Whether you are a sound engineer or not, you need to get the right audio mixer for your event(s). Besides, everyone loves when they attend a concert with a flawless sound. Most people may not know what term to use to explain their experience; neither do they have the faintest idea why it was that good “Welcome to the life of a Sound Engineer.”
The goal of this article is to give you a brief overview of what to look for when starting your Sound Engineering journey.
What is a mixing console?
A mixing console is an electronic device that is used to combine many different audio signals. Mixing console usually called a mixer.
The analog and digital mixer trap
First of all, analog mixers are not better than digital mixers; neither are digital mixers better than analog mixers.
Digital mixers process signals using discreet symbols that are zeros and ones while analog mixers process sound signals as physicals quantities electricity.
After digital mixers process signals, it converts it back to an analog signal. In my experience at working with both analog and digital mixers, the biggest advantage of analog mixers is that they’re generally less complicated and less expensive than digital mixers of the same frame size.
The disadvantage is that analog mixers usually have fewer onboard features than digital mixers, and their sound quality depends entirely on the quality of the analog circuitry.
With that said, let’s dive into what you should look for when buying one.
The number of input channels: this is greatly dependent on the need of the individual in question.
For instance, if you are setting up for an orchestral, the number of channels needed will greatly differ from the number of channels required for a rock band concert.
It will also vary from the number of channels that will be needed for a talk show, Tv, or radio station. The take away from this is, do your homework about what you really need.
What is the number of outputs?
typically, the output is called’ AUX’ this is generally used to control the signal going out; be it in-ear monitors, stage monitors, your sub-woofer, your FOH, or even to a recording interface; that is if it doesn’t have one integrated into it; usually, the more, the better.
I never recommend buying a mixer with less than eight aux out if you are going to be setting up for a music gig.
What is Preamps:
Preamps are electronic amplifiers that convert all weak electrical signals into an output signal which is strong enough to be noise-tolerant and also strong enough to be further processed and can be sent to a power amplifier and a loudspeaker.
Without a preamp, the final signal would be noisy and easily get distorted. Every mixer comes with preamps built into every channel.
But, not every preamp is the same. So, before you buy a mixer, especially when you are on a low budget, do your homework; check other people’s reviews on that mixer preamps.
Connection types. In addition to knowing how many sources you’ll connect to your mixer, it’s essential to know the types of sources.
If you are mostly going to connect microphones, make sure to select a mixer with enough microphone preamps.
If you will connect line-level sources, make sure your mixer has at least a few line inputs to reduce the need for Di boxes.
Onboard signal processing
Most present-day mixers will have some onboard signal processing on each of its channels and, on each bus.
The more signal processing that is available on your audio mixer, the less you will have to spend on external gear.
In general, digital mixers provide considerably more signal processing than analog mixers. It commonly includes dynamics processing(compressor, expanders, gates, etc..).
It is also convenient to have reverb and delay effects built into it. For convenience, ensure that onboard effects have their own dedicated aux bus, though; otherwise, you may have to sacrifice a monitor mix to add reverb or other effects to vocals and instruments.
What are the Recording options;
Nearly all modern mixers provide some level of integrated recording. This can be a simple two-track recording of the Main mix to complete multitrack recording, either to an onboard recorder or to a computer or both.
All modern mixers with recording features offer a 24-bit recording at 44.1 kHz or higher.
In summary, there is no right mixer, and there is no wrong mixer; there is just the right one for you. Well, technically, there are wrong mixers. Don’t get me wrong; some mixers are plain terrible.
Follow these guides, and I promise you you won’t go amiss. Also, if you have a buddy that is into sound stuff, carry them along. I hope you find the perfect audio mixer that fits your need, also you can get audio mixers from Amazon here. Good luck !!!