What are the Different Types of Audio Mixers?

Media Entertainment Tech Outlook | Friday, November 26, 2021

Summary: Mixers are useful tools for recording and mixing audio for film and television, broadcast, and other situations involving numerous audio streams. All mixers perform the same functions and offer a few key features for audio mixing.

Fremont, CA: An audio mixer merges numerous signals and sends them to a common output for recording or amplification through a sound reinforcement system at its most basic level. Sounds collected by microphones or received from electric instruments are referred to as signals.  Mixers, often known as consoles, boards, and desks, range in size from simple desktop devices to large-format giants seen in many professional recording studios. Audio mixers are utilized in a variety of applications, including music creation, live sound, film/television audio, and broadcast.

The types of audio mixers:

An audio mixer can be an all-digital, all-analog, or all-analog plus digital audio interface. Digital boards are very popular in live sound because of their automatic mix recall capabilities and savable mix templates, allowing fast recall of any knob, fader, button, and switch setting. For example, high-level touring bands may request a certain board in their rider or carry their own to each venue. Each night, the band's personal FOH engineer can retrieve a template and make minor mix tweaks to suit the room better. Digital consoles are just as valuable for the studio as they are in the field, because of automated recall.

Fader layering is a feature available on fully digital mixers. A board with only 32 physical faders, for instance, might actually handle 96 total input signals on three tiers. A single fader is in charge of manipulating many input signals in this situation.

Analog mixers with digital audio interfaces accept and process input signals in the analog domain, allowing for direct DAW integration at the output stage. To record, the mixer's direct outputs must be linked to the user's recording equipment on true analog consoles. Similarly, analog mixers lack the seamless automated recall found in completely digital boards; nonetheless, many are "legacy" consoles. While the distinctions between audio mixers and their varied functions may appear daunting at first, understanding how to handle any of them starts with the channel strip. Learning an audio mixer begins with familiarizing yourself with its channel strip.