Over the past decade there have been some amazing advancements in technology related to the music industry. In the past the only option for music professionals was to have large hardware mixers to adjust the sounds and create the sounds and songs that they wanted. Today, however, there are software options that claim to be able to do the same thing.
The question is whether or not software mixers can actually provide the same high quality results that people enjoy from hardware models. It is important to get the answer to this question because hardware mixers can cost thousands of dollars, which is something many music lovers struggle to be able to afford.
Customizing Music & Sounds
One of the most important things people do with mixers is taking multiple different types of sounds and combining them into one song. In this area, software mixers can do everything that a hardware version is able to do. In fact, the software option can make it even easier because you can take specific sounds and manipulate them as needed and then add them in precisely where you need them.
When it comes to adding new sounds from another source, however, a hardware mixer is a much easier option. You can hook up CD players, tape decks, record players and much more so you can swap in and out different sources in just moments. When you try to do this with a software mixer you need to load the sounds onto your PC before you can start using them. This, of course, takes a lot more time and effort than most people will want to spend.
Digital & Analogue
Another area of interest is when it comes to the type of signal being used. Software mixers will work exclusively with digital signals since it is drawing them off of the computer (in almost all cases). Hardware mixers, however, can have either digital inputs or analogue inputs so you can work with the type of signal you prefer. While digital signals are undoubtedly cleaner and more pure, many musicians actually don’t want that when working with the music. Instead, they prefer having a more ‘authentic’ sound.
As mentioned above, software mixers can typically be far less expensive. In some cases you can even get free versions that work quite well. Hardware mixers, on the other hand will typically start out costing hundreds of dollars and go up from there. Of course, in either case you typically get what you pay for. The more expensive the software or hardware you use, the more features you’ll have and the better they will typically work.
Choosing Your Mixer
If you’re just starting out with working in music a low cost software mixer will typically more than meet your needs. If you’re looking to work on a high end professional level, however, you will typically want to have a high end hardware mixer as well as good software. The one you select will have a lot to do with where you are in your music career.