Mackie ProFX v3 Mixer REVIEW

Mackie’s latest revision to its classic ProFX mixer lineup, the new ProFXv3, adds a number of useful upgrades, without a hefty price tag. Taking a look at the mixer itself, there are a few things to point out that other units in this price range lack. Namely, insert points per channel (at least on 1-8, your standard mic channels) are a very welcome addition that far too many boards omit. The mic pres themselves have been upgraded to Mackie’s famed ONYX preamps, which we’ve tested before in previous mixers as well as Mackie’s most recent USB audio interfaces. Suffice to say, further testing of the new ProFX v3 mixer yielded similarly positive results in the sound quality department. Vocals were crisp and clear, with just enough “presence” to feel alive and not processed. This could really be the next board for your band’s rehearsal space or even for live gigs – especially with on-board Hi-Z inputs so you can go direct without the need for additional DI boxes.

You get 3-band EQ on each channel with a sweepable midrange (pretty standard), as well as a number of aux sends and FX sends per channel. Throw in a few assignable groups, and that pretty much rounds things out. Standard stuff, but well done, and built to last. Speaking of those FX sends, here’s where Mackie has really stepped things up to compete with the likes of Soundcraft, whose Signature 12MTK still holds a place as our office “go to” compact mixer. Soundcraft has the luxury of being owned by Harman, who also controls dbx, Lexicon and more, meaning they have access to great digital fx to add to their mixers right out of the gate.

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Luckily, the folks at Mackie have also turned their attention to the on-board fx in their latest v3 series, and the results are great (even without the luxury of those brands as sister companies). Digital fx in compact mixers have come a long, long way in the past 10 years. Whereas in 2010 I would have said a lot of manufacturers’ on-board fx were borderline insulting, here we are closing out the decade with a mixer like this, featuring a KILLER suite of great-sounding fx that range from big reverbs, lush choruses and great modulation fx like delay and flange.

So, the mic pres are better, the fx engine is much improved and super-useful, and you’ve got on-board USB for recording. Now, the good news is you get a 24 bit/192kHz 2×4 interface, which means you can record your gigs, rehearsals and even tracking sessions into your DAW. And Mackie has even gone above and beyond by including a basic version of Pro Tools as well as dozens of really great plug-ins to help you get started.

While that’s all great, and totally worth the asking price, in future revisions we’d absolutely LOVE to see the ability to add more I/O over USB, including the ability to use the board as an analog front end for your DAW, bringing your DAW channels back on individual hardware channels in a multi-track mode, much like our Soundcraft board is capable of. Mixing (no pun intended) the best of both worlds would make this downright indispensable.

But that’s more of a wish-list item (and suggestion in case the folks at Mackie are reading), and not a criticism of what the board actually DOES deliver. And for under $500, it delivers in spades.  We’re super impressed with all this compact unit has to offer, and we think it’ll make a perfect addition to any band’s gear arsenal.

PROS:

easy to use, priced competitively, good build quality, improved mic preamps

CONS:

Would be nice to have USB returns on each channel

STREET PRICE:

$499

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