Analog vs digital live mixers – What’s the difference?


With the growing popularity of digital mixers, I thought it would be worth doing a post on the differences between digital and analogue mixers as the differences can be a bit confusing.

A mixer is a very important component when you are setting up a sound system. The quality of the sound produced is heavily dependent on the type and quality of the mixer you use. This is because the main function of a mixer is to harmonize all the signals from all the sources and send them to other destinations. There are different types and makes of mixers, each having different capabilities. The two most common types of mixers are the analog and digital mixers. These two are similar and also different in many ways.

Comparing sound boards – pros and cons

Analog and digital mixers have particular differences in their prices, quality of sound they produce and even the design. Here are some of the differences between them;

• The price

An analog mixer generally costs a lot less as compared to a digital sound desk. This is because they are compatible with a wide range of additional sound systems. The purchase price of analog consoles also lower than that of digital soundboards. Digital soundboards, on the other hand, are more expensive to acquire as compared to analog mixers. This is because the bulk that is in the analog systems has been written off and replaced with more sophisticated ones.

• Flexibility

A digital console is very flexible, because you can pre-program and recall settings whenever you need them. This is a feature that is not there in the analog mixing desks. It makes digital mixing consoles more efficient especially in events where different scenes require different sounds. It is also effective in correcting mistakes made. There is probably less need for expensive outboard gear too, due to their functionality. Analog soundboards, on the other hand, do not have this feature and it, therefore, requires more attention during functions.

• Ease of operation

Analog desks tend to be easier to use as compared to digital mixers. This is because the layout of analog mixers is very similar. They console layout tends to follow signal flow which means that if you become good at one of the analog mixers, you can easily operate most other analog desks. Digital desks, on the other hand, are very diverse in their make. Learning how to operate one does not necessarily mean that you can operate the rest of digital mixing consoles.

• Noise

Digital consoles are more resistant to noise from the environment as compared to the analog mixers. This is because of the digital transmission of the signals. Digital transmission is not susceptible to noise even with the increased distance of transmission. An analog console, on the other hand, does not have the digital transmission feature and is therefore very easily affected by noise. Analog mixers can be noisy, especially with increased size of the space, but a good quality desk will have a low noise floor

Check out my massive post – 101 Ideas for Church Sound Systems

analogue mixing console picture

Advantages of the analog mixing consoles

They do have several advantages.
• They are cheap to purchase.

• When it comes to an analog mixer or digital mixer, analog is easier to use. When you learn how to use one analog mixer, you can easily operate any other board easily. They are also ideal for beginners due to their ease of use. It is easy to fix any challenges in the audio signal flow . This is due to the visual feedback that the they give.

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Disadvantages

Some of the disadvantages of analog mixers include the following;

• Analog soundbaords are bulky. This makes them difficult to carry from one place to another.

• Overall costs can work out to be expensive in some cases, especially if customising it to what you want and adding external effects units. Collecting the best parts for the mixer may end up being more expensive than buying a new digital mixer.• There are no features that allow you to preprogram or recall any of your past sounds. This makes it tiring to use analog boards because you have to make new sounds every time.

digital live mixer photo

Advantages of digital audio soundboards

• It is possible and easy to pre-program settings and recall them whenever you need them. This makes them easy and fun to use especially in huge events and gatherings. You can easily change the atmosphere of the event using the preprogramed settings.

• They have the capability to accommodate more external sound devices.

• they produce better sound because they are able to reduce noise in the background and in the environment. They use digital transmission which is resistant to noise in the transmission of audio signals.

• They are able to perform more functions because the individual functions have individual purposes. This enables ease of packaging more functions in a small space.

• Digital mixers are less bulky and relatively smaller. This makes it easy for their transportation from one place to another.

• Easier interfacing with a computer.

You should check out my other related post 5 Digital Mixers for Every Budget 

Disadvantages

• One of the obvious disadvantages of these mixers is the fact that they are expensive to purchase. This is because they are more sophisticated and they can perform more functions.

• A digital mixing desk may be difficult for beginners to operate. Learning how to operate one does not necessarily mean that you can operate another digital mixer with ease. It may be difficult to assemble different parts of the mixer to come up with a customized setup. It may require a lot of skill that may cost too much.

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Conclusion

Mixers are the most important aspect of sound systems. It is important to know that the type of mixer you use will heavily affect the sound quality produced. Each of the soundboards has different capabilities for different purposes. Along with their advantages, each of the mixers has several disadvantages. Both analog and digital consoles are popular today. The choice between a digital mixer vs analog mixer depends on the quality of sound you desire, the efficiency you require and the price at which you are willing to buy a mixer.

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