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Our guide to Soundcraft's Notepad & Signature Series USB-equipped analogue recording mixers
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Our guide to Soundcraft's Notepad & Signature Series USB-equipped analogue recording mixers

From 1 mic to 16; stereo USB recording to 24-channel multitrack; from palm-sized mixer to 26” wide consoles; the Soundcraft analogue range is vast with a plethora of options for different budgets, environments, and size requirements!  

Comprising of two core ranges - the Notepad and Signature Series, these consoles represent nearly 50 years of mixing console expertise redesigned to meet the needs of a modern musician and engineer with complete USB interfacing, built-in reverb and delay, as well as advanced, application-based signal routing.


With 9 consoles to choose from in both ranges combined, you would be forgiven if selecting one is quite difficult! In this guide, we are going to break down the core differences between the consoles, break down the feature sets and help you work out which console will suit your needs!


Soundcraft Notepad Range


• Home Studios

• Gigging musicians

• Podcasters

• Content creators

The Notepad range has a rich heritage spanning back to Soundcraft’s ‘Spirit’ days and was one of the first mixers on the market to meet the perfect balance of performance, price, and portability. Continuing-on with that ethos, the notepad range features 3 consoles that fit the needs of the modern musician and podcaster.

Notepad 5

The Notepad 5 is the smallest and cheapest console in the range, however it still packs a bit of a punch! It features a single mic preamp/DI input alongside 2 stereo channels for a total of 5 channels to mix – perfect for a singer-songwriter wanting to record at home or play on stage. There’s a basic EQ on the preamp channels to give it a bit of character as well as a set of speaker outputs and an independent Aux mix for the headphones output to create a separate mix from the speakers or headphones - one for the audience, one for the musician.


In terms of USB, it features a simple 2/in-2/out interface which allows you to both listen to music from your computer as well as record 2 channels into it - It doesn’t get easier to use than that! But if you need more connectivity for more microphones or instruments, you may need to look at the Notepad 8FX.

Notepad 8FX

Next up is the Notepad 8FX. Part of the same Notepad series, the 8FX features all of the same high-performance sonic characteristics of the notepad 5 but with more channels and the addition of Lexicon effects! With 2 mic preamps and a generous 3 stereo channels for 8 inputs to mix in total, the 8FX is perfect for serious home recordings or live sound for duets or ensembles who need a small and portable mixer for live sound.


With USB recording and playback for 2 channels, you can configure it to record the first two mic preamps only, or the stereo output – enabling you to create a mix of your 8 mics/instrument and record that as a stereo file into your chosen DAW. The 8FX is also the first mixer in the range to feature stereo Lexicon effects with options for Reverb, Delay, Chorus, and ‘Karaoke’ effects.

Notepad 12FX

The Notepad 12FX is the biggest console in the range and it’s also the most comprehensive with more of... pretty much everything over the 8FX! Crucially it features 4 mic preamps with 4 instances of a 3-band EQ for the maximum amount of mic connectivity and tonal flexibility.  


To complement the higher channel count, the 12FX also features a larger 4in/4out USB interface allowing for 4 channels of recording and 4 channels of playback – perfect for small bands and ensembles to record at home or mix on stage.

Soundcraft Signature Series


• Home Studios

• Gigging musicians

• Project Studios

The Signature range of consoles contains all of the ‘Signature’ sounds that have helped build Soundcraft’s nearly 50 year legacy. The preamp, EQ, bus routing, limiter, and effects section, are derived from vintage Soundcraft consoles as well as key brands that live under the same umbrella company, HARMAN.  


With a vast and comprehensive feature set, the Signature series is not for the faint of heart, but it can be one of the most powerful analogue consoles on the market with a sound that will make your recordings shine.


There are also 2 variants to the Signature range, the ‘standard’ range and the grey, MTK versions... But first up we’re looking at the standard range.

Signature 10

The Signature 10 is the smallest console in the Signature range, however it still packs a considerable punch with 6 mic preamps and 3 aux busses to play with. The signature range is quite a bit larger than the Notepads and features an internal PSU, more comprehensive I/O, as well as 60mm faders (rather than pots on the Notepads), however it is still small and portable enough for gigging or home, desktop use.

With enough preamps for a decent ensemble as well as a musical EQ (courtesy of the famous ‘Sapphyre’ mixing console), the Signature 10 is a tone shaping beast that is at home in the studio or the stage. There is also a 2ch USB interface built-in as well as the accompaniment of Lexicon effects with Reverbs, delay, chorus, and various combinations available to choose from.

Signature 12

The Signature 12 is a slight step up from the 10 as it features a couple more mic inputs (up to 8) as well as a subgroup to help balance out and mix the extra channel count. With a tip of the hat to the famous Soundcraft GB consoles, the Subgroups feature dedicated outputs and can be switched on for each channel in parallel to the master bus – perfect for a dedicated subwoofer fader; a second output for matrices; or as a simple subgroup. In the same way as the Signature 10, the 12 features 2 DBX limiters on the first two channels – perfect for taming transients on drums or vocals when you’re recording or playing live.

Signature 16

The Signature 16 is a considerable step up from the 12 – it has a bit more of everything, including 100m faders rather than 60mm on the 10 and 12! Notably, it increases to 12 mic preamps and 16 inputs to mix in total which is big enough for a sizeable crowd. But to accompany that increase in inputs, you also get a bigger and more comprehensive EQ section with 4 bands and 2 parametric mids, Utilising the Sapphyre’s unique asymmetric response, these 4 bands are incredibly musical yet precise to enable your sources to shine and sit in with each other in live and studio environments. It’s also 19” wide which means it can be easily rack-mounted for transportation or mounting into a desk. 

Signature 22

The Signature 22 is the largest console in the standard range and features a few unique features over the other consoles. First and foremost, it has more inputs and outputs with 5 Auxes (switchable pre and post fader as with all the Signature range), 16 mic preamps, and 8 DBX limiters on the first 8 channels. The signature 22 also features 2 effects engines that can be configured independently for 2 reverbs, a reverb and delay or any assortment of combinations you need. Each FX engine also has its own discrete send bus which allows you to create your own FX send for each effect and split the busses for different instrument groups.

With the standard, blue range, the constant with all frame sizes is its USB functionality. With 2inputs and 2 outputs via USB, this solution is perfect for system playback and small home studios, however for those who want to get into recording multiple instruments at one time, the Signature series has the MTK variants – console that have a comprehensive USB recording solution that allows you to record multiple channels in your home or project studio.

Soundcraft Signature MTK series


• Project/Professional Studios

• Live sound engineers

The Signature 12MTK & 22MTK feature the same exact specifications as their standard, blue variants, however they combine that same classic analogue circuitry with a 14in/12out and 24in/22out USB audio interface (respectively) that allows the consoles to send all of their input channels to a DAW as individual channels to be recorded, mixed, and processed later on.


This makes the MTK’s a perfect for choice for small studios or musician’s looking to make their own demos, or simply record a drum kit with multiple mics. The ability to record so many channels makes the MTK a really affordable choice for engineers who need to record the maximum amount of channels. The 22MTK for example can record 16 mics simultaneously. To get that many channels of recording with normal interfaces, you would be looking at paying double – and that price doesn’t take into account the full analogue mixer you get with it!


What makes the MTK’s even more powerful is that each channel also features a USB RTN switch that toggles the input source of the channel strip between the XLR socket, and the USB return. This allows you to send those channels from your DAW directly into each analogue input channel as if they are being played ‘live’, allowing you to get your hands onto the faders, and mix the audio naturally and intuitively using the faders, EQ, and effects.


More information can be found on the Soundcraft MTK models via 'Our guide to the Soundcraft Signature 12MTK & 22MTK consoles' blog. 

Conclusion 

Whether you’re looking for a small mixer for your home studio, or a 22-channel console for the road, the analogue range of console from Soundcraft have a lot of features to offer and an incredible sound to boot allowing you to gain access to a plethora of features that helped solidify ft’s name in the industry. If you’re looking to record, then you really can’t go much wrong than the MTK series – offering unbelievable multi-channel recording and a fully-fledged mixing console for the price of small-format USB audio interface. 

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