How Does a Sound Mixer Work?

A sound mixer is a piece of equipment that mixes multiple sounds into one or more channels. The final product is run through the mixing console and then sent to its destination, usually speakers.

These devices have multiple applications in production and post-production in different industries such as music, film, and television. They are often used for music mixing, film and television post-production, dialog recording, or live sound recording or reinforcement.

In recording studios, mixers are typically used to combine multiple microphones and instruments into one output signal. When mixing is done manually, the desired mix of microphones can be obtained by using input controls on each channel strip (e.g., a fader) and then adjusting the gain of each source concerning the anticipated mix.

Key Takeaways

  • A sound mixer is essential for blending multiple sounds in music, film, and TV, facilitating production and post-production processes.
  • A sound mixer’s key components include a Master Section (controls overall volume and mix), an Auxiliary Section (connects extra devices), EQ Section (adjusts frequencies), and Faders (manages individual sound levels).
  • In terms of music production, a mixer is utilized for balancing vocals against instruments, ensuring clarity and harmony in the mix through careful adjustment of channels and sound levels.
  • For live performances, engineers manage the live audio by manipulating volume and EQ settings on mixers to deliver optimal sound to audiences and performers.
  • A sound engineer’s role involves collaborating with artists to achieve desired sounds and expertly managing mixers to produce high-quality audio tracks.
  • Achieving the right mix balance is crucial for clear and enjoyable audio, highlighting the technical and creative aspects of sound mixing.

What are the Parts of the Sound Mixer?

Sound mixers can either be analog or digital. Analog mixers will often look more traditional with knobs and buttons, whereas digital sound mixers will often feature numerous sliders.

The following terms and parts apply to both analog and digital mixers:

  • Master Section: This part of the mixer is used to adjust how loud the entire mix will be. It can also control how multiple sources are combined together, how much they are panned over to each side, how quickly the signal gets amplified or decreased, how fast the signal reaches maximum or minimum value, and how much feedback the system has.
  • Auxiliary Section: This part of the mixer allows you to hook up auxiliary devices that will be involved in your mix. You can plug in things like microphones or instruments, allowing them to play through the sound system along with everything else.
  • EQ Section: This section will allow you to control how the different sounds are adjusted, depending on what frequency they are centered on. Most mixers will have at least one EQ section for every channel. You’ll have only one EQ section if you have a mono mixer.
  • Fader: The fader allows you to control how much the source sound is heard in the mix and works similarly to how a volume knob on a stereo would turn it up or down, depending on how far it is turned. Keep in mind that each channel has its own fader.

Sound Mixer Use Case for Music Mixing

As a device used for sound mixing, the role of the tool is to balance the different sounds in a song. The sound mixer creates a balance between vocals, drums, and other instruments.

A sound mixer typically has two channels on their console at their disposal. One channel is for the vocals, and one channel is for everything else. A good sound mix should have the vocals at a higher volume than everything else so that they can be heard clearly.

A good sound mixer engineer relies on experience to know what sounds will work well together and which ones won’t. They also rely on experience to know how much volume each instrument should have relative to one another to create an overall pleasing mix.

Another important role of a sound engineer is to choose how the instruments and vocals should be recorded. Some mixers prefer to record everything at once — all of the band members playing together. Other mixers like to break up the recording session into smaller segments, such as one person per instrument or even just one take per instrument.

How to use a sound mixer for live sound recordings?

A sound engineer may work for a band that often has concerts and wants the best quality recording and output of their songs. Typically, one channel would be designated to vocals and the other to everything else (drums, guitar, bass).

You need to understand how a sound mixer works so that you can use it properly in live sound recordings.

Many sound mixers have knobs that are controlled through potentiometers. These are the controls that you use to adjust how loud or quiet a particular instrument is. You can also control how much of another instrument’s audio will be heard in your headphones, which will affect the volume and tone of your main instrumentation sound and how well you and the audience can hear it.

The main microphone that the vocalist sings into will be plugged into channel 1, while the other instruments are plugged into channels 2-6 (or however many channels there are). When you talk about how many “channels” a sound mixer has, this refers to how many instruments or microphones it can accept at once.

If you have a mono sound mixer, it can only accept one instrument or microphone plugged in at a time. A stereo mixer can accept two.

You then adjust how much of each input you want to be heard through the headphones with the volume control knobs on your board. The fader attached to each channel is used to control how much of each input will be heard through the main speakers.

These mixers usually also have EQ knobs for each channel, which you can use to make your instruments sound how you want them to by giving more or less emphasis (or equalization) to specific frequencies. This is how you may adjust how loud the deep bass drum is compared to how loud the treble of a guitar should sound.

The Sound Mixer’s Role in Music Production

The sound mixer plays a crucial role in music production. A good sound mixer must work with the band or musician to get a great recording. But you don’t just need to understand how to work with them. You also need to understand how they work, what they do, and how the process works.

The role of the sound mixer is to combine the music and sound effects into a single track. They are responsible for balancing the different sounds to create an enjoyable experience for the listener.

Sound mixers may work in a studio set or on location at a concert or sporting event. They will often use a mixing console to control each channel’s volume levels and panning.

The best sound engineers know how to work with bands and musicians and how to use the equipment to its full potential. They need to understand how each instrument should be recorded and how it will all fit together for a cohesive mix.


Understanding the role of a sound mixer is essential if you want to make quality recordings. The sound engineer is the one who ensures that all instruments and vocals are at a high enough volume so that you can hear them clearly through the speakers or in your headphones. 

The sound engineer’s job is to take multiple audio signals (each representing one instrument or vocalist) and combine them into one output. The goal is to create a coherent track that makes it easy for the listener to hear everything.

Sound engineers must work to balance the different volume levels and frequencies of each instrument or vocal, which is why it’s helpful to understand how these things are measured.