What are the small faders for on a mixing console?
Since we are considering an inline console, each channel module has two signal paths:
- The input signal, which is the signal from the mic that is being recorded to multitrack
- The monitor signal, which is the output of a single track of the multitrack recorder, the track number of which corresponds to the channel number (usually).
On some consoles, the small fader is normally set to control the level of the monitor signal. So the large faders are used to set recording levels to multitrack, and a temporary monitor mix is set up on the small faders.
On other consoles, this - as a normal condition - is reversed. All inline consoles allow the input and monitor signal paths to be 'flipped', i.e. reversed.
At this point, it is worth saying that the other facilities of the channel can be allocated to either the input or monitor signal paths, or shared.
So for example, you could place the EQ in the input signal path if you wanted to EQ the signal before it went down to tape.
On the other hand if you wanted to record the signal flat, you could put the EQ in the monitor path and use it to temporarily sweeten the monitor mix.
This applies to the dynamics section and auxiliary sends too.