Allen & Heath ZED-14 USB Mixing Console Review

Allen & Heath have a good pedigree in the manufacture of mixing consoles, The ZED-14 is a top-notch mixer, coming from one of the foremost mixer manufacturers in the world and this is their first small mixer to come at a truly budget price. Allen & Heath’s compact ZED 14 would be can use for both live sound and recording tasks. And it will gives you a variety of great input options, as well as easy USB connectivity for computer integration.

The sound quality is obviously an important issue, it’s more than likely that it’s a particular mix of facilities that draws us to one mixer rather than another. This is a mixer for anyone, from entry-level to professionals, who appreciates fantastic sound, rugged build quality and imaginative feature sets.

Allen & Heath ZED-14 USBImage source: zzounds.com

Feature:

  • 6 mono channels
  • Neutrik mic XLR
  • Neutrik 1/4 inch jacks
  • Channel insert
  • Super wide gain ‘DuoPre’ mic line input
  • 3 band EQ with MusiQ
  • 4 auxes
  • Illuminated mute
  • Sound image pan
  • Illuminated PFL & peak warning indicator
  • ALPS 100mm faders
  • 4 stereo channels with 2-band EQ and inputs for extra sources
  • Stereo returns & playback
  • All inputs with level control
  • 12 bar meters
  • Mono/stereo function on auxes 1&2
  • Monitor output section
  • Alt stereo output source
  • Configurable USB stereo audio in/out
  • Cakewalk SONAR X1 LE bundled with mixer
  • Rack ears available

This product is designed in the UK, but built in China. First looks of the ZED 14 are that it has been constructed to a high standard with sturdily fixed sockets, and has knobs that show no sign of wobbling. There are six main mono channels with both mic and line inputs plus a further four stereo channels with line inputs. All the XLR inputs can provide phantom power for microphones and the bus routing options are more complicated than can be explained here, suffice it to say that this mixer is flexible. Add to that two basic stereo returns and the stereo return via USB and you have 13 sources to the mix. All channels feature a pair of pre-fade sends and a further pair of post-fade sends, for use with foldback monitoring and effects loops. On the stereo channels, there’s an extra, flush-mount button that allows the two pre-fade sends to be set up instead as a single stereo pair. Each of the mono channels has a 4-band EQ high, low-mid, high-mid, low and the standard panning controls, gain, etc.

The prominent mixer feature on the ZED-14 above other similar units is that the ZED-14 has sliders instead of knobs for each channel master, it’s much more easy to see where everything is set. Allen & Heath’s latest technology in microphone preamplifier technology is the new DuoPre. Each of the six main mic channels is fitted with the DuoPre preamps, which use a two stage design with carefully controlled amounts of gain in each stage for optimum results whether a line source or a mic is plugged in. This configuration generally produces better noise performance than designs that pad down the input and then amplify it (along with the noise) back up again as many other mixers still do. When amplifying the signal from the XLR input, the gain range is huge  69dB of range to be exact and is very evenly distributed around the gain control, meaning better control of signal level.

I have my main outputs routing to my main room amp and speakers and the AUX outputs running to a pair of desk studio monitors. As you’ll find below the ZED14 also has USB connectivity so that it can act as both a mixer and an audio interface. The USB socket is above stereo channel 11/12, along with the three routing buttons that allow its output source to be selected as the pre or post fader stereo mix, the Aux 1/2 output or the Aux 3/4 outputs. This is completely viable for recording one instrument at a time or a balanced mix of several channels. Which computer connection is USB1.1 rather than the more powerful USB2. All channels have mute buttons with status LEDs, PFL buttons with LEDs, which also act as peak-level warning indicators.

Each mic channel also features a new MusEQ 3-band equalizer circuit on each mono input and a 2-band EQ on the stereo channels. With a swept midrange offering 15dB of cut or boost over a frequency range from 120Hz to 4kHz, which gives it scope to tackle those awkward lower-mid frequencies that many other three-band EQs frustratingly fail to cover. This means there’s plenty of flexible control over the critical areas.

This’s a review video of Allen & Heath ZED-14

The ZED-14 and has the feel of a professional mixing board, but won’t take up your whole desk OR your whole paycheck. For the such a low price, you get a professional-class mixing board, USB interface, and Cakewalk SONAR LE which will get PC users off to a flying start. If you are in the market for a home mixer to start home recording I would recommend this package. The price of Allen & Heath ZED-14 USB Mixing Console is about $399.00

Source:

  • sweetwater.com
  • allen-heath.com
  • soundonsound.com
  • musicradar.com
  • en.audiofanzine.com