By far the most frequent problem I’ve seen when working on a new board is poor gain structure. One of the quickest red flags I see is if I sit down at a mixer and see a lot of channel faders that look like what you see in Figure 1.
That almost always tells me that the gain structure was set up by moving the fader to nominal (i.e. the 0db mark typically 3/4 the way up the fader) then bringing up the gain until the volume sounds right. Typically the soundman will get away with this, especially if he is not running a lot of channels. What he may not realize is
that he is not getting the best quality of the source signal and he is very likely injecting a great deal of noise into the channel. If I see faders scatter about like in Figure 2, I have a much higher level of confidence in how the mixer has been configured. No guarantees, of course, but the odds are in your favor. (more…)