Any tips on using the Auxpander?
Auxpander: Auxiliary Send ExpanderWith so many processors available to musicians and audio engineers, occasionally the number of auxiliary sends and returns can equal or exceed the number of signals present in a mix. The routing capabilities of most common mixing consoles are adequate for simple interconnect tasks, but can be severely taxed when required to provide individual monitoring or multi-track recording output busses. In today’s audio world, mixing devices must be able to route any, many or all inputs to any, many or all outputs - each at different relative levels. Large frame mixing consoles provide this capability with a featured master section known as the matrix. These consoles tend to be significantly expensive, large, and heavy.
Furthermore, the learning curve for these mixers is quite steep. AuxPander (a contraction of the words Auxiliary and Expander) is a matrix that seamlessly interconnects with virtually any mixing console. Adding an AuxPander to even the smallest mixing console greatly increases its routing and mixing capabilities.
The AuxPander is an eight input/eight output (8 X 8), line level, matrix mixer that derives its inputs from the insert points of a standard mixing console. These insert points may be from any combination of input channels or subgroups, allowing for a number of connection possibilities limited only by the user’s imagination. Once inserted, AuxPander offers up to four stereo or eight mono, prefader, auxiliary sends. These sends can be used to create mixes for a variety of applications, including personal or loudspeaker monitor mixes, multitrack recording and monitoring, effect sends (in stereo!), zone mixing and mix-minus matrixing. Other devices that would normally use the inserts, such as compressors or gates, can be connected directly to the AuxPander’s own insert points. Therefore, adding an AuxPander does not compromise the ability to implement the normal variety of audio processors. Moreover, AuxPander’s insert points feature the ability to assign the inserted processor to either mixer or both, if necessary.
Using AuxPander with Personal Monitors
Many performers who use personal monitors require individualized mixes. While sharing monitor mixes is perfectly acceptable for some, others desire a completely custom mix. Although multiple mixes can easily be achieved with personal monitor systems, the limiting factor for the number of available mixes is usually the mixing console. A typical console will have four auxiliary sends. Usually, two sends are dedicated to effects, leaving two sends for monitors. What if your band has four members who each need their own mix? Even if you dropped the effects and used those sends for monitors, if they are not switchable to prefader, then the band will hear the sound engineer’s fader moves in their ears. Also, if stereo mixes are required, the number of necessary auxiliary sends doubles. The primary use for an AuxPander is to provide additional monitor mixes, in either a live performance or recording environment. Since more and more performers are demanding their own individual mix, AuxPander allows for the creation of up to four stereo or eight mono individual monitor mixes, without affecting the functionality of the main console. Combinations of stereo and mono mixes can also be generated. For example, one stereo and six mono, two stereo and four mono, or three stereo and two mono mixes can be prepared from a single AuxPander. This flexibility is useful when performers are using combinations of stereo personal and mono loudspeaker monitor systems.
Using AuxPander with Loudspeaker Monitors
Even though some performers continue to monitor through wedge loudspeakers, they still desire their own personalized mix in their wedge. Since many mixing consoles do not provide enough dedicated outputs for each performer to have their own mix, compromises have to be made. Most commonly, two or more performers have to share a mix. Rarely do two performers wish to hear exactly the same signals in their monitor at exactly the same relative levels. Even though they may have their own speaker cabinet, they may not have a dedicated mix output to hear exactly what they want to hear in it. Just as with personal monitors, AuxPander provides separate mixes for each member regardless of individual requirements. For performing groups who use a combination of personal and loudspeaker monitors, an AuxPander is almost essential. While it is possible to daisychain a mix from a PSM transmitter’s Loop Out jack to a power amplifier and loudspeaker, rarely will a mix created for in-ear monitors sound good through a loudspeaker. Accommodations need to be made for the acoustic environment, that are completely independent from that of a sealed ear canal. Unlike personal monitors, loudspeaker monitors contribute sound pressure level to the acoustic space in which they are heard. Hence, gain-before-feedback can become an issue. A vast collection of outboard equipment, including equalizers, gates, and compressors, is typically employed in an attempt to tame an unfriendly acoustic environment. While necessary for loudspeaker monitoring, these devices could be distracting to someone using personal monitors.
Other Applications for AuxPander
The usage of AuxPander is not limited to the live performance environment. Recording studios commonly need to provide headphone mixes to many musicians. AuxPander can expand the number of independent mixes beyond that of the typical mixer. AuxPander also makes a good front-end for multi-track recording, especially with the proliferation of inexpensive, multitrack computer recording interfaces available today. Particularly for live concert recording, where the engineer would prefer to have individual level control to the recorder, the AuxPander gives that functionality without taking away from the needs of the live sound engineer. The variety of applications for AuxPander is beyond the scope of this document.
Setting Up an AuxPander
Let’s take a look at a typical AuxPander application. Assume the FOH console has four auxiliary sends, all of which are used for effect sends. Rather than carry a monitor board and splitter, the band decided to use an AuxPander for monitor sends. The following inputs are required for the band’s personal monitor system:
• Kick Drum
• Snare Drum
• Rack Tom
• Floor Tom
• Bass Guitar
• Electric Guitar
• Lead Vocal
• Background Vocal
First, connect the main mixer’s inserts to the In/Out jacks of the AuxPander. Second, connect AuxPander’s output jacks to the inputs of the monitor system. Assuming each performer has their own transmitter, and is monitoring is stereo, then the connections are simple: Left Out 1 and Right Out 1 from AuxPander to Left and Right inputs of the first transmitter, and so on until all four mixes are wired. Now assume that the FOH engineer wants to insert gates on the drums, and compressors on the vocals and bass guitar. The gates should only affect the main mix, not the monitor sends. The vocals need to route through a reverb processor that doesn’t affect the FOH mix. The bass compressor should be present at both places. First, all these devices are accessed from AuxPander’s insert points. Then, use the Insert Assign switch to choose which mixer the insert point affects. Set the channels with gates to Remote, which will insert the gates only at the main console. The vocal channels should be set to Local, which will return the reverb only to AuxPander. Set the bass channel to Global, which will compress the signal at both mixers. AuxPander also includes a Tip Assign switch. The insert points on most mixers usually send on the Tip and return on the Ring. Some manufactures (Soundcraft, Ramsa, and a few others) use the opposite: Ring send and Tip return. To accommodate both types of mixer, use the AuxPander’s Tip Assign switch. Lastly, the Direct In jacks allow for insertion of signals directly to a given set of outputs. This feature is useful for sending signals into AuxPander that do not need to return to the main mixer. For example, a mixer with direct outputs on its subgroups could send a mixed signal from that subgroup directly into AuxPander without using any additional channel inserts. If the lead vocalist in the above example needed effects in his mix, all the effect returns could be bussed to a subgroup, and the subgroup output could be connected to AuxPander’s Direct In jack. AuxPander and the P4M can be used in tandem for even more possibilities. The mind boggles…