The Basics of Using an Audio Mixer

When you first look at a soundboard, you may feel overwhelmed by all the buttons and knobs. There are the XLR connectors, audio splitters, VU meter, and many other elements to think about too. The good news is that once you learn one channel, you’ll be able to handle the rest with ease. So, start with the basics and you should be able to become a master at using a mixer in the future.

xlr connectors

Connecting the equipment to the inputs

Soundboards are categorised according to the number of inputs they provide. Thus, a 16-channel mixer has 16 places where you can connect those XLR cable connectors and other wires. An important thing to note is that each musical instrument should have their own input so you can properly balance them.

Connecting equipment to the outputs

You can monitor the output by plugging in headphones to an auxiliary jack, or through the VU meters. Some models have dedicated feeds to monitors separate from the master output. Others have channels where the sound engineer can communicate with the stage or recording booth. Take a look at the XLR receptacle area and make sure you’re not confusing the inputs with the outputs.

Turning on the power for the channels

Each channel will have their own on and off switch. You’ll also notice a button for the phantom power. This is a direct electric current supplied by the soundboard to the item connected to it. Usually, video cameras, amplifiers, and microphones need this. Hence, these are available on the inputs for XLR connectors.

Adjusting the volume for each input

See a knob dedicated to a channel? That’s called a potentiometer and it’s what you use to control the volume. Sometimes, it comes in the form of a slider, pad, or switch. It needs to have its own setting or level so the overall sound will come out as best as possible. You can make loud or even mute individual channels while you’re balancing each input with the pot.

Adjusting bands with equaliser controls

For the uninitiated, equalisation means the cutting and boosting of certain frequencies to improve the quality of the sound or to get rid of any unwanted noises. The EQ control enables you to adjust the mid-range, bass, and treble of your channels. It will require in-depth study to master this.

Panning channels into the master mix

Along with all the inputs for XLR connectors and more, you’ll notice a potentiometer labelled with ‘pan’. This is the panoramic pot or knob. Turning it to the right moves the signal to the right of the stereo field while turning it to the left moves the signal to the left. This is often used in tandem with routing buttons, particularly in mixers with multiple outputs.

It all sounds very technical but learning how to use a soundboard can be pretty fun. When you’re on the hunt for audio equipment to use with your mixer, pay a visit to 3D HD Gear has quality products you can rely on for your setup, be it a recording or live performance.