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What are Digital mixers and what makes them better?

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What are Digital mixers and what makes them better?

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In the ever-evolving world of audio technology, digital mixers have become indispensable tools for sound engineers and music enthusiasts alike. They offer a plethora of features that analogue mixers simply can't match, with one standout advantage being the wireless connectivity options they offer. This opens the door to a range of control options, allowing users to harness the power of their digital mixers remotely through smartphones, tablets, or computers via a Browser Graphical User Interface (GUI).

When you're in the market for a digital mixer, it's essential to consider the control options available to you. Some digital mixers come equipped with physical controls on the device itself, or in-built Wi-Fi while others rely solely on remote control options through external wireless hardware. In this article, we'll dive into the various control avenues provided by digital mixers, as well as essential safeguards to prevent unintentional changes that could affect your sound.

In-built vs external networks

You may have picked up from the introduction that some digital mixers have their own Wi-Fi built-in. This is a very useful feature where you are controlling the mixer from the side of the stage or nearby, as it means you do not have to connect any external hardware to get up and running.

However, lots of mixers also (or only) have the option to connect to an existing network or external wireless hardware. This is important if you are going to be a long way from the mixer, as the in-built Wi-Fi will not have a very long range, so connecting the mixer to a larger network infrastructure will allow you to be further away and still have control through your mobile device. If we install a mixer, we will always use external hardware or connect to an existing network to ensure reliability.

Control Options for Digital Mixers

1. Smartphones and Tablets

Most digital mixers come with dedicated apps that can be downloaded, granting users the ability to control the mixer from anywhere within range of its Wi-Fi signal. This convenience allows sound engineers to mix audio from various locations within a venue, even from the audience area. This means they can experience precisely what the audience hears, resulting in a more accurate mix.

2. Browser GUI

Connecting to the mixer's Wi-Fi network allows users to access a browser-based GUI by entering the mixer's IP address. This GUI replicates the mixer's physical controls in a web interface, enabling users to manipulate settings remotely with ease. This flexibility provides the same control capabilities as being physically present at the mixer.

3. Laptop Direct Control

For digital mixers like the Behringer XR18 X Air that lack physical faders, direct control via a laptop is an option. By connecting your laptop to the mixer's Ethernet socket (usually labelled "remote"), you gain control over the mixer's functions. This feature is particularly useful when the mixer lacks onboard physical controls.

Safeguarding Your Sound

Now that we've explored the diverse control options digital mixers offer, it's crucial to address the concern of unintentional adjustments that could disrupt your sound. Thankfully, many digital mixers come with protective features.

Locking Mixer Functions

Some digital mixers feature a locking function, ensuring that once the mixer is closed or locked, any changes made to settings are temporary. When unlocked, the mixer reverts to its previous state, preserving your previous mix and preventing accidental alterations. This function is especially valuable during live performances, where sound consistency is paramount.

Complete Settings Lockdown

Many digital mixers also provide the option to lock down all settings entirely. This feature is a fail-safe against unauthorised access. If you need to step away from the mixer temporarily, activating this lockdown ensures that no one can make changes to critical settings in your absence.

Restoring Original Settings

In the event that settings are inadvertently changed, digital mixers offer a range of solutions for restoring your original configurations including:

Preset Saving

One of the standout benefits of digital mixers is the ability to save presets for each channel. If someone makes adjustments you wish to undo, simply access your saved presets and restore the desired settings. This feature streamlines setup and sound checks, making it a valuable tool when working with multiple bands or musicians.

Backup and Restore

To provide an extra layer of security, digital mixers often allow users to create backups of their settings. If unwanted changes occur, accessing the most recent backup can swiftly return everything to its intended state. However, this option may vary depending on the specific mixer model, so it's wise to consider this functionality before making your purchase.

In Conclusion

In summary, digital mixers offer a wealth of control options, from remote access via smartphones, tablets, and browsers to direct control through laptops. They also incorporate safeguards like locking functions and settings lockdown to protect your sound. Additionally, the ability to save presets and perform backups ensures you can swiftly recover your original settings if necessary.

When choosing a digital mixer, take the time to research and select one that aligns with your specific needs and preferences. With the right digital mixer and control options at your disposal, you can achieve unparalleled precision and flexibility in managing your audio.

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