Three Things to Consider Before Buying a Sound Board Mixer

Understanding the basic functions and features of a sound board mixer can help your performance sound better.

Three keys to consider when buying a sound mixer
Sound mixers allow someone with a well-tuned ear to adjust the instruments to levels where everything sounds its best.David Bartus

Your neighbor’s being polite when he says your band sounds like three starving cats in a grocery bag, which maybe you even liked enough to write a song about it. Any musician is only the sum of the sound he or she produces, and the best way to improve your sound (besides practicing more often) is with a better sound board mixer. Whether mixing music yourself or with your best buddy as sound engineer, here are three factors to consider in choosing the best sound board mixer for you.

Yamaha MG10XU 10-Input Stereo Mixer With Effects
With USB and SPX digital effects, plus three band EQ.Yamaha

Mixers work by inputting the sound signal from each source (microphone, guitar pick-up, etc.). As such your mixer needs enough inputs to accommodate all the voices and instruments in your band. Ideally there are enough inputs accepting both XLR and ¼-inch jacks to cover your needs. Additional input channels accepting stereo and RCA jacks are a plus. From there you can use your mixer to EQ and add effects like reverb, depending on the features available.

Rockville RPM870 8-Channel 6000w Powered Mixer
Has 16 FX presets including chorus, phaser, flanger and reverb.Rockville

The difference between a powered and non-powered mixer is the powered mixer doubles as an amplifier. If you already have or prefer to use powered speakers, all you need is a non-powered mixer. If your speakers aren’t already powered you need an amplifier, and a powered mixer will fill the bill. Be sure to consider the size of the rooms where you play in determining how much power your mixer might need.

Behringer Xenyx X1222USB Premium 16-Input 2/2-Bus Mixer with USB/Audio Interface
Ultra-low noise analog unit with four phantom-powered mic preamps and 16 FX presets.Behringer

Analog mixers are great for live sound. Generally, less costly, analog mixers feature fewer effects and mixing options and are a bit easier for beginners. Digital mixers are typically more computerized, will remember mixes and pre-sets, and sometimes feature wireless control, enabling mixing on a tablet, moving about the room.