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Buying a Broadcast Radio mixer: How to choose one

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

Whatever your budget and needs, just remember that this Mixer is designed to last and be the main studio product you will use. So we recommend that you make sure you future proof your station as much as possible, and really think about your future expansion plans from the beginning.

So What is it?

Figuring out how a mixer works is easy, just don’t worry how many of how few buttons there may be, that’s not important.

A mixer does one basic function. It mixes audio to an output. The knobs and faders are used to change the dynamics e.g., its loudness, EQ, and other properties of the sound, this is where your creativity comes into play. A mixer also allows you to route a signal i.e., redirect signals to other equipment.

Digital Broadcast mixers or Analog broadcast mixers?

Recently most people thought that the digital way is the best way to go when choosing a broadcast mixer. This really depends on several things. Analog mixers have been the norm within broadcasting for many years.

Digital mixers, on the other hand are still relatively new (since the 1990’s). Both digital and analog mixers will produce hi quality sound, but the overall quality will always start with high quality audio source material.

So what’s the real difference between Analog and Digital Mixers?

Simply put, Analog mixers use analog circuitry, and have their functions hard-wired to the various hardware components in the unit. For instance, each input is matched to one channel (a group of buttons, knobs, faders, inputs arranged in one strip) Just by looking at the mixing console you can see and access all your settings. Using analogue mixers tends to be easy. All it takes is to master one analog console and you can use them all.

Digital mixers rely on digital processing chips, which mean that there is an array of micro processors handling the audio conversion and routing options, Being programmable means that the controls, inputs, outputs, faders and other components, are flexible and can allow for signal routing even an d remote control across suitable IP networks.

A major consideration is that Digital mixers are normally smaller than analog mixers. Typically inputs and outputs are handled in a separate “engine” which is a rack-mountable unit. This allows for a clean and un-cluttered work surface area. Having user presets means you can save your settings and recall them. Perfect for different users of the miser They also have built in effects, while for most analogue mixers, you’d need separate effect processors.

The way you control them is also varied. You could use the physical controls on the board. Some have touch screens, Ethernet interface, Wi-Fi connectivity, motorized faders, remote control via an iPad/iPhone, etc. Over the years, Digital and Analog mixer prices have become similar, and moving forward its expected that mixers will become cheaper overall due to increased demand and availability of components.

How many Inputs/outputs do you need?

Ask yourself these simple questions,

How many mics do I plan to use?

This will depend on the number of guests or co-hosts on your shows. Remember to have one or two spare channels available for the time you need to expand,

For broadcasting needs, we recommend a mixer with a USB port to send your audio straight to your PC. If not, you will need a Professional Soundcard on your computer

How many line inputs do you really need? Gone are the days of needing 20 inputs for a mixer, although we still get asked for them!

Do you need any Telephone channels? Built in Hybrids, or external ones, or even using VoIP for calls. Very important to decide early on.

Price – how much can you afford?

How much are you willing to spend on a brand-new broadcast mixer.

Consider your budget, current requirement and what possible station expansion plans you have in the coming years. Also factor in the costs of installation, Digital mixers tend to be faster and cheaper to wire up, due to the use of more network cables and less cable patching

Will you post your new mixing console all over social media? Are you going to fall in love with how it looks?

It seems like something besides the main points, but why should you fork out loads of money on something that doesn’t look as great as you!

Radio broadcast mixer features

Things to consider…

Can you use the audio mixer to take calls effortlessly? Some mixers include a telephone hybrid for making and recording calls.

Can you trigger sound effects and jingles directly from the mixer? Some digital mixers allow you to do this with user definable buttons.

If in doubt, call or email us and we will be very happy to help choose a Mixer that will exceed your expectations.

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