Adventures In Audio
Should you need a manual to operate a mixing console?

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

Thursday November 30, 2006
FREE EBOOK DOWNLOAD ►

I had the pleasure of working on an amateur ballet show the other day. I don't do much live sound these days so it's nice to keep my hand in.

Of course I took the precaution of reading the theater's specification before I turned up at the crack of dawn on the day of the dress rehearsal and show.

And when I walked into the control room, a cheery sight greeted me - a conventional analog mixing console. You know - I didn't even notice what make it was, but it had the channels in the right place, groups in the right place, all the usual facilities. Easy peasy.

Now supposing the theater management had some time earlier decided to re-equip the sound booth (fat chance, usually a theater has to burn down before that happens!) and someone 'in the know' had recommended a digital console?

Suddenly from analog simplicity we move over to a potential nightmare.

There is one vital accessory any digital console needs - the manual! You can't expect to be able to operate a digital console without the manual.

If it's a console that you have worked before, then fine. Or if it's a console by the same manufacturer as one you have used previously, you might be able to pick up how it works quite quickly.

But where analog consoles have matured to the point where all their basic facilities are almost identical, digital consoles are all very different to each other.

You'll need the manual just to understand the menu system of some digital consoles!

What is the answer to this, I wonder?

It could be for sound engineers to equip themselves with their own library of manuals, so they can be prepared for any situation. Or perhaps they should develop the 'digital' centers of the brain, possibly through dietary supplements.

No, the solution will come in time. Gradually manufacturers will pinch each others' best ideas and eventually the digital mixing console will evolve into a unified form.

Digital consoles will have similar facilities and similar methods of operation - facilities and methods that have been found to work well by actual pro users, whom manufacturers obviously have to please.

But I sense we're in for a long haul before that happens. Does anyone have any ideas how we can speed up this process?

Like, follow, and comment on this article at Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram or the social network of your choice.

Come on the Audio Masterclass Pro Home Studio MiniCourse - 60 great hints and tips to get your home recording studio MOVING

It's FREE!

Get It Now >>

How to choose the best key for your song

What is comb filtering? What does it sound like?

NEW: Audio crossfades come to Final Cut Pro X 10.4.9!

What is the difference between EQ and filters? *With Audio*

What difference will a preamp make to your recording?

Watch our video on linear phase filters and frequency response with the FabFilter Pro Q 2

Read our post on linear phase filters and frequency response with the Fabfilter Pro Q 2

Harmonic distortion with the Soundtoys Decapitator

What's the best height for studio monitors? Answer - Not too low!

What is the Red Book standard? Do I need to use it? Why?

Will floating point change the way we record?

Mixing: What is the 'Pedalboard Exception'?

The difference between mic level and line level

The problem with parallel compression that you didn't know you had. What it sounds like and how to fix it.

Compressing a snare drum to even out the level

What does parallel compression on vocals sound like?

How to automate tracks that have parallel compression

Why mono is better than stereo for recording vocals and dialogue

Clipping and compressing a drum recording to achieve an exciting sound texture

What can we learn about room acoustics from this image?

Can you hear the subtle effect of the knee control of the compressor? (With audio and video demonstrations)

What is the best studio microphone?

What is the Neve sound? (Using the Slate Digital FG-73)

What is the difference between recording, mixing and mastering?