QSC TouchMix 16 by kmzproton90
Released in 2014, the QSC TouchMix 16 is a digital mixer with the size of laptop and features of a large format mixing desk, combined with a recording interface.
The mixer chassis is made of strong plastic, and it seems to be sturdy. Upon picking it up, it is lightweight, but has a firm feel to it. The touchscreen glass is thick, and resistant to scratches (although I did not scratch deliberately). The XLR sockets also sit firmly in their place, the whole mixer has a solid feel to it.
The power adapter has a special kind of connector, which tethers it to the mixer firmly, reducing the risk of being yanked out accidentally.
One major problem with the mixer is that there is no built-in cooling, except for two grills on the sides. This makes the unit heat up immensely after just one hour of operation, idle or in use. It heats up to the point where it is hard to touch, and damages whatever fabric is under it (e.g. tablecloths, plastic). We use a laptop cooler, an it works, but still, it is kind of off putting to have a mixer heating up so much.
The TouchMix 16 has 16 XLR inputs and two stereo jack ins for keyboards and other stereo sources. The last four XLR sockets are combis, so they also take jack cables. These four channels are supposed to take both line and mic levels, but be aware that there is no padding option, they receive line level only when connected by jacks.
Otherwise the preamps on this mixer are fine and dandy, they are quite brighter than the ones on our old analogue Spirit Folio SX. The trim (=gain) knobs feel a little cheap, but I have had no problem with them so far. The preamps have a nice headroom, you can crank the pots without causing clipping. If it does start to clip, one push of the second user button (there are four of them, they have set functions that can be reprogrammed later) erases it instantly.
Outputs-wise the mixer has two XLRs for mains, six XLRs for mono, and 2 stereo jacks for stereo auxes. The stereo auxes are for wired in-ear monitor systems, and with a nice set of IEMs they perform very well.
The mixer has tons and tons of features, all of which are handy in a live situation.
All input channels have a 4-band parametric EQ, compressor, noise gate. All of these aspects are customizable in every way, from EQ Qs, to gate attack/release times. All of these "units" are very responsive and musical.
As far as effects go, the TouchMix 16 offers 4 effect slots to be used simultaneously. You've got two reverbs, a mono and a stereo delay, a pitch shifter and a chorus. The effects run in a separate section, so once you set the four FXs, you can divide them between the channels. For example, you set up a mono delay and a plate reverb. Those two can be mixed on all channels respectively, say, delay louder on channel 1 than on channel 6, no reverb on channel 3 and all on 7, and so on. The effects themselves are decent enough (although you should not expect reverbs to be Lexicon quality), but they have to be turned up around 0dB to be heard properly. All of them are programmable to the finest details (hi/lo-pass filters on reverb, delay time/repeat/level, etc.).
The auxes and the main share the same setup possibilities. For EQing, you have a 1/4 octave graphic equalizer doing its job very well. Also, there is a limiter, and four notch filters with selectable centre frequency. These can help you ringing out a room with the help of a built-in white noise generator.
As with other digital mixers, all mixing scenes, custom presets and channel settings can be saved and recalled at any time.
The mixer comes with its own wi-fi adapter, so it is possible to control it by and iPhone or Android device through its own network, or, if possible, the mixer can join to an already existing one. Twelve devices can connect at the same time, enabling all band members to adjust their monitor mixes on their phones.
The sweetest function the unit has is the built-in recording interface. The user can record all tracks the same time at a sampling rate of 44.1 or 48 kHz, with a fixed bit depth of 32-bits. You will need an external hard drive for it, or a thumb drive if you want to record all tracks in a stereo mixdown. This function will need to be improved on, since exporting the tracks is a pain in the *ss. Luckily, there is a program made by users, called the TouchMix Set, that lets you export tracks into separate wav files and renaming them for easier navigation in the future.
As the final verdict, the TouchMix's features overshadow its weaknesses. It makes outboard rigs and insert effects unnecessary, and the scene saving function makes an engineer's or actively gigging band's life much easier. With the ongoing firmware updates, the mixer is a huge bang for the buck!