The Yamaha MG10XU USB Mixer is a mid-level (at least from my perspective) USB audio mixing console. It’s a 10 channel mixer with 4 of the channels being mono by way of either XLR or Line input and the other 6 channel coming from 3 two channel stereo inputs. Channels 5-6 and 7-8 can also accept RCA inputs while the input for channel 9-10 can be switched between Line level inputs or USB input coming from the device to which it’s connected.
The first four XLR/Line mono channels feature 3-band EQs for Low, Mid, and High frequency adjustment and also a 26dB PAD and 80Hz high pass filter. Additionally, these can all be provided 48V phantom power via an on/off button and the first 2 channels feature a one-knob compression control. The remaining 3 channels (though technically 6 since they’re stereo) have a 2-band EQ for adjustment of the Low and High frequencies, no Mid adjustment here. All channels have an FX Level adjustment knob to control the level of any one of the 24 adjustable FX that can be turned on and off. They each also have a right and left pan knob and a channel level adjustment knob. A small, yet appreciated feature is that the EQ and pan knobs have a tactile notch in the center.
As for outputs, there are multiple options here too. For the main stereo outputs you have the option of using either balanced XLR or TRS. Then there is also an output for stereo monitors and for headphones. Unfortunately, the monitor and headphone out share the same level adjustment knob and mute switch, thus eliminating the option to mute one or the other when not in use. The mixer also features an FX Send output for those interested in running a mix-minus setup or just simply sending out audio out to another source for FX processing. Speaking of effects, as I mentioned above, there are 24 of them. They can be selected and adjusted from min to max individually. There is an overall FX Level knob, but each individual channel can be adjusted for its own level of FX to be applied.
Apologies for my excessive use of the word ‘adjust’ in some form throughout this section, but I couldn’t come up with a good alternative – forgive me 🙂
Use Cases for a USB Mixer
You may be asking yourself a few questions if you’re considering purchasing the Yamaha MG10XU USB mixer, one of which may be: how would I use a mixer? To that, I say: great question! So, I’ll lay out a broad overview of some potential use cases or situations when a mixing console may prove useful.
If you are currently part of creating a podcast or are exploring starting a podcast, a mixer can prove to be pretty useful or down-right necessary depending on the format of the podcast. A mixer would allow you to connect and power high quality XLR microphones. With the Yamaha MG10XU, specifically, you can use and power up to 4 with high quality preamps which helps provide clean, quality audio. If your podcast format features the use of Skype or phone calls, then a mixer would provide the option to bring in that audio in via its own channel and adjust the levels accordingly. This scenario is also when an FX send output can be of great benefit because you can establish a mix-minus which means that you can output the audio from ever channel on your mixer to the call audio while not sending back the caller’s own audio (so they can’t hear themselves via their input).
A mixer also provides the capability of monitoring the live audio from all inputs via the headphone or monitor output connections. Now, most mixers including the MG10XU only provide the option for one headphone connect, but if you attach a basic headphone amplifier, like the Behringer HA400, you can connect up to 4 pairs of stereo headphones each with their own level adjustment for each podcaster. If you need more than 4, then try the Behringer HA8000.
Live streaming whether it be a gaming livestream on Twitch or a YouTube or Facebook livestream for your audience, a mixer can provide a lot of benefits similar to that of podcasting. If you are looking to provide high quality audio for your live stream for yourself or even with guests, as mentioned previously a quality mixer like the Yamaha can support and power up to 4 XLR microphones each with their own level adjustments. Again, same thing applies here as above with monitoring the audio from all channels in real-time, so you can hear what your audience is hearing.
Now, if you are live streaming a game chances are you might be communicating with teammates via a VoIP application like Skype, so this would be an opportunity to send that audio to its own channel so you can quickly and easily silence any rowdy teammates. As called out above you can also do this with Skype audio or phone audio as well. If you happen to be running a dual PC stream, then a mixer would yet again, provide the means to add the game audio from your gaming PC to its own channel for quick and easy adjustments to make sure it’s at an appropriate level compared to your voice audio. In the case of the Yamaha MG10XU, you also gain the option to apply effects to any or all of the audio channels for an added element of humor or drama.
In this instance of live audio, I’m referring to a live audience situation, for example karaoke or live event DJing. If you’ve read the previous two sections at this point, hopefully, you’re starting to realize the usefulness of a mixer on your own. For live audio, a mixer would give you the option to connect, power, and adjust the audio for up to 4 XLR microphones while also adding in, for example, music from a laptop or phone on its own channel. This will allow you to adjust or mute the music volume with respect to the microphone audio. One of the 24 FX on the MG10XU is specifically for karaoke which will apply an effect to help the vocals sounds a bit more pleasing. The audio can be output via high quality balanced XLR output to go into the main speakers and you’d also have to ability to monitor live via the headphone or monitor outputs to make adjustments as needed.
Obviously, I laid out several specific use cases for when a mixer would be helpful or, arguably, required, but what if you have a more general or multi-purpose audio setup? Now that I’ve gotten used to using a mixer over the last year, I love having all of the options and features it provides for managing all of my audio inputs in one device. I have the main audio from my PC’s operating system running into the dedicated channel for PC audio over USB. This allows me to monitor and adjust the level for any videos, music, or game audio coming from my computer to be able to make changes with the twist of a knob. I’ve recently jumped onto the vinyl resurgence and bought myself a turntable (Audio-Technica AT-LP120) which I have feeding into one of the stereo channels that offer RCA input. Again, this allows me to adjust the output level from that channel and monitor to ensure there is no peeking.
As a PC gamer, I find myself using Discord when playing with my friends. Some of the audio coming from my friends can range from too quiet to too loud, so I have a dedicated channel on the mixer to take the input from an audio output from my PC’s motherboard. This allows me to quickly and easily adjust their levels on the fly, even mid-game, which comes in handy when I need to silence them in clutch situations. The MG10XU also provides the feature of one-knob compression, so if I chose I could send that audio to one of these 2 channels with this feature to balance out the loud and quiet audio levels that could be coming from that party chat.
As for microphones, I do have an XLR condenser microphone (Audio-Technica AT2035) running into the first channel which does have that compression knob as I tend to mumble on occasion, so that helps to give those mumble moments a little boost in level. I do consider myself a hobbyist guitarist, so I have a guitar amp mic’d up with a dynamic microphone in case I wanted to record or monitor that audio. I also, when I need to be quiet, run my guitar audio directly into the mixer to use with Amplitube, an amp simulator software. If you’re interested in guitar or find yourself afflicted with G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), check out another blog of mine: guitarhobbyist.net.
Is the Yamaha MG10XU Good? Worth Buying?
Yes, yes it is. At its price point, the Yamaha MG10XU is just about as good as mixers get in my opinion. Sure, there are some cheaper alternatives, that provide most, if not all of the same features on paper, but usually the quality of the preamps and overall product itself tend to suffer. This thing is built like a tank, sounds great, and offers more features and flexibility than I’ll likely ever need. The only real negatives worth mentioning is that the power adapter is a pretty beefy beast and the surface of the mixer tends to get a bit warm to the touch if left in use for too long. However, as long as you have somewhere you can tuck the adapter away like I do on my under-desk mounted cable management rack from Ikea, its size becomes an out of sight, out of mind issue. As for the surface temperature, this can be mitigated by switching off the mixer when not in use, but to date I’ve never experienced any functional issue from it being left on for even days at a time. If you fall into one of the use cases I described above and are researching potential mixers to fill your need, give the MG10XU some consideration. TheTechWhiz giveth thou a solid, subjective rating of 91 out of 100.