The 1622 is designed to easily meet the needs of someone who might haul the unit around to mix a live band, and it will nicely do the job of handling the mixing needs of someone doing some music recording in a studio. For broadcast multi-track production, the 1622 offers features you might not ever use, specifically the large number of sends and returns. Since each channel can only support one input, you can't set the unit up like many multi-track radio production rooms where you can easily switch from tape monitoring to buss monitoring with the flip of a switch or two. You can use the 1622's direct outs on the first eight channels to feed an 8-track, then bring the 8-track's outputs to channels nine through sixteen. The ideal setup in a home production studio would include the use of a patch bay. Properly wired, the potential of the 1622 would be at its fullest, and you could easily perform most any console function needed for even the most demanding promo.
The manual for the 1622 does a good job of explaining the various functions of the unit. It even goes so far as to give a general overview of multi-track recording, monitoring, and mixing. Several pages are devoted to explaining in detail how to set up the mixer for applications ranging from sound reinforcement to video post-production. There is even a glossary of recording and console terminology that even the experienced producer could learn a few things from.
If any part of this review has you saying, "Gee, a plastic console?" or, "Wow. Faders and pots that make a 'scraping' noise when you turn them?" consider one very important fact. This sixteen channel, very versatile mixer lists for ONLY $799. When you look at the price first, and the mixer next, the value is unbeatable. The technical quality of the unit is comparable to mixers priced much higher, and, in many cases, the 1622 comes in quieter and with less crosstalk that the others. If you have five or ten grand for a console, don't even consider the 1622. But if you're on limited funds, want to gear up a home studio, and want enough inputs to accommodate an 8-track recorder and several other things, you simply must check out the 1622. It may well be the fix you need to get your home studio off the ground and leave funds for things to plug into it.
Regarding the Integrated Surface technology, only time will tell the true story on its value. It definitely lowers the manufacturing costs, but how durable the faders, switches and pots are is a standing question. Repairing a fader won't be a simple job of just replacing it. Half of the fader exists on the PCB! Still, since this is the same technology used in remote control switches and other smaller applications, it may never need repair. How many remote controls have you had to replace because one of the buttons stopped working? The technology actually provides a positive byproduct. Since most conventional faders and pots are sealed, self-contained units, they tend to collect dust and ashes that can't be easily cleaned out. You get a truly noisy pot just like that volume control on your old stereo system. The surface of the 1622's PCB (which contains the conductive tracks for the faders, switches and pots) can be easily cleaned, rendering the faders, switches and pots as good as new with little effort.
When it all comes down to the wire, the bottom line is that you just can't beat a mixer with all the features of the 1622 for only $799. We tip our hats to Alesis for keeping with their past record of providing high quality equipment and low prices. And we once again tip our hat to all the starving musicians in the world. Without them, companies like Alesis wouldn't be making mixers for $799!