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Mixers generally come in 2 different types. Digital and analogue. Digital mixers have a lot more processing and flexibility in their functions whereas analogue is fairly basic with not as much flexibility for EQ, dynamics, effects or routing.
Let’s take a look at a few pros and cons!
Portability - You can get digital mixers with physical faders or without. The ones without run off your apple or android tablet and are small and compact. With or without faders, you still have the option with digital mixers to mix wirelessly off your tablet anywhere in the room.
I/O - Generally you get more inputs and outputs with a digital mixer. This is perfect for bands that all the members need their own personal in ear monitor mix.
EQ - Parametric EQ on channels and outputs which is perfect to surgically removed some of those pesky frequencies causing you trouble and just give you more flexibility to dial in that perfect sound.
Effects - Digital gives you more effects to use, not just reverbs and delay but a lot of mixers have sub octave effects, chorus/modular effects, de essers and vintage modelled compressors.
Harder to use (for some) - Usually a longer learning curve. If you’ve learnt to mix on analogue, getting used to digital can be tricky. The latest digital mixers are pretty intuitive but still take a bit of getting used to.
Reliability - When choosing a digital desk you need to make sure you have backups….Digital mixers rely on things like software and Wi-Fi signal to control the mixer. Make sure your firmware is up to date and you have a reliable Wi-Fi connection. A lot of fader less mixers give you the option to hardwire direct in through ethernet.
Easy to use (for some) - Simple and generally reliable. With an analogue desk you plug in your mic or instrument and use the knobs vertically down from your input. You’re EQ is right there, your pan is right there, your sends to stage monitors or foldback is right there. You don’t have to go diving through any layers to find what you’re looking for.
Software - You never have to worry about updating apps or firmware
More to move - More gear to carry. Generally analogue mixers are bigger and heavier than digital mixers and if you want to add things like compressors and gates and other effects, you have to bring a rack full of outboard gear.
Not as flexible - Small format analogue mixers don’t have anywhere near the amount of outputs….this means less individual foldback sends for your band and less options if you need to send a second front of house mix to an in-house system as well as your own front of house speakers.
Choosing a mixer is just a matter of weighting up what you need in a mixer. Do you need lots of output options for individual mixes for every member of the band? Or are you just needing to mix a couple of microphones for a public address system? Are you already knowledgeable in sound mixing or a complete beginner? Both analogue and digital have their place it just depends on which one works best for your application.
Take a look at the video below to see Brad have a chat with Brad about the pros and cons of digital vs. analogue.