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Mix a Kind of Magic

The most important step from the instrument to the recording software is the mixing board. This particular part of recording is one that allows you to put everything together the correct way, before you have to manipulate it in the computer software. If you want to make sure that you are putting together everything right, you will also want to know exactly how the mixing board can benefit you.


A mixing board is also referred to as a sound board and is responsible for taking the instruments and mixing and routing them into the computer. As soon as an instrument is plugged into a mixer, it will then turn into a digital signal, which creates sound waves.


A mixer works by allowing each instrument being recorded to have one area in which the signal is received. These individual instruments can be changed with volume levels, depth of the sound and other features through the mixing board. For example, if you are playing with a piano and a bass, they can both have a different input area in the mixer. One can be louder and the other can be softer, with the bass having less treble, or high end sound, with the piano balancing out with more mid-range sounds. It is these volume levels that then move into the software and allow for the sound waves to be recorded with a specific balance.



Each mixing board comes with a set of number of channels. Each of these channels will allow for one instrument to be placed within the mixing board. You may have heard of concepts like the '24 mixer' or '36 mixer'. The numbers that are being referred to are the channels used, each one allowing for an instrument to be in it's place. Before you get a mixing board, you will want to think of how many channels you will need at one time, dependent on how many instruments you want or need to record at once.


Different uses for different environments. There are different innovations that are used for different areas of mixing. Because a sound board has to be able to adapt to both the software for recording and for the mix of instruments, different types of mixers will be available. Some of these will be focused on performance mixing while others will be strictly for the studio. You can determine which is being used according to the level control features and the way in which the sound board is built.


Analog or Digital. Technology innovations with mixers are constantly re-defining the best and latest types of mixers to use within recording. This has quickly made a transition from analog to digital mixers. Analog mixers are defined by wired controls that mix in changes and live sounds. Digital mixers; however, will use a digital interface in between. Typically, the mixing difference can be heard in the sound as well as the options for mixing. Because digital is using later technology, it is now moving into innovations such as audio streams, all in one editing options and more possibilities for controlling volume and input of the sound being used.



When defining the different parts of the mixer, there is also the ability to combine different types of volumes, depending on the knobs that are being used for the right mix. These are known as input controls, and contain everything that allows for the specific sound of the instrument. This starts with defining the volume through this one instrument. There is also a trim or gain control, which defines the level of sound within each wave.


From here, the mixing board will allow for details of the sound waves to be defined through an EQ, which means equalization. The main responsibility of this part of the mixing board is to change the frequencies within each range. For example, if the EQ of the bass is too high, the higher frequencies can be boosted in order to balance out both ranges. The EQ frequencies can be referred to with some general preferences that work within instrumentation as well as personal preference to allow the sound to be as low or high as you want.


When the instrumentation is received into the mixer and begins to be balanced, other options can also be put into the mix. For example, the amplitude of the sounds can be defined through specific parts of the board. There are also noise gates, which stops the sound from echoing before it goes into the recording area, or allows for some resonance to be in the mix. There is also the ability with some mixers to compress the instruments, meaning that the sound waves will be shortened if they reach or go over a certain peak number, allowing you to keep control of the volume before it gets into the computer program as a sound wave.


After all of these options for individual instruments, the mixing board will then move into mixing the physical space. Main volume areas as well as controls for outputs are used in order to ensure that everything is balanced while recording and remains equal in sound to those who are listening while recording. Like the instrumentation that is moving into the software as sound waves, these areas have a variety of options for making the sound balance within the studio.



The idea with a mixing board is to make the right mix for both the internal software so that the sound files can sound the same, as well as the external area, so that all of the instruments can blend together while recording. The different devices that are used within the mixing board help to achieve this through the different options for volume control and mixing options.


When you are looking into a sound board, you should always consider the options for getting the mix right, including the number of instruments that you can hook up to the different functions that the mixing board contains. When you start to put together the recording with the right mix board, you will have a better blend of sounds and will allow the end result of the recording to mix together exactly right.

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