for a mixer which is a very nicely made piece of equipment.
Of course, one advantage of buying a mixer like that is that, as a band grows, one will always find a ready market for re-selling it when (if) one needs more channels but, much more importantly, it would have a second lease of life as a foldback mixer when your band eventually grows to the point where such things become affordable.
"FROM A SPECIFICATION AND TECHNICAL POINT OF VIEW THE ATLANTEX 12-2 OFFERS A LEVEL WHICH IS, ONCE AGAIN, ABOVE THE PRICE BEING ASKED FOR IT."
From an operational point of view, we found the Atlantex to be a very nice piece of equipment, selling at a price which significantly belies its level of performance and attractiveness. Frankly, it's solid enough for even a hire company to be able to send out night after night without that sinking feeling that each hire would be followed by several hours in the repair shop.
From a specification and technical point of view the Atlantex 12-2 offers a level which is, once again, above the price being asked for it. The Eq section, for example, offers a full plus or minus 15dB at 100Hz, 700Hz and 10KHz. These aren't the sort of figures which one normally expects from gear costing this sort of money.
But figures can be grossly misleading, there are many subtle ways of quoting them that can hide a lot of sins, but we found the tone facilities of this mixer to be far better than we had expected and, granted there was some noise level present in the overall output, it was, yet again, far less than one might expect at the price.
"ARMED WITH THIS PIECE OF EQUIPMENT A REALLY GOOD MIX SHOULD BE OBTAINABLE OF MOST OUTFITS, GIVEN THAT THE ATLANTEX IS TEAMED-UP WITH A REASONABLE QUALITY OF POWER AMP AND SPEAKERS."
Really, that's the key to the Atlantex 12-2 as far as we can see. It's not a Neve 24 channel and it doesn't pretend to be. What it is is a no-nonsense, extremely simple to operate mixer for the band for whom such things are a luxury they can only just about afford. Armed with this piece of equipment a really good mix should be obtainable of most outfits, given that the Atlantex is teamed-up with a reasonable quality of power amp and speakers.
It's to be hoped that this won't be Atlantex's only foray into this small PA field. If they can turn out such a thoroughly honest piece of gear as this, then there are several other things that could equally well benefit from that sort of design/manufacturing/pricing policy — a good clean cheap power amp to name just one!
Still, whether or not the company does decide to go further into this market, a lot of bands who are right now searching around for a good start to their first or second proper PA system should be benefitting considerably from this mixer as soon as they get a chance to try one.
Further details from Atlantex Music Ltd. (Contact Details)
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