what is an audio mixer used for

what is an audio mixer used for

A tour of a mixer, and what every of its numerous elements does…

The mixer is an important merchandise in dwell music, and likewise in lots of studios. It’s also one of many bits of audio gear that appears to intimidate those that are unfamiliar, as a result of seemingly infinite controls. Nonetheless, it’s all way more easy than it seems. Right here, we’ll clarify what a mixer does, and take a tour of the options of a typical mannequin.

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What does a mixer do?

Put merely, a mixer (generally referred to as a mixing desk, mixing console, mixing board, desk or console) takes numerous audio sources by means of its a number of enter channels, alter ranges and different attributes of the sound, then normally mix them to a lesser variety of outputs. So, at its most straightforward, this may contain taking the audio from performers in a dwell scenario, tweaking and including results, then combining these to a stereo or mono output which might be amplified with a PA system.

In a studio scenario, this may contain taking inputs from microphones or different sources in a dwell room, and directing them in direction of the inputs of your recording rig (which may very well be a pc primarily based set-up with scores of inputs). Because of this, some recording desks could have as many outputs that may be routed to as they’ve inputs. These assignable outputs are normally termed buses or group outputs. Many mixers describe their input-output performance with a 3-number descriptor. For instance, a 24:8:2 mixer would have 24 inputs, 8 output buses, with a stereo (2 channel) grasp output. If it stated 24:2, this may imply it had no bus outputs. So at its easiest, a mixer permits the consumer to take numerous audio sources and manipulate them earlier than sending them to output channels. Fairly easy, eh? However what do all these controls do?

Mixer Controls

Under is a straightforward abstract of what the totally different controls of a mixer do. The map above reveals which half we’re referring to. This mixer is a straightforward 20 enter to stereo output design.


The channel is the fundamental ‘unit’ of the mixer. It’s also the rationale that many are intimidated by the mixer, because the channel controls are repeated many occasions over the mixer floor (offering the arsenal of complicated trying knobs and faders). The mixer above has 20 units of channel controls, for instance. The reality is that if you happen to perceive one channel, you mainly perceive how a mixer works. Think about it a bit like a water pipe. Water enters the mixer on the enter, after which travels down by means of the varied elements of the channel to the fader, earlier than being despatched to the outputs. The assorted elements of the channel are described under.


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These are the place the audio sources are linked. These might be something from a line-level sign, similar to that from a keyboard or piano, to microphones. Normally, you’ll have each a ¼” jack enter for line indicators, and an XLR connection for microphones. Today, it’s frequent to see stereo enter channels, too (like the 2 to the appropriate of the inputs proven within the mixer above, that aren’t in a colored field).


The insert is a connection that enables a bit of apparatus to be plugged in straight after the enter, in order that it’s unaffected be any of the opposite processes additional down the channel. the most typical use for an insert is to attach a compressor or gate. Right here, the insert is a stereo jack, which each sends and returns the sign, to and from the linked machine. Generally, an insert has a separate ship and return socket, nonetheless.


Achieve controls the enter degree of every particular person channel. Right here you may set this in order that particular person sound sources don’t trigger the channel to overload and warp.


EQ permits the consumer to vary the frequency curve of a sound. For example, if a sound supply could be very vibrant, the excessive frequencies might be turned down. A 3-band EQ will mean you can enhance or reduce excessive, mid and low frequencies individually.

Auxiliary sends

The auxiliary sends can be utilized for numerous issues. Put merely, turning an auxiliary ship up will alter the extent of a channel’s sign that’s despatched to the auxiliary ship output. The desk right here is pitched as a dwell desk, so these are typically used as ‘monitor ship’ controls’. That’s, you join the sends to observe audio system on the entrance of a stage, in order that the band can right here what they’re taking part in extra clearly. Aux sends are additionally used to ship channel audio to an results unit. When used with a typical impact like reverb, it permits the engineer to regulate the extent of impact of every particular person channel, utilizing only one results unit. When used on this means, the FX unit output can be linked to the aux return inputs on the mixer. If these don’t characteristic, the FX unit can be routed down an enter channel or channels.


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Brief for ‘Panorama’, this controls whereabouts within the stereo discipline the sound might be heard. So, turning all of it the best way to the left will ship the sign utterly to the left output, and the turning it to the appropriate, to the appropriate output. The world between permits the sign to be extra precisely positioned by range the extent despatched to every of those outputs accordingly. When utilizing a multi-bus mixer, these pan controls are extra vital. Usually, routing to buses entails urgent a button on the person channel, however these buttons will correspond to 2 outputs (i.e. 1&2, 3&4, 5&6, 7&8). On this case, to path to bus 1, the consumer would press the 1&2 button, and switch the pan all the best way to arduous left. To ship to bus 2, the pan can be turned to arduous proper.


These enable the engineer to mute particular person channels. In essence, it stops the channel being despatched to any outputs. It’s frequent to see ‘solo’ buttons right here too. These mute every thing aside from the soloed channel, or channels.

Channel Fader

These management the extent of every channel to be despatched to the outputs (bus, or grasp). These are the primary instruments for management the ‘combine’ of sounds to go to the PA or recording machine.

Grasp Faders

These management (you guessed it) the extent of sign being despatched to the primary outputs. Within the case of a dwell set-up, this may normally be the general degree being despatched to the PA system.

Grasp Outputs

That is the place every thing ends up- the entire channels, blended, adjusted and tweaked, in the end will come out of those connections to be amplified. On a mixer with buses, you’ll additionally see each bus faders and bus outputs, too. The mixer could look scary if you happen to haven’t used one earlier than, however they’re remarkably easy. And, in the appropriate fingers, might be the hub of your efficiency and recording.

For a full ranger of mixers see our on-line retailer.

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