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The mixer

From: Digital Audio Principles

Video: The mixer

Okay, in this section we're going to take a look at the mixer, and if you seen the other movie in this title about the mixer where we showed the hardware mixer, you'll notice that there's going to be a lot of similarities here. And I'll try and point out some of those similarities and then a few other differences. As we've mentioned, the mixer is essentially traffic control for all the signals moving through your DAW. And it contains channels where the signals flow through these channels. Let me open this window up a little bit more, make sure we have all the channels in the view. So again, remember that a mixture is one channel repeated many times.

The mixer

Okay, in this section we're going to take a look at the mixer, and if you seen the other movie in this title about the mixer where we showed the hardware mixer, you'll notice that there's going to be a lot of similarities here. And I'll try and point out some of those similarities and then a few other differences. As we've mentioned, the mixer is essentially traffic control for all the signals moving through your DAW. And it contains channels where the signals flow through these channels. Let me open this window up a little bit more, make sure we have all the channels in the view. So again, remember that a mixture is one channel repeated many times.

So even though it looks like a lot of gobbledygook and a lot of different buttons and things to pay attention to, once you're thinking about what makes up one channel or one strip, you know what a mixer does. So a digital mixer and digital software works really pretty similar. We'll send a few tracks here and take a look at what's going on. Let's un-mute that, okay. (music playing) So we've got the meters. Again it's good to think of the mixer in three sections: the Input section, the Channel Strip section and then the Master section.

So let's take a minute and look at the Input section a little bit. So in our digital mixer we can click and decide what inputs from our A-to-D or digital audio interface we want to use for the sound input for recording. We can also pick things like bus, which is a send from another channel, and we can pick things like digital inputs, if we had here would be our SB diff digital in. It's not hooked up right now, but you can pick other inputs. So that's the Input section.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there aren't really pre-amps built into the mixer here, so we can't really adjust the input gain or the volume of the signal here the way we can on a pre-amp. So it's important to get that volume and that signal level with your external devices; in the digital mixer, we're actually just going to decide how much of the signal we get to hear back, while the volume of the signal actually is part of the digital audio file that's on the hard drive. So it's been recorded. This isn't really where we add volume, this is just where we decide how much of the signal we're going to let pass through the different channels.

So that's the Input section. Now, let's take a look at the actual channel strips. So you'll notice that the channel strips here in our software mixer look a little bit different than they did on the external mixer. But there's also some similarities. There's the fader, Mute and Solo buttons, and then a Panning control. Where it's a little bit different is that instead of an EQ section we have plug-ins. So think of this as kind of the plug-in section, and instead of there being EQ there all the time, we can decide, okay, we want an EQ here in the channel strip. So we insert it.

We plug it in. Here's an ICQ, and then we can go through and pick different EQs. So where this is different is that we're not necessarily dealing with fixed equalization and a fixed set of kind of effects or things that we can use to change the tonal character; we can plug in different things into the channel as we need them. And the reason that it was set up this way is because to use these devices takes a lot of processing power. So it's more efficient to just initiate them when you actually need them, as opposed to having them there all the time.

We can also use things like reverb plug-ins, which I've shown in some other movies, and other things like compressors. So that's kind of where the EQ section would have been. But really in our software mixer it's the insert section, or the plug-in section. Now finally, the Master section also exists here, but you'll notice it's not quite as present or as intimidating as it is on other boards, and that's because of a lot of those settings are found in other places. But we can assign each track an output.

Here we have a master fader, which controls overall output of the whole session. So we can bring down all the channels at once. Right now all the channels are feeding into our master fader. But we can go to each channel and pick a different output and send the signal from that channel somewhere else. So that's more or less the mixer. One other really convenient thing you can find in the mixers: you can decide what you want to look at and what you don't want to look at. There's always a nice little thing for comments.

So if I want to type in "SM57 on a snare drum", I can have that as a note, which is nice. I can open it and go back and see what kind of microphone I used on that track. You can also name the track. We'll call this snare. So what's nice about a software mixer is that you can customize it quite a bit. But still, the three main sections and thinking of it in those terms pays off a lot. It's just that those things don't necessarily exist in the same physical layout as they do on a mixer. But still, thinking of it in terms of the three basic sections is the way to go.

The trick is that they don't all necessarily exist in the same physical way that they do on a hardware mixer or an external mixer. In the next movie, we'll take a look at the file list.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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Digital Audio Principles

110 video lessons · 26624 viewers

Dave Schroeder
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 50s
    1. Welcome
      50s
  2. 39m 10s
    1. What is sound?
      4m 15s
    2. Hertz and frequency response
      5m 34s
    3. Phase
      2m 39s
    4. Capturing audio
      3m 39s
    5. Sample rate
      6m 16s
    6. Bit depth
      9m 47s
    7. The waveform
      5m 3s
    8. Audio file formats
      1m 57s
  3. 7m 25s
    1. What is a digital audio workstation?
      2m 59s
    2. Typical DAW signal flow
      4m 26s
  4. 50m 33s
    1. What microphones do
      1m 57s
    2. Element types
      5m 0s
    3. Pickup patterns
      6m 51s
    4. Axis
      2m 52s
    5. Frequency response and the proximity effect
      5m 10s
    6. Phase issues
      1m 41s
    7. Microphone types
      8m 44s
    8. Miking vocals
      5m 39s
    9. Miking amplifiers
      2m 17s
    10. Miking drums
      10m 22s
  5. 16m 39s
    1. Cables and connectors overview
      2m 42s
    2. Balanced and unbalanced cables
      3m 19s
    3. Common cable types
      7m 13s
    4. Cable tips
      3m 25s
  6. 12m 16s
    1. What is an I/O device?
      1m 41s
    2. Analog to digital conversion
      3m 10s
    3. Tour of an audio interface
      4m 49s
    4. Interface considerations
      2m 36s
  7. 21m 5s
    1. What is a preamp?
      3m 21s
    2. Input levels
      5m 29s
    3. Padding
      2m 18s
    4. Phantom power
      2m 37s
    5. Phase reverse
      3m 4s
    6. Preamp demo
      4m 16s
  8. 12m 56s
    1. What is a mixer?
      5m 55s
    2. Input section
      1m 17s
    3. Channel strips
      3m 16s
    4. Master section
      2m 28s
  9. 18m 21s
    1. What is monitoring?
      2m 11s
    2. Speakers
      4m 47s
    3. Room considerations
      5m 43s
    4. Headphone types
      3m 50s
    5. Monitoring levels
      1m 50s
  10. 15m 23s
    1. What role do computers play?
      1m 36s
    2. Performance issues
      4m 11s
    3. Hard drives
      4m 38s
    4. Mechanical noise
      2m 10s
    5. Authorization
      2m 48s
  11. 6m 54s
    1. Planning for recording
      54s
    2. Doing a system check
      1m 26s
    3. Planning your inputs
      1m 42s
    4. The recording environment
      2m 52s
  12. 25m 52s
    1. Types of digital audio software
      38s
    2. Multi-track recorders/sequencers
      4m 56s
    3. Two-track recorders/waveform editors
      4m 55s
    4. Loop-based music production software
      5m 44s
    5. Plug-ins
      6m 56s
    6. Other varieties
      2m 43s
  13. 18m 59s
    1. Common components
      46s
    2. The transport
      2m 4s
    3. The toolbar
      3m 19s
    4. The Edit/Arrange window
      4m 42s
    5. The mixer
      5m 8s
    6. The file list
      3m 0s
  14. 19m 17s
    1. Setting up a session
      3m 30s
    2. Assigning inputs and getting signals
      3m 19s
    3. Input modes
      3m 28s
    4. Overdubbing and punching
      5m 14s
    5. Bouncing down
      3m 46s
  15. 19m 42s
    1. What is editing?
      1m 21s
    2. Waveforms
      2m 53s
    3. Making silent cuts and trims
      7m 1s
    4. Fades and automation
      8m 27s
  16. 1h 23m
    1. What are plug-ins?
      3m 0s
    2. Using plug-ins
      6m 11s
    3. EQs
      7m 4s
    4. Dynamics pt. 1: Compressors, limiters, expanders, and gates
      5m 40s
    5. Dynamics pt 2: Applying dynamic effects
      7m 2s
    6. Pitch shifting
      6m 14s
    7. Reverb
      9m 28s
    8. Echo and delay
      6m 23s
    9. Modulation effects: Phaser, flanger, and chorus
      9m 39s
    10. Sound tools pt. 1: About, gain, normalize
      7m 39s
    11. Sound tools pt. 2: Reverse and time compression/expansion
      6m 29s
    12. Sound tools pt. 3: Noise reducers, dither
      8m 11s
  17. 23m 43s
    1. What is MIDI?
      3m 6s
    2. Keyboard controllers
      1m 23s
    3. Computer-based virtual instruments
      1m 6s
    4. Control surfaces
      1m 6s
    5. Recording and editing MIDI
      12m 4s
    6. Virtual instruments
      4m 58s
  18. 27m 29s
    1. What is mixing?
      1m 54s
    2. Some common objectives
      3m 4s
    3. Some useful techniques
      5m 59s
    4. A quick mixing demo
      16m 32s
  19. 18m 48s
    1. What is mastering?
      2m 24s
    2. Sonic maximization
      9m 43s
    3. Final preparations and exporting
      6m 41s
  20. 13m 34s
    1. What is audio compression?
      2m 16s
    2. Popular formats
      2m 9s
    3. Bit rate, sample rate, and channels
      5m 42s
    4. Other adjustments and considerations
      3m 27s
  21. 15m 6s
    1. Essential gear
      7m 36s
    2. Voice recording setups
      1m 43s
    3. The voice production process
      5m 47s
  22. 10m 4s
    1. Analog vs. digital
      2m 48s
    2. Tube vs. solid state
      5m 6s
    3. The continual upgrade
      2m 10s
  23. 18s
    1. Goodbye
      18s

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