Your Guide to Buying Audio Mixers for Professional Use

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Your Guide to Buying Audio Mixers for Professional Use

An audio mixer is used by professionals in music production applications. Mixers are most commonly used in public address systems, concerts, radio, musical production, and sometimes as a musical instrument. Audio mixers come as easy to use analogue audio mixers or highly sophisticated digital audio mixers. Accordingly, mixers vary greatly in price depending on which model a buyer is interested in. Through online merchants such as eBay, music professionals and entry-level users alike can find the ideal audio mixer for their needs.

When purchasing an audio mixer, buyers must first identify their need for the product. Once the buyer has narrowly defined how they intend to use the product, they are better equipped to begin shopping for one. Price, intended use, features, and size are all significant factors. Mixers also often require additional hardware such as cords, amplifiers and speakers for optimum performance. Buyers should carefully compare and contrast many different audio mixers before deciding on a final purchase.

Basic Structure of Audio Mixers

Audio mixers have a basic structure. The three main sections are the channel inputs, the master controls, and audio level metering. Each of these sections vary greatly in size depending on the model a buyer chooses. Users should heavily consider their need for portability as larger audio mixers can be extremely heavy. Parts can be bought separately or together.

Channel Inputs

Channel inputs are commonly seen in rows of identical inputs known as banks. The controls that affect the input sounds are usually knobs that the operator can turn up or down accordingly. The knobs typically control things like equalisation and fading. Another critical knob is the volume, especially in live applications. The operator can increase the volume of certain streams of input to highlight specific sounds or instruments.

Master Controls

Master controls for different sets of channel inputs are generally found together on the right hand of the mixer. The master controls can sometimes be found in the centre of larger audio mixer arrangements so that it is reachable by the operator. The master controls are the centre of activity when used in live performances. They not only control the output of sound through the speakers, they are also be used as a command centre by facilitating communication. Master control centres can include talkovers,, which allow the operator to speak directly to artists while they perform.

Peak Meters

Finally, audio mixers include at least one peak meter that tracks the level of each individual channel. That peak meter assists the operator in determining if the sound is at its optimum level when being played as an output. Professionals can use the decibel readings on the meters to accurately position all of the mixer's controls. Professional users of audio mixers should be familiar with most of these parts but they are still important to consider.

Types of Audio Mixers

Two types of audio mixers exist, including analogue audio mixers and digital audio mixers.. Digital mixers are often more versatile and offer more advanced technology such as reverb, compression, gating, delay, and feedback. On the other hand, analogue mixers are more simplistic and easy to use. Using only one knob per function can be reassuring to users because it allows for quicker adjustments to changing conditions. Both are capable of the same basic qualities, thus a buyer's preference for certain additional features should guide the purchasing decision.

Analogue Audio Mixers

Analogue audio mixers put the user in greater control of the music transmitting through it due to individual banks for each layer. These individual banks allow for straightforward operation but sacrifice space. A significant point of distinguishment for digital mixers is that they often compress the banks into a much smaller space. Analogue users often claim this is confusing because it requires them to manipulate additional controls in order to cycle through the different layers of sound.

Analogue audio mixers also make hardware routing simpler. The individual banks make it easy to see where each cord is connected. Buyers should keep in mind, however, that each bank should also require its own individual cord. Analogue mixers do not have the advanced capabilities of its digital counterpart. Finally, analogue mixers do not suffer from the same amount of delay that is always present in digital mixers.

Digital Audio Mixers

Digital audio mixers are small and sophisticated. They allow music professionals to add additional effects to music, produce well-balanced stereo sound, and provide an external power source to other electronics the mixer is connected to. More sophisticated digital mixers can be interfaced with computers, which can then be used to create an extremely polished production sound. Users can also record and access saved data on some digital mixers. This allows music professionals to mix different recordings together from sounds or music they had previously created.

The main drawback of digital mixers besides complexity is known as propagation delay. Depending on the model and what functions are being used, this delay can range from negligible to significant. It is more noticeable to music professionals listening to their digital audio mixer in real time through headphones. The sound is delayed and sounds disorienting, unpleasant, and off-beat. Fortunately, some digital audio mixers employ latency correction technology which prevents the delay.

Uses of Audio Mixers

Audio mixers are the tools of many different professionals. They are of the utmost importance to musicians and producers. Audio mixers are essential for studio quality recordings and performances by separating the different signals of sound and adjusting them to optimal levels. They also provide a relay station between the sound produced by electric instruments and microphones to the amplifiers and speakers. Audio mixers can also be used as a musical instrument itself by adding a variety of sounds and effects to the musical arrangement.

Other uses of audio mixers include reducing feedback and adding recorded sounds into public address systems and radio broadcasts. One point to note is that the more layers coming through the mixer, the more difficult it becomes to obtain optimal sound quality. Each individual layer must be precisely adjusted or the sound quality can suffer. A professional audio mixer user should know that if the controls can be set accurately, extremely high sound quality is achieved. Audio mixers for professional use have a wide range of applications so buyers should thoroughly consider many different styles and features.

Cost of Audio Mixers

Analogue audio mixers generally cost less than digital audio mixers, however more parts are required. Audio mixers can be very inexpensive, but buyers who are seeking the equipment for a more professional use likely have to pay more for those advanced features. Complex audio mixing systems with advanced technology can be very expensive. Used audio mixers can be a more cost-effective option. Buyers should compare prices and try to determine how cost relates to the different features.

Buying an Audio Mixer on eBay

eBay is a great place to search for new and used audio mixers that are suitable for professional use. It has a broad range of models that offer different features well-suited to different purposes. Buyers can quickly find audio mixers on eBay by beginning with a keyword search such as audio mixer, digital audio mixer, or analogue audio mixer. Shoppers can then refine their search using the easy to navigate categories provided by eBay. This allows shoppers to narrow the results of their keyword search by many different factors including price, features, and model.

Once a buyer has narrowed the search, specific features can be added to the criteria. Shipping can be a concern with such high-end and potentially heavy equipment, so a buyer may be wise to look for local options. eBay has a healthy market for audio mixers and can often provide great deals for savvy buyers. Also available on eBay are the necessary parts and accessories. It makes good sense to try and purchase the necessary parts at once to quickly allow users to recognise the full potential of their audio mixer.

Conclusion

Audio mixers are a primary tool of music professionals. They act as the brain centre of any electronic music arrangement by balancing sounds, meshing them together, and controlling the output of sound from one centralised location. A required piece of equipment for DJ's, producers, musicians, and sound technicians, audio mixers have also been used as a stand alone instrument. Some buyers prefer the simplicity of analogue audio mixers while others emphasise the advanced capability a digital audio mixer can offer. Using audio mixers has become standard for any type of musical production other than an acoustic performance.

Buyers should carefully weigh their options when deciding on an audio mixer. They should be comfortable with the equipment, so a more straightforward analogue audio mixer may be a good choice. Some very advanced music professionals prefer analogue audio mixers because it allows the operator to exercise greater control. More adventurous music professionals looking to do more than just produce great sound likely favour digital audio mixers and their vast array of features. Whether it is vocals, instruments, live, or in a studio, an audio mixer operated by a professional can greatly improve the quality of any musical instrument.

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