The Allen and Heath Mix Wizard 12M monitor mixing console provides a lot of capability in rack mount form. Normally I would start with the front side and work to the back panel, but this time the reverse makes sense.

Typically, the soundpersons for up and coming bands start by mixing monitors from front of house and when the aux send on the console will no longer handle the load, it is time to shop for a monitor mixer. With this, comes the next dilemma of upgrading the snake for a monitor split. The 12M allows you to delay this purchase as it provides the passive split on its 16 input channels. Voila! You have just saved hundreds to thousands of dollars in snake upgrades by purchasing this console.

Besides the 16 channels of split inputs, the 12 channels of XLR outputs for individual mono outs or six stereo mixes is plenty for most applications. All the inputs and outputs have associated TRS jacks for inserting effects, dynamic processing (comps, gates, etc.), or equalizers. There are additional TRS and XLR stereo outputs for cue wedges besides the headphone jacks on the front panel. FRONT PANEL All the glory is in the front panel of the Allen & Heath Mix Wizard 12M.

Up top, you have the ultra-quiet 10 to 60dB preamp with a switchable 20dB pad. Each channel also gets its own phantom power switch, plus an 80Hz high-pass filter switch to selectively knock out rumble. Following the preamp section is a modestly capable, 4-band equalizer section that can be switched in as desired. After the equalizers, the aux send section has the 12 sends grouped in a 4+8 system with the first four sends assignable pre/post.

The last eight aux sends are just post fader—typical for monitoring practices. The knobs are color coded in pairs of aux sends, so that the sends can be paired off as mono sends or stereo sends with the second control used for panning the stereo image. Each even-numbered aux send gets a center detent for the pan function.

At the bottom of each channel strip (as there is little room in the 10-rackspace tall console for faders) are rotary fader/trim controls. The 3 o’clock position is 0dB (unity) gain, leaving plenty of room for boost and most likely precise cuts for loud sources.

Surrounding the trim control is the red LED mute switch, and a round PFL (pre-fader-listen) switch with two LEDs for signal present (-12dB) and clip (+16dB). When the PFL switch is down, the red clip LED stays on as a friendly reminder, and the master PFL LED lights as well, plus the master section stereo 12-LED bargraphs take over for precise level indication. In the master section, the twelve 60mm faders dominate the landscape, with colored fader caps matching the corresponding aux sends in the channels. With the faders as aux send masters, they are grouped with red LED mute switches and yellow LED AFL (after-fader-listen) switches for mix monitoring. Again red and green LEDs are beside each master, but are set for -30dB and +16dB points for signal present and clip levels.

In the far top, the dual 12-LED bargraph displays have a monitor master level control for AFL/PFL volume to the headphone jacks and rear panel monitor output jacks. Also switches for mono operation of the stereo monitor outputs and a switch to selectively switch in the rear external monitor inputs. To finish off the console, the Allen & Heath engineers thought out of the box and provided both 1/4-inch and 3mm headphone jacks for us IEM wearing mixers. Also, a very nice XLR jack is provided for gooseneck 12 volt console lamps, which is a mark of a professional console. IN USE For a compact mixer, the Allen & Heath Mix Wizard 12M packs just about everything you could imagine in the ten rackspace form factor. And of course you can rotate the rear panel from front to rear to bottom as needed for transport and installation demands.

In testing, I found the channel and master section circuits very quiet and reasonably high fidelity for the critical listening task. The real key to monitor mixing is dealing with the likely feedback scenarios, and to become trained to quickly hit the correct mute control to squelch the offending mix or mic source. In gigging, the Allen & Heath 12M performed very well, and would be an excellent console for bands that have personal monitors, so they could self-dial-in their own monitor mix; much like grazing at a buffet.

From my perspective as a reviewer, I found few shortcomings within the confines of the compact size. Given a bit more real estate on the rear panel, I would of liked TRS line input jacks for the occasional direct source; but that is what direct boxes are for. Also, I would have loved a soft-mute-all or diminish-all emergency anti-feedback button or mute group that would drop in 10dB to 20dB of attenuation to each channel in case of the severe squeal scenario.

Overall, the 12M is a lot of bang for the buck, and could make a nice backup console when good consoles go bad.

Allen & Heath Mix Wiz 12M
How much: $2399 MSRP
Pros: Great Value for the Capability, Compact, Clean Sounding
Cons: Just a touch of a learning curve finding the right mute.

Originally posted 2009-08-28 18:01:52.