Review: Mackie ProFX V2
Mackie’s analogue multipurpose tool: keep one in your car boot at all times.
It started with a problem. I needed a small-format mixer to put next to a drum fill. I wanted our drummer to be able to plug in his in-ears or headphones, turn down the level of the wedge, and for it to be easy to revert back when he’s finished.
Which was when I noticed Mackie’s ProFX v2 range — I was especially attracted to the micro four-channel model. That was my conundrum, and no doubt you’ll have your own head-scratcher.
Yes, you may need an analogue front of house console for your pub, club, church… recording studio, even. And the new Version 2 of the ProFX range will fulfil that role more than competently. But equally you may need something to address a less than conventional application.
SIX IS BETTER THAN FOUR
The ProFXv2 Series features three compact models — ProFX4v2, ProFX8v2 and ProFX12v2 — along with the ProFX16v2, ProFX22v2 and ProFX30v2, which offer four-bus architecture and dedicated inline channel compression on select channels along with the extra channel count. Each model packs a seven-band graphic EQ which can be assigned to main outs or monitor outs. Version 2 introduces the four-channel and the 30-channel to the range for the first time.
There’s three-band channel EQ with HPF, a monitor send, global phantom power, individual mute buttons and pleasantly smooth 60mm faders (except for the ProFX4v2 which sticks with rotaries to conserve real estate).
It’s a feature-rich setup. There’s a good degree of I/O, including RCA in/out on one of the stereo channels, send/return inserts on the mic channels and a USB port around the back.
USB IN & OUT
The USB port provides for digital recording and playback. It means you can record a two-track desk mix directly to your Mac or PC, which is great for logging a presentation, as well as recording a gig or band rehearsal. Alternatively you can hit the space bar on your computer and use the USB as a digital input for streaming music directly to the house during performance breaks. In fact, Mackie provides a Break button for just such a purpose. That’s right, it’s ‘Break’, as in ‘take a break’ between sets — hit the button, and it mutes everything except your USB input (which has its own level pot).
The USB1.1 recording is a fairly blunt instrument — it’s the modern equivalent of a two-track tap from the desk — but it’s useful nonetheless. Digital recording is a big reason for many operators getting pressure to ‘go digital’ with their new mixer choice, while this ProFXv2 feature provides one more reason to stick with analogue, if that’s how you like to roll.
The revamped ProFXv2 series features a new preamp design and it’s a doozy. The Vita preamp (based on the already excellent Onyx design) features a Class-A front end, “dual feedback stabilisation” and “bias current optimisation”, which all serve to keep noise to a minimum. (Mackie specs the eight-channel mixer’s Equivalent Input Noise (EIN) for a 150Ω source impedance, from mic in to insert send out, max gain: -125dBu.) During my test of the ProFX8v2 I compared four vocal handheld condensers all simultaneously plugged into the four preamps of the mixer, including my old friend the Rode S1, the classy Shure KSM9, the super-hot Audix VX5, and the classic AKG C535EB. The Vita preamp allowed each mic to demonstrate its tone and personality, with more than enough gain (50dB on offer). In fact, the lack of background noise was nearly my undoing – speaking through a powered wedge at what I guessed was a civilised volume, turned out to the coming of a 120 decibel apocalypse.
The other big version 2 drawcard is the update effects section. There are a choice of 16 presets with all the usual suspects present (reverbs, choruses and delays) and they’re all very serviceable. There’s a footswitch jack for muting the effects, which is another cool inclusion.
The compact mixer market is pretty fiercely contested. Yamaha has some great options, Soundcraft are always strong in this area, Behringer of course, and others I’ve no doubt ignored or forgotten. Mackie’s ProFXv2 is there or there about with its pricing, packs some nifty features, and has some of the cleanest preamps on the market at any price.
Like I mentioned in my introduction, the ProFXv2 will solve your own particular curly problem. If you need a 16-channel analogue mixer for your pub to mix bands like it’s 1985… all strength to your arm. But just as likely, you’ll need a compact mixer for some other application unique to you and your circumstances. It’s likely to need to be thrown in the boot; used by others unfamiliar with the mixer; used in the absence of any outboard; used in totally unfamiliar rooms, plugged into combinations of mics, amps and monitors you may have never seen before. The ProFXv2 is likely to have the right frame size and the right mix of features to get you there.