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What Are the Functions of a Mixing Console?

Wikimedia Commons

Audio mixing consoles are the brains behind all forms of live and recorded music, spoken word recording and broadcast media. Like most forms of electronic technology, mixing consoles have improved exponentially from their simple analog beginnings. However, the basic function of a mixing console--the simultaneous gathering and distribution of multiple audio signals--remains the same.

Mixing Cosole Components

Aside from fairly obvious components (AC/DC power, mixer housing and lighting) a mixing console generally consists of channel input strips, master control strips, sound effects strips and audio level metering strips.

Channel Input Strips

Channel input strips are the entry point to the mixing console for live and recorded sound. Through electronic audio pickup by either microphone or direct line input, audio signals may be manipulated for either live play-through or recorded playback of source inputs introduced to the mixing console.

Master Controls Strips

Master control strips take individual audio input signals and group them together for higher manipulation. Iindividual channel input signals are massed together for fuller, more dynamic audio output.

Sound Effects Strips

Sound effects may be added to the input audio signal for altering either the live play-through or recorded playback of the audio program. Popular effects include distortion, reverb, echo and delay. A common practice for audio mixing engineers is to record input signals "dry," then add "wet" effects (also known as FX) for playback or play-through.

Audio Level Metering Strips

Audio level metering strips harness the raw audio signal and prevent unintended over-distortion by manipulation of fine tuning controls. These controls govern decibel levels, regulate dynamic range, control volume (or gain) and set the output signal levels.

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