It is hard to imagine a better built mixing console at this price point. Everything seems sturdy. The unit is actually decently heavy, and all of the controls feel robust. 100mm Alps faders in this price range is a definite plus! XLR and 1/4" connections are solid. Nothing loose. Nothing rattles. Let's see how she sounds!
It makes no difference how well a console is made if the sound quality isn't there. For my review, I put the test unit through a variety of scenarios.
The unit I had, was the ZED 420. This model is a simple little beast of a console, and learning where everything is, was a snap.
Instruments sound natural and not sterile - major props to A&H for great sounding microphone preamps.
The EQ was surprisingly powerful for the cost of this unit, and would work fine for most mixing duties.
I have found the ZED to be dead quiet. Had it not been for the lit L.E.D.'s, I wouldn't have known that it was on. It's that quiet.
Drums sounded natural, bass sounded great, guitars rang out naturally, and the voxes were well represented.
This really is a no-fuss kind of console where you can turn out a mix extremely quickly - very cool for the weekend warrior volunteer type at a church or similar facility.
As you can see below, the Allen & Heath offer different varieties according to what the end-user would need. So far, I have used 3 of the below models. The ZED 420 is located in a church here in South Louisiana, and has proven to be a rock-solid FOH mixing platform for a church that had a small budget. They bought theirs when this model first came out, and have had absolutely no issues. I have also used the ZED 18 for a while now at my church for sub-mixing duties on stage, and it has worked flawlessly. I have a friend of mine who lent me his ZED 14 so that I could put it through its paces as well for recording.
For my next test, I decided I would record a quick & dirty demo using the USB interface included in most ZEDs. For this test, I used my trusty AT3035 going straight into the ZED, and a USB cable coming straight from the console to my laptop running Reaper. There were no issues with Mac nor Windows in finding the right driver. Simple!
I used a cheap acoustic guitar, laid down a couple of rough vocals, and used some tupper-ware containers for drums. Oh yea, I also used a little shaker I had laying around. Let's see how she sounds (listen with headphones to get a decent representation of what the mic pres sound like):
I know, I know - don't blame the console for my quick little demo, but hey, this little no-fuss console is a real jewel, and allot of fun!
In conclusion, I really don't see any problem whatsoever in recommending the ZED series if you need a simple to use mixing platform for churches, schools, or lighter mixing duties for a production company! Granted, they aren't the most feature rich consoles you can buy, but they indeed have most of what you could ever need for most situations! Highly Recommended!
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