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EQ and Volume

Channel equalization

Further channel controls affect the equalization (EQ)] of the signal by separately attenuating or boosting a range of frequencies, e.g., bass, midrange, and treble. Most large mixing consoles (24 channels and more) usually have sweep equalization in one or more bands of its parametric equalizer on each channel, where the frequency and affected bandwidth of equalization can be selected. Smaller mixing consoles have few or no equalization controls. Care must be taken not to add too much EQ to a signal that is already close to clipping; additional energy will overdrive the channel. Some mixers have a general equalization control (either graphic or parametric) at the output.

Subgroup and mix routing

Each channel on a mixer has an audio taper pot, or potentiometer, controlled by a sliding volume control (fader), that allows adjustment of the level, or amplitude, of that channel in the final mix. A typical mixing console has many rows of these sliding volume controls. Each control adjusts only its respective channel (or one half of a stereo channel); therefore, it only affects the level of the signal from one microphone or other audio device. The signals are summed to create the main mix, or combined on a bus as a submix, a group of channels that are then added to get the final mix (for instance, many drum mics could be grouped into a bus, and then the proportion of drums in the final mix can be controlled with one bus fader).

Master output controls

Subgroup and main output fader controls are often found together on the right hand side of the mixer or, on larger consoles, in a center section flanked by banks of input channels. Matrix routing is often contained in this master section, as are headphone and local loudspeaker monitoring controls. Talkback controls allow conversation with the artist through their wedges, headphones or IEMs. A test tone generator might be located in the master output section. Aux returns such as those signals returning from outboard reverb devices are often in the master section.


Finally, there are usually one or more VU or peak meters to indicate the levels for each channel, or for the master outputs, and to indicate whether the console levels are overmodulating or clipping the signal. Most mixers have at least one additional output, besides the main mix. These are either individual bus outputs, or auxiliary outputs, used, for instance, to output a different mix to on-stage monitors. The operator can vary the mix (or levels of each channel) for each output.

As audio is heard in a logarithmic fashion (both amplitude and frequency), mixing console controls and displays are almost always in decibels, a logarithmic measurement system. This is also why special audio taper pots or circuits are needed. Since it is a relative measurement, and not a unit itself (like a percentage), the meters must be referenced to a nominal level. The "professional" nominal level is considered to be +4 dBu. The "consumer grade" level is −10 dBV.