Best Budget Audio Mixer:
There are many different types of audio mixers available at the market. Some of them have been around for quite some time while others are brand new products. There are several factors which determine whether or not one product will work well with another. These include the type of signal it receives, its processing capabilities, and even how much power it requires to run.
The most popular type of audio mixing equipment is the analog mixer. This means that it converts your music into something audible. For example, if you record vocals onto a cassette tape, then these voices are converted into sound using an analog device such as a microphone or preamp. Analog mixes can be used to create all kinds of sounds including drums, bass lines, and other instruments. They are also commonly used for creating effects like reverb and delay.
Digital audio mixing devices convert digital signals into audible sounds. Digital audio mixers use either a computer or a mobile phone to do their job. Most digital audio mixers come in two basic forms: standalone units that plug directly into computers, or mobile phones that connect via USB cable to PCs. These devices are commonly used for creating music and podcasts.
USB mixers can typically be found at around 16 or 32 channels and are often used for podcasters, YouTubers, and Twitch TV streamers who want to add a little extra polish to their recordings. Compared to other types of mixers, they are quite cost-effective solutions. While most USB mixers work with both PC and Mac, it is always a good idea to make sure before you buy.
One popular brand of USB mixers is the Behringer Xenyx series. These devices are typically priced between $200 and $500 dollars, which makes them cost-effective compared to most other types of mixers.
Best Small Audio Mixer:
The Rane TTM 57 SL is a fantastic audio mixer that has been designed for DJs. It comes equipped with an easy to use layout that has been laid out in a very convenient manner. In addition to this, the controls are very solid and it comes with a rugged construction that ensures durability. This model comes with a replaceable crossfader and it also supports both USB and MIDI connections.
The TTM 57 SL is capable of supporting two independent playback devices and has four decks. In addition to this, it has 3-band EQ controls for all of the channels, a master control section, as well as an effects control section. This mixer is ideal for both pros as well as beginners.
Best Large Audio Mixer:
The Allen & Heath ZED R16 is a very popular device that has been designed for use in large clubs and music venues. It comes bundled with an impressive 32 input channels and a total of eight microphone/line channels. In addition to this, it also has 8 sub-groups, 16 Buses, and an integrated DSP effects engine which comes with an extensive library.
The ZED R16 comes with a built-in Ethernet connection that allows you to connect it directly to your network. This feature allows you to use remote software such as the ZED Remote software programming toolkit which opens up a whole new range of possibilities. One of the best features of the ZED R16 is the ability to update it with future releases from the manufacturer that bring new features and functions.
What is a Splitter?
A splitter is a device that allows you to share a single microphone input with multiple devices such as amplifiers or microphones. These devices are also sometimes referred to as “Y” cables. One example of this would be a drum kit. Instead of having four separate microphone inputs, you can use a splitter to send the signal from the single input on your interface into both the kick drum and the bass drum.
What is a DA?
An audio interface may have one or more interchangeable digital-analog (DA) conversion chips. Without getting too technical, these chips determine the sound quality of your device. Higher quality converters typically result in better sound quality. That being said, converter quality is typically only relevant if you’re an audiophile with a truly exceptional ear.
What is an AD?
Analog-to-digital (AD) conversion is the process of converting analog signals to digital. This typically happens when an analog signal from a microphone or instrument is converted into numbers that your computer can recognize. The higher the bitrate, the better the sound quality. With modern technology, bitrates higher than 24bit are rarely necessary for recording studios other than to archive master recordings.
What is an DAC?
A DAC (digital-analog conversion) is the exact opposite of an AD. It converts a digital signal into an analog one. A high quality DAC can result in better sound quality, but this isn’t always the case so don’t be overly concerned about this feature when choosing a new audio interface.
General Studio Terms
What is latency?
Latency is the delay between when an input is given and when you hear a response. In the context of recording and mixing, this would be the delay between when a sound is made and when you hear it through your speakers. A small amount of latency isn’t noticeable to most musicians, but it can still play a role in recording and mixing. If you’re really concerned with latency, look for devices that have “low-latency” modes. These are typically designed for live performers who need to hear an echo of their playing immediately.
What is a channel?
A channel is a single path of a signal through your system. For example, if you’re sending a signal from your microphone into your computer, that would be considered a single channel. Most interfaces have either 4, 8, or 16 channels. Although rare, there are interfaces with more than 16 channels.
What is an inputs?
An input is a single microphone, instrument, or other source that is plugged into your interface. Most interfaces have 1 to 4 inputs.
What is an output?
An output is a single speaker, headset, or other device that is plugged into your interface. Most interfaces have 1 to 4 outputs.
What is a MIDI port?
A MIDI port is a virtual port that allows communication with MIDI-compatible devices.
What is an ADAT port?
An ADAT port is a port that allows up to 8 channels of digital audio to be transferred over optical cables. ADAT ports are more commonly found on external recording devices, but are also found on some audio interfaces.
What is a TRS Jack?
A TRS Jack (or Tip-Ring-Sleeve Jack) is a common connector for audio signals. An insert cable or interface with TRS jacks allows you to input signals from microphones or instruments.
What is an RCA Jack?
An RCA Jack is a common connector for analog signals like those from stereo systems. An insert cable or interface with RCA jacks allows you to input signals from record players or other devices.
Sources & references used in this article:
Plymouth brain-computer music interfacing project: from EEG audio mixers to composition informed by cognitive neuroscience by ER Miranda – International Journal of Arts and Technology, 2010 – inderscienceonline.com
Cost effective remote control system for analog audio mixers by AE Marcu, M Vlădescu… – 2018 IEEE 24th …, 2018 – ieeexplore.ieee.org
Audio mixer by NF Williams Jr – US Patent 5,896,459, 1999 – Google Patents
Mixploration: Rethinking the audio mixer interface by M Cartwright, B Pardo, J Reiss – … of the 19th international conference on …, 2014 – dl.acm.org
Mixer and multichannel audio interface for a tablet computer by DI Radin, DC Gill – US Patent App. 13/628,760, 2013 – Google Patents