AUDIO MIXER TUTORIAL | How to Use Any Mixer or Console for Live Sound & Studio Recording

audio mixer

In this video from Audio University, we show you how to use any mixer or console for live sound or studio recording. Perfect for a beginner audio engineer or someone wanting to expand their knowledge of the audio process.

The video covers inputs, outputs, channel strips, master faders, inserts, direct outs, phantom power, solo, pfl, mute, preamp gain, pad, HPF, EQ, aux sends, panning and more.

Video Text:

In this video, you’ll learn how  to use an audio mixing console.   There are a few basic principles that apply to  every mixer on the market. If you learn those   basic principles you’ll feel comfortable walking  up to any analog mixer that you’ll encounter.   I’ve divided this video into sections  to make it easier to understand   and to make it easier for you to find the specific  topic you’re looking for you can find links to   each section of the video in the description  below. But if you’re new to this channel,   my name is Kyle. You can learn audio production  online by checking out the weekly videos I post   to the Audio University YouTube channel. For more  information check out

First, let’s take a look at the different  sections of a mixer by dividing the mixer   into sections. You’ll realize that it’s  not nearly as complicated as it looks. Either on the top or the rear panel of the  console, you’ll find the inputs and outputs.   This is where you connect input devices such as  microphones and output devices such as speakers.   On the left portion of the console,  you’ll find a bank of channel strips.   Each vertical column of knobs, buttons, and  faders represents an individual input channel.   That set of controls simply repeats  itself again and again for each input.   You can see that this console has ten mono  channel strips and two stereo channel strips. On the right part of the console, you’ll find  the master sections. This gives us basic control   over each of our outputs – master fader, group  faders, aux master knobs, and matrix master knobs.

The first step in a basic setup is to connect the  main outputs to the main speakers or pa system.   To do this, I’ll connect the left and right output  of the mixer to the inputs of my main amplifier.   The level of these outputs is  controlled by the master fader,   usually found in the bottom  right hand corner of the mixer. In this case I’m also going to use auxiliary  output 1 and 2 to feed some powered stage   monitors so that the musicians on stage can hear  themselves play. The level of each aux output is   controlled by the aux master knob, found in this  section. Now that we’ve set up the destinations,   let’s plug in some audio sources so that we have  audio signals to send to those destinations. This mixer has 10 channels that accept line  level or microphone level signals.

I’ll plug in a   dynamic microphone for vocals into channel 1 with  an XLR cable and a condenser microphone for guitar   into channel 2 with an XLR cable. I could  also connect a line level device, such as a   drum sequencer into one of these channels using a  quarter inch TRS or TS cable. If you want to apply   the same processing to a pair of signals, such  as a left and right channel of background music,   you can use one of the four stereo line inputs  found on this mixer. I’ll connect my smartphone   to one of these stereo channels with a 3.5  millimeter to dual quarter inch TS adapter. Your mixer may have insert jacks on some channels.   An insert gives you a way to insert an outboard  piece of gear into the signal chain. To use this,   you’ll need an insert cable. It’s a TRS  quarter-inch on one end that goes to the mixer.  

The mixer sends the signal out one of  the TS connectors on the insert cable   that goes to the outboard piece of gear.  The outboard gear processes the signal and   sends it out through the other TS connector,  which returns the signal to the channel strip. The signals that come out of the direct outs  won’t be affected by the adjustments you make   on the mixer. That makes it great for sending  to an outboard multi-track recording device   so that you can mix those tracks later and the   recorded tracks aren’t affected by  what you’re doing for the live show. Let’s go through a channel strip  from top to bottom to see what   type of control this mixer offers  us on each individual input signal.  

At the top of each channel strip you may see  a phantom power switch. Some microphones,   such as condenser mics, require external power to  function. The microphone I’ve plugged into channel   1 is a dynamic microphone which doesn’t require  phantom power. However, the microphone plugged   into channel 2 is a condenser microphone, so I’ll  engage the phantom power switch on channel 2.   On some consoles there is only a single switch  that controls phantom power on all channels. At the bottom of each channel strip you’ll  find a fader and some basic routing buttons.  

I want all of the input signals to be routed to  the main speakers. To do that, I’ll engage the L-R   button on all of the input channels. Let’s double  check that the master fader is at unity so that   the signals sent to the fader are passed through  to the main outputs. Remember – the master fader   controls the output level of the main outputs.  Each input channel strip has a fader, too.   These faders determine the level of  the signal sent to the master fader.   It’s best to start with faders at unity. When a  fader is set to unity it won’t boost or cut the   signal. It just lets the signal pass through.  The fader also operates on a logarithmic scale,   which means that the same movement of the fader  would be a small adjustment around the 0dB mark   and a much bigger adjustment the  further you get from the 0dB mark.   Working around 0 dB gives you the  finest control over the signal level. If you’d like to listen to a specific input  through headphones, you can connect your   headphones to the console and use the solo  or PFL button on that specific input channel.  

PFL stands for pre fader listen, so pressing  that button will allow you to listen to that   input regardless of the position of the fader. And finally, the mute button will  stop all audio on a specific input. Once you’ve routed your input channel  to the main speakers or the headphones,   the first thing you should  adjust is the preamp gain.   This knob determines the input level of the  audio source. I recommend adjusting the preamp   gain according to how loud that input needs to be  in the final mix while keeping the input faders   and the master fader set to unity. As you adjust  the knob you should start to hear the signal   through the speakers and see your meters jump.  If the speakers are way too loud, I’d recommend   fixing that by turning down the amplifier rather  than fixing it by adjusting the master fader. The pad switch will allow you to  attenuate an input by 10 or 20 dB,   depending on which console you’re using.  This is helpful when recording really loud   instruments such as a snare drum  or very sensitive microphones. This mixer has a high pass filter  marked with the letters HPF.  

A high pass filter will reduce all frequencies  below a certain point. To learn more about high   pass filters, watch this video I made all  about how they work and how to use them. The equalizer section of this channel strip  gives me four bands of EQ – high, high-mid,   low-mid, and low. First I need to engage the  equalizer section by pressing the EQ In button.   The high frequency and low frequency EQs on this  mixer have a fixed frequency band. Turning the   knob clockwise will boost that frequency band  and turning the knob counterclockwise will   reduce that frequency band. The high-mid band  and low-mid bands on this EQ give me the option   to select the frequency band. I can choose the  frequency bands I want to adjust with the green   Frequency knob and determine how much to boost or  cut those frequency bands with the blue Gain knob. In the first section of this video,  I set up auxiliary outputs 1 and 2   to feed powered speakers on stage  for the musicians to hear themselves.   By using the aux sends on each input, I can  determine how much of each source is routed   to those on-stage monitors. Let’s first double  check that the aux master knobs are set to unity.  

The vocalist’s stage monitor is connected to  aux output 1. I’ll send the vocalist a bit of   vocal microphone and a bit of guitar microphone.  The guitarist’s stage monitor is connected to   aux output 2. Let’s send the guitarist some of  the vocal microphone. The Pre and Post buttons   determine if the signal will be affected by the  channel faders. Pre means pre-fader and it won’t   be affected by the fader. Post means post-fader  and it will be affected by the fader position. If you have two main speakers – a left  speaker and a right speaker – the pan   knob lets you create a stereo image  between those two speakers.

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