Why are there so few XLR inputs on mixers?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Crawford C, May 13, 2019.

  1. Hey y'all,
    I'm just starting to gig a bit more--mostly playing shows around my college at frats and sororities--and am responsible for a lot of the audio set-up. My band generally rents a lot of gear (paid for by the frat usually), including mains, monitors, and a mixer.

    I go DI out of my bass head (ampeg pf-500), and we mic 2 electric guitars, have 2 vocals, DI out of an acoustic guitar amp, and mic the kick. This adds up to 7 XLR inputs being needed. The only thing we use line in for is the keyboard.

    Should we be rigging this up differently? Why are there so many line inputs on mixing boards? Sometimes if the gig is smaller and we have to cut costs, we have to use xlr to line converters, which gives a super weak signal. Any advice is appreciated.
  2. tadawson


    Aug 24, 2005
    Houghton, MI
    "line input"??? *** is that? "Line" is a signal level (mic, instrument, and line levels are the three main groups), not a connector . . . . might you mean "1/4 inch jack" instead?

    In any case, only the really low end/crap mixers focus on 1/4" Pretty much anything decent has XLR on all channels (and often 1/4" as well, but not always) and an input pad that allows it to take any signal level desired on the XLR . . .
    Biggbass likes this.
  3. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I think "line inputs" can sometimes be used to describe "line LEVEL" inputs. Also, he could just be referring to the number of channels.

    @Crawford C it all depends on your needs. Many bands mic drums individually, as well as two "overhead" mics. This can easily lead to 7 or 8 channels being used for drums alone (if not more). I sometimes run two channels just for bass (one pretty bright off of my bass and one more "beefy" from my amp). It can quickly add up.

    If you are playing small venues, 7 could be plenty.

    Short version: Too many channels on a mixer isn't a problem. Too few is. ;)
    JDMcDorce and SteveC like this.
  4. SteveC

    SteveC Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    NE ND
    Same with Aux Outs. Stereo IEM feeds use them up in a hurry.
    s0c9 and two fingers like this.
  5. Barisaxman

    Barisaxman Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 17, 2005
    Omaha, NE
    Find somewhere to rent a real mixer, especially if somebody else is footing the bill. Only the really cheap analog stuff has a bunch of 1/4" unbalanced connectors (good for radio shack mics) rather than balance xlr or even trs connectors. Better yet, rather than renting if you're doing this a bit more, splurge on one of the many fantastic "lunch box" style digital mixers that can be controlled with tablet. Then you can easily scale up your speaker rentals to fit the gig, but your mixer is always consistent, and you can save settings from one show to the next.
    SoCal80s and s0c9 like this.
  6. Thanks for all your answers. I pretty much figured it was just that the mixers were crap. My band is saving up a bit before buying a mixer to suit us. Based on the info I've given, does anyone have any recommendations?
  7. SteveC

    SteveC Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    NE ND
    We use a Presonus. Can't remember the model. Studio Live 24R maybe. We have our own WiFi network so we run our IEM's with out phones. It's rack mounted and mixed via iPad. Recall scenes. Really nice.

    I'm guessing that there are others that would do the same stuff. They aren't cheap but really for what you get aren't bad either. We need some advanced stuff like the network connection for our keys guy that runs stuff from a MacBook, things like that. Not sure if that's a special and expensive thing or not.

    Try used. As people upgrade and add channels you may find a deal.
  8. Barisaxman

    Barisaxman Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 17, 2005
    Omaha, NE
    If tablet control is ok (android tablets especially are very inexpensive)

    Behringer XR18
    Presonus Studiolive 16R
    Soundcraft UI16 or Ui24
    Mackie DL16

    All of these will get the job done and have very capable apps for remote control. I'd say look for 16 input mixer, just for the fact that the 7 inputs you have right now will grow quickly if you grow into larger shows and decide to fully mic drums, etc. You can get a lot of mileage on a 16 input mixer before you need to step up to a bigger mixer or start hiring out pros to cover your gigs.
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  9. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    X32 Rack - more than they'll ever need, but it's expandable and has 16 [physical] XLR inputs and 14 [physical] output mixes (if you add the AUX outs). :)
  10. Barisaxman

    Barisaxman Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 17, 2005
    Omaha, NE
    That's what I have :) It can also be somewhat daunting to learn compared to one of the entry level digital boards that isn't as flexible, so I tend to not recommend that unless I think there's an experienced tech on the user side of the equation.
    s0c9 likes this.
  11. superheavyfunk


    Mar 11, 2013
    Fyi, lots of ppl say "line input" when referring to the place on a mixer where one plugs in the male end of a cable. Its just one of those things and I'm surprised that you haven't heard the term before... A lot of ppl say "input jack" when referring to the output of their guitar, which makes absolutely no sense. *Shrug*
  12. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    Totally understand :)
    I have one also. Guy I work sound for also has a full size X32, TM30, QU24, Ui24R, along with matching stage boxes (S16, SD8, etc) for some of them. We also run most remotely via tablet.
  13. The reason is mic preamps and faders are the expensive bits.

    You can get set up with someone's cast off for next to nothing while you save up for a fancy digital rig.

    I believe there's more than a couple of TB PA guys with dozens of old mixers they can't give away.
    BwanaDust and monsterthompson like this.
  14. john_g

    john_g Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    I recently got a used Presonus 16.4.2 and it is great but it doesnt have built in wifi to use an app to mix out front/let others adjust their in ear monitor mixes (which you may not care about). You can get a Behringer X Air 12 or 16 for not too much money too.
  15. QweziRider

    QweziRider Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2008
    Northern Nevada, U.S.
    Buy a new mixer (or used to save $$$) with enough XLR inputs, problem loved. They're out there. Hell, I just gave a way a 32 channel Mackie (older beast in great shape but of little value), all 32 inputs had XLR. Deals are out there to be found.
  16. tadawson


    Aug 24, 2005
    Houghton, MI
    So how does that work with the OP saying he only has 'line inputs' and not XLR's? By your definition, they are the same . . .
  17. tadawson


    Aug 24, 2005
    Houghton, MI
    There are some good digital boards out there, but unless younhave a specific need for one, your dollar goes a heck of a lot further with a good solid analog offering. Mics, instruments, ears, and speakers are analog anyhoo . . . Might be a good starting point to get beyond where you are now . . .
  18. rufus.K


    Oct 18, 2015
    Its inexpensive
    Nady PR-8

    8 XLR mic preamps that spit out 1/4" line level outputs. Each has a gain knob.
    About $100.
    Rent any mixer you like afterwords.
    Its not a recording level device, but great for what youre doing.
  19. Govier966


    Apr 28, 2009
    New York
    What is your budget for a board? 8 Channels aren't much to ask for.
  20. DanGroove


    Apr 27, 2017
    Most mixers in the $1000 range should have 16-32 XLR inputs with mic pre's and 8-12 AUX outputs in addition to the main outs. That should be plenty for most 4-6 piece bands. I use a Soundcraft UI24R which I got for $999 two years back. It has 20 XLR inputs/ mic preamps, the first 10 of which are XLR/TRS combo jacks. It has 2 XLR main outs and 8 XLR AUX outs. It's wifi controlled and doesn't an app like most digital mixers. Any device that can run an HTML browser (Chrome, Safari, etc) can control it, so you never have to worry about tablet compatibility or having the correct version of the app to match the firmware on the device.

    20 in and 2main 8 aux out was enough for my band to put 8 channels on the drums, bass, guitar, 4 keyboards, a drum machine, and 5 vocal mics. All 6 members had their own monitor mix which they controlled (most of us in ears). It also has a couple of USB ports which you can use for playback. The stereo files can be split and have the left and right handled seperately. We used some backing tracks, so the left channel would be a click track which would route to the drummer and bass players in-ears, while the right had the backing track and was routed to everyones monitor as well as the front of house.

    It's a great mixer, and you will find these capabilities are pretty standard these days at that price point no matter what brand you roll with.
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