The ZED-14 is a small-format, USB-equipped stereo mixer for live performance and recording. One of the most important features on the ZED-14 mixer is a USB send and return link, so Allen & Heath teamed up with Cakewalk to bundle its Sonar LE music creation and audio production software with ZED, giving you a fantastic, high-spec digital audio workstation.
What about the sound quality? Allen & Heath got a designer, Mike Griffin, who learned his trade from one of the legendary designers of audio circuitry of the last 30 years. Mike produced the "Griffin PreTM," a mic preamplifier, which sounds as sweet as a nut and as pure as the driven snow. Well, maybe that's a bit too much -but it will not color or distort your sound, will give you lots of headroom, and gives you a truly professional feel. Feature-wise, ZED-14 is so packed full that you'd think it would cost many times its actual price. It's so well-specified that it can be used for many different tasks, whether in live performance (maybe using plug-in effects), live recording using Cakewalk, studio recording, or mixing down to produce your own 2-track recordings.
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One of the great things about the ZED series is the number and variety of things you can plug in. In addition to the six mono channels there are four stereo channels, each with a main stereo input on jack sockets, and with the ability to take additional stereo inputs from phono sockets or from the USB audio input, flexibility gives you control. In all, ZED-14 boasts 99 different controls on its front panel - way more than any of the competition! 6 mic/line channels are provided on ZED-14 - plenty for mics or DI boxes for a small band, duo or solo performer 4 stereo line inputs - dual inputs, both with gain and 2-band EQ
Based on the proven pre-amps from the hugely successful PA series, the ZED series has new DuoPreTM pre-amps, which use a two stage design, with carefully controlled amounts of gain in each stage. When amplifying the signal from the XLR input, the gain range is huge - 69dB of range to be exact - and is very evenly distributed around the gain control, meaning better control of signal level. Most of the gain comes from the first stage, so unwanted noise is kept to a minimum. Line level signals are simply plugged into the second stage of the pre-amp by using the line input jack socket, which has the great advantage of less noise when using the line input.
ZED-14 features a responsive 3-band, swept mid frequency design with MusiQ - optimised slope (or Q factor) for equalising individual instruments. HF and LF also boast Xtra Boost, to make these frequencies more responsive.
4 aux sends are provided, of which 1&2 are prefade for foldback monitoring, and 3 & 4 post-fade for effects sends. A stereo signal can be sent from auxes via USB to computer to create 2 separate record feeds independent of the main LR mix (1&2) and or used as FX sends (3&4).
USB audio flexibility
Getting audio to and from a computer easily is now a common requirement for live sound and music production. The way Allen-Heath have implemented this on ZED is super-flexible and super-easy! No longer do you need to fiddle around the back of your PC to get to the soundcard inputs, only to find that the levels are all wrong and noisy. Just plug in a USB lead to your ZED, select the USB routing on the mixer and the device on your computer and that's it! Quality audio to and from your PC or Mac. Three switches provide different send/return configurations for recording, playback and utilising external FX.
At this level, most mixers are built using a single, flat PCB with all the pots and switches attached at right angles. ZED-14 utilises individual vertically mounted channel circuit boards with each rotary control fixed with a metal nut to the front panel - making a much more robust product that will resist damage and give years of reliable use. ZED also has professional 100mm faders for ultimate control over your levels.
SONAR LE - provided Free!
Allen-Heath has teamed up with Cakewalk to bundle SONAR LE with this ZED mixer. The two team up together in many ways - for example straightforward recording of a stereo mix, recording tracks individually to build up a song, or for inserting a SONAR LE effects plug-in.
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