How to Choose a Professional Level Audio Mixer

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If you are deciding which audio mixer to buy, your head could be spinning at the number of options available to you. Getting your first professional audio mixer is a good thing, but having to choose one that has all the features you currently need and the ones you might need tomorrow is a hard thing to do.

Firstly, you will need to think about how you are going to use your new audio mixer. If you only make one sort of video or music, then this will definitely steer you in a certain direction. If you are using it to capture gigs or concerts, then you will need any audio inputs. On the other hand, if you are wanting to record voice for radio, you will only need several mic inputs. If you are using the mixer as part of a video editing suite, it could be used for voice-overs or adding sound effects. You will definitely need a mixer that has stereo inputs that can be controlled by a fader between the left and right channels. These can be used recording for a variety of sound sources.

The outputs on a mixer are also important. Some mixers are only designed for microphone output, whilst others give you a better line-out connection, which is best for recording. You should look for a mixer that has as many different kinds of outputs as possible and has levels that can be applied to each one.

Now that you have got the sound feed going to the mixer, what can you do with it? Many mixers offer the options to increase gain and volumes of the mic and line inputs. The gain will allow you to ensure that the different feeds are being recorded at the same level, so there will not be a mismatch in recording volumes. Try to buy a mixer that has an audio level gauge, so you can see if you are overloading the channels and distorting the sounds. Some mixers come with a button on each input that allows you to monitor just that channel on a pair of headphones or speaker. These are called cue or solo buttons and are great for checking the quality of each track. You may also find an EQ or small mixer function that allows you to shape the sound in the mixer. These are useful, but if you have good quality microphones, they are not always required.

Some larger mixers have sliders to control the volume levels of each track and output. The smaller versions will most likely have knobs instead, but there is no difference in the way that they work. You will also need to think if you will use your mixer away from a studio. If you are, then look for a model that has the capability to run on batteries. These can be good for PA or outdoor broadcast recordings.

If you are venturing outside, think about how big and heavy the mixer will be if you have to carry it. This includes taking it on transport too, such as in vans or on aeroplanes. You might also want to think about how large the buttons and controls are and if they feel comfortable to use. Try to get a hands on with your mixer before you buy it as the distance between the knobs and buttons can make difficulties if you have large hands.

When you first look at the different mixers on sale, the different options will most likely give you a headache. Once you know what kind of mixers you might need, what size, which connections and on-board options you might want, you can narrow down the selection quite easily. Read the website of the manufacturer, try to get some reputable reviews from magazines or from people who use them and seek advice from people you know. Some mixers will have all of the documentation available to download from their website, which is perfect for reading to find out what the mixer can and cannot do.

The author of this article has been writing about audio products for several years, including running a website all about digital mixer reviews.

If you are interested in buying a digital mixer, make sure you seek advice from people you know, read reviews and get as much information as possible before you buy.

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