Monday, June 1, 2009

Edirol M-16DX Quick Review

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Daw Controller, Audio Interface, Digital FX Mixer, and Room Control unit w/ internal mic.

The Edirol M-16dx is a 16ch digital mixer from Roland's lesser known brand. It is packed full of features only seen on products $800 and up, when it only retails for $250 new (if your looking in the right place). Initially I purchased this mixer to fill the need for DAW control & audio interface. The fact that it was a standalone mixer just sweetened the deal. The feature set, including automatic Room Control, was too much to pass up. Lets see how it stacks up.

Audio Quality: 8
I was impressed with its preamps under phantom power. There was alot of gain and only a little bit of noise, most which was coming from the mic. It is perfectly acceptable for the price point. This mixer has 22+ decibels of headroom, so you can get a very high dynamic range, beyond line level, into your computer (although line-level instruments need to be boosted to match). The full 22+ decibels are sent to the computer. Thats a little weird but understandable.

The 22+dbl gain could really come in handy if your using it live somewhere and don't have enough gain at least. It also virtually elimates clipping and need for a limiter.

Drivers: 5 I tested this one under Windows & Mac OS X. It faired better in Mac OS X. Under windows, there is no outgoing volume control, making it easy to damage your monitors speakers if you don't have the return bus fader all the way down. In Mac OS X you can set it to line levels at least. I found this control really weird and annoying. i wouldn't recommend this as an audio interface for windows, especially for casual use. Your audio will just clip internally, because it uses the 22+dbl gain for no reason I could find. Under mac os X it did seem to drop out and freeze the computer, but its probably just my iMac's first gen USB bus. I found it to be useable to some degree, but not entirely stable. This one seems to have the same drivers or chip as the blue Edirol 10/10 USB interface, which also had drop out problems on extended use.

Another issue is that when you connect something onto the digital bus, and your using USB audio, the bus is disrupted and the audio goes all crackly. This also happened when I went into scene mode.

This thing is a little buggy, but useable. Its fine in live mode and not being used with your computer.
My thoughts are mixed on it.

DAW Control worked OK in Logic Audio

Features: 8
It has literally all of them. Room correction works amazingly. You could buy it just for that. I know some people are against eq, but this thing will EQ each speaker individually, and in under a minute you have a flat response. You can also connect an external measurement mic if you own one. The FX routing on it is amazing, including its internal reverbs. The DX Bus is really awesome which lets you seperate the mixer from the audio box. This feature was seen in 1999 on Roland's expensive digital mixers with R-Bus technology, which would let you stream 96 channels of audio. Now you have a mini version with this unit!

Build Quality: 6
I found the build to be fine, even though its plastic. I had an issue with this unit where it was disconnecting USB and going crackly every time I touched it. Finding this static issue was annoying, since it doesn't happen with my other gear. Since I bought it used I took it apart, and put it back together. I don't believe I moved anything differently, but now I don't have the problem!!! HUH!? Yes, I think this unit is put together crappily. But if you have a good one, you should be somewhat happy with it. Mine was built by a chinese child right before lunchtime when they were starting to get tired.

The Edirol M-16DX is really interesting. Its buggy. It sort of worked, but hard to recommend to everyone. I recommend it as a standalone mixer. If you are connecting alot of stuff digitally or using windows, there are probably better alternatives that you'll want to pay more for. Ideally I would use this standalone or as a front end for a better interface, or just to have around. Its working for me right now, but I will never buy Edirol again after having two seperate USB interfaces have the same short term instability with Mac OS X, and seeing how they programmed no software control program for it with windows. Its no wonder you can get this one for half price. The M-16DX is really cool, has all the features you could ever want, some which don't work very well, and has a neat design. But it seems Edirol/Roland has totally abandoned this unit.

Its fun, its cheap, and a good replacement for an analog mixer at this price.

Total Score: 7/10

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