The mixer really is the heart of a sound system. It is the one item that all components connect with. It is also used as the point where the whole sound system is control from
The mixer can also be the most confusing part of a sound system, as to an untrained eye it is just a mass of knobs and faders, but if taken one stage at a time the whole desk is actually very simple.
In a nut shell, the mixer does what it says on the tin. It mixes! A collection of input devices are connected to a set of input channels. The sound from each of these input devices is then mixed together and sent to the outputs. This output can then be put through an amp and speakers or sent to a recording device, depending why the sound is being mixed.
Each input channel on the mixer allows the sound from the input device to be controlled and shaped before it enters the mix. This shaping may take many forms but the basic is to adjust the EQ of the signal, ie the base may be rolled off to prevent booming on a vocal microphone. Once the signal has been shaped it goes through a fader to control how much of the signal enters the mix. By balancing the faders of all the input channels the correct ratio of all the sounds can be created.
Getting the correct balance of the sound is key to a good sound system, you do not want the piano to overpower the lead vocal, or a sound effect in a show to dwarf the action on the stage, when it is supposed to be gentle bird song in the background. To this end it usually requires a dedicated sound operator during a show. This operator will be able to respond to changes in the acoustic dynamics in the performance space. By that I mean that the sound in a hall will be different when the hall is empty to when it is full of audience.
|Phonic MM 1002a
|Soundcraft compact 10
|Spirit Folio 10/2 mixer
|Spirit Folio 12/2 mixer
|Spirit SX 16/2/2 mixer
|SD16 - 16/8
|Behringer X32 Rack
|Behringer X32 Producer
|Spirit LX7/32 24/4/2/1 mixer
|Allen & Heath ZED 436 32-4-2-1- Mixer
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