Not every control on a soundboard is self-explanatory. “Don’t touch that, it will feedback,” and “These channels on our soundboard are broken,” are statements that are often untrue, and come from a lack of understanding. Not every knob and button is there to change how something sounds; some are there just to make it work. If there is a knob or button you are unsure of, look it up or experiment (at appropriate times). Actually understanding the soundboard will give you confidence, make troubleshooting easier and less stressful, and allow you to do more with your console. This guide will help get you started on just that.
+48v (Phantom Power)- Sends 48vdc down the mic line. This is required for condenser type microphones, as well as active D.Is. It would be unlikely for this to harm a dynamic microphone.
Line, Pad, -20db- Lowers input level significantly. Initial signal level adjustment
Invert, Polarity, ∅- Inverts the polarity of the signal. This can generally be ignored. In most cases it is used when using two microphones on one source to avoid phase cancellation. (i.e. snare top and bottom)
Gain- This is the primary signal level adjustment. Gain structure is very important. The idea is to keep enough signal to overcome noise that is present in all equipment, while avoid clipping. Clipping is the when the amount of signal exceeds the maximum capacity of any device.
HPF (High Pass Filter), Low Cut- Gradually cuts frequencies below a certain frequency. (Typically around 80-100Hz.) In most cases this should be used on vocal mics, handhelds, and pastors mice to prevent popping and feedback.
Insert- This button enables and disables the insert jack. The insert jack allows you to take the signal out of the soundboard, almost immediately in terms of signal flow, and process it with outboard gear such as compressors or reverb units. It also lets you return the processed signal using the same jack and TRS cable. The signal then continues to travel through the rest of the soundboard, and can be mixed as usual.
EQ Gain- Changes the level of a specific frequency. (And some frequencies around it) This may be a fixed frequency or adjustable.
Frequency- Changes the frequency that the gain nob is adjusting.
Q, Bandwidth- This knob changes the range of frequencies that are being affected by a particular eq. band. A high Q is a finer adjustment and it’s influence on surrounding frequencies is minimal. Bandwidth is the same thing just different terminology. A high bandwidth is a broad adjustment and has a significant impact on surrounding frequencies.
Shelf- A shelf or shelving eq. makes an adjustment to all frequencies above or below the designated frequency.
EQ On, Bypass- Turns the EQ on and off.
Level- Each knob controls the amount of signal that is being sent to each aux mix. Aux mixes are mixes that can be adjusted separately from the Stereo or Main mix.
Post- Fader position influences aux mix
Pre- Fader position does not influence aux mix.
Pan/Balance- Gradually moves the signal from center (equal in both left and Right) to either the left or right speaker.
Mute, On- Turns the channel on and off.
Solo, PFL (Pre-fader Listen)- Pre-fader listen solos the selected Ch.
in the headphones. Also shows the level on board’s main meters.
Meter- Shows the signal level. Stay out of the red! Typically this is a pre-fader level and should be influenced by adjusting the gain. Use this to help build proper gain structure.
Fader- This is the final input adjustment. Changes the amount of signal being sent to the main output. 0 means no change, this is also called nominal or unity. Any number below 0 is negative and means the signal is being attenuated. If the fader is relatively low at normal volume consider lowering gain. If the fader is relatively high consider increasing gain.
L-R Sends signal to the main output.
1-2 Sends signal to groups 1(L) and 2(R).
3-4 Sends signal to groups 3(L) and 4(R).
There may be more or fewer Busses. They may be in stereo pairs as described above or individual.
Aux- The knobs in the master section labeled aux adjust the overall level being sent to the aux output.
Matrix- A matrix is similar to an aux. An aux mix is built with inputs while in most cases a matrix allows you to mix different outputs.
Output Busses (Stereo, Main, Mono, Subgroup, Group)- Output busses are mix outputs. They can also be used to process groups of inputs or become a master volume for a group of inputs. By sending all the vocal mics to bus 1-2 and taking it out of L-R. Then sending buss 1 and 2 to L-R you can make the faders for buss 1 and 2 group masters that adjust the level of all the vocal microphones.
Monitor- This section controls the monitor outputs. You can select what is being monitored and also adjust the level of the monitor output. The Monitor output is the headphone output as well as any other outputs designated as monitor outputs.
AFL- After-fader Listen, This will send the selected I/O to the monitor output. As opposed to PFL, AFL reflects adjustments made by the fader or level knob.