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Author Topic: What parts of a digitial mixer are digital?  (Read 1453 times)

Jim Layton

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What parts of a digitial mixer are digital?
« on: October 09, 2018, 09:09:43 am »

I have searched but think I can get a more concise answer right here. I've been using digital mixers for years. I enjoy not hauling around a rack of compressors and other outboard gear.

So what "sections" of a digital mixer are digital? Example. Is the mic preamp A or D? If D, does that mean it is run by a processor and built to "sound like" an A preamp? Same for PEQ, GEQ, FX, compression? Plug-ins excluded in the question. I'm asking about an X32 or Si Expression-level board.

Was the digital mixer invented primarily to send "material" to computers for recording and mixing or was it to cut down on physical gear?

So in general, a basic digital mixer accepts A signals, converts the mix to D then converts to A for output to the PA?

I drilled down into A/D in medical equipment and see that there is lots of "magic" related to sampling, filtering, etc, etc. It looks fairly complicated to make things work (sound?) well.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2018, 11:33:35 am by Jim Layton »
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David Allred

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Re: What parts of a digitial mixer are digital?
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2018, 10:11:29 am »

I have searched but think I can get a more concise answer right here. I've been using digital mixers for years. I enjoy not hauling around a rack of compressors and other outboard gear.

So what "sections" of a digital mixer are digital? Example. Is the mic preamp A or D? If D, does that mean it is run by a processor and built to "sound like" an A preamp? Same for PEG, GEQ, FX, compression? Plug-ins excluded in the question. I'm asking about an X32 or Si Expression-level board.

Was the digital mixer invented primarily to send "material" to computers for recording and mixing or was it to cut down on physical gear?

So in general, a basic digital mixer accepts A signals, converts the mix to D then converts to A for output to the PA?

I drilled down into A/D in medical equipment and see that there is lots of "magic" related to sampling, filtering, etc, etc. It looks fairly complicated to make things work (sound?) well.

The power switch.  (Sorry.  That's about all I can contribute.)  ???
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: What parts of a digitial mixer are digital?
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2018, 10:18:01 am »

Depending on how finely you want to drill down, and how you define digital, there is a lot of analog content in the glue circuitry peripheral to a digital mixer (like power supplies, etc).

In broad strokes the mic preamp is generally analog, but there are modern mic preamp chip sets with digital gain control, so hybrid or mixed technology.

Headphone outputs and analog outputs will have analog buffer circuitry.

The "mixing" is performed inside the digital domain after audio stems have been converted to digital streams.

Digital mixers have been around for decades but generally too expensive for anything but high end studio use. Only recently has the technology dropped enough to become cost competitive with analog mixers for live PA use.

JR

[edit- if you think about it a power switch is on/off so kind of digital   ;D   [/edit]
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: What parts of a digitial mixer are digital?
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2018, 11:19:04 am »

I have searched but think I can get a more concise answer right here. I've been using digital mixers for years. I enjoy not hauling around a rack of compressors and other outboard gear.

So what "sections" of a digital mixer are digital? Example. Is the mic preamp A or D? If D, does that mean it is run by a processor and built to "sound like" an A preamp? Same for PEG, GEQ, FX, compression? Plug-ins excluded in the question. I'm asking about an X32 or Si Expression-level board.

Was the digital mixer invented primarily to send "material" to computers for recording and mixing or was it to cut down on physical gear?

So in general, a basic digital mixer accepts A signals, converts the mix to D then converts to A for output to the PA?

I drilled down into A/D in medical equipment and see that there is lots of "magic" related to sampling, filtering, etc, etc. It looks fairly complicated to make things work (sound?) well.
Jim, the vast majority of a digital mixer's function is done in the digital domain.  The input preamp is analog (probably with digital gain control), and this goes directly to an A/D converter.  All processing - EQ, dynamics, plug-ins, delay, etc., are done in the digital domain and only become analog again at the D/A converter feeding the output driver and analog out.

There are several reasons for this - fewer components in the device (you pay for software development once; you pay for hardware in every unit), A->D->A conversion takes time and multiple rounds would make the desk unusably slow, and the extra functionality you can get in digital, e.g. virtually infinite summing headroom, fancy phase manipulation, modelling, etc.

The nuances of A/D conversion are beyond my expertise, and sampling theory is complicated.  In the early days it was done for functionality - either better quality (CDs vs. cassettes/vinyl (yes I know some people prefer vinyl  ::) ), or some other function that was difficult to do in analog hardware.  These days it's done for cost reasons, and you get the extra features as gravy on top.
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Dave Garoutte

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Re: What parts of a digitial mixer are digital?
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2018, 11:51:04 am »

Plus a lot of effort has been done to keep it digital as far along the stream as possible to the last device (stage boxes, Dante, etc), which needs to be analog, the speaker. 

Darn, JR beat me to it on the power switch being binary. :(
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David Allred

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Re: What parts of a digitial mixer are digital?
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2018, 03:25:20 pm »



Darn, JR beat me to it on the power switch being binary. :(

HEY! HEY! HEY!   :'( :'( :'(  Am I invisible here?   :(   
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Dave Garoutte

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Re: What parts of a digitial mixer are digital?
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2018, 03:56:47 pm »

HEY! HEY! HEY!   :'( :'( :'(  Am I invisible here?   :(

What..who said that???   Is someone there?? :o
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: What parts of a digitial mixer are digital?
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2018, 04:13:15 pm »

HEY! HEY! HEY!   :'( :'( :'(  Am I invisible here?   :(
What..who said that???   Is someone there?? :o

The Dave's are out of polarity,  canceling out each other. 🔇
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Rick Powell

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Re: What parts of a digitial mixer are digital?
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2018, 06:58:45 pm »

Well, there's also the analog Littlelite jack for mixers so equipped, but some of them have digital dimming control.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: What parts of a digitial mixer are digital?
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2018, 08:01:35 pm »

Q: What parts are digital?

A: The parts that run on ones and zeros.
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"Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."  - Kurt Vonnegut
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