K-Mix by Keith McMillen recently hit the streets. Luckily, I was able to have one sent over to review. I dig in immediately and found that the K-Mix is actually much more intuitive than I initially thought. I mean the signature KMI design on a mixer  left me to wonder how easy or not so easy K-Mix would be to incorporate into my workflow.
The form factor and build is small, rather sleek and rugged with its KMI signature, nearly indestructible, matte finish.

Trying out a lil set up for this #KMix review

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The layout is pretty well arranged with the 8 mix faders front and center. The faders are made of the same touch sensitive material that all of KMI’s devices adorn. The faders also serve as VU meters sporting the familiar red – yellow – green illumination for feedback on volume levels. Touch the top of any fader to solo. Touch the bottom of any fader to mute.
Important to note as mentioned in the manual, “Depending on the current mode K-Mix is in, the faders are in charge of controlling output levels, input trim levels, aux send levels, and reverb send levels.”
Above the faders are numbered buttons 1-8 and Master. These are the channel select buttons. Use these to select a channel, for instance, when applying an effect to a particular channel.The four large circular controls about the faders are the Rotary dials. They are illuminated with the red LED’s for good positioning feedback. These rotary dials are used to adjust various parameters of the EFX, panning and EQ.

To the right of the rotary controls there is the Diamond Pad which is used as the transport controls and bank selectors. To the left is the power button.

On either side of the 8 faders are a number of mode buttons that are used for switching to various modes such as EFX parameters.

The preset button allows you to switch between the mixer presets. Presets are mad useful in terms of fully recalling the many different parameter settings that you may tweak along the way to your favorite configuration (and your next fav and your 3rd and 4th favs). KMix will store 12 presets onboard the physical unit.

The back is equipped with 8-ins and 10-outs. Two of the inputs are XLR / TRS and equipped with fantom power. The inputs are also equipped with Keith McMillen’s Ultra-Low Noise µPre™ Preamps. The Ultra-Low Noise µPre™ Preamps sound great. The µPre preamps are clean but not at all brittle, so to speak. You can trust that your gear (synths, Dj equipment, drum machines etc.), mics, vocals and otherwise will sound pristine coming through the K-Mix thanks to Keith McMillen’s Ultra-Low Noise µPre™ Preamps.

There are also mini and micro USb connections for powering the unit as well as passing audio and data through and to the unit. Such a handy set up that is at the crux of the units flexibility and compatibility with iOS devices, Macs and as a stand alone mixer.

At any rate, KMI bills the K-Mix as the 3 in one sort of mixer.  It’s an Audio Interface, Programmable Mixer & Control Surface. My thought was to see how well it does each task.

KMI #kmix on deck

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Audio Interface

As an audio interface the K-Mix I found it pretty simple to connect. On the back of the unit there are two USB connection (micro and mini). Each of the connections will allow for the +5v DC power that the unit needs to operate. in short, K-Mix is USB powered. one of the USB connections is labeled audio. This is the USB connection needed to connect the K-Mix to your Mac. Once connected it transfers audio flawlessly.
Straight away K-Mix shows up in your DAW (Ableton Live in my case) and in your mac sound settings as an audio interface that you can choose to capture sound from or run sound to.
Audio Interface features;
  • USB Bus Powered
  • Ultra-Low Noise µPre™ Preamps
  • High-End AKM Converters
  • 32-bit Floating Point Signal Path
  • 8-in/10-out Audio

Programmable Mixer

As a Programmable mixer the K-Mix shines with its onboard effects and preset storage.
Obviously, with no USB to computer connection as a stand alone programmable mixer,K-Mix requires the included Power Adapter and USB cable to supply its power while away from the computer.
Once the power is connected,K-Mix is a pretty impressive little BIG mixer. It’s onboard DSP effects, 8 inputs (2 of which are XLR ready and phantom power capable) and 8 outputs make K-Mix more than capable for those in need of a small footprint mixer or the musician / beatmaker on the go. Not to mention it’s a nice companion for those of us who happen to be iOS musicians and beatmakers.
Programmable Mixer Features;
  • Per Channel DSP
  • Flexible Routing
  • Standalone Quad 5.1, 7.1 and Octo Surround Mixer
  • Onboard Preset Storage
  • No Computer Required
I did run into a situation where I had used the compressor and other effects to absolutely obnoxious proportions (Testing) and I wanted to reset the entire EFX section. Unfortunately, the ability to reset the entire EFX section is not available at the moment but this could be an added feature in future firmware releases.  Still, I was able to reset each preset with the help of the KMI team and the K-Mix manual. Here’s how;

To reset a preset:

  • press & release the PRESET button to enter Preset Selection mode
  • Press & hold BYPASS and while held down, press one of the 12 mode buttons labeled A-L — button will blink 4 times and that preset is immediately overwritten with the default K-Mix preset.
  • Repeat for any additional presets you wish to reset.

Resetting Global Parameters:

  • Press & release the PRESET button to enter Preset Selection mode
  • Press & hold BYPASS and while held down, press PRESET.  The PRESET button will blink while all global parameters are returned to a default state.

Control Surface

As a Control Surface the K-Mix does as it should. It shows up in Ableton Live 9 (or your favorite DAW) and can be selected to be used as a control surface.
Control Surface Features;
  • Ultra-Sensitive Precision Rotaries and Faders
  • User Assignable MIDI Controls
  • Light Weight and Portable
  • Rugged Construction, No Moving Parts
Kmix Editor
The K-Mix editor can be downloaded from https://www.keithmcmillen.com (full link below). The editor is immediately responsive to touch. Meaning what you do on the physical unit will show on the editor in real time from what I can tell in use. With the Kmix editor you can store, load, edit and otherwise manage your presets. You can edit global settings from the unit or the editor, whichever suits your need.
For those that are more comfortable with the larger (not much larger) editor interface for editing rather than the physical unit editing, the editor is a god send and makes for easy changes and management of presets. Also, the K-Mix editor does double duty as a preset manager where you can store up to 99 presets.
It’s worth noting that if you plan to use the K-Mix with a Windows PC you’ll be disappointed as it is only compatible with Mac OSX at the moment. The good news is that KMI seems to be totally engaged in the development of K-Mix and iterations to come.
bboy_review_scale_4_5Overall, K-Mix is a great little big mixer. I can’t say enough about how this mixer is the little mixer with the big agenda, so to speak. I’d imagine a scenario where one would have a Macbook or iPad, some sort of compact microphone (or in the case of a beatmaker or DJ, a couple of line in cables) and the K-Mix stuffed into a backpack ready for the mobile beatmaking / live beatmaking sessions. It’s rugged and handled 3 totally different jobs effortlessly. Just connect your devices and flip a mode button or so and you are ready to rock! This one found a home on my desk, away from my large analog mixer and audio interface, next to my desktop synths as a sub mixer and sort of audio interface expander. I’d love to see a way to do a full reset  from the hardware but at least there is the K-Mix editor. Other wish list items are admittedly totally selfish. I’d love it if it had an adat output (is that considered dated tech now?!) that would allow for 8 in / 8 out with one pretty little wire. That would truly allow me to use it as a direct audio interface expander. Hey, maybe K-Mix MKII will have that as a 4th mode of use.
Short and sweet… K-Mix is dope. I don’t think there is anything like it out there. I needed this years ago!
Available now for $579
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