In our previous lessons, we talked about the input channels and the function and usage of each of the controls on the input strip. Now it is time to talk about the Output section, where all of the input channels “come together”. Again, as in the input section, it isn’t likely that the output section of your mixer will look exactly like this one. However, most of the controls will be similar. You should be able to take what you learn from this simple lesson and apply it to your Mixing Environment.
To start with, let’s look at the mixer show to the right. At the bottom of this section, we have (in this case) sliders labeled “1”, “2”, “3” and “4” as well as a slider named “Main”. The sliders 1 through 4 are for controlling the sub mixes 1 through 4 as we set them up on the individual channel strips.
As a review, Audio signals are sent to the “subs” by pressing the buttons on the channel strip labeled “1-2” or “3-4”. Depressing the “1-2” button sends the audio signal from that channel to both Sub 1 and Sub 2. The pan pot determines whether you are sending input to one or both subs by it’s position.
Obviously, the “Main” slider is the overall volume level.
On this particular mixer, you have the ability to “assign” the subs to either the left, right or both side of the main mix. In addition, you also have the jack to plug your headphones in.
We need to spend a little time discussing how and why you use the sub mixes. Sub mixes are great for controlling multiple vocal or instrument channels with a single fader control. Exactly how you use them depends upon what you are doing. So, let’s look at a couple of examples.
Live Sound in a Worship Service
In a live worship service, everything is moving very quickly. You’ve got a vocalist who sometimes holds the mic a long way away from their mouth … and then when they start to sing louder … they move it closer!! This, of course, is exactly the wrong way to work a mic. The fact that the vocalist doesn’t know how to use a microphone isn’t your fault … but you will probably take the blame. If you are in this kind of situation, I would suggest that you discuss with someone in charge (if that is you, then good luck) that they need to have a bit of a training session on using mics.
But, I digress. Back to everything is moving fast. We get to a fast section and all of the sudden, the vocals are overwhelming the instrumentals (or vice versa). Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to quickly turn down all of the instrumentals without having to try to not effect their balance with each other? That is exactly what sub groups are for!!
If you had all of the instrumentals set to sub 2, you could just turn down (or up) sub group 2 and all of the inputs from that grouping will be raised or lowered proportionally to each other! Great! So how would we do that?
Let’s say we wanted just two groupings: Vocals and Instruments. On the input channels for the mixer at the right, we would push in the Sub 1-2 button for all channels. Then we would pan the vocal channels all the way to “L” (for Sub 1) and pan the instrumental channels all the way to “R” (for Sub 2). That’s it! Were done! Oh yeah, we also have to adjust the Sub 1 and Sub 2 faders to be where we want them. And, depending on whether we are running out of the stereo or “Main” outputs, we might also need to press down both the “left” and “right” assignment buttons above the sliders. Why both? Because we do not want to run our live sound in stereo (I will talk about why that is in the next lesson). But we can now turn up all the instruments together or all the vocals together. Cool huh!?!
In the next lesson, we will talk about Stereo mixes: How to set them up, when to use them and when not to use them.
Go to Lesson 7: Monitors