Audio mixers or mixing consoles are the saviors for many musicians and music composers as it reduces post-recording hard work. An audio mixer is an equipment that combines different audio signals to process them in the right sequence and later routes them whenever needed. These days even smartphones and tablets offer applications and interfaces that can perform the audio mixing function. But, for live performing musicians and music studio owners nothing works better than the hardware mixer having knobs, faders, and buttons for different purposes. If you are looking for some top audio mixers for streaming or for your home studio then you need to make certain considerations before buying.
There are different types of audio mixers but mainly three are used analog, powered analog, and digital. Each of these audio mixers is designed for different purposes.
- Analog mixers are used for live concerts and live recordings that let you make quick adjustments.
- Powered mixers are similar to analog mixers but have built-in amplification that is also capable of powering speakers.
- Digital mixers have the widest range of control capabilities. With these audio mixers, you can make rapid changes during theatrical shows, etc.
Before getting your hands on an audio mixer consider how you intend to use these mixers. If you are a beginner try to get familiar with the analog or powered mixers that are easy to use and set up on the stage. But, if you’re a professional acoustic musician a portable powered mixer will fit perfectly in your acoustic acts. You can also use these powered mixers in outdoor places like cafes, classrooms, restaurants, etc.
Once you are clear about your intentions, you can start looking for some technical parameters of the audio mixer that will greatly help you to pick the right one!
Tips For Choosing The Best Audio Mixer
- Mic preamps
Every mixer manufacturer claims that their microphone preamps have the best quality. Not always! Some mixers have low tone, can add unwanted noise, or can cause tonal coloration during the sound processing. Seek for a good quality mic preamp as this will do a lot more than just making your mic sound louder. It will deliver a clean front end, send an accurate signal with higher gain, control distortion, and provide higher headroom to give the sound what’s missing in it.
- Phantom Power
Phantom power is needed for sending the required DC through the XLR cable. Few of the condenser mics need phantom power to work. Thus, look for the mixer that already has a phantom power supply for all types of microphone inputs. These phantom power supplies are usually +48V or P48 that are present in many audio mixers these days. If you have a mixer with a pre-installed phantom power supply, you don’t have to use a bulky external power supply and make your entire set up heavier or even handle it.
This is another parameter to consider before buying an audio mixer. Make sure the one you buy has an onboard compressor. The dynamic compressor helps the output signals from sounding too loud or too weak, it maintains the proportionate ratio of the signals. If you are in a music band you would need a compressor while playing the drum or in a screamo performance.
- Digital Effects
Many mixers including analog and digital mixers include onboard digital effect features which broadly do delay, chorusing, reverb or flanging. These effects let you add extra ardor to your songs. Look for audio mixers that let you put more than one effect at the time of output channeling. Analog mixers allow only one effect at a time, but digital ones offer multiple effects.
This parameter is more important when you are using audio mixers for recording purposes. The bus is a path where routes more than one audio signal to a destined group. This will help make adjustments of different audio from different channels at the same time simply by going to the bus channel or knob. So making your audio mixer gives you the liberty to bus more than one audio signal at the same moment
IO stands for Input/Output on an audio mixer. The number of I/O depends upon the use. If you want to use these for live song mixing you will need a mixer that has enough inputs to handle all the devices it’s connected to including a microphone. This also depends on the type of speakers you intend to use. So based on that the mixer will provide I/O calculations and then you can effectively control input signals, monitor the speaker, and other instruments.
So, these were the tips I had for you to choose the best audio mixer for all applications. Remember all my tips and you would be pleased with your audio mixer purchase.
Hi music fan! I am Jeff. Hope that you enjoy some stuff I shared here in my personal blog.
About myself, Currently I am in charging as Artist Manager/Music Supervisor at 72 Music Management. I did managed album to Grammy Award in 2017 with 7 Nominations from 2014-2020 and had the opportunities to work with : A.J. Croce, Blind Boys of Alabama, Bobby Rush, Dom Flemons, Dustbowl Revival, Sarah Grace
Governor of the Memphis Chapter of The Recording Academy is one of a award that I am lucky to achieved.