AF’s Weblog

February 10, 2009

Using a Mixer: Rehearsal

Filed under: Mixing reviews — Tags: , , , , — audiofanzine @ 9:08 am

Introduction

Before you’re ready for arenas and stadiums, where you’d no doubt call on the services of an experienced sound technician, you need to rehearse. And as long as you’re rehearsing you might as well do it in the right conditions: where everybody can hear themselves and in turn be heard. This means adequately controlling sound levels and using your sound system correctly. And most of the times this means: understanding and using a mixer…

Even though the “Garage Band” setup, with everything plugged into guitar amps at full volume (including mics and keyboards), has helped many musicians progress and go from amateurs to experienced amateurs, even professionals, it’s relatively easy to rehearse in a more practical way that’s more consistent with professional standards. It would be a good idea to stop the “do it yourself” method as soon as possible, which, even though it lets you set up relatively quickly without having to carry heavy PA equipment, won’t suffice for many situations and won’t correspond to the real world of sound technicians and live gigs in bigger venues. Rehearsal rooms often have equipment that lets you practice in a more professional manner and which won’t damage your ears. For a reasonable budget, it’s also possible to set the same thing up “at home” … Now, let’s take a closer look…

Tips & Tricks

2 tracksFig.15

The “2 tracks In” setting lets you connect, via RCA, a cd player or any “other line” source.

We’ve described a “normal” situation for a mixer. But … a rehearsal might occasionally require some additional needs. First possible scenario, the sudden arrival of new musicians: of course you’ll connect the new instruments to the “line” inputs of channel 13 and other free channels. If there aren’t anymore channels, two additional hidden line inputs are still available: a stereo return, sent to the mix or to both auxiliaries, which have no settings, and the “2 tracks in” (Fig.15) sent to the mix via RCA connectors, which can connect a stereo line level. For example, you can connect DJ hardware or a stereo instrument using jack/RCA adapters.

Sélecteur

Fig.16

The assignment selector of the channel. The routing is done to both an even channel (right) and odd (left). By completely panning to one side or the other you can opt to send the signal to only one of the two.

So the rehearsal was successful and you’d like to record it the next time around? If, like in this case, the mixer has Record Out connections, there’s no problem. You can record the main Mix in stereo by connecting, via the RCA connectors, a Mini-Disc, CD recorder or directly into a computer soundcard. By the way: if you opted for the 166-USB, you could connect the mixer directly to one of your computer’s USB ports and record your Mix directly into Cubase 4 (included with the mixer)! This of course requires that you install an extra pair of microphones, to globally capture all instruments not directly connected to the mixer – the guitars and bass, in this example – or that you record each of them separately. It would be better, in the latter case, to use a DI box on the bass inserted directly between the instrument and the amp on the one hand and the console on the other, rather than use a microphone. Caution: you’ll have to reduce the general volume level to the minimum needed to ensure that the mics don’t start feeding back …

Ok, but … the computer’s audio interface has eight inputs and you’d like to record everything at the same time! It would be a shame not to take advantage of this while also using the compressor and EQ of the mixer … There’s a trick that will probably make the “pros” shudder with horror but in rehearsal … you sometimes do what you can! If you accept in this case, to reduce monitoring to a single monitor and not use effects that can be added with your computer, you can get exactly eight outputs! The four groups are individually selectable through switches (fig.16) and you can, by panning, choose to “route” the signal to an individual output. The main outputs will behave in exactly the same way, so there’s two more! You could, on the mixer, use the bus used by the effects: by inserting a jack into the “Effect” connector (Fig.10), it bypasses the internal multi-effects and you can use this output to send a signal. It’ll be a post-fader send, but “you do what you can”! That’s one more… Then use the two pre-fader sends to get your eight outputs. All are fully autonomous and will let you record 8 tracks simultaneously. It’s almost … (but not quite) as easy as using a mixer with a FireWire interface … But that’s another story …

Even if technical requirements are not as demanding in rehearsal as a live show (unless your preparing for the tour of the century), it is still important that everything go well, without major problems getting in the way of the quality of your music and protecting everyone’s ears! A good rehearsal isn’t necessarily one in which you played as loud as possible. It would be wise to prepare a little before in order to avoid wasting time later. It may not be such a big deal when rehearsing at home where time is plentiful, but in a rehearsal studio time is money and there’s usually people after you waiting for the same room. So plan in advance how you’ll be using your equipment, even if you won’t be doing things in such a “conventional” way: don‘t wait until the last second to get to know your gear!

To read the full, detailed article see:  Using a Mixer: Rehearsal

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