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Inkel MX991

8 Channel Mixer

A simple 8 input, twin output multipurpose mixer can have a lot of practical uses for smaller bands. While the fashion these days is for even local outfits playing tiny gigs to attempt to shove their whole line-up through the PA, few (if any) small PA systems can cope with such full-range tasks, and the resulting sound is usually a distorted mess. It also costs you the price of a fair-sized mixer! Wiser pub and club players will often benefit from using their backlines for music power, saving the PA for vocals and, maybe, drums. It's less of a strain on the PA, and makes for a better sound overall. To handle this sort of approach to sound reinforcement, either a good quality mixer-amp or, better still, a small, flexible mixer and separate power amp is just the thing. If the mixer is versatile enough, it can even have its uses at home for domestic Hi-Fi and basic home recording. But where to get one? That's the question.

Unfortunately, not too many of the big name mixer manufacturers cater for this market - at least, not at prices which the smaller semi-pro band can afford - so we were fascinated to come across the Inkel MX991, a Korean made multi-role mixer with a low enough retail price to be within the budget of even the £25 a night mob. A review sample was borrowed from importers Vitavox, and we've spent the last few weeks putting it through its paces.

Even closely examined, the Inkel MX991 is remarkably well made for the price. Both the top surface control panel and the baseplate (the latter being the favourite area for skimping by budget-conscious makers) are made of sheet metal, and the sideframes are solid wood. As far as we could tell, the Inkel should be well up to reasonably careful road use.

Following normal convention, all connections to the mixer (save a headphone socket, which is on the front lip) are on the back panel. 8 channel inputs are provided, but you might find these a bit bothersome in use as four are via XLR (Cannon) inputs (amazingly, at the price, genuine Neutriks!), the remaining four being standard stereo jacks. The four jacks are for unbalanced inputs (guitars, keyboards, unbalanced mikes etc.) whereas the four XLRs are for the more professional balanced line mikes. Fortunately, input attenuation is provided for each channel so that both low and high impedance types can be used; but suppose you wanted to use six mike inputs, four could be low impedance XLR terminated, but two would have to be unbalanced jack connected. No real problem, but it's worth noting.

In addition to these eight basic inputs, each channel also has stereo connected phono inputs for line-level sources (cassettes, tuners, some small keyboards etc). Rounding off this array are four phonos for record deck (magnetic cartridge) connection, a ground/Earth terminal and two jack socket outputs (main and Aux out) for power amp connections.

Logically and tidily laid out, the silk-screened top surface provides each input channel with the following controls: input level control via fader, built-in echo level volume, pan pot, treble (±10dB at 10kHz), bass (±10dB at 100Hz) and an input level selector, switchable between line, mic and phono. Thoughtfully, Inkel have even provided Chinagraph write-on panels for each channel - a real pro feature! Providing output level checking are two Vu meters, which are probably no more accurate than any cheap mixer's Vus but which have their uses, once you get to learn their individual quirks.

Monitor facilities on the MX991 are simple but adequate. Three controls in a line provide Monitor output level, monitor channel select (odd L, even R and odd/even in the centre setting) plus input channels grouped as 1/2, 3/4, 5/6 and 7/8. A final position gives you monitoring of the output, L and R. Obviously, monitoring on this mixer is only via headphones.

Echo controls complete the picture, working from a built-in 'bucket brigade device' (ie analogue circuit). The delay range is from 40 mSec-0.4Sec - not exceptional (it's a bit on the tinny side too, if one was to be ultimately critical), but certainly sufficient for basic PA uses, and a handy extra to have - an impressive one at the price, too! The controls provide Master echo level, repeat and delay time.

In use, we tried the Inkel MX991 in various applications and it made quite an impression on us. The controls operated smoothly and without crackles, distortion levels seemed well suppressed and the whole package looked and handled like it had been put together by a company who knew not only what they were doing but why they were doing it, and for whom. The Eq facilities, for example, although not massive in their range, were effective and sensibly chosen, every control fell straight to hand (as it needs to on a machine often used in semi-darkness), and it was easy to both set up and comprehend. On this latter point, by the way, a useful little handbook accompanies the Inkel, thankfully devoid of the pseudo-studio terminology which dogs so many product guides in this market. Armed with this and a little common sense, even the complete beginner will be able to make sense of setting up and using it.

Finally, we were very pleased by the range of facilities. Pre- and between-set disco applications, basic home recording (even in your home Hi-Fi, instead of a pre-amp) the little Inkel is a great multi-purpose tool.

We can't deny that the Inkel mixer impressed us. It's neat, tidy, well made and cheap, yet manages to offer more features than you have any right to expect for such a low price. No, it isn't as silent as a top Soundcraft, and it doesn't have the facilities of an SSL - but at under £260 what you do get is far more important than what you don't. It would be easy to wish for input level metering (even just LEDs to show peak overloads), four more XLR inputs and so on - equally well you might wish to win the pools, go the whole hog and buy a 48 channel custom Neve! What really matters is what you get for your money and, in our estimation, the Inkel MX991 performs exceptionally well for the price. For small bands, individual musicians, pubs, clubs, schools and so on we think the Inkel MX991 would be a very sensible purchase.

RRP £258.75 Inc. VAT

More details from Vitavox Marketing Ltd., (Contact Details).

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Roland TR727 Rhythm Composer

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In Tune - Copyright: Moving Music Ltd.


In Tune - Dec 1985

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