It used to be that you could only get” microphones” and “line input” on a mixer. Nowadays though, because of new developments in the telephone industry, many audio mixers (also called mixers, mics) come with both mic and line input capabilities. If you already have a mixer with one or more lines, there are a few different things that you should know before upgrading. First, you will likely need to buy an additional input signal amplifier. Some units will offer this along with their line out but most of the time you will need to buy this separately.
Many mixers will include a dedicated” microphone” input” Line In “jacks. The “microphone” input is what will connect the audio signal that comes from your computer up to the right speaker on your system. The “Line In” jack is what will send that signal to the speakers. One advantage of having two jacks is that it makes it much easier to change audio sources without unplugging and then connecting them again. You’ll also need a separate ground wire to send the audio signal from the input to the mixer.
Many mixer manufacturers, such as Behringer and Korg, provide standard “mic” and “line” input options. However, some units will advertise themselves as offering both functions. These models will usually have a dedicated “microphone input” which will function identically to a mic input. Most high-end mixers will come with a mic input if this is the case.
Some people prefer using “line” and “mic” units interchangeably. Many signal processing applications will automatically detect the type of input you are using and will assign a “mic” if necessary. They may also have built-in equalizer options so you can boost or bass from one input when necessary. Some computer music software will automatically detect the type of mic you are using and adjust the signal accordingly. In addition, certain units will allow you to monitor your mix via an external device, such as an audio interface or Firewire audio interface.
What’s the difference between mic and line input noise? The noise seen on an input varies depending on the conditions of the connection, and the quality of the microphone. Line inputs tend to pick up and transmit more noise than mic inputs. Sometimes noise becomes noticeable at certain frequencies and can become quite irritating. If you notice this noise, try switching to a mic input.
Some types of mixers require software installation in order to work. If you don’t know anything about computers, don’t worry. Most professional mixer companies offer complete computer software packages that will walk you through the process step by step.