The A-Designs Audio Mix Factory offers a new take on analog summing, providing the depth and imaging to make your mix stand out from the rest
There are summing devices and summing mixers, and then there’s the A-Designs Audio Mix Factory. Like all A-Designs products, The Mix Factory is the result of years of R&D, ear testing by A-Designs, and beta-testing by active industry professionals. This is why A-Designs products tend to be hits right out of the box, which is more than fitting, since it’s designed for mixing hits outside the box. The Mix Factory is a cascadable, 16-channel summing mixer divided into two groups of eight channels, each with its own stereo insert for processing each group separately with compression or EQ. Each of its 16 channels are equipped with individual channel gain, pan, and mute controls that double as LED signal indicators. The Mix Factory also includes a main insert send and return for 2-bus processing.
A-Designs Audio Mix Factory in one take:
- Conceived by L.A. engineer-mixer Tony Shepperd, designed by Paul Wolff, formerly of API and Tonelux
- 16-channel, 8+8 x 2 summing with gain, pan, and mute controls per channel, group and master inserts, three master volume controls, and main LED output meters
- Switchable custom output transformer for mix transparency or saturation
- Ultra flat frequency response
INSIDE THE BOX—A-Designs Mix Factory
Conceived and designed by top audio professionals
The A-Designs Audio Mix Factory is the product of real-world experience from professionals working at the highest levels of the industry. Conceived by L.A. engineer-mixer Tony Shepperd, whose credits include the most discerning entertainment companies and artists in the industry, including Disney, Quincy Jones, Take 6, Kenny Loggins, Lionel Richie and the late Whitney Huston. Shepperd, who was known for his inside-the-box (ITB) mixes, came to recognize that a hybrid of digital and analog equipment provided the best mixes. Of course, since the high track count of modern music makes ITB mixing far more convenient, a growing number of mixers have adopted it.
However, once you hear the depth, imaging, and instrument blend achievable in analog summing, it’s difficult to go back to ITB mixing. To suit the needs of a top-tier mixer, such as Tony Shepperd, the A-Designs Mix Factory had to accommodate large mixes without adding levels of complexity. To achieve that end, A-Designs, known for their collaborative efforts (which produced the acclaimed Pacifica, preamp, Hammer EQ, Nail compressor, REDDI tube DI and more), engaged the design services of none other than Paul Wolff, former owner and principal designer of API and Tonelux, whose consoles sit at the pinnacle of mixer design. In his time as owner of API, Wolff designed the Legacy and Vision consoles, as well as API’s most popular outboard, including the 512B and 3124 preamps, 550b and 5502 EQs, 2500 compressor, and 8200 series summing mixer. Who better to build the Mix Factory to Tony Shepperd’s exacting specifications?
16-channel 8+8 x 2 summing with gain, pan, and mute
While the Mix Factory is a 16-channel summing mixer, it’s divided into two groups of eight channels. Each of its 16 channels has a continuous gain control, pan knob with center detent, and mute button/LED that also acts as a 3-way audio indicator; showing green for signal presence, red for mute, and greater intensity as signal strength increases. The Mix Factory is separated into two 8-channel groups (1-8, 9-16), each group with an insert for compressor or EQ to enable separate processing of grouped tracks or stems. There is also a master insert for overall mix processing of all 16 channels. Each of the three inserts also has its own mute button so you can hear its processing in isolation. There are also master level controls for each eight-channel group, plus and “grand master” level control for all 16 channels. The Mix Factory also has a main L/R LED output meter.
Switchable transformer in/out
In the ongoing debate between mixing inside our outside of the box, there are also two schools of thought with analog summing: transparency vs. character or color. On the side of transparency, the idea is to add your character during the mix and have the summing reflect as close to what you’ve mixed as possible, neither adding nor taking away. On the other hand, there are those who prefer the character added by the saturation of analog components, such as transformers. There is also a third side to the argument, which is that some genres of music benefit from analog saturation (rock), while others benefit from transparency (jazz). This three-sided debate makes it quite difficult to choose an appropriate summing mixer if you can’t afford one of each flavor (or non flavor). Well, not anymore. Thanks to the A-Designs Mix Factory you can have both options at your disposal. There’s one front-panel button that we haven’t discussed yet, which is the XFMR button that enables you to select between a custom Cinemag transformer (the secret of A-Designs sound) for 3rd-order harmonic saturation, or, you can switch the transformer out of the circuit entirely for transparent, transformerless operation.
Ultra-flat frequency response
It’s important to note that whichever transformer option you choose, perhaps the most important feature of the Mix Factory is heard rather than seen on a front or rear panel. However, it can be measured. Regardless of whether you choose transformer in or out, the RMS frequency response of the Mix Factory mix-out 1-8, 9-16; master out; monitor out; transformer out, and transformerless out is perfectly flat from 40Hz to 11kHz, with only a 0.5dB roll0ff at 20Hz and 30kHz respectively.
OUTSIDE THE BOX—A-Designs Mix Factory
The front panel of the Mix Factory has 16 continuous gain controls, 16 pan controls with center detent, 16 mute switch LEDs that indicate mute, signal, and signal intensity. Additionally, there are three mute buttons for channels 1-8 insert, 9-16 insert, and main insert. There is also a transformer in/out button, master level knobs for channels 1-8 and 9-16, and an overall level control with LED output meters alongside.
To ensure a clean signal path inside the unit, the Mix Factory has an external power supply, which is switchable between 120V and 230V for international use. Rear-panel I/O is all balanced XLR and includes two 8-channel DB-25 connectors for channel 1-8 and 1-9 inputs. XLR I/O includes external inputs for linking to more Mix Factory units; pre master fader monitor outs; main sum out insert send/returns for channels 1-8 and 9-16; master sum out insert send and returns; main mix out post master fader; and external power supply connector.
A-Designs Audio Mix Factory full feature list:
- Solid-state design
- Custom-milled aluminum knobs
- Custom output transformers
- 2RU rack space
- External power supply
- Balanced XLR output
- 16 gain controls
- 2 master gain controls 1-8 and 9-16
- 1 grand master gain control
- 16 pan controls
- Master insert
- 1-8 insert
- 9-16 insert
- 16 mute switches
- Transformer in/out switch
- 20 color-changing switches
- LED Array
- Linking XLRs for more channel
The A-Designs Mix Factory has features and performance that not only set it apart from the rest, but also provides professionals the workflow. flexibility, and above all, sound quality to make mixes that stand out. For more information, call or chat online with your Westlake Pro sales consultant.