Alesis MultiMix 12 FireWire, 16 FireWire, 12, 16 User Manual

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A Few Words for Beginners

We realize that some of you who have purchased the MultiMix FireWire are fairly new to the art of mixing and computer recording. We’ve written this manual with that in mind. We designed the MultiMix to be both powerful and easy enough to use that even a beginner can quickly pick up the basics.

Many mixer manuals—andmanuals for just about any electronic instrument for thatmatter—arefull of complicated terminology and incomplete instructions that presume a lot of experience on the part of the reader. We try to avoid that with this manual. True enough, you will find all the technical lingo and specifications you can handle in here, but we do our best to make this accessible to you.

Beginners will find several elements of this manual especially useful. Keep your eye out for the tips found in the gray boxes on the right side of the page. Be sure to check out the hookup diagrams on page 11, which will give you some ideas on how to fit the mixer into your audio setup after you’ve taken a tour of the mixer in Chapter 2. And if you come across any terms that you haven’t seen before, the glossary probably can help you out.

One of the most important things you’ll do before you begin a mixing session is to set the levels. Be sure to refer to the instructions on page 20.



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1 Getting Started

Important: download the drivers from onto a folder on your desktop or insert the software CD into your computer’s CD drive BEFORE you plug your MultiMix into your computer for the first time.

See page 25 for details.

Hooking up the MultiMix FireWire

This diagram will help you get the MultiMix FireWire hooked up and ready to go. The equipment you use depends on personal preference and on whether you’re performing live or recording. For example, you’ll see below that the MAIN MIX OUT can be routed to a recording device for recording, or to a PA system for live performance.

Be sure to follow the guidelines for which cables to use (further down this page) and the procedure for setting levels (on the next page) before you begin mixing.


1 Getting Started

Using Proper Cables

When connecting instruments and other equipment to the MultiMix, it’s important that you use the appropriate types of cables. Here are some simple but important guidelines:

yFor the mic inputs, use XLR cables.

yFor the line inputs and all other 1/4” connections, use 1/4” mono TRS cables.

yUse stereo RCA cables for the 2-trackin and out.

yUse a Firewire (IEEE 1394a) cable to connect one of the Firewire ports to a computer.

yFor the S/PDIF Digital out, we suggest that you use a coaxial cable that is specifically designed for S/PDIF applications. These cables are better suited for high frequency (digital) signals and are unbalanced, shielded coaxial cables with shielded RCA connectors on each end. Better to get the high quality S/PDIF cables and save yourself some unnecessary grief.

Setting Levels

Before you can begin mixing and recording different audio sources with your MultiMix, you must set the level for each channel you’re using. This helps to prevent distortion and clipping. Here’s how:

1.Slide the channel fader to unity gain (0).

2.Turn the AUX SEND and GAIN controls all the way down, and turn the EQ knobs to the center detent (you’ll feel a click).

3.Connect the source of the signal to the channel’s input.

4.Press the PFL / SOLO switch on the channel.

5.Make sure the SOLO MODE switch in the master section is set to SOLO.

6.Play the instrument at a normal level and watch the LED meters in the master section.

7.Adjust the channel’s GAIN knob until the LED meters remain at or very close to 0.

8.If you need to apply EQ, do so and check the meters again.


2 A Tour of the MultiMix FireWire

In this chapter, you’ll learn all about the MultiMix’s components (except for the digital effects processor, which is explained in the next chapter). Please refer to the diagrams as you read each section to see which components we’re talking about.


At the rear portion of the top of the MultiMix, you’ll find the patchbay. This is where you plug in instruments, signal processors, multitrack recorders and other devices. Whatever you need to connect to the mixer, this is where it’s done. In the following paragraphs, we tell you all about the inputs, outputs, switches and knobs you see in this section of the mixer.

Mic Inputs (Channels 1 – 4)

The MultiMix uses standard XLR-typemic inputs. These provide +48V phantom power that you can turn on and off with the Phantom On switch located on the rear of the mixer. You probably will have to turn on the phantom power when you’re using most condenser mics, as these usually require the extra voltage (unless the mic has its own power source, such as a battery). Dynamic and ribbon mics don’t require phantom power and are unaffected when the power is on.

These high-qualitymic inputs also feature up to 50dB of preamp gain that you can adjust with the Gain knob.

Another useful feature of these mic inputs is a high-passfilter (HPF) that can be turned on and off with the HPF switch. When you activate this switch, all frequencies below 75Hz are cut from the signal. This is useful for mic or line signals that don’t have much bottom end, such as vocals, snares, cymbals and electric guitar. You’ll want to leave this inactivated for instruments like basses and kick drums.

Line Inputs (Channels 1 – 4)

The line inputs, marked LINE IN, are balanced 1/4” jacks that offer the same 50dB of preamp gain and the high-passfilter provided by the mic inputs (however, phantom power does not apply to line inputs). These inputs acceptline-levelinstruments such as keyboards and drum machines. If you find that your instrument has a weak line signal, just plug it into channels 1 – 4 and crank it up with the Gain knob.

Although chances are your microphones will work fine with these mic inputs, we recommend that you do some checking up on the type of microphone you’re using, especially if it’s one of the older vintage models. Verify that your microphone requires phantom power and make sure its output is low impedance, balanced and floating.

Always connect your microphones before activating phantom power. Microphones tend to be very sensitive, and the sudden power surge can do permanent damage to the mic’s circuitry. It’s also a good idea to lower mixer levels before you activate phantom power.


2 A Tour of the MultiMix FireWire

Line Inputs (Channels 5 – 12)

Unlike channels 1 – 4, the line inputs on channels 5 – 12 are stereo inputs that have left and right inputs. If you’re using one of these channels as a mono input, plug your instrument into the left input. Channels 5 – 12 don’t have the extra gain found on channels 1 – 4 because most line-levelinstruments don’t require the extra boost.

Synthesizers and other electronic instruments will work especially well on these channels. These inputs are also good for connecting CD players or tape decks, as these audio sources don’t require extra gain.

S/PDIF Digital Output Jack

The digital output jack is used to send the stereo audio signal to an Alesis Masterlink or any other recording device such as a DAT recorder or a PC with an S/PDIF enabled sound card installed.

Always use a high quality cable when connecting the DIGITAL OUTPUT JACK to your recording device. We recommend that you use a cable that is specifically designed to carry a digital signal and does not exceed 5 meters (16.4 ft) in length.


The headphone jack accepts 1/4” jacks. If your headphones are 1/8”, you can find a 1/8” to 1/4” adapter in most electronics stores.


These are the 1/4” jacks where you connect the outputs of an external effects processor or other audio source. Each aux return gives you 15dB of gain that can be controlled by the AUX RET A and EFFECTS / AUX RET B LEVEL knobs in the mixer’s output section.


And this is the 1/4” jack where you connect the cable that’s going into the input of an external effects processor. The aux sends give you 10dB of gain that can be controlled in the AUX section of each channel input.


These jacks are the outputs for the MultiMix’s extra stereo bus. This signal includes channels whose MUTE / ALT 3/4 switch is activated.


The 2-TRACKIN and OUT jacks are standard RCA jacks. You’ll use the OUTs for mixing to a tape deck or other recorder. With the INs you can bring in a signal, which can be monitored and


Any audio signal that is routed to the MAIN OUTPUTS will also be sent out of the DIGITAL OUTPUT jack. The level is controlled by the MAIN FADERS. The DIGITAL OUTPUT mirrors the output from the MAIN OUTPUTS.

The S/PDIF output operates by default at 44.1kHz. However, if the mixer is being used with a computer and the sample rate on the computer is set to 48kHz, the S/PDIF digital output will operate at 48kHz as well.

If you are using an effects device with only a mono output, plug it into the left return of STEREO AUX RETURN. It will appear in the center of the stereo spectrum, and not to the left.

A Tour of the MultiMix FireWire 2

even added to the main mix via the 2TK TO MIX switch in the master section of the mixer.

The 2-TRACKINPUT is blended with any signal coming back from a computer over the Firewire connection.


These 1/4” jacks are where the signal on the main mix bus leaves the mixer. From there you can send it to a recorder or a PA system. The level of this signal is controlled by the MAIN MIX fader.


You can use these 1/4" jacks to send the control room signal to the input of the amplifier driving your monitors or headphones. This output can carry several different signals, depending on which source you have selected in the master section of the mixer.

Channel Strips

The eight channel strips are virtually identical to each other, with the only difference being that channels 1 – 4 are mono and channels 5 – 12 are stereo. Each channel strip contains the following components.


The fader controls how much of the signal from the mic or line inputs is sent to the channel. To adjust the level, simply slide the fader up and down to the desired level. In the lowest position, levels are cut completely, and in the uppermost position you get an additional 10dB of gain. When the fader is at 0, it is at unity gain, where the level of the output equals the level of the input.

MUTE / Alt 3/4

This switch has two purposes. The mute function is pretty selfexplanatory: when you press the switch, the channel’s output is no longer routed to the main mix output. The second purpose of this switch is that in addition to muting a channel, it also routes it to the ALT 3/4 OUT found in the patchbay. This is where you get the MultiMix’s extra stereo bus. If you don’t have anything connected to the ALT 3/4 OUT, the switch acts only as a mute button. If you do have something connected—say,a multitrackrecorder—thisbutton acts as a signal router.


The PFL / SOLO switch allows you to single out a channel so you can make adjustments to it before you run it into the main mix. This is useful for setting an instrument’s gain or EQ and for troubleshooting. PFL stands for “pre-fadelisten.” In other words


2 A Tour of the MultiMix FireWire

this switch lets you hear the signal before it is affected by the fader. This switch is post-EQ.


This control—labeledPAN on the mono channels and BAL on the stereochannels—letsyou assign the channel to a particular spot within the stereo spectrum. If you turn this knob to the left, you can hear the signal move to the left, and if you turn it to the right…you get the picture. The pan controls do this by adjusting the amount of the signal being sent to the left main mix bus versus the right main mix bus. The balance controls do it by controlling the relative balance of the left and right channel signals being sent to the left and right main mix buses.


Here you’ll find knobs that control the levels of aux sends A and B. AUX A is either pre-faderorpost-fader,depending on the position of the PRE / POST switch. When the switch is in the raised position, the aux send ispre-fader.When the switch is depressed, the aux send ispost-fader.

What does all this mean? In POST mode the aux send is affected by the fader, EQ and HPF settings. In PRE mode the aux send is affected only by the EQ and HPF settings. POST mode is generally used for sending the signal to an external effects device (so that the fader controls the signal level), and PRE mode is usually used for cue sends (for example, sending a signal to headphones while recording, for which you may not want the fader to alter the channel’s level).

AUX B is always post-fader,as indicated by the word “POST” to the right of this knob. Like AUX A, AUX B can be used for routing signals to external devices. And when you are using the onboard effects processor, AUX B is used to control the level of the channel’s signal being routed to the processor.


The MultiMix gives you three bands of EQ per channel. Using these knobs, you can tailor the channel’s signal by boosting some frequencies and cutting others. The LO and HI controls are shelving controls with fixed frequencies of 80 Hz and 12 kHz respectively. The MID control has a peaking response fixed at 2.5 kHz.

“Shelving” means that the mixer boosts or cuts all frequencies past the specified frequency. “Peaking” means that frequencies above and below the specified frequency fall off, forming a peak in a graphical representation.


A Tour of the MultiMix FireWire 2

Master Section

The Master Section is the heart of the mixer, where the channel inputs and aux returns all are mixed together and routed in various ways.

Main Mix Fader

The signals from all channels and aux sends—excludingthose that aremuted—aresent to the main mix. The MAIN MIX fader is the one you’ll use to control the overall level of those combined signals. This fader affects the levels of the signals sent to the MAIN MIX OUT, the DIGITAL OUT (12FXD and16FXD models only) and the2-TRACKOUT. In its lowest position the signal is cut off completely, and in the uppermost position you get an additional 10dB of gain. In the 0 position the fader is at unity gain.

Alt 3/4 Fader

This fader controls the output of the Alt 3/4 bus.

2TK To Mix

When you press this switch, the signal coming in through the 2- TRACK IN gets routed to the MAIN MIX, joining whichever other signals are already part of the main mix. Used this way, the 2-TRACKIN effectively becomes another stereo channel (but without all the extras like pan, EQ, etc.).

The 2-TRACKIN signal combines both whatever is plugged into the2-TRACKRCA jacks and also any audio coming back to the computer over Firewire.

Alt 3/4 To Mix

This switch adds the signal from the Alt 3/4 bus to the main mix bus.

Solo Mode

The SOLO MODE switch affects the signals of channels whose PFL / SOLO switches are engaged. When the SOLO MODE switch is in the up position, you’re in PFL, or pre-faderlisten mode. This means that you’ll hear the signals of all soloed channels as they sound before they pass through their respective faders. You’ll need to be in PFL mode when you’re setting levels (see “Setting Channel Levels,” page 12. This mode ispost-EQ.

When the SOLO MODE switch is engaged (in the down position), you are in SOLO mode. This means that you will hear the output of every soloed channel (after it passes through its fader, pan and EQ).

The purpose of seeing a soloed channel’s level on the LED meters is so that you can see the true level of that channel’s signal. For that reason, the HDPH / CTRL RM knob does not change the LED meters’ reading—itchanges only the level at which you’re listening to the soloed channel.


2 A Tour of the MultiMix FireWire


The HDPH / CTRL RM knob controls the level of the signal being sent to the CTRL RM OUT and the PHONES output. The level of this signal is represented by the LED meters. The switches to the right of the HDPH / CTRL RM knob determine the source of the control room mix as explained below. You can use these switches in any combination. If no switches are selected, you’ll hear silence in the control room mix and the LED meters won’t light up.

The “CTRL RM” in the name of this knob refers to the fact that it controls the signal that typically is sent to the control room monitors of a studio, where someone—usuallyanengineer—isworking the mixer. However, don’t be intimidated if you’re using this mixer in your bedroom, which probably isn’t equipped with a control room. In this scenario, you can use headphones or connect the CTRL RM OUT to your speakers.

MIX Switch

Pressing the MIX switch routes the main mix to the control room level control. When you engage this switch, the channels and aux sends will pass through the MAIN MIX fader and then through the HDPH / CTRL RM level control. You can then keep the MAIN MIX fader set to unity gain for optimal recording, and the HDPH / CTRL RM level control set to a more comfortable listening level if necessary.

ALT 3/4 Switch

When you press the ALT 3/4 switch, the signal from the ALT 3/4 stereo mix bus is routed through the HDPH / CTRL RM level control.

2TK Switch

If you want to monitor the signal coming in from the 2-TRACKjacks and from the computer (if a Firewire cable is attached), press the 2TK switch.

Aux Ret A Level

This is the level control for the signal returning to the mixer via AUX RETURN A.

Effects / Aux Ret B level

If you are using one of the MultiMix’s internal effects, this knob controls the effect level. If AUX SEND B is connected to an external device, this knob controls the level for AUX RETURN B.


When you solo a channel via its PFL / SOLO switch, that channel’s signal will override your control room mix selection. You then will hear only that channel in the control room and the headphones.