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Audio Review: Soundcraft FX16ii

A small-format mixer with the capacity to do multitrack recording.

Audio Review: Soundcraft FX16ii

Mar 1, 2009 12:00 PM,
By John McJunkin

A small-format mixer with the capacity to do multitrack recording.

It seems like every time you turn around, there’s another small-format digital mixer. I don’t mean to sound disdainful. I’m a digital mixer owner myself, but I do plenty of work that simply doesn’t require the sophistication that digital mixers deliver — such as recall, automation, robust displays, and so on. On the other hand, having digital effects is nice, mainly because it may save a little weight and space in the rack. There are numerous small-format analog mixers with built-in effects, but what of the capacity to do multitrack recording with direct outs from the mixer? That’s a desirable and less-common convention, and the Soundcraft FX16ii has it.

The FX16ii sports 16 primary channels, each with a mic pre. Starting from top to bottom, each channel has a gain knob, a high-pass filter (HPF) switch (100Hz cutoff, 18dB/octave slope); a three-band EQ section with sweepable mids; four auxiliaries; a pan knob; mute, busing, and solo buttons; a peak/solo indicator LED; a switch that toggles the mixer’s direct outputs pre or post fader; and long-throw (100mm) faders. The entire channel strip is book ended by dual scribble strips — a nice little extra. The EQ section provides three bands: low and high shelving types and a sweepable mid with a Q of 1.5. All three offer 15dB of boost or cut. The high-shelf cutoff is at 12kHz. The low shelf is at 80Hz, and the mid sweeps from 150Hz to 3.5kHz. Auxiliaries 1, 2, and 3 feed actual physical outputs, while auxiliary 4 feeds internally to the onboard Lexicon effects unit. Auxiliary 2 can toggle pre/post fader, adding some flexibility to the mixer. The auxiliary masters have after-fader listen (AFL) buttons so an engineer can get a quick listen to monitor mixes.

Two switches directly above the faders route signal to the mixer’s sub bus, the main mix bus, or both. The sub bus has balanced 1/4in. outputs and insert jacks, as does the mix bus, but its outputs are represented by XLR connectors. The sub bus can also be routed directly into the mix with the push of a button directly above the sub and mix master faders — which are color-coded red and yellow, respectively. The mixer’s phantom power supply is switchable in two banks: channels 1-8 and 9-16. To the right of the primary channels and above the master faders are four stereo returns, each of which can be routed to auxiliaries 1 or 2 and simultaneously to the sub or mix buses. A metering section features a 10-segment LED stereo-level meter, along with level controls for monitors and the mixer’s built-in headphone jack — which is nicely located on the front panel, making it easily accessible in a rackmount application. Three pushbutton switches above the meter determine which signal is being metered and monitored in the headphones — two-track input, mix bus, or sub bus. Indeed, the mixer features a two-track input, which has a level control and can be routed to the mix bus. Both solo-in-place and pre-fader listen (PFL)-solo modes are available; these can be toggled by a switch near the meter, and they are indicated by LEDs in the same area.

The mixer’s back panel is dominated by the 16 main channel inputs, each of which has an XLR mic-level input and 1/4in. balanced TRS-line-level inputs and insert jacks. Other inputs are the mixer’s four stereo returns; by connecting exclusively to the left jack of any given pair, that return is established in the mix as monophonic. The only other audio input is an RCA stereo pair representing the two-track return. Directly to its right is a 1/4in. jack that accepts input from a foot switch for the purpose of muting effects. Two 1/4in. balanced jacks represent the mixer’s monitor outputs, which are next to the mixer’s XLR main mix-bus outputs. As stated before, 1/4in. TRS jacks facilitate insertion of external processors in the mix-bus and sub-bus paths. The physical outputs of the sub bus are 1/4in. balanced jacks, as are the outputs for auxiliaries 1, 2, and 3. Rounding out the rear panel are an IEC AC power inlet and a power switch.



Audio Review: Soundcraft FX16ii

Mar 1, 2009 12:00 PM,
By John McJunkin

A small-format mixer with the capacity to do multitrack recording.

As is customarily the case with Soundcraft products, this mixer’s construction is very solid. I would submit that this is a major reason why contractors and integrators choose such consoles — sheer roadworthiness and solidity. The fact that it’s rackmountable is yet another big plus for contractors and integrators. The rear I/O panel can swivel to face the back in a vertical rackmount application, and it’s not terribly difficult to make that happen. The controls feel pretty solid, with just the slightest bit of wobble in the knobs.

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The onboard Lexicon effects are great, but don’t expect the sound of a Lexicon Pro 960L. Short of saddling the buyer with the expense of a menu-driven user interface and displays, Soundcraft opted for a simple control panel that is quite clever. There are four knobs. One is a 16-position rotary switch that determines which program is engaged. The other three are soft knobs with different functionality for different programs. For example, the Adjust1 knob, as it’s known, determines pre-delay for all the reverbs; Adjust2 determines decay time for all the reverbs; and Adjust3 determines either liveliness, diffusion, or “boing” for the various reverbs. Similarly, these knobs adjust delay times, feedback, and decay for delay programs, and so on. Some delays use ducking to push the repeats down under the dry signal, and the tape-delay emulation has a smear control to achieve a reasonably convincing emulation of the signal degradation that tape delays exhibit in feedback. Another nicety is a tap tempo button, making it easy to nail the right delay time. One last crafty convention of this interface is that each adjust knob has an LED that indicates a null point, at which the program is recalled from storage — quite efficient.

The Soundcraft FX16ii is solidly built and flexible in its signal routing. The mic pres sound great, and the EQ cutoff frequencies are very functional. The onboard effects are very good as well, and they add quite a bit of usefulness to the mixer. Considering the value of an external Lexicon processor and the quality of the pure mixing functionality of this device, I would submit that it’s a great overall value for the money and worthy of consideration.

John McJunkin is the principal of Avalon Podcasting in Chandler, Ariz. He has consulted in the development of studios and installations, and he provides high-quality podcast-production services.


  • Company: Soundcraft
  • Product: FX16ii
  • Pros: Well built; flexible signal routing; great effects.
  • Cons: No polarity switch on each channel.
  • Applications: Live music, conferences, schools, houses of worship.
  • Price: $1,079




Audio Review: Soundcraft FX16ii

Mar 1, 2009 12:00 PM,
By John McJunkin

A small-format mixer with the capacity to do multitrack recording.


Frequency response

  • Mic/line input to any output: ±1dB,


  • Mic sensitivity: -30dBu, +14dBu mix
    output, <0.09% @ 1kHz


  • Mic input EIN (maximum gain): -127dBu (150V source)
  • Aux, mix, and masters (0dB, faders down): -84dBu

Crosstalk (@ 1kHz)

  • Channel mute: >96dB
  • Fader cutoff (+10 mark): >96dB
  • Aux send pots “offness”: >86dB

EQ (mono inputs)

  • HF: 12kHz, ±15dB
  • MF (sweepable): 150Hz-3.5kHz, ±15dB
  • LF: 80Hz, ±15dB
  • Q: 1.5

Input and output impedance

  • Mic input: 2kV
  • Line input: 10kV
  • Stereo input: 65V (stereo)/35V (mono)
  • Outputs: 150kV (balanced/75kV (unbalanced)



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