Q: “I’m just starting to look for a small mixer for my live gigs. What sort of things should I look for?”
A: To an extent this is a question, and the myriad of related questions likely to come up, that should be answered by your Sweetwater Sales Engineer. The Sweetwter guys have a lot of experience and undergo regular training to keep up with the latest trends in mixer design, as well as everything else.
That said, there are some basic guidelines than can get you started in your thinking. The following is lifted from our Live Sound Mixer Buying Guide.
So how do you begin to narrow down the hundreds of mixers on the market to find the one that best meets your needs? Perhaps the best thing you can do is begin by creating a checklist of your needs from the following parameters:
1. Mic/line/instrument inputs:
– How many do you need? Don’t forget to include direct inputs from keyboards, guitar and bass amps and DJ stations. And keep future expansion in mind.
3. Directs Outs/Inserts:
– Do you need input channels to be routed to external effects or other processing gear?
4. Onboard or Outboard Effects?
– If you are inserting a new mixer into your current rig with outboard effects gear you already own, you may not need built-in effects on your mixer. However, one appeal of onboard effects is that you don’t need to transport a lot of other gear to and from gigs.
5. How many busses?
– This depends on your signal routing needs. If you’re sending monitor mixes from your main mixer you may need an 8 aux bus mixer to handle band members’ different monitoring demands for instance.
7. Monitor outputs:
– Again, you need to decide how your monitoring environment will be run. Choices range from “none” all the way to a separate monitor mixer onstage that receives the same inputs your main mixer does.
8. Powered or unpowered?
– In most cases, powered mixers are designed for smaller groups and smaller venues where speed of setup and convenience are of primary concern. Larger, more complex systems generally use either powered speakers or separate power amps.