Also called a mixer or “board”; a device that audio signals pass through and be summed or combined; may be analog or digital. A console allows for individual control for each channel over parameters such as volume and pan and allows the bussing of the audio to external processing devices or monitors through aux sends and returns that can be controlled using auxiliary faders. Most consoles have several sends on each channel so multiple devices can process the input from any channel or groups of channels. A mixer may also have a series of inputs and outputs called inserts, which allow for the serial or “inline” connection of outboard gear. Consoles may also be equipped with processing such as equalization, compression, and gates, which can be applied during the tracking and mixing process. A console typically has a master fader that will control the overall output level of the summed channels.
With the advent of digital recording and mixing, recordists can build virtual consoles equipped with most of the features of a hardware console. All signal routing can be controlled on-screen, and the user can typically add new channels and auxiliary faders as they are needed. Signal routing works the same as on a hardware console, i.e., sends bus signal to another channel or auxiliary fader. The biggest difference between a physical and a virtual console is that the inserts on a virtual console can be used with plug-ins in addition to external processing.