Review & Video: American Audio 14 MXR Mixer

Review Summary:

At its heart, this is a good value analogue mixer that also happens to be a Midi-enabled controller with a built-in sound card. Acceptably constructed and good sounding, the 14 MXR is a three-in-one unit that serves multiple purposes for DJ's who want to have control over both analogue devices and software.

American Audio 14 MXR Mixer
  • American Audio 14 MXR Mixer
  • Rating: 4
  • From: American Audio
  • Price: $299
  • Reviewed by:
  • On February 20, 2013
  • Last modified:August 19, 2014
American Audio 14 MXR

Pictured on the right alongside its younger brother the two-channel 10 MXR, the American Audio 14 MXR is an analogue mixer, audio interface and Midi controller rolled into one.

Review: American Audio 14 MXR

Looking like any old standard analogue four-channel club mixer, but actually being anything but that when you get under the skin, the American Audio 14 MXR is a well-priced and capable DJ mixer that's got software DJs and mobile DJs equally in its sights, as we find out in today's American Audio 14 MXR review and video.

One of three models in the range (there's the two-channel 10 MXR and the rack-mountable 19 MXR too), it differentiates itself from most other mixers by having a four-in, four-out sound card built in for computer use via USB, but also, by being fully (as in, every single control) Midi mappable. Oh, and it comes with Virtual DJ LE in the box to get you going.

First impressions and setting up

First impressions are of a pretty standard, old-school club mixer - same size, made out of metal, all the controls where you'd expect them, lots of inputs and outputs - no surprises and no disappointments. You very soon notice the extra buttons though - two panels of six buttons on either side, a browser encoder in the middle for software library navigation, a "shift" button... and when your eyes spot the "sync", you know it's definitely more than just a mixer!

14 MXR rear

All the pro inputs and outputs you'd expect on an analogue mixer, including two XLR mic ins, balanced outputs, and booth monitor.

However, its analogue features are good: Four line ins (two switchable to phono), two XLR mics with full three-band gain and EQ, XLR/RCA master outs plus RCA booth out, four full channels with full EQ, gain and hardware filters (also a "bandwidth" control to modulate the filters, which was just scary to me!), assignable & curve-adjustable replaceable crossfader, proper split-cue headphones: As a basic mixer, it's clearly been designed by someone who gigs.

To get up and running is very simple. You install supplied ASIO drivers (if you're on a PC, no need on a Mac), install Virtual DJ LE, enter the supplied serial, plug the mixer in to the outlet electricity, plug the mixer into your computer via USB, and power both the mixer and the software up. The final thing you need to do is set the audio configuration in Virtual DJ to four-out sound card and external mixer - and then apart from plugging your amp/speakers and headphones in, that's it.

Want to switch from analogue to digital audio? Select USB on the inner two channels, and Virtual DJ LE's two supplied decks are at your disposal. Alongside your mics and other inputs (CDs, record decks etc) you're got a flexible DJ set-up for little more than the price of the most basic software controllers out there.

In use

The knobs and encoders are rubberised and of good quality, and all the faders are sturdy, which made for satisfying mixing. The crossfader is reasonably loose (as it should be), and the solid metal housing lends a feeling of well-being. The buttons look plastic but in fact are rubberised too, and the 10-bar VUs switch from cue source to master as you'd expect from a club mixer, for easy EQ monitoring despite there only being one stereo pair. I found the sound quality to be good; clean, crisp highs, warm from digital, and very little background hiss even when empty channels were turned up full - a good sign.

14 MXR profile

The mixer is laid out in a very traditional way and in use, everything feels sturdy and workmanlike - except the slippy plastic feet.

The digital mapping is necessarily curtailed with only a limited number of buttons and encoders to apply to controller functions, but nonetheless you get three cues per side, control over four sample slots, control over an effect per deck, full library browsing, CDJ-style pitch nudge, and the aforementioned sync. Remember, though, the full thing is Midi-mappable: If you wanted to use it as just a two-channel mixer, they'd be nothing to stop you Midi mapping the redundant knobs to FX and faders to pitch, for instance, to give you more software control.

One nice feature is that the shift can be made to behave temporarily or permanently. Another feature I liked was the "controller" button. This lets you tell the 14 MXR that you're using a software controller externally, and switch all the mixer's channels back to analogue, feeding the digital master signal to its master out and the digital cue signal to your headphones. Thus you can use the sound card in software, control all other elements of Virtual DJ with your external DJ controller, and also have full use of the mixer for other tasks. Flexible indeed.

Conclusion

So, it's a mixer that thinks its a DJ controller, minus the jogs of course. And what it does, it does well, and for a good price too. But who'd use it?

There are lots of potential use cases. A DVS DJ could use it as his mixer, mapping the extra buttons to negate the need to use Dicers or something similar. (Indeed, I've seen it working "out of the box" with Serato digital vinyl, not sure how though.) It would certainly work fine with Virtual DJ's own timecode, although if you wanted to use it with Traktor timecode, you'd need to use their audio interface, kind of defeating the object of having one in the 14 MXR.

Alternatively, you could use it with other Midi decks - Denon's DN-SC2000, for instance, would give you compact control over the jogs in your DJ software. But that, I think, isn't the main market for this. The main market is DJs who want gear they can gig with - so we're talking dependable, lots of pro inputs and outputs etc - but that they can also take control of DJ software with to give them a couple of digital music sources too. Nothing fancy, nothing too complicated.

And out of the box, the 14 MXR delivers just that. With the supplied Virtual DJ LE, it give such DJs an immense amount of flexibility to DJ with all sources, analogue and digital, but it also gives them the flexibility to map the elements of the software they need should they wish to change things (note, though, that this would require an upgrade to Virtual DJ Pro). Maybe more importantly, it gives them the versatility to add stuff later on, as in extra gear and so on as their DJing develops. For instance, want to add a "real" DJ controller? No problem, use this a your sound card and as your post-controller mixer for adding mics, other sources etc. Want to one day use digital vinyl? When you do add it, this can still be your mixer and also give you Midi-mappable buttons to save having another controller for transport, loops etc.

At its heart, it's a good value analogue mixer, Midi-enabled controller/mixer and sound card, and is both acceptably constructed and good sounding. It should do well with its target audience, and would be a useful mixer to have knocking around for other types of DJ too, as a back-up, as a second system or as a home mixer.

Product Summary

Review Summary:

At its heart, this is a good value analogue mixer that also happens to be a Midi-enabled controller with a built-in sound card. Acceptably constructed and good sounding, the 14 MXR is a three-in-one unit that serves multiple purposes for DJ's who want to have control over both analogue devices and software.

American Audio 14 MXR Mixer
  • American Audio 14 MXR Mixer
  • Rating: 4
  • From: American Audio
  • Price: $299
  • Reviewed by:
  • On February 20, 2013
  • Last modified:August 19, 2014

Video Review

Can you see a place for an all-rounder like this in your set-up? Could something like the 14 MXR be the ideal second mixer, or mobile centrepiece in your system? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Comments

  1. Looks VERY “plain jane”,,,,,

  2. So, to connect this and a pair of midi mappable CDJs to a laptop, would you need to connect each individually?

  3. greg farley says:

    Is there anyway to get this to work with serato itself?

  4. Hi Phil! Great review. Simple (And amateur/hobbyst) question: I use to play with my Macbook Pro/Omnicontrol/Traktor (VDJ sometimes) setup, must for fun, friend gigs. What this Mixer has to offer/add in this chain? I mean, using as remix decks midi shooter, or add external sources for mixing? TNX in advance.

  5. Interesting to see a return to a more classic form factor while still keeping MIDI functionality.

  6. This will be a good mixer to use with an iPad and DJ player. It should work for DVS too.

    Pity it lacks a powered USB hub feature, but even without it, it’s a good option for iPad djing with Gabor’s app.

    The 2 channel seems to have similar features, but as you say, the extra 2 channels will be good for mapping extra midi controls.

  7. I love everything about this mixer, possibly considering it for my next upgrade, particularly happy with the dual mic inputs. The only thing I’m not to pleased with is the VU metering. Would’ve preferred to have individual channel meters to help with gain staging and such, but I guess I can just use Traktor’s built in meters if I have to…

    • Chuck "DJ Vintage" van Eekelen says:

      You can use the meter to set the desired gain level of the incoming track and then the master output level to keep everything in check while doing the mix?

      I never touch the gain knob once the mix is under way (making sure it is at it’s proper level before) and since that is the only level the cue meter shows (not the channel fader/channel output level), it being pre-fader and all :-), I have been perfectly happy with a double led meter for the longest time.

      Greetinx,
      C.

  8. Phil what are those speakers you’ve got in the studio?

  9. I’d go for 10″ one cause it’s smaller/portable. Still could have few more buttons and knobs and even more if it didn’t have unnecessary/unusable/spaceconsuming faders and crossfader.

    Soon there will be one with iOS/droidOS dock/hinge/mount or integrated system like in Stanton’s scs4dj.

    All 3 mxr’s can’t map mic-gain to control software. You can’t use dedicated VirtualDJ skin/mappings if your screen is less than 1280×800.

    BTW, Traktor v1.2.7 (possibly previous and later versions too) works with any soundcard when in timecode cd/vinyl mode.

  10. wow this would be great for me! since i use vdj pro i already have mapped out my controls via the laptop keyboard, instead of using the mouse all the time and maybe knocking out the sound, hitting the needle, etc. i would use the track selector knob to do it plus i like the fact u can CUSTOMIZE the mixer to YOUR liking, it gets 9/10 from me.

  11. Serato digital vinyl works “out of the box” with Virtual DJ Pro. In fact it works better (to me at least) then Virtual DJ’s timecode vinyl.

  12. Padmanabh Daga says:

    Sir,

    Love your whole online Digital Djing Setup! Really commendable how you can give such in-depth knowledge on all hardware, software and skills.

    I am looking to buy a controller… S4 too pricey as also buying a Macbook Pro..
    Hence thought of S2, which restricts me to two decks. I feel I should stay with the time so need 4 decks.
    My main question is- Is the American Audio 14MXR compatible with Traktor Pro (latest) and as its basically only a mixer (/limited controller) and my mixing involves play with loops (size, position &build), effects and quick changes; which modular looping/transport/fx device should I plug with it?
    [Was thinking Faderfox Micromodul DX3 / Traktor Kontrol X1]
    If thats possible,practical and viable?
    N will that be all I need?

  13. Hi Phil,

    what does the bandwith knob do there?

    Lenny

  14. Spinful Cyndi says:

    Does the headphone split cue work with VDJ?

  15. Hi Philip,

    is there any way to search the track(by default)? I cannot see any buttons on the mixer that do the job… I thing, this applies to all MXR series. The reason for asking is that it is not possible to map any keys to do this kind of job unless you have Virtual DJ Pro.

    Please correct me if i’m wrong.

  16. I have a mxr 14 and on the whole its a good mixer but has a couple of bad flaws.
    1. when you switch the mic on you get a horrible amount of background hiss which is very noticeable if not playing a song.
    Once your djing its not a problem as the music hides the hiss,but if doing speeches it sounds a bit obvious.
    2.One other issue i have had is when using a smoke machine the smoke machine can cause the laptop to mixer communication to either do one of the 3 following things:
    music stops and mixer needs to be switched off to get sound back.
    Music becomes horribly distorted.
    buttons on mxr 14 stop working and you have to use laptop to play etc.
    I have bought mains filter plugs and chokes etc to remedy this problem with reasonable success.
    The smoke machine is probably creating rf interference or minas clicks which are upsetting the mixer.
    Anybody else had this problem?
    Dj Ash

  17. does anybody know where you can get mapping for mxr14 that works with traktor pro 2 on a macbook pro?
    cheers

  18. Hi there everyone – I just wonder if I could use this mixer with my Numark NS7s & Serato Itch, but get the x-fader to simultaneously output audio and while controlling the video x-fader? If so, would this still work if I swapped out the fader for my Innofader?

  19. joe carrolll says:

    Looking into buying one of mxr14 mixers at the moment, but i was wondering whether it could be matched up with a behringer cmd pl-1 to control transport, effects and loops etc. Would I only get 2 channels of audio or 4?

  20. Is it possible to midid map cross fader to work as video cross fader within serato video using timecode vinyl as controls as well? (serato scratch, serato video and rane sl1)

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