6/9/2008 [Live Sound]DOWNBEAT March 2008 Review
Yamaha MG166CX-USB Mixer
Huge Live Features in Compact Package
Yamaha's MG166CX-USB mixer provides a huge feature set in a compact and lightweight package. The 16-channel live mixer also includes six busses, digital effects and USB connection to hook it directly up to your computer. This is a lot to offer at such a low price (approximately) $499) and Yamaha does an admirable job for delivering the goods.
The mixer itself is light. The case is plastic but not flimsy in any way, and the faders and knobs have a nice solid feel. There are rack mounting brackets built into the case should you decide to go that route, but it sits comfortably on a desk too.
Ten of channels feature Neutrik mic connections, which is nice—often mixers ion this price range rely on cheaper connections to get there. The mic pre-amps sound pretty good too—quiet and transparent. Yamaha has also included pre-channel compressors on the first six channels, but they do the job, and add a much-needed functionality for live situations that most inexpensive boards overlook entirely.
Inserts are included on every channel, as well as group sends and returns. Each channel has its own EQ, and they sound pretty good, with a sweepable mid on the first eight channels—that's a lot of options for sculpting your sound.
On top of all this, the mixer has a built-in digital multi-effects unit.
It includes a number of reverbs, an echo and a smattering of chorus, flange and phaser effects. It also has an auto-wah. Each effect has one adjustable parameter, usually depth or speed, and can be assigned independently to a different aux and groups, as well as the main outs.
The effects can be turned on and off with a footswtich. These are global, so in live situation you'd probably find reverb useful, but if you using the outboard reverb, you might use one of the others.
If you attach the mixer to your computer via USB, you can record stereo audio directly into your machine. Yamaha includes a copy of Cubase AI with the mixer to you started. Overall, this is an impressive little mixer, especially in this price range. The MG166CX-USB is worth a look.—Chris Neville
Ordering info: www.yamaha.com