When it comes to home studios, project studios or any other “studio” that doesn't bring in serious cashflow, spending tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars on a mixing console likely isn't the best investment.
The truth is that, for the vast majority of studios, SSLs, APIs, Neves and Tridents are out of the question. Luckily, though, there are plenty of companies that produce affordable console options for the home studio that are worth knowing about.
In this article, we'll discuss the top brands for “budget” studio consoles, focusing on value and consoles that cost below $10,000 (and even under $1,000 when possible).
For an article on the best studio console brands when money is out of the equation, check out my article The Top 10 Best Studio Recording/Mixing Console Brands.
For this article, we'll stick to the options that won't break the bank (as much).
Before we get started, I should also note that we're discussing mixing consoles that can act as standalone units and with digital audio workstations.
For an article focused exclusively on DAW control surfaces, check out my Top 11 Best DAW Control Surface Brands In The World.
The Top 11 Best Mixing Board/Console Brands For Home Studios Are:
- Allen & Heath
- Alto Professional
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 generally affordable for the typical home studio owner).
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.
Soundcraft is a company best-known for its live sound mixing consoles. Many mixing boards found in home studios are designed for live use as well and Soundcraft has a few superb options that won't break the bank.
Soundcraft has been building a solid reputation as a top console brand since its inception in 1973. Today, the company is owned by Harman, which means its new products and mixing boards can draw not only upon Soundcraft's innovative history but also the designs and research of other superb audio companies owned by Harmon (notably Studer).
Though the company's boards are primarily designed for professional live sound engineers and the touring market, many Soundcraft boards (and especially the more affordable options) will excel in home studios for mixing and recording.
Allen & Heath
Allen & Heath is a big name in the audio mixer market and the audio industry at large. Its high-end boards are found in some of the best venues in the world and are used in some of the most successful tours.
In addition to world-class live sound consoles, Allen & Heath also produces high-quality mixing boards for the “prosumer” market and the company has multiple options for the home studio.
Whether you're looking for a digital or analog board for your home mixes and recordings, the company will have something for you.
Founded in 1969, Allen & Heath has a long history of successful products to base their new and affordable designs on. This quality and expert know-how can be heard even in the brand's affordable line of mixers.
When it comes to affordable yet high-value gear, Behringer is a household name. This major company has a massive amount of resources to draw from and the manufacturing facilities to mass produce home studio mixers at affordable prices.
Love it or hate it, Behringer has some great mixing consoles at budget prices.
Yamaha is another huge company. This Japanese multinational corporation and conglomerate is involved in several industries and is well-known in the audio and musical instruments worlds. This household name offers both high-end and prosumer level mixers for all types of studios.
Regardless of your live sound application and challenges, Yamaha will have a board that’s perfect for you!
Yamaha’s mixing consoles are notably intuitive and functional. They are superb choices for the home studio.
Alto Professional is an inMusic brand that is best-known as a live performance reinforcement company. It produces superb loudspeakers for live sound and PA systems and also have several affordable mixing boards that work well in live situations and home studios alike.
This company produces high-value products aimed at musicians and audio professionals alike. Their dedication to these two customer bases has brought fourth several boards that excel in home studios (which are often built by those interested in both music and pro audio).
With modern manufacturing techniques and mixers that won't break the bank, Alto Professional is a brand to look out for when choosing your home studio mixing console on a budget.
When it comes to affordable audio equipment that outperforms its equally priced counterparts, Mackie is the first name that comes to mind. This household name has been in business since the late 80s and has established a reputation as a reliable and high-value brand.
Mackie got started with audio mixers and still produces superb models to this day. When it comes to “budget” home studio consoles, Mackie should have what you're looking for at a price that's reasonable for you.
Offering both quality and quantity (of channels, effects, etc.), Mackie gets a certain spot on this list.
Since the 1970s, Midas has been making a name for itself as a reputable manufacturer of high-end mixing consoles. Today, the brand is revered and used in live sound situations across the planet and has models that would fit perfectly into home studios (in addition to live venues).
This company is innovative and dedicated to providing the best value consoles on the live sound market. With a rich heritage to draw from, Midas is able to produce affordable mixing boards that would benefit home studios of all sizes.
Though perhaps a bit on the expensive side (relative to some of the other brands on this list), Midas mixing consoles are among the best across the price points its products occupy and make for superb home studio consoles.
PreSonus is the brand behind the Studio One digital audio workstation. The brand is well-respected for its high-end DAW controllers and audio interfaces and it also has several quality mixing boards that would work tremendously well in home studio applications.
PreSonus consoles sound great. They're highly functional yet simple and intuitive. They work well as standalone units and connect via USB for easy integration with computers and DAWs, making them excellent units in digital and analog studios alike.
The company's StudioLive line of consoles is very impressive and offers pretty much all we'd want from a mixing/recording board in most home studio environments.
TASCAM is another well-known brand in the consumer and professional audio market. When it comes to the home studio, the company offers many high-quality products at very reasonable prices including, of course, mixing consoles.
The company's Model 12, 16 and 24 multitrack recorders include USB connectivity and analog mixers. They're price very competitively for their quality. The boards are easy to use and sound great, making them superb choices for home studios on a budget.
To learn more about multitracks, check out my article What Are Multitracks? (Audio Recording, Mixing, Playback).
Zoom Corporation is a Japanese company best-known for its superb field recorders. The these handheld units are popular, the company's mixing boards are equally as impressive.
For surprisingly low prices, Zoom's LiveTrak series of digital consoles offer everything creators need to mix, monitor, and record complex productions. This is true of live situations and certainly of home studios, which would benefit greatly from a Zoom board.
Though perhaps best-known for its guitar amplifiers, Peavey Electronics is actually one of the largest audio equipment manufacturers in America and the world.
With so many designs and depth of experience, the company can draw upon it own wisdom to produce quality products at affordable prices.
When it comes to mixing consoles that would perform well in home studios without breaking the bank, Peavey's PV line of mixers certainly comes to mind.
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