“I want to do some voice recording and I know I need a mixer and a compressor, but I’m wondering if you know which mixer built-in compressor combo might be best?”
Which mixing board with built-in compressor is best for your needs depends on a number of factors. You need to determine what your budget is. Do you need only one mixer channel with compression or multiple channels? Do you want portability or is this a mixing console you plan to install permanently? Those are all questions you need to think through before making a purchase. Here are some mixers with compression built-in at various price ranges:
Entry Level Mixers with On-Board Compression
Yamaha MG102C Stereo Mixer is your best bet for a mixer with built-in compression on a tight budget. As I write this the Yamaha MG102C is available for right at US $105. The compressor is pretty basic, with a single control knob on each of the first two channels, but it will get the job done and keep vocals from getting blown out during voice recording. There’s also phantom power for the first 6 channels and a few basic additional effects.
Yamaha MG82CX is slightly more expensive than the Yamaha MG102C at US $149. If compression is the only feature you’re concerned with, save about $50 and purchase the MG102C instead becaues the same 2-channel, single knob compression is available on this unit as well. You get 2 fewer channels on the MG82CX, which might also be a negative. The main reason to look at this unit instead is if you want effects. There’s a whole lineup of Yamaha effects built-in to the MG82CX, which aren’t included in the MG102C.
Yamaha also has several other mixer models with built-in compression that gradually ramp up in size and price depending on your needs. One big disadvantage of these two units is no USB or FireWire interface for connecting to a PC, but sometimes the price of keeping costs down is compromise.
Full-Featured Mixers with Built-in Compressor
PreSonus StudioLive 16.4.2 has a ton of features extending far beyond the low end of this category of mixers. A built-in compressor does provide far more configurable compression settings with 28 different compressors. 28 limiters give you further control over audio. As the product name implies this unit has 16 input channels. A FireWire I/O makes this a versatile tool for digital recording with up to 22 channels of FireWire recording and simultaneous 18 channels of playback. All this comes with a price tag of $1820. This is also the least portable option listed here, so if you need flexibility the Yamaha options will serve you better.