Understanding The Audio Mixer

Mixing boards, or mixers, (also known as mixing consoles, or an audio mixer ) are the central hardware used in a mixer-based recording studio.

Mixers receive input signals sent from connected audio producing devices, and offer controls to determine how these signals are sent out of the mixer.

Mixing boards are physical modules displaying knobs, faders, and buttons used to control the parameters for each channel of audio, and ultimately the collection of these audio tracks – known as a mix.

A Mixing Board is:

1. A Multitrack Recorder.

(A multitrack recorder allows you to record instruments individually, and mix a number of audio tracks into a song.)

2. A device used to mix audio tracks into a song.

(The controls for adjusting the parameters of each audio channel, and the master controls of all channels – used for mixing a song.)

Mixing (in a nutshell):

Mixing boards can be understood as a transient housing facility. This TEMPORARY facility provides a place for the audio produced by sound generating sources, to be evaluated, cleaned up, re-evaluated, and tactically placed where they fit into the mix.

In short, mixers process and accept all audio signals. Next, mixers give each signal its own isolated channel. Next, A producer or engineer previews each track on its own, and then again with all the other tracks. And finally, using the controls on the mixer, he shapes the tracks of the mix into a sculpture of sound pleasing to the ear.

ANALOG MIXERS:

Analog Mixing Boards are hardware mixing consoles used to mix audio tracks via physical controls. Analog Mixers are also known as the traditional or original device used for mixer based audio production.

Mixers vary in size and price. Eight track mixers are generally less expensive than mixers with more tracks. Mixers can have sixteen, twenty four, thirty two, fourty-eight tracks, and etc. Some hardware based recording studios used today have 100 or more channels. These consoles are state of the art audio devices that can cost $100,000 or more.

DIGITAL MIXERS:

Digital Mixers, essentially function in the same way as analog mixers. Digital Mixers accept signals in both analog and digital form. Converters built into the mixing board manage these audio signals. All signals are mixed in digital form, when using a digital mixing board. The controls are physical knobs and faders as found on an analog mixing board. The difference in a digital mixer is the ability to mix digital audio. Audio in this form is much more versatile.

This flexible format allows you to connect to you D.A.W. and synchronize it with music software programs. Recording the tracks into a multitrack recording program is commonly used in a mixer-based recording studio. Once your tracks are displayed as an audio waveform, you can edit your tracks using audio effects processors, audio signal processors, and other music software plugins. Once you are satisfied with your track recordings, you can mix and master your musical production with
the physical controls on your digital mixing board.

In addition to the hands on control of your mix, another important benefit of using digital mixers is the automatic recall of the mixing parameters within each song. So you can enjoy the pleasure of analog mixing, and instantly recall the settings of each song you produce. This can be of great convenience, as opposed to having to re-set each parameter and effect in order to change a minor issue you might find after you have bounced your mix to disc.

Components of Mixing Boards

Mixers are built with a few fundamental components. All these pieces affect the quality and price-tag found on them. In general, it is said that you get what you pay for with mixers.

Preamplifiers: are used to boost the audio signals to a line level signal.

Channel strips: are a dedicated slot for audio input. In each channel strip you will find a fader to control the output volume, mute/solo buttons, pan pot adjuster knobs, and effects sends/ or aux send.

Pan-Pots: Allow you to select where the signal is placed in the stereo field. (width)

Solo-Mute: Switchable selection to silence the selected track or hear it by itself. “Solo”

Faders: Are the vertically sliding volume control knobs that regulate the levels of each channel.

In Conclusion

Mixers provide music producers and engineers with the satisfaction of hands on control. They can be a dependable source of hardware to manage your signal flow. As opposed to relying on computers and music software, but are no longer required equipment for any home or pro studio.

The onboard preamps, and signal processors can provide qualitative enhancement to the tracks in your mix.

While a hardware mixer might not be right for your particular studio setup, understanding the components of how to use a mixing board is essential knowledge for anyone interested in music production.

Jamie About Jamie

DIY Artist & Lifestyle Entrepreneur - I teach Modern Content Creators how to turn their content into currency, master their ABC's, (Audience, Brand, Cashflow) and experience endless freedom and fulfillment doing what they love, for those that love what they do.
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