Mixing Consoles Explained – Part 2

mixing consoles

Mixing Consoles Explained – Part 2 of 3

In this episode I’m going to take a look at the channel-strip of a mixing console.

The signals on our mixing console run through the channel-strips, the way these are built up is pretty much an universal standard. We’re going to take a look at the channelstrip of a Solid State Logic console to understand all the features we will run into.

Smaller mixers will offer fewer features than a mixing console of this caliber, but still there will be a lot of similarities as we will find out later this season.

Video text:

to really understand the console that we’re going to be working with we need to know a couple of things the first would be to know what type of console that we have then the second would be to look at the master section what type of routing that we have there and then we’re gonna take a look at the channel and once we know one of the channels we basically know all the channels so that’s the majority of the console keep in mind that there are a lot of different mixing consoles out there and a lot of different brands so i’m gonna take you through a complex type of channel strip so the one that you have could be a little bit more simplified or it possibly has fewer functions than the channel strip that i’m going to be showing however the way that a channel strip is divided is almost universally the same on the top we will find the in an output section below that we’ll find the eq section and a dynamic section on really big consoles then we’ll usually find the insert point below that we find the auxiliary section and below that we’ve got the fader section and that’s basically can be seen as our output

0:01:00.6 –>
section and depending on the model we’ve got a routing section on the top or on the bottom of the channel strip like i said earlier we can visualize the signal flow through a channel strip going from top to bottom normally on the top we will find the in an output module this is where the signals enter the console and it’s brought up to a level at which we can process it usually we’ll find a microphone and a line input there a mic is a really low level signal so it has to be pre-amplified quite a lot the microphone input usually is an xlr type of connection but this can also be a quarter inch jack on some cheaper models normally we’ll find these channels inputs and outputs on the back of the console let’s move to the top of our console and i’m first going to be showing you this solid state logic aws console to start with so let’s just use the first channel strip and go to the top of it where we will find the input section this is where the signal on the channel actually enters the console so we can take care of the levels on this particular console we’ll find a separate

0:02:01. –>
gain control for the microphone as for the line input level then we’ve got a whole range of switches which influence the input signal the plus 48 volts is the so called phantom power so other consoles might call this uh phantom or phantom power or in this case 48 volts turning on the 48 volts allows you to use for example condenser type of microphones below that we’ve got the instrument switch and this allows us to change the input circuitry from the microphone input to the instrument input the path switch allows us to attenuate the input signal 20 db this can also be referred to as a minus 20 db or minus 10 db switch and this can be really helpful if we’re recording sounds which are constantly over driving even when our mic input signal is on the lowest below that we’ve got the phase reverse switch and this allows us to 180 degree offset or invert our input signal the flip switch switches between the line and the microphone input on the consoles which

0:03:01. –>
allows us to work with the channel fader during mixing going down in the channel strip we’ll find the high pass filter which allows us to remove that very low end of a signal on this solid state logic console we then find a four band equalizer with the two parametric eqs and it even offers two different types of eq circuitry let’s take you through this middle section right here in this small section in the center of our eq that’s where we find our insert as well on an insert point the signal actually leaves the console to be processed and over a insert return slot we will receive that signal back this allows us to insert any type of processor onto our signal so we could for example just insert the compressor onto one channel the physical in and outputs for the insert point are normally found on the back of the console on this particular model we find a insert send and a insert return port on some other models you might find one port which you have to connect a y cable to for the send and the return it doesn’t mean that we’re

0:04:01.5 –>
just limited to one processor when we’re inserting something into a channel because we can route the output of the first processor into the input of the second one and that output might go back into the insert return below the eq and the insert section we’ll find the auxiliary section on this particular model we actually got a separate cue send which is a dedicated headphone mix so we don’t have to use a so called effect send as they call it on this board but normally this is referred to as a aux scent an auxiliary send can be either pre or post and this means that it can be sent either pre-fader or post fader normally this is indicated with a pre-switch if that’s not pressed it means that it’s a post fader send auxiliary sends are used a lot to send a portion of the signal to an effects processor for example a reverb unit so instead of using a reverb effect as an insert we use that as a send effect that means we can send every channel on the board to that reverb unit when we have

0:05:00.8 –>
that connected to auxiliary one so then the output of auxiliary one goes into our reverb unit but then the output of the reverb unit needs to go back into our console and that can either be maybe on a separate channel that we still have open or maybe onto a group return if we have those on the console from there on we can send the reverb onto the mixbus and we have the reverb into the mix we’ve actually got four different auxiliary buses running through the console but we can only select two per channel we can select if we either want one or three or two or four to be the auxiliary sent for that particular channel in a lot of next tutorials i will be running into auxiliaries and inserts quite a lot below that we’ll usually find the fader section and it’s got a lot more stuff going on than just a fader depending on the model of the console we will now run into two groups of faders the input fader and the tape return fader for budget and space reasons you will usually find that the upper row of faders is not an actual fader but is being controlled with a knob and this obviously saves a lot of

0:06:00.5 –>
space the flip switch as we’ve seen on the top of the console will actually allow us to flip these two channels so then during mix down we can actually have the lower faders controlling the tape return in the fader section we’ll also find the pen knob we should visualize the master bus as two horizontal lines running through the mixing console the left channel is connected to the left speaker and the right channel is connected to the right speaker so when we have signals panned into the center it means we’re sending it just as loud to the left side of the bus as to the right side of the bus so when we pan a little bit to the left we decrease the level one to the right bus so when we listen to that back over speakers we feel that the sound is coming a little bit more from the left in this fader section we’ll also find a mute knob and this completely takes off this channel from the mix bus so we remove it completely from the mix so it’s muted besides that we’ll usually find a solo knob depending on the console and its complexity there’s a couple of types of solo that we can run into the solo in place or the

0:07:00.3 –>
sip actually mutes all the other channels which means it actually cuts them from the stereo buss as well so it’s a destructive type of solo which will well basically ruin our stereo mix the advantage of a solo in place is that we get a really good representation of the exact sound the way that it is in the mix the disadvantage of a solo in place would be during a live recording or during the recording of our master when we press the solo button it means we actually remove all the other instruments from the mix while playing or whilst recording the pre-fader listening is a type of solo which uses a separate monobus with its own monitor level this solo is actually taken before the fader so that means that the fader position does not affect the level of the solo the third type of solo would be the after fader listening it also feeds its own solo bus and therefore it is non-destructive but this is after the fader so we can judge the level the way that it’s placed in the mix and then we’ve got the routing section here we can select which bus that we want to send the output which is after the fader

0:08:00.3 –>
one of these would of course be the main bus or the mix bus and this allows us to send the output of this channel after the fader and the panning to the mix on some other consoles you might find group tracks here as well so we can take the output and route that to a group on this particular ssl console the group selection is actually on top of the console but on many other consoles you will find this next to the fader like i said once we know one channel we basically know all the channels so now we know around the 80 of the board in the third part of this tutorial i’m going to take a look at the master section on the consoles and i’m going to take a look at how we can route some group tracks you can check out the third part right here

Guest Engineer Interviews

FOH Engineer Garry Brown (Phish, Trey Anastasio Band, Oysterhead)

Behind the Live Sound of Coldplay with Daniel Green

Red Hot Chili Peppers Sound Engineer – Dave Rat 2016 Set up

Antony King – Front of House Engineer for Depeche Mode

Gavin Tempany – FOH Tame Impala, Mark Knopfler, Hans Zimmer, Kylie and Eskimo Joe

Analogue vs Digital, How to ‘Hear’ when Mixing with Andrew Scheps

Matthew Walsh FOH Audio Engineer War on Drugs

Bob Strakele Interview – FOH Audio Engineer Slipknot

Marc Carolan FOH Live Audio Engineer – Muse

Rival Sons FOH Audio Mix Engineer Neil McDonald