Is the Mackie VLZ4 Series 802VLZ4 8-Channel Ultra Compact Mixer Really as Good as Others Say it Is?

Mackie is known for their legendary, high-quality products that they keep at affordable prices for home recording studios. They create products that even the newest music mixer can run and the professional can use to make their process easier. The Mackie brand is always working towards perfecting their mixers to customer needs.

There are so many competing brands in the music industry. It’s hard to decide what the best brand truly is. However, there isn’t one perfect brand. There are several factors to consider and it comes down to what works best for your personal project.

Is the Mackie brand as good as they let on and is the ultra-compact mixer a perfect fit for your music mixing needs? We will discuss the features of this compact Mackie Mixer and how it pans out against other mixer brands.

An Overview of the Mackie Ultra Compact Mixer and its Qualities

The Design

The first noticeable feature is this Mackie model’s compact size. This makes the Mackie great if you need to mix on the go or have limited space. It has a sleek, easy to carry design that can be easily packed up as needed.

Mackie commonly refers to this model, as well as other models, as being “built like a tank.” The chassis, or framework, is made of high-quality steel so breaking this mixer will take effort. The durability is solid. It also has a black powder-coated finish to give it a modern look.

The rotary controls are strongly sealed. This prevents excess dirt or grime from building up. Not only is this a gross thought, it can make cleaning your mixer a torturous process. This is a great feature to have to keep it clean and in working order.

The controls are highly visible and high contrast. This means the controls are easy to tell apart and what does what. It’s convenience at its best.

Mackie has changed many of their preamps to Onyx preamps this past year. This particular model has 3 boutique-quality Onyx microphone pre-amps. The new Onyx style is loved by many. They combined high-resolution converters while keeping their great analog system.

Other Features

This model has high headroom. Headroom is the difference between 0 decibels and your peak (or loudest) level. Past 0 decibels, the sound starts to distort or clip. High headroom is a great quality to have in your audio interface.

If there’s no headroom, you don’t have much to work with while mixing. Then you have to worry about clipping or other distortions that you can’t fix. This model, specifically, has 8 high headroom line inputs!

It has an ultra-wide 60 decibel gain range. Imagine the gain as the input from the vocals running through condenser mics and mic preamps or instrument that go into the computer while volume is the output that you hear. It also has distortion under .0007% or between 20 Hz and 50 kHz.

It has a low-frequency noise amplifier picks up the weakest sound signals. This can be a good or poor quality, depending on where you are recording. It can pick up sounds that were too low that you need but it can often pick up outside noises you want to avoid as well. This can affect the vocalist’s dynamic range or range of tones.

Line Input handling is the amount the mixer can take of receiving sound signals at once. This model has a line input handling of 22 dB, which is a decent input handling for an audio interface. The microphone input channels are 18 dB/oct 100 Hz with a low cut filter.

They have an improved their RF (radio frequency) rejection. This means you can use several applications, including broadcast applications while using this audio interface.

It also has a phantom power switch. A phantom power is mostly used to connect microphones, especially condenser microphones. Condenser microphones are very sensitive creatures since it vibrates with even the lowest of sounds.

When the diaphragm vibrates, polarizing plates shift. Because of the power, it takes to charge these plates, it needs an extra boost of power. This is where the phantom switch kicks in. Since most music recorders, singers, and mixes use a condenser microphone, this is a great feature.

On the first two channels, you are able to pick which instruments to use. You don’t need to purchase a DI box, so this saves you a bit of money.

A 3 band EQ (or equalization) is a simple concept but very handy to have. 3 band equalization simply means there’s a knob for 3 different settings. This includes a bass setting, a midrange setting, and a treble setting. For this model, these settings are 80 Hz, 2.5 kHz, and 12 kHz.

Each channel has an aux send, level, pan, and PFL solo. It also has an ALT ¾ stereo bus for flexibility in routing which is great for any Internet router you use. This Mackie model has a dynamic range 128.5 decibels in dynamic range, which means it can capture a strong, wide range of tones.

Conclusion

In truth, the quality of this model depends on what you personally need for recording your music. It’s no secret that many are raving about this newer Mackie audio interface because of its simplicity. However, that simplicity may not be what you need. You may need more options and features.

The brand itself is of high-quality and extremely affordable but how complex is your recording project? For a simple recording project, this Mackie model will work great for your needs. They are great for home recording studios and easier enough for any beginner to use.

That being said, if you need something a bit more complicated or you are recording in a more professional setting, I would pass on this audio interface and go big. Sometimes, more expensive does mean better quality and better features.

1 thought on “Is the Mackie VLZ4 Series 802VLZ4 8-Channel Ultra Compact Mixer Really as Good as Others Say it Is?”

  1. Hey m@n, thanks 4 this great review 🙂 not so many info available on this VLZ4 series
    i think the ALT 3-4 concept is awesome since you can have a sub-mix group for many applications like routing certain signals to an external compressor for instance (as im planning to do) N geting back with the AUX Return directly into the Main-Mix +++ separating the Main-Mix from the CtrlRoom with two set of monitoring speakers or other PA system …N you still have the 2 Tape In & Out for more routing N redirection to the CtrlRoom or Main-Mix… so a lot of options IMO 4 a cheap mixer console

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