Three Stages of Multitrack Recording Recording (Tracking) Overdubbing Mixdown
Analog Console Signal path (signal chain) Vertical signal flow through input strip Strips are modular
Channel Input Preamp (boost signals 30 to 60 dB) Mic and line levels Auxiliary Send Section Equalization Insert Point (direct send/return) (direct or insert) Dynamics (compression/limiting/expansion)
Auxillary Send Section “Horizontal” signal flow from input Can be fed to a mono or stereo output bus Used for any purpose Effects send Headphone cue Broadcast feed Alternate mixes Alternate speaker outputs
Equalization (EQ) Used to adjust frequencies (bring out or cut, to compensate for recording discrepancies, or to create a certain timbre) Usually, 3 to 4 continuously variable, overlapping frequency bands Adjustable Bandwidth (Q) Boost or cut control (+/- 18 dB)
Inserts Useful for inline, external signal processing. Unbalanced, stereo TRS jacks Mono send to first click: signal to direct out, without interrupting channel signal flow Mono send all in: signal to direct out, interrupting signal flow Stereo TRS all in: send/return loop
Dynamics Inline Dynamics processing is common on higher-end analog consoles, and most digital consoles. Compression, limiting, expansion discussed in Ch. 12.
Monitoring A listening mix for the control room, separate (indendent) from what’s going to the record medium. Inline, separate section, or direct insertion monitoring
Inline Monitoring Some higher-end consoles incorporate a small fader section above the main input strip fader. SSL XL 9000
Separate Monitor Section Typical of older British consoles. Also used by Mackie and Tascam analogs to some degree. Digital Mixers (via the fader flip) Independent level, pan, effects, and headphone control. Often have direct inputs to the monitor section, and can be used at mixdown to increase the number of effects returns and electronic instrument inputs.
Direct Insertion Monitoring Most often used when separate or inline monitoring is not available. Use direct send/receives for sending signal to record device, then output of record device back to mixer for monitoring. Record level set by preamp gain trim.
Output Fader Channel strip fader, determining strip’s bus output level. Pan Pot Solo and Mute buttons
Output Bus Conceptually, a horizontal signal path. Multiple entrance and exit points, and ways to duplicate signals Aux sends, monitor sends, channel sends, and main outputs are all types of signals that can be inserted to a bus.
Channel Assignment Assignment of input channel to output bus. Can be associated with fader (buttons), or through menus. Individual assignments (with pan), or stereo pairs.
Master Output/Group Faders Master Stereo Master Bus faders (group) Bus faders can be used to change overall levels while maintaining relative levels.
Metering LED, Peak, VU, Overload on input Standard: RMS/root-mean-squared. (Not peak and overload) Analog: aim for near zero levels, but slightly above may not be a problem. Digital: anything over zero results in unpleasant distortion.
Patch Bay Contains accessible jacks that correspond to the various inputs and outputs of every access point within a mixer or console. Often contain input and output points of studio effects, monitoring devices, and connections between different production rooms.
Patch Bay Connection Types TRS balanced 1/4” RCA TT or mini (telephone-type) Rear connections can be any of above, or hand-wired connections (punch connectors or soldered)
Patch Bay Connections (Normalled, etc.) Open: without plugs inserted, each I/O connection entering or leaving the bay is independent of other connections. Half-normalled: without plugs inserted, each I/0 connection entering the panel in the rear is electrically connected to the point below it. When a jack is inserted to the top jack, the I/O rear connection is still intact, allowing you to tap into the signal. Jacks into bottom connection break I/O connection. Normalled: same I/O as half. Rear I/O broken when a jack is plugged into either top or bottom.
Digital Consoles Analog signal converted to digital at mixer inputs, or prior to inputs All internal signal routing done in digital domain. Centralized channel strip/control panel Fader, pan, mute, solo for each input One EQ and Dynamics section for whole console.