Top 10 Best Live Sound Mixing Board/Console Brands 2021


They say the mixing engineer only gets noticed when something goes wrong in a live set. The mixing board, along with the overall sound system, are the tools of the trade and should be sufficient and dependable enough for the situation.

Live performances are an important part of the music/audio industry and of the culture around the world. It makes sense, then, that there’s a huge market for high-end live mixing consoles.

In traversing all the options for live mixing consoles, some brands stand out as being the “cream of the crop”. In this article, we’ll discuss the top live sound mixing console brands in the world.

The top 10 best live sound mixing board/console brands are:

  1. Solid State Logic
  2. DiGiCo
  3. Midas
  4. Allen & Heath
  5. Cadac
  6. Soundcraft
  7. Yamaha
  8. Avid
  9. Studer
  10. Lawo

Of course, any “best of” list is subjective by nature. There are plenty of high-end console manufacturers in the world. I’ve done my best to make this as objective as possible. I’ve included not only my own bias but also the opinions of others (in real life; in online forums, and by which brands are found in the world’s best live venues).

We’ll get into each of these brands in greater detail to explain why they made this list. I’ll also include examples of consoles from each of the brands along with a link to their official websites and info on the companies’ histories.


Click here to return to My New Microphone’s articles on musical equipment brands/manufacturers.


Solid State Logic

Solid State Logic is a famous brand in the audio world due, in large part, to its superb studio mixing consoles. Carrying an expensive SSL studio console around on tour may be a bit of a hassle but luckily the company has several high-end consoles designed specifically for live sound.

What we get with SSL live mixing boards is the same pristine sound quality and high-end components in a board that is laid out with all the functionality suitable for live performance.

SSL’s live sound consoles have been praised by many of the world’s leading live engineers. Designed to help highly skilled operators deliver outstanding performances in the most demanding applications, the various SSL Live boards are the ultimate in touring, installation, houses of worship and theatre situations.

From ergonomic control surfaces to immaculate audio and processing tools to durability and support, Solid State Logic’s live mixing consoles have it all and then some.

Notable Consoles:
L100
L200
L350
L550

Solid State Logic L550

Solid State Logic was founded in 1969 by Colin Sanders in Stonesfiled, Oxfordshire. The company was sold to Audiotonix Group in 2017. It is headquartered in Begbroke, Oxfordshire, England.

Official Website: solidstatelogic.com

Solid State Logic is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top Best Studio Mixing Console Brands In The World
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Top Best Microphone Preamplifier Brands In The World
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Top Best Audio Compressor Brands In The World
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DiGiCo

DiGiCo has become synonymous with world-class digital mixing consoles. When it comes to live sound, DiGiCo’s digital boards are at the highest level and are recognized as such by professional mixing engineers around the world.

From compact and affordable to massive and powerful, DiGiCo consoles offer incredible sound quality in surprisingly easy-to-use boards.

The company is a pioneer in the space and its superb live sound mixing consoles are proof. Proprietary Stealth Digital Processing offers extensive reserves of processing power, allowing for superior functionality and flexibility.

A DiGiCo console will surely keep up with the most ambitious live performances and sound fantastic while doing so.

Notable Consoles:
Quantum 338
Quantum 5
SD7 Quantum
SD7
SD5

DiGiCo Quantum 338

DiGiCo was founded in 2002 by James Gordon in the United Kingdom. The company is headquartered in Chessington, England, United Kingdom.

Official Website: digico.biz

Parent Company: Viacom, Audiotonix Ltd.


Midas

Midas has been making a name for itself as a reputable mixing console manufacturer since the 1970s. Today, the brand is revered and used in live sound situations across the planet.

Midas draws upon a rich heritage of superb consoles and continued to push the industry forward today with new and improved technologies for superior workflow, sound and ease-of-use. The company has been making successful analog consoles since the 70s and, although they’ve largely transitioned to the digital market, their boards are nonetheless impressive.

The company’s proprietary NEUTRON High Performance Audio System Engine pushes these consoles into the high-end with state-of-the-art digital audio mixing technology.

Wherever the live gig may be, Midas will have a board ready for the challenge!

Notable Consoles:
PRO X-CC-IP and PRO X-CC-TP
M32 LIVE
M32R LIVE
PRO1-IP and PRO1-TP
DM16

Midas PRO X-CC-TP

Midas was founded in 1970 by Jeff Byers and Charlie Brooke in London, England. After being acquired by Klark Teknik in 1987, the company was purchased by Music Tribe in 2009. The company is headquartered in Manchester, United Kingdom.

Official Website: midasconsoles.com

Parent Company: Music Tribe

Midas is also featured in the following My New Microphone article:
Top Best Mixing Console Brands For “Budget” Home Studios


Allen & Heath

I’d imagine that Allen & Heath is one of the more recognizable names on this list from an outsider’s perspective. The company has been innovating audio technology since 1969 and is at home in both the high-end console and the entry-level audio markets.

Allen & Heath has a wide range of class-leading live mixing consoles to choose from, ensuring a product for your specific needs and wants. Whether you’re after a digital board or an analog console, A&H has you covered with top-of-the-line products.

This brand has one the largest and brightest research and development teams in the industry. Many key members are also professional mixing engineers, allowing A&H to keep on the pulse of what the industry needs and what is to come. With so much experience to draw from, it’s no wonder that Allen & Heath consoles are among the greatest in the world!

Notable Consoles:
dLive C3500
dLive S7000
Qu-32
SQ-7
G2400

Allen & Heath dLive C3500

Allen & Heath was founded in 1969 by Steve Batiste and Andy Bereza in London, England. A&H was acquired by Harman International in 1991; A&M Holdings Inc. in 2008, and Electra Partners in 2013. The company is headquartered in Penryn, Cornwall, England, United Kingdom.

Official Website: allen-heath.com

Parent Company: Audiotonix (a company formed by merger of DiGiCo and Epiris (Electra Partners) in 2014).

Allen & Heath is also featured in the following My New Microphone article:
Top Best Mixing Console Brands For “Budget” Home Studios


Cadac

Cadac is another world-class console manufacturer that got its start in late 1960s London, England. Over the decades, Cadac has become a highly-respected brand for mixing consoles both in the studio and in live settings. Beginning as a studio-focused company, Cadac brought this expertise into its first live sound console in the mid 1980s.

Since then, Cadac has been used in many of the biggest theatre shows and tours in the world, providing top-notch sound quality, ergonomic control and unmatched longevity.

Today, like in the past, Cadac is focused on implementing cutting edge technology to consistently improving user experience to meet the ever-evolving needs of the audio professional. If you’ve ever tried out a Cadac board, you’d know that the brand is full successful in this endeavour!

Notable Consoles:
CDC seven-s
CDC six
LIVE1
CDC eight (legacy)
S-Type (legacy)

Cadac CDC seven-s

Cadac was founded in 1968 by Clive Green, Adrian Kerridge, David Bott and Charles Billet in London, England. The company is headquartered in Luton, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom.

Official Website: cadac-sound.com

Parent Company: Soundking Group Company Limited (China)


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Soundcraft

By this point, you may think I’m biased toward English console brands. All brands thus far have been from England. I think the British just know how to make superior boards (don’t worry, we’ll get to a few other countries in this list).

Soundcraft, founded in 1973, burst upon the scene with an incredible console called the Series 1. This was the first mixing console built into a flight case, satisfying the demands of the touring market, which was growing rapidly at the time.

Since then, Soundcraft has become one of the industry leaders in digital and analog consoles for all live sound applications and even studio applications.

Soundcraft has always been an innovator in the industry, producing plenty of iconic consoles and impressive patents over its life. Today, under Harmon, Soundcraft draws upon its own experience but also that of its sister brands (notable Studer, which we’ll discuss later) to produce some of the world’s most exceptional live sound mixing consoles.

Notable Consoles:
Vi7000
Vi6
LX7ii
GB8
Signature 22

Soundcraft Vi7000

Soundcraft was founded in 1973 by Phil Dudderidge and Graham Blyth in England. Harman acquired Soundcraft in 1988 and was purchased, itself, by Samsung in 2016. Soundcraft is headquartered in Potters Bar, United Kingdom.

Official Website: soundcraft.com

Parent Company: Harman International (Samsung Electronics)

Soundcraft is also featured in the following My New Microphone article:
Top Best Mixing Console Brands For “Budget” Home Studios


Yamaha

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Yamaha is a Japanese multinational corporation and conglomerate that produces everything from motorcycles to guitar picks to high-end mixing consoles. Sure, this household name may not immediately elicit thoughts of industry-leading live sound mixing boards but rest assured that Yamaha is one of the best brands out there.

With so many resources at its disposal, it makes sense that Yamaha would have a long list of superb mixing consoles to choose from. Regardless of your live sound application and challenges, Yamaha will have a board that’s perfect for you!

Yamaha’s live mixing consoles are notably intuitive and feature a variety of powerful technologies to offer superior sound quality and functionality.

Notable Consoles:
RIVAGE PM10
CL5
QL5
TF5
MGP32X

Yamaha Rivage PM10

Yamaha Corporation was founded in 1887 as Nippon Gakki Co by Torakusu Yamaha. Today, Yamaha’s headquarters is located in Nakazawacho, Naka-ku, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan.

Official Website: yamaha.com

Yamaha is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top Best Synthesizer Brands In The World

Top Best Mixing Console Brands For “Budget” Home Studios
Top Best DAW Control Surface Brands In The World

Top Best AV Receiver Brands In The World
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Avid

Avid is best known as the producer of the industry-standard DAW Pro Tools (link to check it out at Avid). The company also produces some of the finest live mixing consoles in existence.

The super-powerful and highly intuitive Venue|S6L series of live mixing consoles allow for easy mixing and recording of any live performance. Simply choose the size that’s right for the application and be on your way.

Avid mixing consoles are among the best in terms of processing power and sound quality. They support AAX and Waves plugins and integrate seamlessly with Pro Tools, giving engineers practically unlimited creative freedom to meet the demands of any gig.

Waves Audio is featured in My New Microphone’s Top Best Audio Plugin (VST/AU/AAX) Brands In The World.

These consoles are designed with the best technology available as Avid continues to improve. Expect nothing less than perfection with an Avid live sound mixing console.

Notable Consoles:
S6L-48D
S6L-32D
S6L-24D
S6L-24C
S6L-16C

Avid S6L-48D

Avid Technology was founded in 1987 by Bill Warner in Burlington, Massachusetts, USA, where the company is still headquartered today.

Official Website: avid.com

Avid is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top Best DAW Control Surface Brands In The World
Top Best Audio Interface Brands In The World


Studer

Studer, like the aforementioned Soundcraft, is an excellent console manufacturer that has been acquired by Harmon.

This Swiss brand is perhaps best known to its superb broadcast consoles but also produces world-class live sound mixing consoles as well. Since getting into mixing boards, Studer has pioneered some of the most advanced user interfaces in audio production and many of its concepts have become industry standards.

Studer’s boards are largely built to the specifications of its customers, ensuring engineers get the perfect board for their needs and wants.

Studer’s forward-thinking team continuously pushes the boundaries of console design and the company can draw not only upon its rich history but also upon the successes of its sister companies under Harmon (notably the aforementioned Soundcraft).

Notable Consoles:
Vista X
Vista V
Vista 5 Black Edition
Vista 5 M3
Vista 1

Studer Vista X

Studer was founded in 1948 by Willi Studer in Zürich, Switzerland though it only got into the mixing console market in the 1990s. After the sale to Motor-Columbus AG in 1990, the company was acquired by Harman International in 1994. The company has no centralized headquarters.

Official Website: studer.ch

Parent Company: Harman International (Samsung Electronics)


Lawo

Lawo is a German brand that, like Studer, is primarily focused on broadcast equipment. The company’s expertise extends to its live mixing consoles, which are among the best on the market.

Since the 1970s, Lawo has been at the forefront of broadcast and media production, inventing new technologies and successful products throughout its life as a company. Lawo may not harp on the live sound applications of its products, yet its audio production consoles are among the best for live sound (as well as broadcast and recording).

Notable Consoles:
mc²96
mc²56
mc²36

Lawo mc²96

Lawo was founded in 1970 by Phillip Lawo in Rastatt, Germany, where the company is still headquartered today.

Official Website: lawo.com

Arthur

Arthur is the owner of Fox Media Tech and author of My New Microphone. He's an audio engineer by trade and works on contract in his home country of Canada. When not blogging on MNM, he's likely hiking outdoors and blogging at Hikers' Movement (hikersmovement.com) or composing music for media. Check out his Pond5 and AudioJungle accounts.

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