|The majority of hams probably would not have an interest in this product. The minority who would find it useful are those who: 1) use external professional audio equipment (“Pro-audio”) for processing ham audio for transmitting and receiving, and/or 2) use multiple microphones in their stations. |
The Behringer Eurorack Pro RX1202FX is a small, multi-purpose microphone/line audio mixer. It is, in effect, a step upward from the popular UB802 small desktop mixer, which I also own and have used in ham service. The RX1202FX increases the number of microphone inputs to eight, adds two additional line-level stereo pair inputs, and includes an audio “effects” (FX) library and separate internal FX buss. It is mountable in standard nineteen inch relay racks, occupying three “rack units” of space.
The current choices in the world of small, rack-mounted mixers are limited. Most of the products in the general pro-audio mixer market are centered around either large, desk-top studio (control room) mixers with huge numbers of inputs, or smaller portable mixers for music DJs or touring bands. The RX1202FX thus fits into its own small niche and carries the lowest price of the available choices. It is another example of the principle, “not all useful gear needs to be ‘Amateur market-only’ in design.”
The RX1202FX is essentially a collection of mono channel mike pre-amps plus a signal distribution system (mixer). It has minimal audio equalization capabilities, an area which is better left to specialized devices such as the Behringer DEQ2496. The one hundred built-in digital FX effects are fun to play with, but most hams would not want to use them on-air. Its power supply is internal and is switched, rather than being an external “wall wart.”
In operation the RX1202FX competently does what is expected of it. Once installed and cabled, it worked smoothly and without any problems for me. There were no manufacturing defects. Its (electrical) performance is essentially that of the UB802. The RX1202FX is fairly intuitive to operate and the kinds of applications for it in ham stations won’t come close to exhausting all the capabilities that it has. As with all audio equipment, RFI suppression may be needed in high RF field environments.
There have been some criticisms of the RX1202FX by pro-audio reviewers. Most are from reviewers who thought that its performance compared unfavorably against more expensive mixers such as Yamaha. Unfortunately, it is unrealistic to expect Yamaha performance in a product that is priced at about twenty percent of the cost of a Yamaha.
Some reviewers have noted “noisy” mike pre-amps. While undoubtedly some very expensive pro-audio pre-amps will have lower “equivalent input noise” ratings than does the Behringer, audio signals in ham service are usually well-above the prevailing input noise level.
Contrary to one reviewer’s complaint, Behringer does supply a printed page which fully identifies all one hundred FX effects, but as noted by the same reviewer the quality of the effects is minimal compared to those of more expensive mixers and specialized generators. Another reviewer complained that the supplied a.c. line cable was “too short.” But the cable is a common, removable and easily-replaceable, computer-format power cord!
Justifiable complaints about the RX1202FX include the facts that the main power and phantom power switches are located on the rear of the deck rather than on the front, that the mixer does not have every imaginable signal distribution path that would be found in more expensive mixers, and that its operating controls are necessarily cramped for space. The instruction manual is in the typical Behringer style: rather “bare bones” but adequate for placing the mixer into service.
Overall, this product has well filled two of my ham station design goals: it has a sufficient number of mike inputs for any future need and it allows “racking up” the mixer along with the rest of the audio gear. I’m satisfied that it is good value for the price paid.