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Before you answer "just try it": I can't since I haven't decided on the hardware yet.

Background: I'm in the process of looking at digital mixers and comparing their capabilities in order to replace our current analog setup in a small church.

Almost all digital mixers have "scenes" which are presets for fader positions, routing and pretty much everything than can be configured. Then there are also "Mute groups", which are preset buttons that will remember which channels should mute.

The small mixer I personally own also has mute buttons under the channel strips that would actually route the sound to an alt-bus. This does not appear to be so with the larger boards I'm currently looking at (M-200i / X32-Producer) which support multiple busses and aux outputs. As I understand it currently, the mute buttons are ment for muting on the monitors only, in order to single something out or so in a live situation, while letting the audience hear the full mix (please correct me if I'm wrong).

The question: is best asked by specifying a scenario: Sometimes we have an interpreter on the stage, often not. In both cases I'd like to set up "scenes" or default values we can quickly jump to, for example song service, sermon, baptismal etc.. During the sermon I want to mute all the singing mics. If there is no interpreter I want to mute the interpreters mic as well. These are two different factors that have no relation to one another, so to cover all situations with scenes alone, I'd have to set up 4 separate scenes, and figure out a way to keep it transparent, or I could misuse the mute groups feature and swap the monitor and main output.

I'm wondering how this is generally done? I'm quite sure there are many live situations dealing with more than two independent factors or dimensions. Would it be possible to enable multiple scenes at once like layers? (I haven't seen this mentioned before).

Any pro-advice welcome, probably I'm thinking way in the wrong direction. Also a good source on a general mixing course that covers this would be welcome, at least if there is a solution that doesn't differ for every brand/board?

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  • I believe that neither of the panels you mention have actually mute group buttons, they do however (at least the X32) have mute groups in the graphical interface. They both have however 8 assignable buttons that you can use to recall scenes or mute stuff (or whatever). – Peter Smit Aug 7 '13 at 12:21
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Mute groups are not just for monitors. It is a quick way to mute different groupings of channels. For example, if you have a speaker or multiple different bands, you can set each scene up with a mute group so that you can mute the unused channels all at once and then unmute them with a single button press. I don't know of a single board that doesn't mute a channel entirely (in all outputs) when mute is pressed. It should basically be the off switch for the channel as a whole.

Mute groups is what you want for your situation. Scenes is more for when the same channels need to have different values where as mute groups is a faster way to turn groups of channels on and off. (For example, loading a scene for the worship team would lose any settings you've adjusted for that particular service, where as a mute group would leave the settings undisturbed.)

The way we run our board is to have one scene for each worship team as a preset and individual channel presets for each speaker. We also keep individual channel presets for the various band members in case we need to mix and match one in for a particular service.

I wish I had mute groups because it would make my life alot easier, but unfortunately we use the Presonus 24.4.2 which doesn't have mute groups. It's otherwise been a great board for us though, particularly with the multi-track recording and the tablet based mixing capability.

  • Thanks AJ Handerson, that's a helpful answer! It means I'll have to get rid of a bad habit I have when editing on my DAW (I make extensive use of the solo and mute buttons when looking for some specific sound or artifact). To do something similar on one of these boards, I guess you'd route individual channels to a specific monitoring bus or so? By the way, what if you want to find a specific spot with the parametric filter, without having the audience hear the trial-and-error clumsiness. Is this kind of tweaking actually possible during a live session (I'm very much hoping so)? – Louis Somers Jun 2 '13 at 21:35
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    @LouisSomers - on a live board, what you are thinking of is the Solo or Cue feature. It should let you route whatever channels you select to the headphones or control room monitor. You should also be able to choose PFL (pre-fader level) or AFL (after fader level) for soloing on a good board. You should also be able to route subgroups to solo. – AJ Henderson Jun 3 '13 at 4:30
  • Thank you @AJ Henderson, it's all falling into place now. Never caught that distinction before, saw them as one and the same feature somewhat complementing each other, but solo for monitors and mute also for main output makes perfect sense. – Louis Somers Jun 3 '13 at 10:56

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