Alesis and Behringer USB Mixers

Recently I was looking at some USB mixers, with an emphasis on using them with microphones. For the uninitiated these are devices that you plug into your computer via USB, which you can then plug higher quality microphones into to do some recording for podcasts and other audio projects.

I was looking specifically for mixers that had two XLR (microphone) inputs so that if a friend wanted to do some recording with me, they could. I also wanted a reasonable price point, so that left me comparing the Alesis Multimix 4 USB and the Behringer Q802USB.

I went diving into the specs to find out which one was really better, and I was surprised at what I found. Many people talk down about Behringer products… more as an automatic reaction to the brand name than anything else… but I think that at least on this item, the specs speak for themselves.

For those not familiar with audio equipment these specs might not make much sense or mean much, but bear with me. I will use A to designate the Alesis, and B to designate the Behringer.

Microphone impedance

A 600 ohms
B 1.9k ohms

This comparison isn’t as meaningful, but it’s interesting.

Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR)

A 68dB
B 110dB

Both of these figures are A-weighted, which means they should compare pretty directly. With signal-to-noise ratios, higher is better, so the Behringer wins here with a signal-to-noise ratio that’s almost twice as good as the Alesis. Put another way, the Alesis is almost twice as noisy as the Behringer.

Distortion

A 0.02%
B 0.005%

This shows that the Alesis will distort much sooner than the Behringer, and once again lead to an overall noisier signal.

Frequency response

A 20 Hz – 15 kHz
B 10 Hz – 150 kHz

The Behringer can record frequencies that are lower, and much, much higher than the Alesis. The real-world meaning of this is the Behringer can produce much clearer recordings than the Alesis.

Channel EQ

A Bass, High +- 14 dB
B Bass, Mid, High +- 15 dB

The Behringer offers greater control over the sonic spectrum and has as slightly wider range of volume sweep than the Alesis.

Price

A $67
B $80

The Behringer is more expensive than the Alesis. Not by a lot, but by some. If you weren’t concerned about having two XLR inputs, if one was enough, you could get the Q502USB which has the same specs as listed above and is $60.

So despite some not liking Behringer simply because it’s Behringer, in this instance it’s the better mixer. I wasn’t surprised that the Behringer was better, just as I wouldn’t have been surprised had the Alesis been better. I have no brand allegiance on these things. But I was surprised by how much better the Behringer was than the Alesis, at a very competitive price point.

For any of my fellow techies that also enjoy audio equipment, I thought this would be interesting.

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