Back to Basics: Console Config – Inputs

In Analogue, Audio, Back to basics - audio, Digital, Sound, Tips
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Being organised is something that for many is natural and easy. For others, like myself it’s not one of our positive points.

In this Back To Basics post I am focusing on console config. When I refer to config, I am talking about how we layout out channels and utilise our outputs.


Analogue style:

Whether you are using analogue or digital there is a kind of standard console layout that most people will use. The layout is as follows

CH 1 – Kick Drum

CH 2 – Snare

CH 3 – Hi-Hat

CH 4 – Hi-Tom

CH 5 – Mid-Tom

CH 6 – Lo-Tom

CH 7 – Left Overhead

CH 8 – Right Overhead

CH 9 – Bass

CH 10 – Acoustic Guitar

CH 11 – Electric Guitar

CH 12 – Keyboard L

CH 13 – Keyboard R

CH 14 – Synth / Pads L

CH 15 – Synth / Pads R

CH 16 – Lead Vocal

CH 17 – BV Vocal 1

CH 18 – BV Vocal 2

CH 19 – Radio Mic 1

CH 20 – Radio Mic 2

CH 21 – Radio Mic 3

CH 22 – Radio Mic 4

CH 23 – PC L

CH 24 – PC R

CH 25 – Playback L

CH 26 – Playback R

CH 27 – FX 1 L

CH 28 – FX 1 R

CH 29 – FX 2 L

CH 30 – FX 2 R

CH 31 – CH 32 – Spare


The above is based on using a 32 channel console and so will alter if you have less. If you are struggling for channels, an easy way to free some up is to use mono feeds instead of stereo. Instruments like Keyboards, synths, and FX can be used in mono. Another factor that comes into play is where the stereo channels are located. Some consoles like the Allen and Heath GL range have these located to the left of the master section. In cases like this you want too make sure that when drawing up a channel layout you space things so as to not have stereo channels split either side.


Digital design:

Unlike analogue consoles where you are restricted to a 1 to 1 input setup (input 1 = fader 1) most digital consoles allow you to create a custom layout/s. This could mean input 19 is on fader 1.

Most digital consoles made now tend to be able to control more inputs, outputs and fx’s than there are faders. A typical way of accessing extra faders is via layers. Lower end digital mixers tend to have a fader count, generally in relation to the amount of inputs. The main thing that there generally is not, is stereo faders, output groups and such like. These controls are typically accessible on a different layer.

One more common digital desk fader layout, more often found on mid range to higher end consoles, is the ‘bank’ design. What I mean by ‘bank’ is you have 2 or more fader banks, which are individually switchable. Each bank will often have a number of layers.

As mentioned above digital consoles allow you to create your own fader layout much easier. In a church setting where different volunteers may prefer to work in different ways this can be useful. In the church I am part of we have a Roland M480. I have my own user profile which then has 3 custom user layers set out in such a way that I find easy to mix and locate channels. I decided to set my layers up the following ways

Layer 1:

Faders 1 – 16 = instruments

Faders 17 – 24 = DCA’s


Layer 2:

Faders 1 – 16 = Vocal mics and reverb

Faders 17 – 24 = DCA’s


Layer 3:

Faders 1 – 16 = Radio Mics and playback

Faders 17 – 24 = DCA’s


Of course not every fader has something on it, which allows me to add extra instruments etc if required. I find that this layer setup works really well for me.


Hiding faders:

A common trick that many desks allow you to do is what I call hiding faders. If you are limited with the amount of faders on a layer a great solution (if you can) is to separate the stereo input faders. As you are able to link stereo channels (gain, eq, aux sends etc) placing the left fader on a top layer and the right fader on a lower layer can really help. Not all digital consoles do allow this but if yours does it is really useful. On my layout I have just the left channels of the pads, keys, PC, CD player on my custom layers as these are linked else where in the console.


Stage patch:

If you decided to use custom layers it is really important to have a set stage box patch, which is written down or labelled. Unlike analogue where your stage box connections will be a 1 to 1 situation on a digital console this may not be the case when using custom layouts.


Easily adjustable:

There are various benefits with using custom layers. One in particular is the ability to be able to add extra instruments / inputs easily and move things around without having to re patch and label a console. Adjusting fader bank setups is much quicker. Back last June I turned up to an event to take over the sound from someone else. The console layout was not to my liking and within a few minutes I was able to redo the layers to more my liking and workflow.

The Key to all of the above is the workflow. Everyone works differently and digital consoles allow engineers the ability to work in a way that feels more comfortable for them.


In the next part of Back to Basics I am going to look at Console config – outputs and ways you can setup and use your outputs.

Anthony Lear

Anthony lives in Sheffield with his wife Fiona and there 2 daughters. He works for AVMI within as a Event technician. Anthony is the founder of Church Tech UK, an initiative designed to support, develop and equip those that work and volunteer within a technical capacity in UK Churches.

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