The New Book - Fully Revised - 18 Models in all!


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Featuring the Mackie VLZ, VLZ-Pro, SR, CFX and PPM Series

  • Basic Operations
  • Mixing Tips
  • Creative Applications

©1995, 1999
Published by Hal Leonard
264 pages. US$27.95

Chapter 1: An Introduction To Mixers

Until recently, few people owned their own mixing boards. Those who did were usually experienced engineers with large, expensive mixers, or musicians with a simple "PA head," combining a very simple mixer with an amplifier for live performances.
Mackie crossed an invisible price/performance threshold with the release of their original CR-1604 mixing board. Suddenly, many more people could afford their own "real" mixer. New Mackie designs have put even more power in the hands of musicians and sound engineers everywhere.


Still, first-time mixer owners start with a lot of questions: "How do I hook up the rest of my equipment?" "What's the best way to get a mix?" And "What are all these knobs for?!?"
Questions like these are what this book is all about. Using Mackie's wildly popular compact mixers as examples, we'll look at how simple and slightly more complicated mixing boards work.


In addition to specific ideas to help you get the most from your Mackie, this book explains the concepts behind mixers and defines their role at the center of an audio system. That way, you'll get a good idea of how all mixing boards work, regardless of model or brand.


Finally, the most important thing you'll learn from this book is how sounds get from your mixer's inputs to its outputs. I guarantee that understanding this "signal flow" will help you every time you use any sound system!

P.S. This book is designed to complement, not replace, the succinct and entertaining manual that came with your Mackie mixer!

All Those Knobs!

Mixers (also called mixing consoles or boards) can look a bit intimidating at first glance. How will you ever remember what all those knobs are for? Put your fears to rest. Here's the deal: Yes, the 1202-VLZ PRO (shown below) has 83 knobs and buttons. But guess what? You only have to learn 20 of them!


The same is true of the 1604-VLZ. Its 340 knobs and buttons can look pretty overwhelming. But master just 43 of them and you've got the 1604-VLZ licked!


These surprising statements are true because although mixers have a large number of individual controls, most of them are duplicates. Once you've learned one, you'll know how lots of the others work too. So don't be alarmed-you can learn to use these things.
As an added bonus, mixers share a certain "seen one, seen 'em all" similarity. Most models have a lot in common, so learning a basic mixer like the 1202 today can help prepare for an encounter with a much larger mixing board tomorrow.

 

What is a Mixer For?

Beneath its dizzying array of controls, a mixer actually has some important similarities to a simple home stereo receiver. A stereo receiver has controls that let you switch between different components of your hi-fi system, so you can listen to the CD player, or the phonograph, or a cassette deck. A receiver also has controls to set overall volume, the balance between left and right speakers, and some tone controls to shape the overall sound.


A mixer does many of the same things, including changing levels and tone. The most important difference between a mixer and a stereo system is that a mixer allows you to control and combine or mix sounds from many different sources at once. Rather than simply choose between one sound or another, a mixer gives you the option to combine many sounds at the same time.

This brings us to three simple reasons for mixers and mixing:

Let's look at these three tasks in a little more detail:

Changing the Character of a Sound

Every sound has a few basic properties: It can be soft, loud or somewhere in between. It can be shrill, muffled, smooth, bright, dark, etc.

Within limits, a mixer has the ability to alter a sound's sound. For example, you can make it louder or softer with a touch of dial. However, when it comes to changing a sound's basic character, there are limits. For example, let's say you have a steel-string acoustic guitar and want to record a classical guitar piece. While a mixer's tone controls (called equalization) can make the bright steel-string sound darker and rounder--a little more like nylon-string guitar-- no one will be fooled into thinking you've switched instruments.

There is no substitute for starting with the right sound to begin with!

Combining Many Sounds

Every sound has a few basic properties: It can be soft, loud or somewhere in between. It can be shrill, muffled, smooth, bright, dark, etc. Within limits, a mixer has the ability to alter a sound's sound. For example, you can make it louder or softer with a touch of a dial. However, when it comes to changing a sound's basic character, there are limits.

For example, let's say you have a steel-string acoustic guitar and want to record a classical guitar piece. While a mixer's tone controls (called equalization) can make the bright steel-string sound darker and rounder-a little more like a nylon-string guitar- no one will be fooled into thinking you've switched instruments.


There is no substitute for starting with the right sound to begin with!

The Final Mix

The finished product from your mixer will be a blend of sounds or musical parts, balanced just the way you want them. This "mix" typically takes two forms: It can be recorded to tape to be replayed later and perhaps duplicated and distributed to others, alternately, you may be mixing a live performance and helping to balance the sound heard by the audience over a sound system.

In either case, your mixer is the tool that will allows you to create these finished pieces. Once you have mastered the basic functions of your board, you'll be ready to use it to further your creative goals.

End of chapter 1.


Read the Table Of Contents for an idea of what the rest of the book covers
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