Introduction to consoles

In our last session, we learned about different type of cables, their functions, effects on sound & types of connectors. Moving ahead, today we will discuss another critical gear of sound and music industry- mixing consoles. Even as a beginner, if you hold an interest in mixing and sound production, you must have heard about the importance of mixing consoles. They are termed as the most critical gear for sound mixing, both operationally as well as visually.

There is a variety of mixing consoles available in the market and with the encroachment of technology, new features are released every second day making the equipment more efficient and result oriented. However, the secret of a perfect mix lies with the proficient use of a mixing console for which, one should understand consoles to the best. In this session, you will learn ‘about consoles’ & different types of controls it has.

What is a Mixing Console?

“Technically, a mixing console is an electronic device used in sound recording and reproduction industry for combining & routing sounds, managing volume levels, administer timbre & other dynamics of different sound signals in a mix.”

Mixing consoles have many applications including recording studios, sound reinforcement systems, disc jockeying, film post-production and more. Though they are termed as mixing consoles, they do much more than just mixing. They offer a number of functions like pan control, filtering, equalizing and provide phantom power for microphone’s capacitor. Some advanced mixers come with electronic effects like reverb or might have an integrated power amplifier.

Mixing Console; Structure

Mixing consoles might appear very complicated at first, but contrary to their appearance they are easy to learn and operate. The numerous rows of switches, knobs, buttons, and dials might confuse a beginner but once you start using them, you’ll get to know that it is nothing but same function repeated over and over again.

These inputs are technically termed as “channels” and depending on the type of mixer you choose, the number and position of these channels changes.

Let us discuss the types of channels on a Mixing Console:

  • Input (XLR/Line-In) :

This is where you introduce the input signal to the mixer. You can place the functional end of your XLR Cables or ¼” Instrument cables to the input of the channel.

  • Gain Control:

Gain control dials help you boost the mic-level signal to a line-level signal. You will only get a gain dial when you buy a console that has channels with preamps. It helps in defining the input into the channel.

  • Auxiliary Sends:

Also known as “aux send” or “effects” the Auxiliary Send dials to intake the incoming signal and send them through to another destination and not to the mix. This function comes handy when you are using outboard effect racks or want to use foldback for setting up monitor mixes. You can easily alter the original sound and re-introduce it later.

  • Equalizer controls:

You can use this control to cut or boost the frequency of an input and produce an output with different tones.

  • Panning Control:

This knob decides whether the audio signal is to the left or to the right of the stereo field.

  • Faders:

Here you can control the overall volume of an audio signal.

So, this was the basic introduction to mixing consoles. In our next session, we would learn more about mixing consoles and its usage.


Also Read: Audio Cables – Basics and Introduction 

                       Types of Microphones

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Different Functions of Audio Cables & How They Affect the Sound Quality


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