You may be tempted to think that movies and television ads are only visual mediums, but the amount of audio work that goes into these ads proves otherwise. One integral part of making these types of content amazing is done using an audio mixer.
An audio mixer combines audio signals and processes them before rerouting them where they must go. Tons of audio mixer types offer different mixing capabilities.
How Does an Audio Mixer Function?
The most basic description of an audio mixer is it routes various signals into a common output for amplification or recording through the help of a sound reinforcement system. These signals include the sounds captured by an electric instrument or a microphone.
Audio mixers are also called desk, board, or console. This device can range from a large-format giant mixer usually found in professional studios to tabletop audio mixers used by amateurs and newbies in the industry. The varieties of this device cater to live sound, film and television audio, music production, broadcast, and voice-over outputs.
Mixers share the same function and features that are vital in mixing audio. Some of the requisite features of mixers include EQ, pan pots, faders, preamp, and XLR inputs with adjustable trim and aux busses. For large-format audio mixers, they may have additional features.
An audio mixer is a very powerful tool that will allow you to record and mix whatever audio you want for your media. But since it can be very expensive and impractical to get one yourself, you need to hire a professional to be in charge of this aspect of your work.
Types of Audio Mixers
Audio mixers can be fully digital, true analog, or a mixture of both. Digital audio mixers are the most popular types thanks to their automated recall capabilities, as well as mix templates. Every button, switch position, and fader can easily be recalled by this device. This is exactly why a lot of bands bring their audio mixer wherever they go.
Analog mixers mixed with a digital interface process data in analog form and allow for direct integration during the output stage. On the other hand, a true analog system does not have any digital component. To record, the mixer must connect to the recording device. Not only that, but this type of mixer also cannot offer seamless recall that is common in digital boards. Despite lacking in some areas, many professionals use analog mixers because of their amazing tonal capabilities.
The key to using an audio mixer is to understand its channel strip. Different mixers share similar layouts and features so once you know how to use one console, you will be familiar with many others as well.
If you’re a beginner, the differences between types of audio mixers and their uses can seem very overwhelming. Thankfully, there are tons of reliable and talented professionals that have mastered how to operate these devices that can help you with your needs.
Who Takes Care of the Audio Mixer?
The person who is in charge of the audio mixer in any production, whether it’s for a show, an audiobook production, a tv program, or a podcast, is called the production sound mixer or location sound mixer. This audio expert is needed in both the pre-production and production stages since they are in charge of recording and balancing all the audio on set.
Being in charge of the audio mixer is an extremely hard task, and this is why it is best to have professionals do it. Taking this position means a person will face pressure at all times. This is because they help choose the equipment, visit all shooting locations to assess audio-related problems, and even choose the sound team.
What Does This Audio Expert Do?
Taking control of the audio mixer is just one of the tasks of an audio expert. During the production phase, they are also in charge of recording the required audio effects. This includes the background noise, room tone, as well as dialogue. This means that they have to mix multiple audios in real-time, as well as balance the quality and volume to ensure that the audio will sound perfect in the final output.
Throughout the production phase, they must maintain a log of the audio files that cannot be corrected in real-time. They must also work closely with their crew members if they have any involved in a project. One of the most successful audio experts of all time who worked with movies such as Inglourious Basterds, Mark Ulano, stated that they must understand the intent and context and be able to respond in an intuitive way to create a seamless flow on the set.
Salary of an Audio Mixer Expert
This professional earns an average of $23.53 per hour to $30.53. The income of the professional that operates the audio mixer also depends on different factors, such as the size of the production and the overall budget for the project. Their experience will also play a role in their salary.
Starting as an audio mixer is hard, and many professionals do freelance work. But before they can reach this status, they have to gather experience through studying and volunteering during shoots until they learn the ropes of the industry. All audio experts must start at an entry-level position. They can serve as production assistants, sound trainees, or boom operators before they can climb the ladder. Their rich experience will allow them to understand how important audio is.
Qualities You Should Look for in An Audio Expert
Looking for the perfect audio expert for your project can be very taxing, but if you know the qualities you should look for, your search will get easier.
When these professionals get started in their chosen field, they need as much training as they can get. This can include field or educational training. Although there is no educational requirement for this role, it requires some form of audio training.
Depending on what project you have, this may be acoustics training where they learn about sound devices and equipment, as well as the relationship of sound to the environment. Think of it this way; you cannot simply use the sound captured by the camera since the quality won’t be enough. These professionals need to know the importance of microphones to give the appropriate sound for your project.
If you have a script written by a writer, you can submit this to the audio expert. They may break it down and highlight which scenes are easy and difficult to do, then plan their actions accordingly.
The professional in charge of the audio mixer must ensure that they are knowledgeable in operating the electronic acoustics and equipment. They must also know the ropes of sound recording, editing, and playback. Since they may work with digital or analog recordings, they must have a background and technical know-how with various forms of editing equipment.
Drive and meticulousness
The freelancing industry is extremely competitive, and audio experts cannot expect to develop the skills necessary for their job without putting in work. They must master their job, and this takes years of dealing with unique jobs.
The experience of audio experts will also teach them the importance of meticulousness. These professionals must train their ears through active and critical listening to enable them to develop inquisitive ears. Every time they work, whether it’s to listen, record, or mix, they must be able to analyze the audience’s auditory perception and dissect how the sound can make the audience feel a certain way.
For instance, you listen to a mix. And you get tired after five minutes. So something may be wrong. It is the audio expert’s job to dig deeper into the issue and examine why the audience tunes out. Is it frequency? Do they need to use a spectrum analyzer?
Creativity is an essential quality you should look for in an audio mixer expert, especially if you are hiring one for a live session. Creativity is important. This is especially true when dealing with limitations. Aside from having a rich imagination, the professional must be able to come up with soundscapes and know how to exactly put them into reality.
You wouldn’t want someone unreliable to be in charge of the audio mixer. Everyone in your team must be able to put their full trust in this professional’s decision. This person must have good judgment and be confident that they can produce great output. If you or other people involved in your project cannot trust this professional, challenges will occur.
Aside from being reliable, they must also be masters at problem-solving because every project will surely run into problems – the equipment may need fixing, the voice-over talent may need further coaching when it comes to audiobook recording, or there may be sudden changes that need to be done. The audio mixer expert must know how to pinpoint specific problems and know how to solve them, even when the issue is complex.
These professionals work closely with various members of the production, so they must have good communication skills. They must always be aware of the protocols that you have defined and must be able to communicate their ideas well. No matter how talented an audio expert is, they will get nowhere if they do not have the required people skills.
Finding an Audio Mixer Expert
Whether you need an audio mixer expert for a concert, a recording session, a video, podcast, or broadcast, you will be examining a lot of applicants. The ultimate way to find the perfect professional for your project is to remember the pointers listed above.
If you are looking to hire an audio expert, Bunny Studio makes it easy. Contact us today.