If you're somewhat familiar with the inexpensive audio mixers that are available today, the Soundcraft EFX8 is a model that's worth a closer look; especially if you're wondering what a little extra money gets you in terms of overall quality. Aside from the fact that this mixer contains some of the very same circuitry found in Soundcraft's higher-end consoles, one of its greatest strengths is that it's really easy to use, while still remaining a very capable and flexible mixer. Simplifying ease of use has always been important to the designers at Soundcraft, and they've had over 30 years to fine tune their ideas. Additionally, this mixer contains a genuine Lexicon effects processor (the same engine used in the popular MX400). Lexicon has spent over 35 years building their reputation as providers of world-class audio effects, and this tradition of excellence is carried on with the EFX8.
The EFX series is very similar to Soundcraft's EPM series of mixers, with the useful addition of the built-in 24-bit Lexicon effects processor. While the intuitive layout and user friendliness of the EFX8 are important factors to consider, keep in mind that Soundcraft mixers have been designed to sound great. The dedication to sound quality starts at the input stage. Designed by Graham Blyth for Soundcraft's 30th anniversary, every channel on the EFX8 features the highly-transparent GB30 preamps. They're identical to the preamps used on the LX7ii and GB series of professional consoles, and they deliver exceptional headroom, smooth detail, and have a very low noise floor.
In addition to the excellent preamps, each of the 8 mono channels feature both XLR and 1/4" inputs, as well as 1/4" TRS inserts (which are very useful for processing individual signals with outboard hardware). Each channel features a peak LED that will alert you if a signal is overloading. The LED lights up in proportion to how hot the signal is so you can maximize your headroom. From this solid input stage the signal is sent to a 3-band EQ section with a sweepable mid on each of the 8 mono channels. The sweepable mid can be a very useful tool for bringing out the vocals (as well as other sounds) in a live mix. The two stereo channels feature a 3-band EQ with no sweep. After the EQ section you have the option of sending the signal to an auxiliary output for a stage monitor mix, a recording mix, a separate speaker zone, etc. The aux is globally switchable between Pre and Post fader in the master section. The FX send is next in the chain. If the effects are turned off the FX send can be used as a second aux.
The effects section consists of 32 presets of reverb, delay, chorus, flanger, phaser, tremelo, rotary, and vibrato. The parameters of the presets can be controlled with 3 dedicated knobs, and changes made to the effect's settings can be stored by the user. The choice of effects was selected to provide the user with useful set of tools for sweetening the sound for both live and recording applications.
Each channel features dedicated mute and PFL buttons. The PFL button is used as a solo button, muting everything except for the selected channel in the monitoring outputs of the mixer. The master stereo outputs ignore the PFL and maintain the output of the full mix. The 10 segment meter will display the level of the channel that has the PFL button activated. This way you can check to see if you've over-driven the channel after the preamp stage, either by EQing or by inserting the signal to an outboard piece of equipment. It's an important tool for maintaining proper gain structure throughout the console.
Whether used for live sound, recording, multi-media, band rehearsals, or in houses of worship, the Soundcraft EFX8 will provide you with years of excellent performance. It's the perfect mixer for anyone who appreciates a product that strives to provide the highest quality of sound, construction, and user friendliness, while still maintaining a competitively reasonable price.