JDK Audio 8MX2
LOTS OF companies advertise “Swiss Army
knife” products, but the 8MX2 (which boasts
API lineage) has no problem claiming that
title. Although it’s a 1U rack mount, which
implies some kind of permanent home, you
might not want to screw in those screws just
yet—for reasons we’ll get into shortly.
Overview The 8MX2 has eight XLR inputs
(not combo jacks) for the mic preamps,
which are the same design as the ATI
preamps in the Paragon and Paragon II sound
reinforcement consoles. (In fact, the 8MX2
is a re-branded ATI unit.) The preamps offer
up to 65dB of gain, 41-step detented controls
for repeatability, individual ground lifts, and
a built-in limiter. Their outs mix down to
1/4" stereo TRS outs, with additional TRS
connectors for stereo monitor out or 2-track
return. DB-25 connectors handle I/O for eight
individual channel outs, or for eight channel
returns (e.g., for analog summing), while two
DB-9 connectors provide master in/slave
out options for cascading units. The fused
power supply uses an IEC-type cord, and is
switchable between 115V and 230V.
Each channel has two concentric controls.
One control pair sets gain and limiter
threshold, while the other controls mix level
and pan. Individual buttons for each channel
select +48V phantom power, phase, return
status (either the channel output or return
feeds the mix control and pan), and cue.
Enabling cue enables feeds to multiple cue
busses—pre-limiter, post-limiter, and channel
return. A Mix button assigns the channel
output to the mix bus (or de-assigns if you
want to mute, or use only the direct out).
The output monitor section has stereo 10-
step LED meters that indicate level or amount
of gain reduction, headphone jack (high
impedance headphones only) with monitor
level, and a concentric control for main level
and balance. Additional buttons determine
whether the monitor section listens to the
returns or the cues, and if the cues, which
As to construction, the housing is all-metal,
and the level of quality is self-evident. Just be
aware of the concentric pots sticking up from
the front panel—you don’t want them to bump
Applications For live recording, a quality
submixer with this many inputs and preamps
has obvious uses—and the built-in limiters are
a great addition, providing you don’t hit them
too hard. Sure, many audio interfaces have
limiters or compressors, but they’re usually
post-converter. Having limiters before hitting
the A/D converters is far more important.
When miking drums with multiple mics,
having direct outs to send to a main mixer, or
being able to premix, is handy.
Broadcast and remote uses are obvious, but
also, if you like analog summing for your digital
stems, the 8MX2 provides that as well. Small
live performance ensembles can combine
electric instruments and mics, while sending
a stereo feed for monitoring and direct outs
to front of house. The 8MX2 could also serve
as an overachieving keyboard mixer, although
you’ll need 1/4" to XLR adapters as the input
jacks aren’t combo types.
Conclusions The 8MX2 is a classy piece of
gear. While not exactly cheap, in terms of value
you get a lot in return and the sound quality
is a big factor; it’s clean, but without being
sterile. If you want a no-compromise rack
mixer for stage and studio, that pretty much
defines the 8MX2.
STRENGTHS: Flexible and versatile.
+24dB headroom. Packs a lot of
functionality into a 1U space. Oozes
quality. Built-in limiter for each channel.
LIMITATIONS: Input jacks aren’t combo
types. Cooling fan is always on.