by Jerry Vigil
This month's Test Drive veers a little off the norm and down a road radio producers are getting more familiar with. That road is called For-The-Musician Avenue and it intersects with Radio Production Boulevard on the poor side of town. The Alesis 1622 is a lightweight, sixteen channel mixer. It's not the kind of mixer you would expect to find in a radio production room, though it is probably more mixer than many of you have seen in some production rooms. The reason we chose to take a closer look at the 1622 is because its price tag breaks a barrier for comparable mixers; and while we wouldn't recommend the 1622 for any production room with a healthy budget, for those of you planning to gear up a home studio, the 1622 fits the bill like a glove.
If you've shopped around for a small mixer to start that home studio with, you probably started considering a used console quickly if you didn't have at least couple of grand to spend. Tascam's M-216 16-channel mixer for $1,850, and Yamaha's MC-1604 16-channel mixer for $3,295 are two popular examples of modestly priced 16-channel mixers. Many of you with home studios probably settled for more affordable twelve or eight channel mixers. Now, compare those prices to the Alesis 1622 16-channel mixer at the low list of only $799. Naturally, you ask, "What DON'T you get for $799?" Granted, there aren't lots of lights and meters on the 1622, but you DO get what you need, and even a little more.
It is the new Integrated Monolithic Surface technology utilized on the 1622 that drastically reduces production costs and enables Alesis to offer sixteen channels of clean audio at under a grand. Conventional mixer faders are self-contained mechanisms usually enclosed in some sort of metal housing. Everything the fader needs to function is part of this self-contained unit. The fader unit is then plugged into appropriate receptors on a console chassis much like a computer card, or a few wires from the fader unit are simply attached to the appropriate connectors inside the console. The faders on the 1622, on the other hand, are not self-contained. Inside the 1622 is a large PCB or printed circuit board. The fader contacts ride on tracks of carbon elements that are screened onto the PCB. In fact, almost all of the controls on the 1622 use this technology including the sends, returns, EQ pots, pan pots, and switches. As a result, manufacturing costs are greatly reduced. This technology is not all that new. It is widely used on remote controls for your favorite CD player or television set. The Integrated Monolithic Surface technology is also used on the faders of the Alesis M-EQ 230 equalizer. What is new is the application of this technology on such a large scale as a 16-channel mixer.