We got our hands on the brand new Benson Sound Labs 1632 summing mixer and it’s an absolute game-changer! It packs a punch with 16 channels of pure analog power and the sound of the world-renowned Harrison 32 series console.
Newcomers Benson Sound Labs have just two products, one being the 1632 summing mixer that has the sound of the world-renowned Harrison 32 series console, which changed the game for recording and mixing.
The next best thing to a console is a summing mixer (a piece of outboard where you send your individual stems — or groups — to mix down to a stereo track) and in the Benson Sound Labs 1632 summing mixer you get 16 channels with EQ, a special Bump feature and extra features to make your workflow much better.
With the advent of ‘in the box’ and fewer consoles being used in recording and mixing, Benson Sound Labs have taken it upon themselves to keep that Harrison sound alive in the analog world, but why Harrison?
Well, Harrison consoles have a rich history with albums from Sade, AC/DC, Michael Jackson, Queen, Paul Simon and modern artists like Kacey Musgraves being mixed or recorded using their iconic sound.
Benson Sound Labs are a fairly new company — they only have one other product, the Lineage Super 8 — an 8 channel microphone preamp and summing mixer with the option of choosing sounds from 4 different eras of Harrison consoles.
The 1632 summing mixer is a pretty straight forward unit. Along with its 16 inputs, its got 16 outputs, a main mix out and headphone input. Each channel has a High and Low Pass EQ with sweepable filter knobs, a Bump button that creates a resonant boost just above the High Pass frequency, left and right buss assign buttons, and a nice big VU meter for inputs.
Channels 1-8 are on the top row, and 9-16 are on the bottom row — all clearly labelled — with the High Pass, Bump, Low Pass, and Left and Right Buss assign buttons to the right of the VU meter.
On the right of the unit, you have your Mix output level and a Headphone Input with a level knob. This is a super handy feature that you don’t see on all summing mixers.
Without the filters in, each channel has a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz. The High Pass frequency ranges from 25Hz to 3.15KHz and the Low Pass frequency ranges from 180Hz to 20KHz. The filters have a slope of 12 dB per octave. Without being too nerdy, I found that the bump adds about 5/6db of gain — just enough to feel it and hear it!
On the back of the unit, there’s Input and Output for the 16 channels via two D-sub 25 pin connectors (8 on each) and there’s a left and right Mix output via XLR as well as a stereo link via quarter inch that allows cascading and expansion. The IEC power and the unit’s power switch is right above it — I will say I prefer power on the front!
As far as the design goes, It’s a well built unit that’s lightweight with the perfect profile for those adding an extra piece of gear to the studio, or those who don’t have much gear and want to keep their space minimal.
Given Benson Sound Labs only has these two products — heavily imparting that Harrison sound — we’re eager to see what else they come up with. While working in the box has so many advantages, I often hear engineers talking about the tangibility of using a console.
With the Benson Sound Labs 1632 Summing Mixer you can have the best of both worlds. Not to mention the fact that you can get creative with the EQ and the Bump, rather than just sum out your mix and hope magic is happening.
I’m a big fan of the controls on each channel — and I am happy how tight they’ve packed it in. Maybe everything could have had a little more room, but the fact that each channel has a dedicated input VU meter is a huge win. It makes you feel like you are using a console!
Another great use for this summing mixer is that it could live amongst your synth collection as the ultimate solution for that part of the studio. Not only will it not compromise the sound, but it will also enhance it.