Above the PAN control on each channel are the two EQ controls. These bass and treble controls are the shelving type of EQ in that they boost or cut all frequencies beyond a set frequency. The LO EQ is set for 80Hz and will boost or cut up to 15dB all frequencies at 80Hz and below. The HI EQ is set at 12kHz and has a boost/cut range of 15dB for all frequencies at and above 12kHz. While this EQ is not very elaborate, it is enough to brighten a voice track or a muddy music bed. Any serious EQ-ing should be done with outboard gear.

Finally, above the EQ section on each channel strip are the AUX 1 and AUX 2 sends. These sends control the level of signal to the two auxiliary outputs on the patchbay. As with any auxiliary sends on a console, these may be used to provide separate mixes as well as sends to an effects box. The sends are post-fader and post-EQ. On channels five through twelve, the sends mix the mono sum of their respective stereo inputs.

At the end of our tour, we get to the output section of the 1202. Here we find the TAPE IN/AUX 2 switch mentioned earlier. To the right of this button are the two stereo auxiliary return controls for AUX 1 and AUX 2. These knobs control the amount of signal from an external effects box, for example, that will be applied to the stereo master mix. Once again, the TAPE IN/AUX 2 button can be pressed to use AUX 2 as a stereo tape playback monitor.

Below the auxiliary controls are two, 12-LED meters which can be switched with the INPUT CH. METERING button to display three different levels. When the button is in the "out" position, the meters display the stereo output of the mixer. When the INPUT CH. METERING button is in the "in" position, the two rows of LED's become independent of each other. The right row then displays the overall level of all twelve channels, and you can monitor a single channel by turning all the others down. The left row of LED's shows the collective level of the mike pre-amps on channels one through four. This function enables optimum setting of each input when each channel is adjusted one at a time with the others off.

Below the LED's are the MASTER gain and PHONES gain controls. The MASTER GAIN feeds the main and tape outputs on the patchbay. The PHONES gain obviously controls headphone level. The manual emphasizes that the headphone amp circuitry is a "high-current version" of their main output amp and can be used as an additional, high-quality output for recording and monitoring. In addition, the headphone amp is completely independent of the main amp, so a mix can be previewed in the headphones while the master gain is off.

All of this and you pay only $399! Getting this many features at this price tends to make one think that the 1202 is a noisy mixer encased in plastic and built with the most inexpensive components on the market. NOT! Sturdy, steel construction encases sealed, rotary controls which will stay clean of dust for a long time, and the manufacturers are confident enough in the 1202 to offer a three-year limited warranty on parts and labor!

As far as the quality of the components and circuitry goes, here are some of the impressive specs reported by Mackie: Signal to Noise ratio at 90dB. The mike pre-amp E.I.N. (equivalent input noise) is at -129dBm @ 150 ohms, 20Hz - 20kHz. Maximum gain (mike in to main out) is 84dB (to unbalanced out) and 78dB (to unbalanced out). Frequency response is 20Hz to 40kHz. Distortion is less than .025%. Adjacent channel cross talk (at insert outputs) is -85dB @ 1kHz. Maximum output level is +28dBu balanced and +22dBu unbalanced. The rack-mountable unit is roughly 11.5" X 10.5" X 2.5" and weighs seven pounds which includes the weight of the internal power supply.

The Mackie 1202 mixer is ideal for small purpose applications. Those of you who use musical instruments in a studio with limited console inputs will find the 1202 perfect as a submixer for guitars, keyboards, and samplers. The unit can even be used as a mixer for an 8-track recorder (or 12-track if you want to commit to four stereo pairs). The compact design of the 1202 makes it easily transportable for remote broadcasts. And if you're thinking about putting together a small production studio at home, the 1202 is an inexpensive mixer you can use to get started, and one you'll be able to use even after you upgrade to a larger console.