Surprise – the best product news from KORG this year might not be a synth. Their new mixer looks like the one we’ve been waiting for.
Let’s face it – it hasn’t been a great time for mixers. The mixing class divide has only grown. So there are some excellent high-end analog boutique and live-oriented digital mixers that you can’t afford. And then at the entry level, there’s been the race to the bottom that sees armies of clones and dropping quality without much innovation. Those you can afford, which is a good thing, but there’s not much to be passionate about.
KORG have gone back to the mixer design team that made a lot of stuff that producers and live performers really love as much as mix engineers. That means bringing in Greg Mackie and Peter Watts.
I don’t want to get too excited too fast – especially not knowing the street price. But at least on paper, this looks like promising stuff.
The KORG SoundLink comes in very reasonable looking 24- and 16-channel models. They’ve got nice, compact form factors that are nonetheless packed with features. And then they have DSP and KORG effects.
So you get the MW2408 (24-channel) and MW160 (16-bit) – analog mixers with digital control and DSP from KORG.
Looking at the layout, features, and the people behind it, I’m very, very interested. Some highlights:
HiVolt mic preamps – and keeping in mind Peter Watts worked on the Trident preamps that everyone is trying to copy
Mute groups – even on a compact mixer. (YES.)
Independent musician phone outputs, with dedicated knobs so your musicians can hear what they’re doing and control their own outputs. (YES, again.)
Built-in KORG effects and easy-access DSP. All your dynamics and reverb and EQ and spectrum analyzers and essentially what you’d expect on your computer DAW are now also in your mixer. The surprise is, it looks like there’s not too much menu diving – thanks to dedicated buttons to assign these. There’s even a test tone generator.
And yes, it’s Greg Mackie – that Mackie – who perhaps more than anyone has bridged the gap between what musicians and mixing engineers want and the mixer design and engineering that delivers. That sounds like marketing copy, but once you get past the influential early studio consoles, and very practical mixers for studios, most of the design of mixers used by musicians and producers has some ideas borrowed from Greg.
Peter Watts is an equally legendary engineer, and seeing the two of them with KORG’s own input – I think that’s a big deal.
If the price is within reach, I think it’ll be a hit. I mean, if it’s in reach, it’d be on my short list.
It seems this is still a fairly analog mixer on the mixing side – so one question I know a lot of us have is if there is any audio interface functionality, and if not why not. It could also be interesting to see a shoot-out between this and Tascam – especially since it appears Tascam has recording and interface capability and this doesn’t.
I have loads of questions, as I didn’t get complete specs on this, so I’m inferring a lot from the images (click through for bigger ones). Stay tuned for some answers.