Designed for sound reinforcement and recording applications, the 2442FX is Behringer's flagship analog mixer in its compact class. It has 24 inputs, 12 faders, four subgroups and two main outputs, plus EQ and 24-bit digital effects: all this for a $349 street price. Its coolest feature is the separate 2-channel USB audio interface that connects to a computer for recording.
The 2442FX includes 10 XLR mic inputs connectors, feeding 10 mic preamps, spec'd at 60 dB gain, 10 Hz - 200 kHz bandwidth, .004% A-weighted THD+N, 112 dB A-weighted S/N and 130 dB dynamic range. There is a single 48V phantom power switch for all; also on top are eight mono and four stereo balanced line input jacks, padded down to feed the mic pres. Four RCA connectors are on hand for CD/tape input, and output channel strips 9-12 have stereo line inputs; strips 9 and 10 have mono mic inputs.
Four-band equalization includes +/- 15 dB shelving at 80 Hz and 12 kHz, plus peaking EQ at 500 Hz and 3 kHz. From the EQ, the signal goes to a clip/solo LED, mute switch and a 60mm fader, then comes a direct out and four aux sends per channel. Two aux sends can be switched pre-fader for monitoring or postfader for effects. Aux sends 1, 2 and 4 feed external effects; aux 3 feeds the internal effects.
Outputs include main stereo bus, subgroups 1-2 (pan selectable), and subgroups 3-4 (pan selectable), four aux sends, eight direct outs, four stereo aux returns, main out, main insert, and control-room monitor signal out. There are four unbalanced subgroup outputs with two paralleled jacks per subgroup; two of the main outputs are balanced gold-plated XLRs with a maximum output level of +28 dBu.
The UCA200 2-channel USB audio interface allows the recording of two direct outs or the stereo mix to your DAW. The UCA200 interface is 16-bit/48 kHz maximum. At www.behringer.com, you can download free audio recording and editing software (Audacity and Kristal). Additionally, you will find there an ultra-low latency USB ASIO driver for Windows XP and Vista (32-bit), plus access to the flexible and fast-starting DAW "EnergyXT2 Compact Behringer Edition," a full equipped software music studio including instruments, effects, time-stretching, VST and ASIO support. It runs portable from any USB pen drive and works with Windows, Mac, or Linux OS.
And rest assured, if your Behringer product develops a defect that falls under the Behringer warranty and occurs during the warranty period, they will replace your defective product with a brand-new unit.
At first glance, the mixer's all-metal chassis and rugged construction impressed me, especially considering the price. I like the mixer's sharp appearance and logical layout. The connectors and controls are clearly labeled. They are so similar that anyone who has used a Mackie 1604VLZ will feel comfortable operating the 2442FX (the EQ and aux sections are reversed).
All controls of the mixer feel solid and operate smoothly. The pots have a viscous feel. The fader controls, however, are slippery, so you have to press down when you move them.
To test the preamps, I reached for a Neumann KM140 and split its signal to the 2442FX mixer and a PreSonus Firepod audio interface. I recorded both of their direct-out signals at the same time and did an A-B test at matched levels with acoustic guitar, bass, and drums. Both the Xenyx and the Firepod preamps sounded clean, but the Firepod had slightly more high-frequency detail and clarity, while the audible noise in both sounded the same. I repeated this test, comparing the 2442FX preamp to a Mackie 1604VLZ mixer preamp. The two preamps sounded the same to me and had the same audible noise floor. (Mackie has improved preamps in its latest products).
The Xenyx EQ sounds good, and its frequencies are fixed at useful values (80, 500, 3K and 12K). Some of the mixer's reverb presets sounded "springy" and grainy, while others were reasonably smooth. While the included reverbs are no match for a quality external unit, they are usable and convenient. The echo, chorus, and flanging presets sounded fine. Effect parameters are not adjustable, but there are 100 presets to choose from.
The user manual is notably good; it is concise and easy to understand, offering mixer tutorials and cautions. I was able to figure out the mixer without referring to the manual, which says a lot for the design.
The Behringer 2442FX is a clean, flexible mixer with mostly good effects and a stereo USB interface at a remarkably low price. Mixers who use small PA systems, and most home recordists, will find a lot to like with this product.
AES member Bruce Bartlett is a tech writer, recording engineer, and audio journalist.