Phonic Helix Board 12 FireWire MKII
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Phonic Helix Board 12 FireWire MKII

Helix Board 12 FireWire MKII, FireWire/USB/mLan ミキサー from Phonic in the Helix Board series.

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content in English
JayDMusic 01/18/2009

Phonic Helix Board 12 FireWire MKII : JayDMusic のユーザーレビュー (content in English)

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This is a review of the Phonic Helixboard 12 Firewire Mixer.When I walked into the music store, I knew exactly what I wanted. I had been using a USB interface for the longest time, and though it's a great piece of equipment, I wanted something new and something different. I asked the clerk, "Hey man, what's a good mixer for somebody on a budget?" He showed me to the mixer rack, and I saw on the bottom in the last box, the Phonic Helixboard. He said, "Yeah, that's the Helixboard. It's a Firewire mixer. It's great," to which I replied, "Can't afford it bro. It must be five hundred or so dollars. I mean, it's FIREWIRE, and it's a mixer." Little did I know that the piece would cost me a very slim price compared to that, and with no pun intended, I was sold on the piece of equipment.
For all you techies out there, you are probably waiting for the specifications of this board. I'll give it to you here. It has 12 channels. It has four individual 48V Phantom-Powered preamps with nearly no noise. It has maybe a 5cm fader (estimate) for all of your stuff and over 100 effects. The streaming through Firewire is at 96kHz. It has a phone jack, monitor RCA jacks, and control room L/R jacks. It has axillary send and axillary return jacks for the channels you choose.

UTILIZATION

When I got home, I was excited about my purchase. I opened the box and was immediately flabbergasted at the board itself. So many knobs and inputs. I was expecting a small mixer. A high-medium-low frequency knob for each channel, and that would be it. However, I was very wrong. I saw a control room channel for stereo speakers, headphone jack, PC RCA cord jack for those without Firewire ports, monitor RCA jack, effects knob with around 100 effects, and much more. I could monitor those effects, too with just a little switch. I saw 4 preamps with Phantom power, gain knobs for each mic as well as a master volume knob for the channel itself, and even more bells and whistles.

I plugged it into my Firewire port and it showed up. I popped the CD in and installed the drivers. Though I dread it, I had to restart my PC for the board to work. However, I was upset. I had been able to use my last USB interface as my soundcard, but what about the Helixboard? What would I do? Would I have to switch headphones every time I used Cubase? A little research in the control panel made it easy for me to make the Helixboard the primary sound processor for the entire PC. The Firewire connection made it seamless to transfer sound from the PC to my ears.

SOUNDS

I plugged a microphone in and started messing around with the effects. I heard various delay, reverb, chorus, and flanger effects. I could send these effects to the monitors, too.

Another great feature that I noticed was the addition of the Alt 3-4 channel. It was easy to solo out vocals then mess with the effects. I was also able to change what went through the monitors with a little collection of switches that control the source that enters the control room. I was able to assign all my sounds to the main fader, which made it nice because I could turn down the volume on anything just by moving the fader, especially the PC. The bright fader lights made it easy to see when I was bleeding, as well as peak lights on each of the channels.

Another feature that proved handy for me was the low cut on the input channels. I was able to low cut the vocals before they entered the computer so I wouldn't have to EQ them later. I could also adjust the trim on the volume from the computer, an adjust the amount of FX that go to the master channel.

What also proved handy was the two channels with dual instrument inputs so I could plug my MM6 into it and use the sounds from my MM6. Because it's a Firewire mixer, I could send vocals and MM6 sounds and many other stuff to the computer at the same time. You have the ability for many simultaneous inputs, so you can record essentially four vocalists and two stereo instruments at once. The jacks on the four vocal/XLR channels accept balanced or unbalanced cables, so you have the ability to run your unbalanced cable a short length if balanced cables are out of your reach.

To talk about the Firewire one more time, you can basically stream 10 independent channels, at once. You can stream four XLR mics, then a couple of instruments through the mixer, independently if you pick a different input for each audio track in your DAW. The 9/10 channel is seamless, zero-latency, and can be sent to your DAW if you want to pick specific tracks like all of them, or whatever you have selected as your Alt 3-4 tracks. Channels one and two have independent sends and returns, as well as inserts that you want to throw in there.

All in all, the EQ is solid, as well as the panning and the gain knobs. They are easily manipulated with little hiss, and the low cut is great. The FX are also high-def, so I found them useful.

OVERALL OPINION

Overall, I love this product. I still use it, after over a year, as my main audio source for my PC, too. Its drivers are easy to install and setup takes almost no time. If you fiddle around with it, you will see that it's a truly versatile mixer. Being a Firewire interface at around $250 with built-in effects, everybody should consider it a steal. I recommend it to anybody who wants a Firewire mixer that won't break the bank.