Following its series of smartly designed and attractively priced stereo field mixers, Audio Technologies Incorporated (ATI) has introduced a three-channel mono mixer well-suited for field recording, ENG work and stationary use where space is tight.
ATI’s MX101 mono field mixer will be welcomed by professionals who don’t need to fuss with phantom power settings, gross gain settings for mic inputs or tweak other mixer parameters each time you power up. The MX101, at $579 list, is a sensible choice over other mixers with more features at a substantially higher cost. 48 VDC phantom power is available as a $69 option for the MX101.
All input, output and controls are located on either the front or the rear panels. This one-dimensional design is handy when mounting up to three MX101s with the optional rackmount kit. The front panel offers control over the three inputs and each gain control has a mic/line button tucked next to it.
Two internal DIP switches associated with each input give +20, +40 or +60 dB gain at the preamp section for microphones and an additional DIP switch selects between 0 dB and +10 dB gain for line input settings. Regulated +20.2 DC phantom power is routed to an input XLR if its associated DIP switch is flipped on. ATI’s operation manual states this voltage is “more than adequate for most phantom powered mics even though they may be labeled 48 V. I found my favorite Neumann microphones worked without complaint at this voltage.
A master gain control is to the right of the input knobs and the headphone jack (1/4″ TRS) is to the right of that. Headphone gain is adjusted by a small screwdriver-friendly shaft; while my fingers could turn the shaft, a screwdriver would have been more efficient.
A ten-segment LED display shows the output level, post master gain and just prior to the final buffer stage. An internal VU-calibrate control lets the user choose 0 VU settings from -10 to +8 dB. For most circumstances, however, the factory set +4 dB reference is fine.
Three small, front panel switches engage the low-cut filter, with published specs of -15 dB at 20 Hz and a -3 dB point at 125 Hz. Another tiny switch engages the limiter with a published spec of 5:1 slope, with an attack time of 50 ms, recovery time at 300 ms for a 10 dB change. A yellow LED illuminates when limiting occurs.
A mandatory feature on modern field mixers is slate/tone, and the MX101 provides both by way of a tiny, three-position switch. The switch is momentarily in the down position, injecting the minuscule slate mic’s audio into the program bus. Flipping the switch up injects a 740 Hz tone onto the program bus. The tone level is, naturally, directly related to the master gain setting.
Another feature ATI packs into its MXS100 and MX101-series mixers is an injectable external input to the headphones. With the front panel PGM PGM/Q switch set to PGM/Q, the headphones are split – one ear receives the program bus and the other ear receives either a prefader signal from the first fader or a signal plugged into the rear panel submini jack. This is a very useful feature for getting studio or talent cues.
Powering a field mixer is the most fundamental concern of those using the product. ATI provides a number of power supply options, which are sold separately, to allow the user to select the optimum supply for the intended power source.
The option supplied with my evaluation model was the PPA-1 gel-cell power pack and wallwart charger kit ($199). Our evaluation package was also bundled with the ABAG-1 field kit ($135). The field kit protects the MX101 controls and rear panel connectors with side plates that extend beyond the front and rear panel.
The kit includes side brackets that make it a snap to slide the gel-cell pack in and out. A tough poly canvas-like carrying case with carrying strap securely wraps the mixer and gel-cell pack. It also has a clear, heavy plastic front flap to keep the controls dry but visible.
If the MX101 is meant to be mounted at a fixed position, such as a filing point, remote truck rack or multimedia center, one power supply can accommodate an MX101 and two XP101 four-input expansion mixers. The MX101 has a rear panel expansion jack that connects the additional XP100 mixer outputs into the MX101 program bus. The whole package becomes an 11 mic/line input mixer in one rack unit.
With this state of modularity, ATI presents an impressive array of components that can be combined together to become a tool as simple as a field mixer, to a many-input, rackmount mixer with clean audio and plenty of headroom.
Contact Audio Technologies Inc. at 800-959-0307.