Jumbo Sunshade - Ezine

 
Music Gear Review - ALTO Professional, ZEPHYR ZMX52 Mixer
 

Alto Professional is a company i'd never even heard of before last year.  After seeing it in a YouTube video, i bought the

ZMX52 mixer as a utility board for a rig i use in a working band.  At less than $50 it was the cheapest mixer i could find that had a mic preamp and was not made by Behringer.

 


SIZE

I specifically bought the ZMX52 with it's small size in mind.  I took the plastic sides off of it (they're just for looks anyway)
and it now measures just over 5" wide, 8" deep, 2&1/4" tall (including rubber feet).  For power it uses a large wall wart style plug.  This Alto mixer weighs 1.65 lbs and fits just about anywhere really.


BUILD
After removing the plastic side rails you're left with an all metal box.  The knobs are tall enough to where you need to be careful not to break them off (plastic stems underneath).  The XLR jack is not Neutrik.
The Main Out level is a large round low-profile knob that doesn't look easily broken and is not even prone to accidental bumping (if you did bump it, it will actually a have minimal affect on your level).

 

FEATURES & SPECS
The Alto ZMX52 is an inexpensive micro

utility/AV mixer; there are no "features" to speak of.  It's a 3-channel board; 1 XLR/Line and 2 stereo Line channels. There is phantom power (always on) in the Mic channel.
Output level can be monitored via the 4-segment LED (-20, 0, +5, clip).

Mic Channel Gain is either 0-44 dB (from documentation) or 0-50 dB (as labeled on mixer)

Stereo Channel(s) Gain is 0 (voltage Gain = 0-15 dB)

Line Input is 15-30 dBu
 

There are 7 total inputs, all of which i cover below.
 

SOUND
Honestly i haven't done any critical listening through this Alto mixer, nor will i ever; that's not what i would use it for.  I'm sure as a line mixer it's standard fare; great to play drum machine or MP3s through for duo/solo gigs or DJ.  I guarantee that if i compared the ZMX52 mic pre to those in my Soundcraft board i would say "it sucks"; but to sing through live in a bar on the weekend the ZMX52 is perfectly fine.  In a working scenario i send a line level from my guitar modeler through this mixer (into a micro bass amp head) and it sounds A-OK to me.  I will say that for my own use of this mixer, both my guitar and vocal signals go straight to the main PA board; i'm the only one who hears my Alto mixer (in my own floor monitor).
 


EQUALIZATION

Of the three channels on the ZMX52, only the Mic channel has EQ.  It's 2-band.  High EQ is plus/minus 15dB at 12kHz; Low EQ is plus/minus 15dB at 80Hz.  80Hz is exactly what you want for low-cut on a vocal.

I/O AND ROUTING
Input
Channel 1: Mic/XLR or 1/4" line (bal/unbal) > Level > Pan L/R > EQ > Gain
Channel 2/3: dual 1/4" unbal line > Level > Pan L/R
Channel 3/4: dual 1/4" unbal line > Level > Pan L/R
Aux In: dual RCA unbal line > Level (Headphones)
Output
Main Mix: dual 1/4" unbal line
Aux Out: dual RCA unbal line
Headphone: stereo 1/4"

Aux In can be routed to Headphones and/or Main Mix
 

CONCLUSION
Small, easy to use, well-built, inexpensive.  What's not to like?  Yes it would be nice to have EQ on one or both of the Line channels, but honestly based on the layout i'm not really sure where they'd squeeze even two more controls in.

 

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