Contact Policy Site Map

mixing boards for dummies

A Guide To Mixing Boards For Dummies

Yamaha MG102C Stereo MixerAt first, learning how to use a mixer may seem intimidating and difficult to understand. However, the learning curve is not as horrible as it appears. For the most part, the mixer is simply a board that includes a selection of faders, buttons and knobs. After learning how to use one part of the mixer, the other parts become much simpler to understand. The most important key in learning and reading how to use mixing boards for dummies is to take the time to understand what each part of the board is as well as what it is used for.

A mixing board, or a mixing console, is simply a tool that is used for recording in a professional or home studio. The primary function of the mixer is to provide an input, an output and a method of auxiliary routing for audio recordings. These functions can also become useful when working with other forms of music and sound. Generally, professional studio mixers have more sophisticated capabilities; however, due to advancements in technology, home studios or digital mixer for garagebands are more affordable and easier than ever.

The Audio Mixer For Beginners

The audio mixer is made up of several individual sections. The input section is the first section that many users should become familiar with as some of the best audio mixer makers have different solutions for these. This section is used to accept sound from different audio sources. The input section is typically recognizable by similar control setups that are parallel to one another. These sections are known as channel strips. The input section on the board can be used by several sources such as CD/MP3 players, computer interfaces, synthesizers and even microphones. Although, the layout of the input section on many mixers may be different, the basic function remains the same.

The output section is the next section that users should become familiar with. The output is the part of mixing console that is used to control the output signals. The output is generally connected to other devices which help to route the signals. It is important to remember that the strength of the output signal can be altered by simply tuning the sends knobs. For the signal to be sent properly, the effects sends master button must be turned on to the on position. There are usually faders for all the outputs within this section.

Mackie 402 VLZ3 MixerThe auxiliary routing section is a simple section to understand. This section is used by the mixer to transfer signals between the channel strips of the mixing board, to and from other types of external device. For example, if the input level peaks or reaches a high point and the red overload light comes on, this tells the user that the input is too high and it is distorting. There is also a solo button that helps to separate sounds. This allows the user to complete equalization, to recognize missing signals and to silences signals. The solo button even silences the whole channel if necessary.

Makre sure also to visit our article on how to select the best digital audio mixer for you.

There are other board controls that are equally important as the aforementioned especially when setting up your mixing board.  In addition to the controls previously stated, the mixer also includes other useful controls. Mixing boards include the gain, or the trim, control. This control is positioned near the top of the mixer and it controls volume. Many mixing boards may also incorporate a high-pass button. This button helps to reduce low or undesired frequencies that are a result of microphone feedback and background noise.

Instructions On How To Use A Mixer

  1. As stated above, begin by separating the mixing console into parts. Become comfortable with each individual channel as well as the plug-ins for the board. Locate the faders or knobs at the bottom of the mixer and start listening to how adjusting these buttons affects the sound.
  2. A channel is easily recognizable because it is a column that moves from top to bottom. On the side of the channel, there is a bus and a master channel strip. The master channel fader controls the levels for the entire board. The only way to become comfortable with the strip is to make adjustments to the knobs and listen to how the mixer changes the sound.
  3. Take the time to learn the entire channel strip. With any individual channel strip, there will be a selection of buttons and knobs. Become familiar with the controls that are used to control the panning from the left to the right.
  4. Familiarize yourself with the button used for muting the sounds, the buttons used for preparing solo sounds and even the buttons used for equalizing sounds. Although, there may be several knobs on each channel strip, after adjusting them a few times back and forth, the purpose of each knob or button should become clear. It is important to remember that the buttons or knobs on an individual strip only controls that channel.
  5. Recognize the different inputs. Each channel will allow a user to input audio through a XLR cord, 1/4 inch, or RCA cable. After plugging into the inputs, begin to watch the levels move on the channel strip. Every channel has an individual VU meter which allows the user to control the level of that channel. It must be turned down if it begins to peak or the red overload light comes on. If there is not an individual VU meter, then the user must pay attention to the master VU meter. Keeping the levels on the mixer at a consistent level is important for effectively using the mixer. As a rule of thumb, it is good to remember that when audio is running through more than one channel, that the master level will usually remain higher than the individual.

Tips and Warnings For Using Mixer Consoles Explained

Learning one channel backwards and forwards is ideal for using the mixer effectively. When one channel is understood perfectly, every channel will become understood because all the channels function in the same manner.

Try to recognize how the signals flow through each of the sections. Recognizing this will make the mixer simpler to handle as well as troubleshoot. Additionally, make sure to check our article on how to clean your audio mixer to ensure that you have no problem whatsoever.

Realize that learning to use the mixer will take some time. It will not happen overnight; however, with practice and some patience, a mixer can become as easy to use as a bicycle.