Jumbo Sunshade - Ezine
Music Gear Review - Mixer
Mackie DFX12 Versus Behringer UB1222FX
From a design standpoint, there are very few
differences between these mixers. The biggest difference, price,
is no surprise: Behringer is known for being very inexpensive and
Mackie... isn't! :)
Here's a quick head-to-head comparison with differences in
|Vocal Cancellation (Karaoke)
|FBQ Feedback Detection
|* Behringer counts L/R channels
as 2 inputs; Mackie counts them as 1. Both
boards actually have the same number of inputs.
|** From the Mackie manual:
"16-bit, 2 channel" (more on this below).
|XLR / Line
|XLR / LR
|Aux Return L/R
|CD in L/R (RCA)
|Tape Out (RCA)
|Main Bal/Unbal 1/4"
|Headphones 1/4" stereo
|Low Cut (XLR/Line channels only)
||12 kHz Shelf
||12 kHz Shelf
||2.5 kHz Peak
||80 Hz Shelf
||80 Hz Shelf
|Aux1 Send (monitor/pre)
|Aux2 Send (fx/post)
PRICE: features, performance & reliability
Ok, lets address the huge difference in price between these two boards.
Loyal Mackie users would say that "you get what you pay for" and those with
the Behringer gear would reply that "clearly, some things are just
over-priced". I go pretty far back with Mackie but i've also used my
fair share of Behringer gear. My personal opinion is that there's a
bit of truth to both of the above statements most of the time.
In terms of features, the Behringer at worst breaks even
and at best wins hands-down. I haven't had occasion to play
around with either the XPQ Surround or the FBQ Feedback Detection so i can't
speak to their effectiveness, let alone their usefullness; but anybody who
used the standard on-board FX would obviously have A LOT more options with the
UB1222FX versus the DFX12.
For me, performance and reliability are one in the same, but you have to
be realistic within whatever price range you're dealing with. In this
particular price range, i don't expect these mixers to bring anything
special to the table in terms of signal-to-noise ratio. I couldn't
seriously judge either of these two mixers by how "musical" or "transparent"
their preamps sound. Also, i have low expectations from on-board
reverb (based on experience).
And while the Mackie mixers are by no means bullet-proof (i've come across
many a Mackie board with dead channels), it has certainly been my experience
that the Behringer equipment is VERY inconsistent with regard to operation
At $150, i'm surprised that the Behringer is as quiet as it is. With
that in mind, a direct comparison to the Mackie leaves me wondering about
the $250 price tag because the DFX12's preamps have less headroom
than the UB1222. More on this below.
The boards' layouts are fairly similar. The Mackie is a bit wider with
the sides sticking out. The Behringer's top, despite having two less
outputs, is very cramped in part because of the little FX preset chart they
have printed in the upper right corner.
Behringer's problem with a cramped space isn't helped by the inclusion of
their XPQ and FBQ features. Something that isn't in the way but
should be, are balanced/unbalanced 1/4" main outputs. Did
Behringer leave this out because they ran out of space? Anybody using
the UB1222FX out live had better bring an extra XLR-to-1/4" cable with them
(what a drag).
A seemingly small but very important difference in design is the shape
of the mixers. With its low profile at the bottom of the channel
faders, Mackie's DFX12 design is exactly what you'd want when spending alot of
time mixing. There is enough room below the DFX12's faders that you
can actually use labeling tape.
Behringer's UB1222FX on the other hand, is more for the live show
"set it and forget it" kindof gig where you won't be riding the
faders. Behringer gives you the option of rack-mounting this mixer
Mackie's phantom power switch is located on the top, whereas Behringer's
phantom power switch is located in the back. Depending on how you work
(making adjustments, plugging/unplugging, physically moving the board around)
there are advantages and disadvantages to both locations. Mackie's
DFX12 is more of a studio board, and so the top location makes more sense.
Beheringer's UB1222FX being more a live board; the back makes more sense to
On the Behringer, there are plastic pieces on either side of the Standby
(mutes all mic channels) switch so that it's harder to press it
accidentally. This should be a standard feature for phantom power
switches on all mixers regardless of location of the switch.
One of the things i can't stand about Behringer boards is their power
LED, which is ridiculously bright. It's annoying enough in a well-lit
room, but in the darkness of the bar it becomes this torturous
retina-piercing beacon that glows horribly bright in the furthest reaches of
your peripheral vision. You never want to put tape on somebody else's
equipment but you have to wonder about the risk of seizures after a certain
amount of time.
For the money, it's very disappointing that Mackie would go with only a 5-band
Main EQ and omit the Mid EQ on every channel. Are they even
trying to be at all competitive? I realize that this isn't a
hugely important issue for *home studio* applications, but you have to think
that one of the reasons somebody would buy a board like this is because
it can pull double duty live. And live is where you would
absolutely want to have that Mid EQ channel option.
In fact, if i were choosing between these boards for use with
singer/songwriter acoustic nights at the pub, that Mid EQ alone would be a
Behringer's choice in Main EQ frequencies are: 63Hz, 160Hz, 400Hz, 1kHz,
2.5kHz, 6.3kHz, and 16kHz. I think that going with 16kHz versus
Mackie's use of 12kHz is a mistake on Behringer's part. 12k for a Main EQ on this type of
board is just *way* more useful, and here's why:
These small boards are made for smaller venues/events; basically
anything where you wouldn't need to mic the drums (because you can't,
without another board feeding into this one!). With these type of
gigs, if you don't have a 1/3 octave graphic EQ in your rig, you control
feedback like this: don't have ridiculous stage volume; don't point your
microphone toward the speakers.
In my opinion, there is more utility in 12k with regard to vocals and room
Yes, for use with Behringer's Feedback Detection System, 16k makes more
sense, but then you have to wonder how wide they're setting the bandwidth
for this frequency. If it's a narrow Q, it's not gonna be as effective in all the
different rooms you'd play. If they've gone with a wide Q, it's gonna
be that blanket-over-the-speakers effect when trying to "notch" out feedback.
Behringer's main EQ sliders have LEDs built in to each one. I LOVE
this on a $150 mixer! In addition to the obvious utility of easily
visible sliders; when using Behringer's Feedback Detection the LEDs are used
to identify the looping frequencies (again, i haven't tested FBQ and
couldn't say how well it works in the real world).
On lower-end boards like these where you do have Inserts, you would
basically only be using on-board Reverb 90-something percent of the time
(does anybody really need dedicated flange across the board?!).
Compression or other FX would be inserted on a per-channel basis.
You can't expect the on-board effects to sound great, but they could
only be so noisy before they'd be useless.
I have used the DFX12 on-board reverb for acoustic gigs and it is useable
but just barely. Pushing any more than a bare minimum of the FX Aux
results in a hiss that is very obvious when the only thing coming through
the speakers is vocals and guitar.
Mackie claims to have 32-bit FX but it's described as "16-bit, 2
channel". I have never heard a processor spec described that way.
It's kindof confusing, but then i have the board right in front of me so...
I have used the ubiquitous Alesis MicroVerb since around 1990, and i can say
with complete certainty that the DFX12's on-board verb is every bit as noisy
and clouded sounding. If this is Mackie's idea of 32-bit, it's a good
thing they didn't settle for 24 (which i'm assuming would've been "12-bit, 2
Of the seven verb presets available on the Mackie, i personally only find
one to be useful for vocals (and acoustic guitar).
Just like with the preamps, it is surprising to me that the FX on the
Behringer are as quiet and decent-sounding as they are. Anybody who
on-board effects of these low-end compact mixers an important factor in
their decision would pretty much have to go with the Behringer over the
I have used full-sized Behringer boards at plenty of gigs with a full band, but we
always have dedicated verb and compression - can't imagine using the
on-board FX. I have used the UB1222FX out live a few times for solo
acoustic and i honestly could not be happier with the fidelity and noise
floor considering the price range.
I have only used one verb preset (#10) out live with the Behringer so far.
But for this review i ran through all 24 of the verb presets available on
the UB1222FX and i think at least 5 would be useable for solo acoustic gigs
(just my personal taste/opinion).
Behringer offers another FX routing function that is worth looking into
for anybody who would be using on-board effects live AND in their home
studio: Insert FX (compressor, expander, gate, exciter, guitar amp, test
tone, and more). I didn't have time to test any of it myself, but it
might be worth looking into for some people.
VOCAL CANCELLATION/ELIMINATION (KARAOKE)
The effectiveness of voice cancellation really depends on how the music
is mixed, and results vary greatly. From what i've read, nothing goes
Admittedly, i'm not a karaoke kindof guy, but it seems to me that anybody
doing this out in public would just be better off buying the karaoke
versions of the songs. The voice cancellation technology is just too
hit or miss - you'd have to run through all of your CDs/MP3s at home first,
figuring out which ones would work. My guess is that anyone purchasing
either the Mackie DFX12 or the Behringer UB1222FX in part because of the
karaoke feature will be disappointed.
Anyway, for this review i went through most of the reference tracks that
i use for other things in the studio. Results were interesting.
Something is going on with the low frequencies. I don't know if
this is frequency-dependent, or if something is being added after the phase
is flipped. But clearly an attempt is being made to to keep things
like bass guitar and drums from being affected by the cancellation process.
It's very noticeable on Burden In My Hand (Soundgarden). Chris
Cornell's vocals are for the most part effectively eliminated, but you can
totally hear something going on with the lowest frequencies of the vocal
track. It sounds
like either air is hitting the mic diaphragm, or a room frequency is
resonating. It's actually pretty cool.
None of the bass-heavy songs that i tried sounded *good*, but some sounded
better than others.
Backup vocals in every song i tested were right there in the mix, which i
would assume is a good thing for karaoke. But on alot of tracks, the
guitar and/or snare was either missing or altered to the point of
distraction (at least to my ears). For some tunes you wouldn't
necessarily *miss* specific guitar parts, but on other songs it's pretty
much critical (Sweet Home Alabama; Cold Shot).
Voice cancellation worked really well on some tunes (Black Water) but
completely ruined others (Criminal). I wanted to post some recordings
i'd made but i'm afraid of the RIAA suing me so i probably won't ever get
around to doing it!
CONCLUSION: MACKIE DFX12
The layout of the DFX12 really doesn't make it the best choice for a live
gig. It's not rack-mountable. It doesn't have a Mid channel EQ;
and the main EQ is only five bands. The available effects are limited
The Vocal Elimination seems gimmicky to me (it worked on less than 50% of
the pop music i tested), but if it helps them sell units i guess i
The Mackie does look really good sitting in the studio, and it is clearly
designed to facilitate long hours of mixing. But the reality is that
in the studio these days people are mixing on control surfaces, not
Mackie's layout does make complete sense. All of the things i use
are right where i'd want them to be and none of the things that i don't
use get in my way, which is nice.
I have spent many hours using this mixer live and in the studio, and i don't
dislike it. I just don't think the Mackie DFX12 is worth the
money when better boards are available for far less money.
CONCLUSION: BEHRINGER UB1222FX
I kindof wish that Behringer hadn't tried to cram so much into what is
supposed to be a low-end compact mixer. I like that it is compact but
they could've made better use of space without the "feedback detection",
Surround, and Vocal Cancellation; let alone that guide to 99 FX presets in
the upper right corner. You're only gonna be using 1 effect and
chances are that'll be the one you use all the time.
I think that Behringer made an absolutely huge mistake in not having 1/4" main
outputs available in addition to the XLR outs. Clearly their market
research has failed them on what people buying this type of board are using
Having said that, i basically like the UB1222FX. It does everything i
would expect this type of mixer to do, but more importantly, their preamps
AND the FX processor are way more clean than i'd expect them to be
MACKIE DFX12 VERSUS BEHRINGER UB1222FX
The three things i like better about the Mackie are: 1/4" main outputs;
their choice of a 12k band on the Main EQ; it's definitely a more
In my opinion though, the Behringer is a better board in many other ways.
The Behringer is quieter, smaller and has more features and options than the Mackie.
I've spent lots of stage time being routed through various Behringer mixers
and haven't experienced one dying yet, but i've seen enough other Behringer
gear die that it is something i think about. Still though, even if you
added the cost of say, a 24-month extended full coverage warranty, it's
still totally worth the money (as long as you have other boards available as
backups if/when your Behringer goes crispy on you!).