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Home recording has really changed the game. Historically, recordings were made in a purpose-built studio and captured in meticulously designed rooms that harnessed all the right acoustic energy and quashed all the bad stuff. More recently, we’ve been able to create recordings at home that capture the comfort and isolation of home.
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More accessible Digital Audio Workstations have offered a lot of people the opportunity to try their hand at EQing, compressing, and routing a signal around a mixer (digital or otherwise) and for the most part – we’re more attuned to recordings and production than ever. What this has also done is give us a peek into the routing options of mixers: multiple sends, parallel tracks, mults and summing – something that opens up entirely new avenues for bass players and guitarists alike.
Elite Acoustics aim to bring these options to the stage, more recently in the StompMix 4. This is not the fourth incarnation of the StompMix series, but a stompbox-sized mixer with four inputs and three outputs. It features onboard DSP for delay and reverb, auxiliary sends and routing for either XLRs or 1⁄4” inputs, with 48V phantom power for condenser mics. Its size makes it pedalboard friendly, as does the top-mounted 12V power input.
The StompMix 4 is housed in a road-ready chassis with an LCD screen for all your internal routing and mixing. Channels 1 & 2 are accessible via a combo 1⁄4”/XLR input on the right of the unit and feature gain control (including a pad) on the top of the StompMix. The top of the unit also features the 12V power input, USB and 1⁄4” inputs for channels 3 and 4. There’s no gain control for 3 & 4, so the input will need to be controlled externally, i.e. at your instrument level or via a pedal, so get creative with these inputs for routing! Finally, the left side of the pedal features independent left and right outputs for ‘Output 1’ and a 1⁄8” (standard headphone) jack for ‘Output 2’. ‘Page’, ‘Parameter’ and ‘System’ buttons allow you to route and mix your signal, as well as assign functions to the ‘A’ and ‘B’ footswitches, while the four knobs surrounding the LCD are simultaneously ‘push’ encoders for menu access as well as knobs for turning gain, volume and sends up and down.
The StompMix is smaller than you expect and would work really well at either the start or end of a pedal chain, being used to sum multiple inputs for a solo acoustic gig, or split your mono signal out to different amps at optimal levels. In that sense, it would also be of great use in the middle of a pedal chain, if I just route my OC-5 into the fuzz but take a clean split from the StompMix 4… then I process the clean… yep, add some verb and sum it all… you get it!
In use, the StompMix really does bring the feel of a mixer to the stage. There’s something exciting about taking a single signal (try to say that ten times fast!) and having the option to route it around and split it up, and then process those splits separately if you please. For singer songwriters you have complete control over your sound, even if you choose to use a condenser mic on stage! You can add reverb and delay to vocals, plug in your pedal board and take a clean split from a DI, all for it to be sent out either one or two channels to the front-of-house. It minimises the chance that a venue may not have everything you need to perform at your best. For bass players, it allows you to split your signal into frequency bands and process the splits separately, a common technique in modern mixes.
For players focused on electric guitar, you can do away with complex pedal routing and keep the focus on playing, all the while sending as much or as little signal to and from your pedals. Overdriving gear can sound great, but sometimes results in massively loud outputs, whereas the StompMix can allow you to push everything to its limit before delivering nice levels to a final amp, or, while we’re at it – push that amp even further into overdrive!
The StompMix is a handy tool for players of any level. Once you have a grasp on mixers and signal flow, the limitations outside of them can starve you of full creative control. While those limitations can be good, it can also be fun to have the previously unseen routing capabilities available in the StompMix 4. Four inputs and three outputs really does offer just about every kind of routing option you could need, while on board DSP gives you extra reverbs to be used as either a blanket tone or as a unique sound that can then be mixed back into your existing rig. Onboard phantom power pushes the pedal to the front of the pack, not to mention its size fitting easily into a backpack, gig bag or pedal case!
Elite Acoustics aim to amplify sound and give players control over it, and no product can exemplify that mantra quite like the StompMix 4. Not every venue can offer the same sound, even night to night, but the StompMix will hold up to the rigours of gigging and touring, while continuing to offer as much or as little mixing and routing as you need from gig to gig. No matter what happens around you, or what other gear may fail, the StompMix has options to cover you.