Chapter Two: Studio Gear
3. Mixing Console Basics | page 4
The Pan pot controls the left/right or odd/even balance (see section below) of the channel's output. A stereo instrument coming into two board channels should be panned hard left on one channel and hard right on the other to maintain the maximum stereo effect. On the other hand, when planning the stereo image of a piece (which you should do!), placing mono sounds across the full range of the stereo field should be considered. Having mono sounds panned hard to one speaker or the other tends to make a listener aware of only two locations rather than a 180 degree soundfield and should be reserved for special circumstances.
The red OL (overload) light indicates that the channel's input is potentially distorting, because the input level is too high. The solution is to turn down the input sensitivity pot at the top of the channel. The green -20 dB light is a good indicator that signal is getting into the channel. The meter bridge, if set to monitor the channel input, not its output, is a more sophisticated tool for setting input sensitivity levels. Some boards, such as the Mackie, make it more difficult to monitor the input on the meter bridge.
The mute button will silence the channel when activated, while the solo button will send the channel's signal to a separate "solo" bus, usually controlled by a solo master pot. On most boards, soloing a channel or channels will mute all other unsoloed channels. Solo is designed to isolate sounds for actions such as EQ'ing, checking effect returns, or troubleshooting missing signals.
The channel output module controls the level and routing of the signal after it has gone through the input and EQ sections. Selector buttons allow a combination of routing. Buttons labels 1-2, 3-4, etc. route the signal to the board's eight group outputs, where they will most likely be normalled to a multitrack computer audio interface and/or tape deck. The master levels for group outputs are usually found as a separate bank of faders on the right side of the mixing console (see next page).
The Stereo or L-R selector routes the signal to the Left/Right or Stereo Mix output, usually controlled by a single master fader (color-coded red on Tascam boards) to the right of the group output faders. The Stereo bus is normally routed to all two-track devices in the studio (which may include DATs, CD recorders, cassettes, etc.). It is also what is normally used for monitoring a stereo mix.
Finally, the channel fader (the white vertical sliding tab) controls the level of output of the channel signal being routed into any of the master outputs selected. These are usually calibrated in dB or VU. The U stands for unity gain, the level at which the signal reaches the fader. Above, additional strength is added to the signal. Remember, approximately every 6 dB is a doubling of amplitude. Below should be marked as negative dB, all the way down to -infinity or silence.