Multi-Track Mixers.

This article tells you how to choose the best multi-track mixer for your needs, what multi-track mixers do and how to use them and how to buy one.

Multi-track mixers have two main uses, the first being for use in a recording-studio type environment and the second is to mix signals to go to the PA system for a live stage performance. There are different mixers designed for one or other of these uses although the difference is not all that great. A powered mixer includes power amps to drive loudspeakers directly. A DJ mixer is rather more different and not so suitable for stage or recording studio use.

A multi-track mixer is an audio mixer designed to mix sound from a multi-track recorder, i.e. an audio recording device designed to record more than just a mono or stereo signal . . . a signal which has at least 3 separate tracks simultaneously. So the mixer will have more than three separate channels.

When choosing which one you need you first need to look at what multi-track audio recorder you are using, or intend to use, so you know how many channels you might want to record at once. One example is recording a band, where ideally each instrument would be recorded on a separate track. A drum set is ideally recorded with a different microphone for each drum, and a keyboard will typically have a stereo rather than mono output. So the mixer you choose needs to have at least as many channels as you will record simultaneously.

If you need to record all the instruments simultaneously, then your mixer also needs as many outputs as you're the number of instruments. These outputs are usually provided as "groups" although for recording, each aux send can also be used as an output (unless it is used for effects while recording, such as providing some reverb on a vocal). If the groups are stereo, the pan setting will determine which side of the group output the signal goes to i.e. one stereo group can be used as 2 mono outputs or one stereo output.


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