Is a Digital Mixer a Good Investment for Singers?

Kevin Alexander shares tips on vocal harmomny processors for perfomring vocalists.


Sound Engineer | Technologist | Co-founder of Singdaptive

This week’s Tips from the Team are all about digital mixers! Today, we hear from sound engineer, technologist and Singdaptive co-founder, Kevin Alexander on whether it’s better to use a digital mixer.

What’s Better – The Convenience of Digital Mixers or Descrete Components

Tips from the Team Transcript: So you have access to one, or you’ve bought one, or somebody’s given one to you, or you stumble upon one and decided that it hasn’t been stolen: a digital mixer. You have a digital mixer and, oh my goodness, it has everything under the sun inside this mixer. It’s got compression, it’s got reverbs and delays and EQs and all this stuff. But wait a minute, I have some gear at home. I have a compressor I used to use, or I see my friend using a cool effects thing and it’s this thing and it’s cool and it’s expensive. Should I use it? What should I use? What do I use? What’s better? Well, here’s the thing: what’s better? I have no idea. I don’t know what’s better. I mean, the answer to that is subjective to you. What I can say, is pretty much any digital mixer I’ve ever used, the effects in it, they work and they’re pretty good. Some are a bit better than others, but in general, they’re all usable.

So if you have compression, EQ, reverb, and delay in your mixers already, start by using that. I mean, man, it’s easy. It’s simple. There’s no extra gear. There’s no complexity, so use that first. If you’re finding you’re not quite getting what you want, or often maybe the controls for it just don’t make sense to you, then consider different gear. If the way the controls are presented to us aren’t intuitive, then by all means try something different, but start with the mixer because there’s no sense in making your life more complicated than it probably already is, I’m assuming that it’s devastatingly complex. So, start with the digital mixer and then add other stuff if you want to try something different.

Is It Better To User a Digital Mixer?

The other big thing to keep in mind when you choose a harmony processor is how it controls the key, scale and chords for the harmonies. A lot of harmony processors today will have an input for your guitar, so it will use the chords of your guitar; or maybe it will even listen to the music that is happening in the room. In these cases, the harmonies will respond to what it hears to produce the correct harmonies. It needs the music in order to produce the harmonies correctly.

But here’s the thing. None of them, even the best ones out there, necessarily get this process right all the time. However, some products let you manually input a key and a scale to get the harmonies and then you can change that information over time if needed. Therefore, I always recommend buying a product that lets you do this. If you can never set a key to a scale, you will inevitably have times where it just doesn’t work for you. So try to make sure to get a product that at minimum you can set the key and scale, which will be helpful for a lot of the time, but not all the time.