- OTO’s Bébé Chérie is an all-stereo analog mixer for electronic musicians.
- It’s small, but the feature balance is almost perfect.
- Just look at it.
If it looks hot, and sounds hot, then it is hot.
Every professional and hobby has its seemingly-dull essentials. These are the bits and bobs you may not have to buy, but that make things a lot easier. From the outside, these seem like the last things you’d want to waste money on, but in reality, countless gallons of virtual ink are spilled on internet forums discussing them. Think toolboxes, golf bags, clacky keyboards for writers, the perfect travel yoga mat, or mixers for electronic musicians—like OTO’s hot new Bébé Chérie analog mixer.
“For a compact live mixer, this looks great … especially when you factor in the Compressor and ‘Bliss’ eq on the master outs,” electric musician CCMP said in a forum thread participated in by Lifewire.
Mix It Up
A mixer, especially an all-analog mixer, might seem pointless now that we can connect everything to a computer and manipulate the separate instruments, recording them and using countless digital effects along the way. But there are several good reasons to use one, even alongside a computer.
The first is the most obvious. A mixer lets you plug several sources into the same box and adjust their levels with knobs or sliders. This might be a keyboard, a microphone, or an electric guitar. Turn the knob, and the corresponding source gets quieter or louder, letting you balance things perfectly.
You can also pan these channels more to the left or right and tweak the EQ, cutting the bass from a booming guitar, for example, so it doesn't tread on the toes of the bass player.
All this could be done on a computer, of course, but grabbing a knob is a lot easier, and you don't have to look at a screen. You can glance at the knobs or sliders to see their current state.
The next reason to use an analog mixer is the sound quality. It's not necessarily better or worse, but it acts differently in one crucial case. If you crank your instrument/voice/drum input up loud to create a "hot" signal, it starts to distort.
On a digital mixer or audio interface, this distortion sounds just terrible. On an analog mixer, it can sound amazing, to the extent that there are digital effects plugins for computers to mimic this "saturation" sound.
… there are so very few mixers aimed at electronic musicians. And especially not ones that look as cool as this.
This sweet distortion, and the hands-on nature of an analog mixer, are both reasons to use one. But there's a problem with most mixers for electronic musicians.
Electronic Musicians Are Different
Most analog mixers are built for live music. You have lots of mono microphone inputs and just a few stereo inputs. Electronic musicians don’t need those mic inputs, so they sit unused. Equally, they need lots of stereo inputs, and even big mixers have only a few.
OTO’s Bébé Chérie is all stereo. It has six stereo inputs, enough for a bunch of fancy synths and drum machines. There are also three outputs—one main out, one headphone out, which duplicates the main output, and one ALT (alternative) out.
This last one is maybe the Bébé Chérie’s best feature. When you mute a track, its audio is removed from the main output (speakers, headphones ) and routed instead to the ALT out. You could hook up a sampler, or an audio effect like reverb or delay, to the ALT out and quickly route any track to it with a single button push.
The Bébé Chérie also has various built-in EQ options and a compressor, which evens out loud and quiet sounds but also adds character.
In short, it’s everything an electronic musician might want in a mixer, in a small box, and with a super hot pink paint job. Even the rear panel labels are printed upside-down so you can read them when you crane your head over the back to plug things in. And all for $665.
“Very cool and for the price point and size it has interesting features,” electronic musician Dave Mech said on the Elektronauts forums. “My mind is already brainstorming about possible setups where this could be the main mixer :). It sets some limitations in place which I actually enjoy.”
The level of excitement here is partly down to this box itself. OTO Machines, the French maker behind the Bébé Chérie, has a reputation for excellent quality. But it is also down to the fact that there are so very few mixers aimed at electronic musicians. And especially not ones that look as cool as this.