How To Have Fun and Embarrass Yourself with 4 Channel Mixer

 

IMG_20160501_172003I can’t believe it but the 2016 fifty ninety challenge  has begun! I have been organizing instruments and cords, so many cords so recording music is on my mind.I don’t have a very high tech or professional set up. I have a  messy signal chain that could definitely be improved .For instance I really need something to block the background noise and humming that comes from my house and its weird weird wiring. My set up is simple,  I record my guitar (or keyboard) part and my vocal part together, every once in a while I will lay down a few guitar tracks and then record a vocal line  but doing it that way takes a lot of time, which is something that I don’t have lot of when it comes to song writing challenges. In the pre-FAWM 2016 prep I thought I was going to IMG_20140207_124737have to multi-trackall my songs . I got a new computer last October and when I did a test set up with my mixers it did not work.  I have a 4 channel analog mixer connected to a usb mixer. with a stereo rca cable, and the usb mixer is plugged into a usb port. I have my guitar mic, or guitar depending on the song, plugged into the 4 channel, and vocal mic with an xlr cable plugged into the usb mixer. I can add other microphones or instruments pretty easily with this set up if I want to.  It may not be the most efficient signal chain but I get an okay sound when IMG_20160131_130323 (1)things are properly equalized. I ignored the problem hoping it would go away and I  did not  test out the mixers again until 2 weeks before FAWM and it still would not work. I started to panic. This has been my  set up for a few years now, I did not have the time or the money to buy new mixers since  we were broke, and I really did not want to learn a whole new interface two weeks before FAWM. I did some diagnostics, which amounted to unplugging things one by one until I got something to work, and then adding things until it stopped working again. It appeared that the culprit was the 4 channel analog mixer, the usb mixer seemed to work fine as did all the microphones, cables and sound card.  The 4 channel is my oldest device so it made sense that it was malfunctioning. I cleaned it with compressed air because it occurred to me that in a 3 cat 2 dog house it might be dirty. .IMG_20160202_131515 I sprayed the sliders and dials as well as the jacks but still no sound.  There was power when the adapter was plugged in but I thought maybe there was a loose connection inside, I opened it up, I sprayed more air, more nothing. In fact not only was it still broken, I managed to make it worse.  In the process of cleaning it I broke the solder connection to the power switch. After getting over my error I inspected the rest of the wires, capacitors and resistors.  I noticed some lose solder but that was pretty much it. Since it was already broken I threw caution to the wind and re soldered the lose connections and attached the positive and negative wires to the terminals with the solder. It tested for power. I was good to go. I hooked everything back up and nothing. By this point I was getting discouraged it was February and I needed a plan. Jess said I could order a different usb mixer, but I am cheap  and I knew it was something simple. I was not going to give up until i found a solution. The unplanned purchase of  a new unit  would have been admitting defeat. Not going to happen. I took a nap and when I woke up I realized what had happened and I felt like an absolute idiot, an idiot who did not buy new equipment unnecessarily, but and idiot none the less. What was the problem?   I was plugging the rca cables into the line in plugs on the 4 channel not the line out.  Dumb. I mean beyond dumb, but I learned my way around the wafer board of a mixer. and ultimately I got to use my normal signal chain for another FAWM.