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Mixing console

In the studio as well as on stage, the mixing console is the tool for mixing (mixing) music or any other audio signal. It allows you to connect all your devices, instruments, sound card, computer, listening system together to send the result to a sound or recording system and gives you the possibility to create effects. There is a wide range of mixers to choose from, so it's important to know what you need to choose from. This guide will give you a few keys to find out which mixer will best suit your home studio configuration.

What is a mixing console?

A mixing console can be analog or digital and is organized into a master section and several slices. Each slice corresponds to a source and has several stages: physical input, volume control, panning, equalizer (see compressor), sending and inserting effect. The mixer can therefore have several XLR, jack and stereo inputs as well as outputs, usually stereo. The preamp outputs are useful to avoid the purchase of an additional amplifier to connect to the speakers.

The three main criteria for choosing your mixing console are :
- The quality of the mic preamps
- The number of slices and the number of mic inputs
- The number of auxiliaries and the possibility of putting them in "pre"

The more MIDI hardware you have (samplers, synthesizers, expanders), the more channels you need on your console to be able to mix them together, especially if you want to work with each sound independently. This is highly recommended because each instrument requires a different mix.

If you have a condenser microphone in your home studio configuration, think about phantom power and use USB outputs if possible.

Digital Mixer

Today, the vast majority of recordings today are digital thanks to the advantages of computerized data processing. Containing all the features of an analog mixer and integrating a converter from analog to digital, you can process data directly on your computer.

Moreover, it contains all the effects necessary for sound processing (compression, delay, limiter...) and allows you to save every setting. With its MIDI and USB connections, the digital tables easily transform into controllers to receive and transmit your settings.

While the digital table has many advantages, it is also more expensive than the analog mixer. Some people will find that the digital sound is less "warm" than analog and will prefer to go back to analog, especially for the processing of instruments such as strings, wind or voice.

Analog mixer

So, as said above, the demanding musicians on the warmth of the sound of musical instruments will prefer the analog mixer for the quality and realism of reproduction of the audio signal.

The major disadvantage of the analog mixer is that, unlike the digital console, it does not incorporate effects. Because of this, be prepared to spend extra money for eventual effects. In addition, the analog does not allow you to save or save the settings and therefore requires you to start setting up before each recording.

However, the analog mixer is much more common and still the most widely used on stage and in studios, despite the increasing power of digital, for its more affordable price and high quality sound.

The true art of a sound engineer is to combine the two techniques by recording electronic instruments directly in digital and acoustic instruments in analog.

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