Chaining mixers?

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Chaining mixers?

Postby CalvinAndHobbes » Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:02 am

Hello, in the market for my first mixer. I've found a Mackie 1402VLZ3 for very cheap. The price jump to 16 channel Mackie mixers is pretty substantial, whether they be old CR1604 models, VLZ Pro models, or VlZ3/4. Anywhere from $150-$350+ in price difference. I know that down the line I want more than 14 channels... so I was wondering, can mixers be chained? If so, can they be from different brands altogether? Say, a Mackie 1402vlz3 and a Boss BX-16?

Thank you
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Re: Chaining mixers?

Postby meatballfulton » Tue Apr 26, 2016 1:27 pm

You can chain mixers and they do not have to be the same brand/model but there are a few issues to worry about:

1. Do you need to chain sends for effects or monitors or just the main mix

2. Do I/O levels match...-10 dB vs. +4 dB

3. Is I/O balanced or not

4. How do mutes and solos work on each mixer

5. Do you meed multiple mix busses

You should never buy a mixer that will not meet your long term needs in term of channel counts.
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Re: Chaining mixers?

Postby CalvinAndHobbes » Wed Apr 27, 2016 6:30 pm

You should never buy a mixer that will not meet your long term needs in term of channel counts.


I'll take that advice meatballfulton. Appreciate it.
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Re: Chaining mixers?

Postby fh991586 » Thu Apr 28, 2016 3:23 am

I've chained mixers without thinking about all this: if it's not for recording, don't worry and just adapt the volume levels overall. It's easy to miss channels if you build up a synth rack collection! ;-)
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Re: Chaining mixers?

Postby meatballfulton » Thu Apr 28, 2016 11:40 am

If you just need to submix lots of instruments and do not need EQ there are single rack submixers you could use as well...takes up way less space than a mixing board.
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Re: Chaining mixers?

Postby ninja6485 » Thu Apr 28, 2016 10:06 pm

I've chained mixers as well without giving too much thought. I have two yamaha mixing desks, and they each have a stereo input aside from the normal channel ins that's there next to the stereo out. You would have to try really hard or have accurate measurements to figure out which stuff is on which mixer in the chain, and for just normally listening, or composing the song it's more than adequate. If you're tracking to a separate source, you might want to get one of the mixers out of the signal path. But, if you're mixing directly to a recording device, you can even use something like that to your advantage by putting the things you want in the foreground on the main mixer, and the stuff you want in the background on the chained mixer. I even use the second one as a separate drum mix complete with its own effects.
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...
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Re: Chaining mixers?

Postby ninja6485 » Thu Apr 28, 2016 10:14 pm

I should mention though, in a agreement with meet-ballfuton, that the ideal setup is a mixer with enough channels, so plan for more than what you need at the moment with your first purchase. I got 4 mono and 2 st. Channels at first, when I really should have been looking more at 24 and above with 4 sends
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...
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Re: Chaining mixers?

Postby CalvinAndHobbes » Sun May 01, 2016 8:36 pm

Thanks for all the responses. Yeah the idea was to buy a mixer I could afford, and if I wanted, have the option to add channels (via another mixer) in the future. Have it all connected directly to a recorder. Went with a 16 channel one, which will be fine for a long time. Good to know I can chain them when/if the time comes though. For now it's more than enough, as I only have 4 synths and 3 drum machines.
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Re: Chaining mixers?

Postby fh991586 » Mon May 02, 2016 9:24 pm

Believe me, you never have enough input on mixers! ;-)
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Re: Chaining mixers?

Postby ian » Sun Oct 30, 2016 4:35 pm

I don't see anything wrong with using a mixer with a smaller channel count as a mixer dedicated to a drum machine that has individual outs; in this way one can effect and EQ each drum sound by itself and then, by running that stereo mix back into a ( master) mixer with a bigger channel count, a person is able to have a really well mixed beat track and only use two channels. As to the sends/returns can of worms this opens up, it might even be worth paying for a separate reverb/ delay/ whatever FX you want unit, dedicated exclusively to that smaller sized drum machine mixer. Not everyone can afford a 32 or 64 channel mixer. Of course, it could well get into apples and oranges type thing ( money wise and space wise) if one were to start going crazy buying a whole bunch of new FX's for a separate mixer, but if done smartly and with an eye out for bargains, this seems a perfectly good alternative for the home/ amateur studio. No?
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Re: Chaining mixers?

Postby ninja6485 » Sun Oct 30, 2016 6:03 pm

There is similar wisdom in Dave Pensanos video on grouping tracks: Everything you do is a trade off. You lose something by routing the signal through (in this case) the additional mixer, but if you gain more than you lose, it's worth it.
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...
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Re: Chaining mixers?

Postby krzeppa » Tue Nov 01, 2016 1:10 am

fh991586 wrote:Believe me, you never have enough input on mixers! ;-)


Truer words have never been said. I started with 16 and never thought I would have an issue. Well it took over 12 years, but I eventually need a second mixer. I now use the secon one to chain my tetra and Moho together and still have a few more ins in case somebody happens to bring some additional gear over to record with. I would love a 24 channel, but I simply don't have the room.
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