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Sound Mixers: Outputs

The main output from most mixing devices is a stereo output, using two output sockets which should be fairly obvious and easy to locate. The connectors are usually 3-pin XLRs on larger consoles, but can also be 6.5mm TR (jack) sockets or RCA sockets.

The level of the output signal is monitored on the mixer's VU meters. The ideal is for the level to peak at around 0dB or just below. However you should note that the dB scale is relative and 0dB on one mixer may not be the same as 0dB on another mixer or audio device. For this reason it is important to understand how each device in the audio chain is referenced, otherwise you may find that your output signal is unexpectedly high or low when it reaches the next point in the chain.

In professional circles, the nominal level of 0dB is considered to be +4 dBu. Consumer-level equipment tends to use -10 dBV.

The best way to check the levels of different equipment is to use audio test tone. Send 0dB tone from the desk and measure it at the next point in the chain.

Many mixers include a number of additional outputs, for example:

Monitor Feed: A dedicated monitor feed which can be adjusted independently of the master output.

Headphones: The headphone output may be the same as the monitor feed, or you may be able to select separate sources to listen to.

Auxiliary Sends: The output(s) of the mixer's auxiliary channels.

Subgroup Outputs: Some consoles have the option to output each subgroup independently.

Communication Channels: Some consoles have additional output channels available for communicating with the stage, recording booths, etc.

That's the end of this tutorial. If you have any questions or comments please use the audio forum.