device and principle of operation, types, how to choose


What is a mixer? The word itself is familiar to many, but only people involved in sound processing have an accurate idea of ​​\u200b\u200bthis device, its purpose, and varieties. This equipment is the basis of the sound processing system. With the help of a mixer, a high quality reproduction of incoming signals is obtained. It is also needed when implementing ideas in the field of musical creativity, for their effective implementation.

Equipment characteristic

A mixer is a digital or electronic device that processes audio data. It mixes several input signals and feeds the result to the output. The whole process of its work with signals can be conditionally divided into several stages:

  • receiving them from sound sources (audio equipment, musical instruments, microphones and other sources);
  • balancing;
  • processing;
  • mixing (summing) at the output into the final signal.


At the balancing stage, the sounds are distributed over the frequency range, harmonized, panned. Then they are treated with various effects. At the last stage, a summed signal is obtained, which is then amplified and reproduced.

Other names for this sound processing equipment are a mixing console or mixing console.

One of the main characteristics of the consoles is maximum number of available channels. Inputs are of two types:

  • balanced, reducing the level of existing interference in the incoming signal;
  • unbalanced.

Balanced and unbalanced connection

The first in consoles are used much more often.

It turns out that the mixer, taking sound from various sources, combines it in the required proportions into a single unit at the output. In this case, the routing of signals occurs during their recording, summing and amplification.

Mixing console device

Mixing consoles of various models differ in their device. But at the same time, there are mandatory elements for each. These include input and output sections.

A general view of the remote control is shown in the photo below.


The input section is represented by a certain number of channels (almost always their number is proportional to 2). This number determines the maximum possible number of received audio sources, which are then regulated, amplified.

Mixing console device

Receive channels can be either stereo or mono. The latter usually corresponds to 2 nests.

Any channel consists of the following blocks:

  • input amplifierwhich allows you to set its optimal level, and has a sensitivity control;
  • power supply «phantom» type (present on most models), designed to connect microphones with capacitors and some other types of devices;
  • equalizerwhich performs frequency adjustment of the incoming signal;
  • router – a block that distributes incoming sound signals to Aux-buses (additional);
  • pan controldesigned to determine the place of the incoming signal among stereo sounds;
  • volume faderwhich allows you to determine the level of the incoming sound signal in the generalized balance of all cells.

Equalizers of different models have a different number of adjustment bands. In professional, their number reaches six.


On additional Aux buses, the signal can be processed by an effects processor (built-in or external). Also, with their help, the sound can be directed to a separate line. The number of tires is in the range from 2 to 12. For any of them, 2 operating modes are available: Pre and Post. With their help, you can set the balance between the ratio of the level of the incoming audio signal and the location of the volume fader.

Some models may have an Insert jack located after the preamplifier. It simultaneously represents the «input-output» system of this channel.

Console outputs can consist of the following elements:

  • universal tires (subgroups);
  • cells that perform additional functions;
  • output level controls (general) and Aux busses.

Line Outputs on the mixer can be available for any input channel. They are needed to send a signal to the recording device. Linear outputs can be controlled or unmanaged — this is determined by the purpose of the console.

Varieties of mixers

If we divide the consoles by functionality, we get the following groups:

  • portable;
  • stationary;
  • portable.

The most technically advanced are stationary mixing consoles. This device professional level with many useful features. They are used in large recording studios and at major music events. Digital fixed consoles are the most popular in this category.

concert mixing console

Portable mixing consoles follow the stationary ones in terms of professionalism. These are devices semi-professional level. However, there are more advanced models that can compete with stationary devices in terms of capabilities. Also used in recording studios, concerts and various events.

digital portable mixing console

And finally, portable. These are small devices with a low price. They don’t boast many features. The advantages of portable devices include their small weight and dimensions, which makes them easy to use at home and at not too sophisticated events where only a few channels are required. Most of the models in this group have round potentiometers instead of linear faders.

portable mixer for beginners

Depending on the type of information, mixing consoles are also divided into analog and digital. Digital because of their capabilities are in great demand among sound engineers. Most often they are used by major labels with many different projects. The fact is that they are able to remember the settings, unlike analog ones. But they are also more expensive. The fact is that digital devices can be easily connected to a computer and work in the program. And the latest models have the ability to work via WiFi. But still, the most important advantage is that, depending on the need, various modules can be connected to such a remote control.

See also: how to connect a mixer to a laptop.

And the last possible classification is according to the principle of work. Remotes are divided into passive and active. Primitives are passive remotes. They do not have sound amplification capabilities, they do not need a power source. Passive devices are used only for equipment communication. They also cannot boast of a variety of adjustable parameters — volume controls for the main channels and treble and bass controls. That’s all the functionality. Needless to say, this type of mixing console is used extremely rarely.

Application area

Mixing consoles have found their application in all areas where high-quality audio signal processing is required with its subsequent amplification. Consoles are used:

  • recording studios;
  • television and radio stations;
  • at concert events;
  • music lovers at home.

The widespread use of mixers is due to the desire of listeners to enjoy high quality music. After processing the incoming signals, the devices give out beautifully sounding melodies. In order to competently use this kind of device, to know why the inputs and outputs on it, various regulators are intended, it is necessary to study the description of its design and operation in the instructions for the model used.

Mixer selection rules

First of all, it is worth realizing what this remote control is for, that is, under what conditions it will be used. For home conditions, a simple remote control with a basic number of functions is suitable; professionals will not be interested in such samples of equipment.

Accordingly, if you plan to connect only an electric guitar and a microphone to the remote control, then you do not need to purchase a complex remote control with many connectors. Pay attention to the level of knowledge of the user. It will be difficult for a beginner to understand all the intricacies of a professional device.

professional mixer

Don’t forget about weight and dimensions of the mixing console. This is especially true if you plan to move your mixer frequently.

Important! When choosing a specific model, you should inquire in advance about the availability of service centers for maintenance. This can be a decisive factor in favor of a particular model.

Should I buy a remote at all?

People who are just starting to work with sound often doubt the need to purchase such a complex device for their work. Before buying, it is worth doing the development of related software. Some programs allow you to make electronic music of about the same quality as using a mixer.

Most of the functions of the mixing console successfully emulate a wide variety of programs. Examples include Steinberg Cubase, Mixcraft, Ableton Live.

Most of the software available is built for Windows operating system. Each program has detailed instructions for use and indicates the minimum system requirements. Some programs are paid. You may need to pay a subscription to access all features. But some companies provide the full version for 30 days. You need to download software only from the official websites of manufacturers. Otherwise, there is a risk of downloading malicious software.

See also: how to make a mixing console with your own hands.

Summing up, it should be noted that high-quality equipment will help both a novice musician and a professional sound engineer in their work. But it is also important to choose the remote control for your skills and financial capabilities. A perfectly matched remote control will serve its owner for more than one year. However, with the growth of knowledge and skills, you will have to select a device of the appropriate level.


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