Korg MW 2408 review uai - Audio Media International

REVIEW: Korg MW-2408 hybrid mixer

Music technology author and lecturer Stephen Bennett puts the Korg MW-2408 through its paces…

What is it?
Korg MW-2408 is a 24 channel, 8 sub-group, compact analog/digital hybrid mixing console with 16 microphone preamplifiers, channel compressors, a fine-sounding digital effects unit and a comprehensive monitoring and mastering section.

What’s great? 

Superb build quality. Anyone who has used an analog desk will immediately feel at home. Excellent sonics. Practical and useful analog and digital features. Well written manual with lots of practical tips.

What’s not?
No EQ defeat switch. Limited EQ on stereo channels. No Channel inserts. Bus routing buttons are a tad fiddly to use.

The bottom line: 

The Korg MW-2408 will find many friends amongst those working in small-venues, but it could also find use in a studio/webcast context.

Review

Although the compact mixing desk has all but disappeared from the project studio, having some immediate hands-on control of the audio levels and processing of several channels simultaneously is still an important requirement when mixing a live act. Digital desks have made great inroads into this area, but many engineers still desire the immediacy and (perhaps, controversially) sonic qualities of an analog desk. In designing this new mixer (and its smaller counterpart, the MW-1608), Korg called on the expertise of Greg Mackie and Peter Watts—the former, the founder of the company that bears his name, the latter involved in both Mackie and Trident mixer design. Bringing in some ‘celebrity’ engineers is a sensible move for Korg—customers have never been more aware of the provenance of the equipment they purchase.

Build quality

The Korg MW-2408 measures 48 x 188 x 53 cm and is hefty at just over nine Kilos, so it’s not going anywhere even when fully stacked with cables. The desk is metal framed, feels very sturdy indeed, and the ALPS knobs and 60mm faders turn and throw with a reassuring slickness. The control surface is, sensibly, angled towards the engineer, so all of the controls are easily visible. The desk can also be racked if desired and the onboard power supply has a standard IEC mains socket. All the connections are on the rear panel, (apart from a single ‘phones and 3.5 mm stereo input) which means more space on the top, so the desk doesn’t feel at all cramped in use. The first eight channels feature microphone and line inputs (which can be used simultaneously) each with new ‘HiVolt’ microphone preamps designed by Watts. These feature a gain control (+12dBu), followed by a Hi-pass filter and a one-knob compressor. These are becoming very common on this type of desk—the SSL Six has something similar—and, though limited, they are very useful for keeping levels under control. With the right source, they work well and are reasonably transparent in use. Phantom power is switchable for all channels.

The three-band EQ on these eight channels feature a 12K boost/cut control, a 250Hz to 5kHz sweep-able midrange and a 100K low frequency rotary, all with +/- 15dB boost and cut. It’s all pretty basic, but the EQ sounds very nice and is effective. Sadly, there are no channel inserts for adding any outboard processing per channel. The desk has a generous four Auxiliary sends, two of which can be set to Post or Pre-fader routing. An FX send knob sends the post-fader audio to the inbuilt digital effects (via Velvet Sound AD/DA converters) and a Mute control situated under the Pan knob kills all channel audio. Basic LED meters adjoin each fader alongside the bus routing switches. A Pre-Fade Listen (PFL) button completes the mono channel features. The eight stereo channels can be used as Microphone or stereo line inputs and have similar feature set as the other eight, but lack the compressor and have a fixed two-band EQ. The digital effects section can also be applied, with different processing, to the stereo or Aux channels and can be controlled by a footswitch. It features sixteen effects including a graphic EQ, a tone generator and feedback suppression. The reverb is particularly nice sounding and the large LED display and ‘soft’ controls mean that there is not a lot of button pressing needed to access the various effect parameters. The master section is also very well featured, with a footswitch-controllable talkback function, Mute groups and the ‘Musician’s Phones’ feature, which enables the engineer to ‘inject’ some of the main stereo mix into a monitor mix without rebalancing the Aux levels.

 Sound

I set up an original Mackie CR1604 next to the Korg and compared the preamplifiers and EQ of both desks. The Mackie’s were noticeably ‘warmer’ than the Korg’s at similar gain settings—which usually means more noise and distortion. Whether this is a ‘plus’ depends on your point of view, but I prefer my preamplifiers to be as transparent as possible.. In fact, I felt that the Korg had more in common sonically with the SSL Six, which is praise indeed.

Daily use

As live events are thin on the ground just now, I used the Korg to mix a small live band for Internet streaming. It performed flawlessly and the flexible monitoring and digital effects really helped me get an excellent sound both in the monitors and ‘front of house’. The compressors worked without fuss and the preamplifiers have bags of headroom, while the EQ proved capable enough to solve the typical problems you’d find when mixing a live band. The mute groups were extremely useful when changing ‘line ups’ between songs as well. The USB port (44.1/48 kHz, 16/24-bit) captured the stereo mix without any problems, and I also used it to bring in some ‘mood music’ to channels 23/24 during the break. If you’ve had experience with a traditional mixing desk before, the Korg MW-2408 will be very familiar in use and the digital effects section is quite intuitive.

The Bottom Line

If you want a compact analog mixer for live and studio use, with excellent digital effects and flexible monitor and bussing facilities, the Korg MW-2408 will definitely fit the bill.

The Korg MW-2408 is available now – £1299, $1,499 (with a copy of Izotope’s RX Elements included)

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