Much like a Lamborghini makes a Corolla look hopelessly suburban, the lines of the Midas Venice F24 suggest instantly that this is a Serious Mixer. When the Venice series was reviewed in 2011 by Sound On Sound, the list price of the Venice F24 was also serious: $5,399. Current price at time of publication is less than $1900 through Amazon.com. Serious deal.
Why? This is, if it fits your needs, a superior mixer. I’ve written before about the lineage of Midas and its preamps. When you’re talking high-end mixers, the preamp is the thing, as Shakespeare might have written, if he were an audio technology writer. The GIGO theory – Garbage In, Garbage Out – applies to mixers. With Midas, you need not worry about the preamps adding to the garbage. In fact these are pres that make everything sound that much better.
CAN THIS MIXER REALLY MAKE THINGS SOUND BETTER?
Yes. While there are a few minor concerns in certain applications, this is a world-class mixer in terms of routing flexibility and sound. Its original price is justifiable, and its current price has huge bang-for-the-buck value. This should be near the top of the list for anyone seeking 24 tracks of live audio with multitrack digital support.
Setup and Usability
Simply, analog boards don’t get much more connectable than this one. The reason for the shape of the Venice F24 is due to the massive input/output section on the back panel. To accommodate the mixer controls, moving connections off the top face of the mixer was essential. Each of the 16 mono channels have XLR and ¼-inch inputs, direct output and channel insert. On the eight stereo channels, there are both pairs of XLR and ¼-inch inputs. There aren’t many mixers in the under $2,000 range that permit loading up their channel count with microphones. Rarely do stereo channels have XLRs, being more oriented to synths or other non-mic sound sources. The output connections are equally extensive. With master outs including a third mono connection for subwoofer systems, six, count ‘em six, aux feeds, four additional sub groups and even a pair of matrix outputs. Quite simply if you can’t connect what you need through this board, you probably don’t really need it.
Though Firewire seems to be fading in the battle for format supremacy with USB, it’s still robust and viable for those with Firewire connectivity to a computer. The Venice F24 has full bi-directional streaming through Firewire, with a simple switch on each channel to select either analog signal or Firewire return. This permits the mixer to incorporate audio from the computer or to set up as a mixdown device. The Venice F24 is a very usable board. I don’t think there’s an analog connection option missing here.
If a mysterious benefactor were to bankroll my dream studio with an unlimited budget, Midas would be on the shortlist for mixers. Why? The sound, pure and simple. This is a company that’s never been huge in terms of sales. Rather than rushing a piece to market, the Midas philosophy is to bulletproof it first, make it as good as can be. Reputation before profit. Cynically, that dooms them. However, The Music Group came along and acquired the brand. For its preamps alone this was a significant acquisition. Another Music Group brand? Behringer. What an amazing strategic alliance.
That’s already borne fruit in the Behringer X Air series, which uses Midas preamps, making an incredibly affordable Wi-Fi digital mixer that should, in theory, provide the superior sound of a Midas board. The Venice F24 provides this in a 24 channel analog board. You’re unlikely to take issue with the way the F24 processes your signals.
The maximum 48 kHz sampling rate might be a cause for concern for some who prefer to see 96 or even 192 kHz rates. I’m one who likes to see that capability, then turns around and sets up at 44.1 or 48. There are some sonic benefits to the higher sampling rates, but these are incremental and accompanied by logistics issues surrounding the additional data. As far as a trade-off goes, I’m still satisfied with 48 kHz as a max.
Once again the Lamborghini/Corolla analogy applies. The Venice F24 is built for the road, both in Midas’ marketing materials and in the solid build of the mixer. This is 68 pounds of mixer we’re talking here, almost 3 pounds per channel. The weight hints at the quality of both the construction and components. In a road case, this is probably a two-man carry, which is what you want from a board that’s going to see action several times a week. Image a tank that purrs like a tuned sports car. Sound and fury. I stop short of recommending using a hammer to adjust faders and knobs, but the Venice F24 would last longer than most mixers if you chose that method. This is a brick house of a board.
One thing caught my eye from the user reviews that I didn’t notice when I was using one myself ,and haven’t had a chance to confirm or deny. That’s the fan noise from the board. To be honest, I didn’t even notice the F24 that I put through paces even had a fan. Granted, I did go into this with the understanding that the mixer was built for live use, so unless the fan blatted like a seaplane, it was mentally off my checklist. A noisy fan may impact use as a studio board, so take that into consideration and assess it before selecting the F24 as a home studio board. There were few user reviews, so it may be systemic or a one-off. Otherwise, user opinion is high for sound and build.
The Midas Venice F24 is a solid, great-sounding analog board with digital multitrack capability. Meant for live shows, it can be configured for home studios, or to mix off the board live recordings. It’s got all the analog routing anyone could hope for and it sounds great with its Midas preamps and very musical 4-band EQ on each channel. It’s even a value coming in under $1,900. Strongly recommended, this mixer comes with solid 9s across the Hear the Music ratings.