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Mixers for recording vs mixers for live sound... Consoles
Old 25th February 2010
Gear Head

Thread Starter
Mixers for recording vs mixers for live sound...

First...I did try the search feature and got an error message.

That said, will someone explain to me the basic differences between a mixer that has been manufactured for recording vs a mixer that has been manufactured for live sound? What should I be looking for, etc. Other than that live sound mixers are, I'm told, built with more heft, etc.

And is there such a mixer on the market that is capable of being a good quality recording mixer as well as a good quality live sound mixer with respect to the sound?

I'm looking for 24 channels; ideally 8 buss. I was looking at the Mackie 2480 but I've learned that it has been discontinued.

Thanks for your time,

Old 25th February 2010
Gear Addict

Traditionally recording mixers have both mic/line inputs and tape returns, whereas live mixers have just mic/line inputs (no need for tape returns on them).

Try the Mackie Onyx series, the 24 channel versions have D-sub connections for direct outs from each channel.
Old 25th February 2010
Lives for gear
The difference between a live engineer and a mix engineer are nothing for the most part except that the live engineer must be on the ball, his ears must be as accurate as possible while ringing out a room, but you can use tools like SMAART to help out and AID you...Don't RELY on them, they're not always correct, your ears are your best tool, don't forget that!

Also with live sound, you're setting up and striking the PA. I've done some shows and have heard from MANY people how most engineers they work with for shows are "assholes" and don't do their job right. It's the truth. a lot of live guys who work in bars and whatnot tend to be doing it for the fame rather than for the act, so they are busy flirting with women and AWAY
from the console! I can understand being away from the console in some
situations. For example, I was out with someone setting up and doing a show for a party and everything was rung out and good to go, so we were able to sit back and relax and enjoy the show, this isn't always the case though.

With live, being a gear head is very essential, especially when it comes to consoles, PA speakers, amps, etc. You HAVE to know your gear well. Generally speaking, all consoles work in the same way, you've got your inputs and outputs, sends and returns, but each board works different from another in certain ways. Read manuals, learn about things like:

slew rate
harmonic distortion
intermodulation distortion
power ratings

In live wattage is literally your lifeline, always bring a multi-meter to check and make sure that your grounds are safe and there are no serious power issues that could kill you or someone else. The ground/lift switch is NOT always your friend either, if you flip that, YOU can become the ground and get fried.

Live world involves very good interpersonal skills and very good ears.

Google SFT to start on your ears, download it and start small, learn 5 frequencies at a time and go up from there.

Live world is NOT an easy one by any means, it requires 16 hours a day a lot of times. Especially for large events.

Hope this helps! heh

edit: I just realized I read this COMPLETELY wrong XD. I'm still leaving that up there, but now that I've re-read, I wouldn't say live boards
are more "hefty" unless of course you mean price, then yeah, they are pretty hefty lol. LOTS of different boards are used, it changes everywhere
you go, every place has a different board, but the ones you'll want to stick to are:

Midas (check out the verona series)
A&H (even though I don't favor them lol, GL2400)
Presonus (studiolive series is pretty awesome, but takes some doing to get used to)
Soundcraft (really has a lot of options, go to their site and really look around)
Yamaha (PM5D is a beast even though I've never used one, I know all about the crazy stuff they can do)

Do some research of those manufacturers and see if you can find what you like.
Old 26th February 2010
Lives for gear
Originally Posted by Stuartd View Post
First...I did try the search feature and got an error message.

That said, will someone explain to me the basic differences between a mixer that has been manufactured for recording vs a mixer that has been manufactured for live sound? What should I be looking for, etc. Other than that live sound mixers are, I'm told, built with more heft, etc.

And is there such a mixer on the market that is capable of being a good quality recording mixer as well as a good quality live sound mixer with respect to the sound?

I'm looking for 24 channels; ideally 8 buss. I was looking at the Mackie 2480 but I've learned that it has been discontinued.

Thanks for your time,

Budget? hard to suggest anything without a budget. You're mentioning Mackie, so I'm guessing that the Midas may be out of reach.

How many times per year will this be used for live vs. studio - are the live gigs far and few inbetween, or every other week?

What channels do you need - do you need 24 faders in front of you, or are layers acceptable?
Old 26th February 2010
Gear Head

Thread Starter
Originally Posted by nedorama View Post
"Budget? hard to suggest anything without a budget. You're mentioning Mackie, so I'm guessing that the Midas may be out of reach.

How many times per year will this be used for live vs. studio - are the live gigs far and few inbetween, or every other week?

What channels do you need - do you need 24 faders in front of you, or are layers acceptable?"
Yes, sorry about that, I didn't mention a budget. Mostly because I've been very surprised at the (sometimes high) cost of some of this equipment, that I more or less gave up on coming up with a budget.

I know I can't (won't try to) afford some of the higher-end mixers but if I can justify one of the upper mid-range consoles (if there is such an animal)...I'll find a way to do it. I might have to buy used, but I'll find a way to do it.

For example, there was a used TL Audio VTC mixer for sale at Vintage King last week. It sold already but the asking price was $12k if I recall. Waaaaay more than I wanted to pay, and for all I know it might have been overkill, but...if it would do what I want, and if it's as good-sounding as the ads say it is...I'd find a way to come up with the money if that's what the good-sounding mixers cost.

My jaw is still on the floor from pricing some of the Midas consoles but, if that's what they cost, and if they are as good as everyone says they are, then I'll need to find a way to afford one if I want one badly enough.

What I don't know is how to differentiate between the various models. I've read often that a good live sound console isn't suited for stuido work, and vice-versa. I'd like to know why; what is it about a live sound console that makes it unsuitable for studio work...and vice versa. I haven't seen too many studios with Midas consoles in them! Yet a Midas console is supposed to have outstanding sound quality.

My mention of Mackie is based on two things:
1. I own one.
2. I'm new to the mixer game; Mackie was one of the names that I encountered when I first shopped for a mixer. I thought (at the time I bought it) that it was expensive. Turns out I was wrong about that. So my eyes are being opened. I'm willing to shell out more money for a really nice-sounding mixer with features but at the high price I'll be expected to pay...I'm trying to make sure I buy the right mixer; or at least one that I can live with for a long time.

I happen to like my Mackie mixer; it's too small that's all. Apparently Mackies don't have great sound according to many folks but I like the sound I get out of mine. I was looking at a Mackie 2480 and thought it might work for me...until I found out it is discontinued and no longer readily available. So, on to Plan B.

I've never heard a Midas board, or a TL audio, etc., so I have nothing to compare my Mackie with. I'm hoping I can hear a difference in sound quality in a mixer that could end up costing six to ten times what my current Mackie mixer costs!! I just haven't had the opportunity to hear any yet. I don't even know where you go to see these things. They aren't at any superior music store I've ever been in.

I'm not against buying a Midas, I just know that much about them. I want to buy a larger (24 Ch) mixer that will be the last one I buy for a while. So I'm starting my research as to what's available, and what the differences might be, and suggestions as to what I ought to look for in the way of features, etc.

And yes, I'd like to have all faders visible. I'm not too keen on layers. I like to see an overview of everything, etc.

As to how often I'll use it for live work. I don't know at the moment. I had my Mackie out once a month at one point. So I'll say eight to ten times a year for the moment.

Again, thanks for everyone's input and comments.

While researching mixers I came across the following video that describes an AC/DC tour.
There are at least three Midas consoles being used. One of the consoles - a humungous beast - is being used only for AC/DC. If I recall there are five guys in that band so, at most, ten inputs to the mixer (vocal and instrument); with a few more inputs for the drums. Why such a huge mixer for five guys? There was another mixer being used for monitors, and a third mixer for support acts. This monster mixer was being used to do sound for five guys. Can anyone explain why the need for such a monster mixer? What are the other channels for?
Again, thanks for the responses.

Last edited by Stuartd; 26th February 2010 at 04:03 AM.. Reason: Ask a mixer-related question...
Old 26th February 2010
Lives for gear
The Midas consoles sound fantastic. I recommend really checking out their verona and venice lines, they both sound great and I've used them more times than i can count lol.
Old 26th February 2010
Deleted User
First off, there are different kinds of recording consoles: Inline, and split. Big differences here... More on that later...

Lets look at "live" desks first. The main purpose of a live console is to take many different sources and mix it into 1 ouput. Taking 24 microphones (for example) and mixing them into a stereo output.

That's the basic purpose of a live mixer. Now, add to this channel EQ, aux sends, grouping, channel inserts, panning and you have your basic modern live console.

Add to the basics, and you'll get direct channel ouputs, VCA groups and matrix mixes (amongst other features).

Direct ouputs are usually post mic amplifier, but can sometimes be post fader output. These are useful for multi tracking live shows.

VCA groups are different from audio groups in that audio isn't routed anywhere, rather the channel fader is remotely controlled. (these are useful live because post fader aux sends are effected by the VCA master... the effects (aux) send vs. main output ratio is kept constant, where as if you were using audio groups, the main output varies while the aux send is constant... IE the snare reverb send would be the same level whether the snare main output would be loud as hell, or off...)

Matrix mixes are basically additional mixes stemmed from audio groups. For an example, If you have front fill speakers that you only want vocals in, you would route all vocals into an audio group and then feed the fill mix from the vocal group mix.

Now, lets take a look at studio desks...

First, the main difference between a live and a studio desk: You need to be able to monitor what's coming off of the tape machine/protools rig/adats... whatever.

Split consoles have 2 sections, the channel section (basically, a live console) and a monitor section. At the most basic, the monitor section will have pots or faders to adjust the level of your recorders outputs. Some desks have basic EQ on the monitor inputs, pan pots...

There are also inline desks. These are generally high end desks, such as SSL and large format newer Neve consoles.

Inline consoles have the channel section (like a live console) and the monitor inputs on a single channel strip. This is useful for many reasons. On an SSL for example, you can assign the EQ to either the channel or the monitor input. You can EQ your signal to tape, or you can EQ your signal after the tape for monitoring purposes. Same with dynamics and inserts, they can be sent to tape, or just monitored through.

Inline desks have 2 faders per channel strip. Usually, one is your "to tape" level, and the other is your monitor level.

An additional thing thats possible, is multitrack record bussing. For an example, you can route both your top and bottom snare drum mics to one track of your recorder, mixed from the channel output faders. This can then be monitored from a single monitor channel.

Inline consoles can also usually accept twice as many inputs that it has while mixing. You can use both channel and monitor paths as separate inputs with separate faders/pans.

I'm almost done, here's my point:

Can a recording console be used live, absolutely!!! Can a live console be used for recording, absolutely!!! They both just have individual features that are geared toward what they were designed for. They all perform the same basic functions.

A Midas doesn't have multitrack busses, while an SSL doesn't have matrix mixes. They all mix and route audio to different places. That's all that they do.

If anything doesn't make sense, please correct me and my post... After my 10 hour vocal tracking session I needed to stop at a bar to get a few drinks. I'm still drunk.

Old 1st March 2010
Lives for gear
Just be warned that the Midas Venice is far from the rest of their line and isn't considered a top board for mixing - people would much rather have an APB for analog, or a Digidesign board. The Venice and Verona are certainly steps up from a Mackie, but they're a far cry from their Heritage brethren. Will also be interesting now that Behringer owns them - I'd be very wary of buying anything "Midas" unless it's already a current item from them. Heck, Behringer even rips off one of the Midas boards in their designs.

I mostly record, but we play out 12x a year; I bought a used Yamaha 01v digital mixer. Has built-in EQ, dynamics and effects on all channels and sounds pretty good. An upgrade from there would be the new 01v96, an LS9, or perhaps even the Presonus Studiolive 24 channel model. For home I only use up to 8 tracks at a time and so I just use my 002R - got rid of my Mackie LM3204 last year.

Layers can be not so bad - you can have your drum mix on the layers, but assign it to a front fader. Less real estate and the ability to rackmount are sometimes worthwhile considerations.

A lot of it will also be test driving these and seeing how the layout, functions, sound work for you. Reviews and opinions are great, but for instance, there's a huge debate now between the 01v96 and the Presonus 16 channel studiolive - 2 very different boards hitting the same market, and you have groups equally passionate about each.

Good luck.
Old 24th May 2013
Here for the gear

Hopefully people are still following this board as I'm in the market for a mixer. Here's the problem: I want a live mixer with recording capabilities. I'm not sure if I can just get a recording mixer and use it for live, or vice versa.

The Line6 M20d seems interesting
The Tascam DP-24

Ideally for what I do, I'd like a mixer that

Has a built-in power amp (not a deal breaker)
Has an SD card slot for recording
Can record to CD like the Tascam DP-24 (not a deal breaker)
Has at least 8 mic inputs
Digital effects
Can support 2 FOH monitors and 2 performer monitors without bridging (the latter not a deal breaker)

The Line6 M20d seems almost there. Am I asking for too much? I'm relatively new to audio and mixers, being I'm a video guy, but from my research I can't find much out there fitting the bill.

Any suggestions folks?
Old 25th May 2013
Gear Head

If you want a real cheap Midas sounding console, go for the X32. It totally blows the LS9 out of the market. And, it has a 32/32 FW interface. And, it supports the jackie/hui protocol using the vca faders. It sounds surprisingly good.
Old 7th April 2015
Gear interested
Seems like this is the thread for my question, ill copy it in:

Hi fellow Gearslutz!

My first post her and hoping its the right place:-)

Im having my eyes at an analogue desk, Midas Heritage 1000 that i can get quite cheap (1900 dollars)from my local Rock pub.

I know its most common used as a live mixer, but wondered if it can function as a studioboard?

It has plenty enough of mic pres, but is it possible to reroute the signal back in the desk, after you`ve recorded, and use all the strips for mixing on the desk?

I know it has A/B inputs but not shure if its possible to "not" pass through the mic pres one more time in the mixing process.

Im ready to dive into the mixing-on-the-desk-dont-dwell-so-much-with-it-just-make-it-sound-and-get-on-with-it kind of mixing.


Kjell Arne
Old 7th April 2015
Lives for gear

It is very important to know if your live sound reinforcement is at a fixed location ( church sanctuary / night club) or mobil for many set-ups and tear downs. The A & H GL2800 series is much better than the GL2400 (that are a lot cheaper for a good reason) if you are in a fixed situation. The QU16 /24 /32 offerings are the way to go if your live sound has to move around.
The studio recording process requires more than a single live capture that is the live SR world. Due to the fact over dubbing additional tracks to the initial tracks recorded requires a latency free headphone cue for the performer to stay in the groove and pitch: most recording today does not use a console of any type. DAWs are the primary tool used in the overwhelming majority of recording activity today. Analog equipment is essential in the front end (Mics & Pres) that can and will provide a better chance of synergistically delivering a good fit with the task: however from that point on digital processing rules the day. Too this end I have found the following stuff pretty much bullet proof and sonically very good. Tube and ribbon mics--ADL600 and UA 4-710d pres-- UFX interface--Presonus Studio one DAW & fader port & two HP60 headphone amps. The UA plugs are a minor miracle for those of us that had to make either or decisions about where to put the high priced LA2a comp. To sum up these thoughts the analog world still is relevant in fixed concert sound applications: it's hard to beat the wonderful warm sonic delivery of English pres and EQ however the compact nature of their digital offerings and updating firm wear as opposed having to trade for a newer model is mighty seductive.
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