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How to use Mixers?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by alstonblues, Jul 19, 2009.

  1. alstonblues

    alstonblues Guest

    Hello everyone alstonblues here with another post...

    ok so i am about to buy a mixer for my computer recording but the only problem is...i dont know how to use them....

    I know that you're supposed to plug you instrument or mic into the female mic holes....but how do i connect the mixer to the computer...

    Matter of fact can someone just explain the whole process

    For example lets say i was using a behringer style mixer...whats the process i would take to record?

    thanks u guys r awesome
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    First, pour gasoline on the Behringer. Second, light match. Third, break out the graham crackers and chocolate and marshmallows.

    Now, to record onto a computer you will need an interface of some sort. If you buy a Beh#$@% mixer with the USB connection don't worry, see above paragraph.

    Mic goes into interface preamp via XLR. Interface goes into computer via firewire or usb. Tracking is occuring in the DAW of your choice on the computer. Mix to taste.

    Your halfway decent interfaces will include some sort of "light" version of DAW software with them. However, nearly all of them will work with just about any DAW. Do not buy the first cheapest interface you find. You'll just regret it.

    Now. There have been a metric butload of newbie questions lately that are not in the correct forum. All of these beginner sorts of things really belong down the main page into the proper location.

    Keep posting away though. Click on the "Books to Read" link on every post and think about going over to Amazon and picking some things up. Forums are great for some things but nothing beats actually studying the material.
  3. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    I'll have to agree. We usually steer people away from buying cheap gear because it won't bring out the subtle nuances in what you are recording, or make it sound pleasant, what have you. Using anything by Behringer I'd go as far as to say that it is actually harming your tone in a very active way. Pair this with the fact that you don't need a mixer, and you are just wasting your money. I'm with Jack on this one, you need an interface, something that will truly prepare your signal to be recorded onto a computer via FireWire. I would never recommend USB to anybody.
  4. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    What's this "we" stuff, GF??? You got a mouse in your pocket?

    alston, there's a lot of value in what John's telling you. READ, READ, READ... Get manuals as well. Not just gear you own or are thinking about buying. Read the manual of anything similar to what you have or are thinking about.

    AFA using a mixer...

    First, you should know what a mixer is. Once you understand that, you can make a better informed decision about whether you want, or need one.

    A mixer is a device that mixes, or blends sounds to produce a cohesive sound of the individual signals it's blending.

    Typically, a mixer, AKA console, consists of several sections. Some console's have more sections, some have less, but here's the "typical" console layout/schema...

    First, an input channel:

    Input Connector Panel - XLR Female connectors and sometimes balanced 1/4" TRS - rarely unbalanced 1/4" TS. (For mic connections and line level connections)
    Insert panel - XLR send/XLR receive OR 1/4" TRS (Tip send, Ring Return)
    Direct Channel Access Panel - Both male and female XLR or balanced 1/4" TRS (These typically feed a multitrack recorder with input and output signals)
    Mic Pre
    EQ section
    Aux Section
    Bus Assignment/routing

    There's all kinds of options and configurations and variations to input channels... including EQ engage, Phantom, AFL/PFL, LP and HP filters, Monitoring assignment, dual channels, aux invert, and lastly compressors and gates. These kinds of the last two options are usually found on higher end professional consoles.

    Next is what is called a Master Section. The Master section consists of all kinds of different things. But they all have a common layout at the core, and that is the output assignment, a stereo fader or a pair of mono faders (L&R). The master section also has an associated plug bay... XLR male(s), Insert points (XLR or TRS like an input channel) and optionally, extra outputs that can be XLR and/or TRS.

    Usually the master section has Aux sends and/or Aux returns. You will also find that there are extra fader banks on a typical console. These are called sub group faders. You route signals from the input channel to the main stereo bus, (often referred to as the "2-bus", or just "the 2") and/or these subgroups. Usually, you assign these subgroups to the 2-bus.

    Subgroups also often have direct outs and inserts.

    Master sections can also have one or two types of automation; Mute group, VCA and fader. There's a coupla pages worth of typing to do on these... you need to dig into that for yourself.

    There's literally way too much and far too many options to get into after this. Each manufacturer has their own philosophy of how and what to put in a console... Things like talkback, pan and fader automation, pink and white noise, marker and alignment tones, I/O routing, midi, aux assignment, AFL, PFL, and a whole host of other bells and whistles.

    Lets start off by plugging in a mic.
    You adjust the level of signal by adjusting the knob associated with the mic pre to get a nominal signal.
    Lets assign the mic to the two bus and bring up the fader on the channel strip and the 2...
    You adjust the tone of the signal with the EQ.
    The signal needs to be recorded, so a recorder's input is attached to the direct out on the console.
    We can optionally listen to what is being fed to the recorder, by bringing the signal back from the recorder to the direct in on the console, if it is so configured.

    In newer (usually inexpensive) console's, there are A/D converters that are built in that will convert the analog mic signal to digital format, to send it to a digital recording device via firewire or USB. So this option is also out there.

    My brain is achin' a bit trying to get this in simple format... I'll have to come back to it later when I got time.

    Until then, try to visit some console manufacturer's who make decent console's and look at their manuals and brochures... API, SSL, Midas, Soundcraft, and Allen and Heath are a few I'd recommend.
  5. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    "What's this "we" stuff, GF??? You got a mouse in your pocket?" Madmax
    The royal "we" or maybe he is a collective like the Borg.
    Great job describing a very complicated subject. I'm going to offer an even more simplified, very simplified explanation. Most mixers are like trainyards where we have let's say 16 sets of tracks (inputs) and the ability to switch train cars between them in various ways, and either two or four main tracks exiting the yard (outputs). We can assign the trains to whatever track we want as they leave. The most common use for most budget mixers is probably PA systems where there might be only the need for two mixes, one for monitoring on stage and the other for the audience.
    The vast majority of these are analog, like your guitar amp or whatever. Your computer can not process this type of signal requiring digital input hence the need for A/D (Analog/Digital) converters to your DAW.
    Most interfaces are straight through, meaning each channel has its own preamp and converter so individual tracks are sent to computer. These can then be assigned to whatever track you want in the DAW. The signals are usually sent by either USB (recommended for two channels or less) or by firewire.
    You should establish some sort of budget, outline your needs for this piece of equipment so you can get some help in pointing you in the right direction. Jack is also correct these type of questions should probably be posted in the newbie section.
  6. alstonblues

    alstonblues Guest

    wow madmax great explanation
    and jg49 great explanation also (although im not retarded) haha
    so u guys would definetly go with the interface over the mixer?
  7. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    ooof... it depends.

    How much money you got?
    How much of a ludite are ya?
    How much money you got?
    How much space you got?
    How much money you got?
    Do you like a console?
    How much money you got?
    What kind of medium are you tracking to?
    How much money you got?
    How many tracks are you working with?
    How much money you got?
    What kind of studio are you running?
    How much money you got?

    Oh... btw, did I ask... How much money you got?
  8. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    I did not think you were retarded, there are all levels of people who view these questions some with very little knowledge of equipment, others with more. There seems to be a great deal of newbie misunderstanding in thinking that a mixer is essential to the digital recording process. It is not, it can be utilized in a recording chain and there are mixers with digital converters,either multi channel or stereo. The reason I suggested you outline your needs is that if you needed a mixer for live sound and also for recording you might be better off with something like the Mackie Onyx, but if this strictly for recording the same amount of $ will probably buy you a better quality interface only unit. Do you have a budget and intended use?
  9. alstonblues

    alstonblues Guest

    oh trust me dude...i can take criticism...i take everything that u guys say into consideration...

    well about the budget...i'm 16...i dont have a job....low income hahaha....so yea im working with a very low budget...but i still try to get products that are in my price range but have good quality....

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