The humble Mackie mixer has been a mainstay in rehearsal studios and practice spaces since (what feels like) the beginning of time and for good reason. Their intuitive pushbutton routing, rock-solid build quality and unobtrusive, desktop configuration have made them the ideal ‘set-and-forget’ solution for anyone with even a passing interest in sound reinforcement. Mackie make mixers with the civilian in mind and the ProFX12v3 carries on this commitment to accessibility and ease-of-use, but propels it into the modern age with upgrades fitting for an increasingly digital world.
A mixer’s worth can often be gauged by how well it handles the dry practicalities of the job and in this respect the ProFX12 V3 earns top marks. The eight colour-coded channel strips and centralised, global FX section are ridiculously easy to navigate and the Aux/Sub/FX routing is as straight-forward you are likely to find. This directly translates to ‘less time sound-checking, more time playing’ and yet another reason why the latest ProFX range are poised to pick up the mantle of ‘practice space standard’ set by Mackie mixers past. If that was all this mixer had to offer, it would still be a winner IMO, but somewhat surprisingly it’s in the studio where the ProFx12 v3 really comes into its own.
The latest incarnation of the ProFX series has seen some significant upgrades to the recording side of the equation, with the ProFX12 now capable of streaming @ 24-bit/192kHz via USB. Combine that with the high-quality, on-board Onyx preamps and free copy of Protools First and you have yourself a pretty legit little recording setup, perfect for project studios and podcast production.
It’s these aforementioned Onyx preamps that really do push this product over the line and make it such a viable choice as a mixer/interface. From the moment you plug in, you feel like you are working with the signal in its entirety (not a compromised approximation of the signal). Instruments feel detailed and full bodied, with ample headroom for DI Bass and Guitars. As a preamp, the Onyx just has a robustness and cleanliness that feels a level above what one would normally expect to find in a mixer/interface in this price bracket.
Of course it would be hard to talk about the ProFX series without talking about the FX themselves and this latest instalment definitely delivers in that regard. With 24 built-in effects (including flavours as space-specific as ‘Warm Lounge’ and ‘Warm Theatre’), the ProFX12v3 offers a sonic palette for almost any stylistic requirement. The reverbs are tasteful and lack the inherent graininess that so often plagues digital ‘verb. (Hot tip: The ‘Overdrive/Distortion’ setting pairs remarkably well with DI Bass for record-ready fuzz tones.)
In fact, my only criticism of the ProFX12v3’s onboard features would be the inbuilt compressor and how subtle it is. From a functionality perspective it may have almost been better served having a limiter in its place, as with the input at unity and the compressor up full, it’s still difficult to hear it having any noticeable impact on the program material.
This is essentially just nitpicking on what is, in essence the kind of rock-solid offering we have come to expect from Mackie. Its user-friendly layout, realistic effects engine and high-performance Onyx preamps make for a highly capable unit, both in the live and recorded domains. In short, The ProFX12v3 excels in speeding up workflow and allowing the user to get a more than usable sound, in a minimum amount of time, which is something sure to strike a chord with budding musicians and podcasters alike.
Hits and Misses
Awesome Onyx preamps
Compressor is quite subtle