One of the purchases I have been dragging my feet over has been a digital mixer/sound board. I finally broke down this past school year and purchased a Presonus StudioLive 16.4.2 mixer.
This is a digital performance and recording mixer. That means that when we do our crazy variety show every year I can set the board for each group when we get the mix just perfect along with a good monitor setting for the performers, and then save all the settings. During show time I simply go through and recall the settings I saved during sound check. There are a ton of capabilities built into this board, compressors, limiters, EQ, low pass filters, great pre-amps and EQ’s for the main’s as well as the monitors. The list goes on and on.
Because it is a digital recording board the potential does not stop with being an awesome mixer. When hooked up to my laptop it becomes a digital recorder as well. With the push of two buttons I can be recording all 16 tracks (plus more) of our live performances. Then those recordings can be played back through the board later to do an actual mix-down, using all the built-in settings in the board. Plus I can run the recordings through my favorite DAW. That means more plug-ins and capabilities.
This past 6 months I have been able to use the board enough to run live sound and get comfortable with that part of the mixer. It has allowed for our sound during performances to take that next step forward, not to mention that I have no idea how we could have done our digital music ensemble performances this year. (Here is a link of our group – Melodic Fusion – of course it is from a parents phone (I guess I should get a better recording up on the web!))During a bunch of these performances I ran recordings as well. I am just now getting around to being able to play with this part of the mixer and software. I really have not much of an idea of what I am doing in this area though. It’s been fun though. I’ve taken recordings from a band and mixed up some recordings for them of their live performance. Of course we did not really have the miss we needed to produce a recording like we would have liked. There was only one mic on the drum set really – in front of the bass drum. The rest of the drums are simply from what was getting picked up from the drummer vocal mic, and other stage mics. The two guitar players ran a microphone in front of their amps (not what I would have done probably if we would have been doing the performance for recording purposes). We did run the bass player straight through the board. Then we had three vocal mics, a djembe mic and an acoustic mic line in. The recording of each individual track is fun to listen back to. Of course there are so many settings to learn on the board that it boggles my mind a bit.
It has been a blast working on these recordings and digging into the settings on the board. To give you an idea of what the sound is like on the recordings… one of the songs from the concert is below – DISCLAIMER – Remember that I teach band and am not a record producer! If you like Matt’s music go to his web site and or go to iTunes download more. In fact book his group for a performance at your school! These guys put on an awesome performance that is full of energy!
SONG – Heart Wide Open – This is a bit of an experiment. I thought that I could upload mp3 files here on WordPress – it appears as though that is now an upgrade. So this file is shared from my dropbox. This also brings up another issue with sharing recordings like these. Since I have the song mixed down and want to share it over to Matt, who only has access to his iPhone (or my son on his iPad)… what is the best way to do that? I can’t just email it because the song actually does not even open in the iPad at all from the mail app! I can send them a DropBox link but that will only allow them to get the song into their DropBox app. Am I missing something here or is the only way to get a song onto an iPhone/iPad by hooking it up to a computer (or through iTunes wi-fi sync?)
Of course you must have known that there would be a way to tie in an iPad to this board! The main reason I finally jumped on this board is because I can use my iPad to remotely control almost every function on the mixer from anyplace in the room! That means I can sit with my wife and run sound for the choir. I can run sound for graduation from the back of the gym even though the mixer is sitting in the front of the gym. I can get up on stage and change monitor mixes while standing right in front of the monitors! It is very, very cool! Plus any of my kids with an iPod Touch or iPhone or iPad now have the ability to run their own monitor mixes and tweak them to their own liking right from their own iOS device! Since my board has 6 aux sends that means I can have 6 different mixes for my students while they are performing that they themselves can control!
If you are looking for a mixer I’m not sure why in the world you would want to buy any other mixer!