Home Recording Computer Control and Software Sound Mixers

Home Recording Computer Control and Software Sound Mixers

Recording audio mixers come in a variety of types, two of which are computer controlled and software audio mixers. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages for a home recorder.

Software mixer
If you want the flexibility of a digital mixer and don’t have an urgent need to physically touch the dimmers and knobs, then a software mixer may work for you. The software mixer is included with any computer audio software or MIDI production software. The advantage of software mixing software is that after you have the computer and audio software you want, you don’t have anything else to buy.
Software mixers work in the same way as digital mixers. Because software mixers are digital, you have an almost endless array of routing options that you can do without having to patch and reconnect the cables. However, some people may not be too keen on mingling with a keyboard and mouse instead of traditional switches or slide dimmers.
For those of you who want the best of both worlds – high-tech computer software and touch stimulation – you can find control surfaces that allow you to control the software mixer with real dimmers and knobs.

Computer control surface
If you end up with a computer-based system with a software mixer, you’ll have some knobs, buttons, and dimmers to play with on your computer’s control surface, as shown in the following illustration.
Aside from being able to fiddle with the knobs, you’ll find that the PC Control Surface is a useful tool if you decide to use a PC-based Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) and want (or need) to control your virtual mixer with some equipment.
These controllers send MIDI messages – messages encoded using the Musical Instrument Digital Interface communication protocol – to the computer. These MIDI messages tell the computer which parameters to change. The computer control surface can easily be programmed to function as a separate digital mixer.
Not all programs work with every computer control surface, so check with the computer control surface software or manufacturer before purchasing to make sure that the computer control surface is compatible with your system.