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Best Audio Mixers to Practice Piano [MELODY MINUTE]

The Melody Minute with GratuiTous - Real Piano Set Up (2022)
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These are my recommended AUDIO MIXERS for the Melody Minute.

View table below for recommendations.


List of Recommended Mixers:

To practice piano as a producer, I use a mixer to connect my microphones, piano drum loop, and use the built-in effects.

View my mixer criteria for why I selected these mixers.

Product Name2 MicsStereo-InIndividual EffectsMic CompressorPrice
Peavey PV 6 BT 6(Global Compressor)*$$
Allen & Heath
AH-ZED6FX
$$
Behringer Xenyx X1222USB$$$
Mackie ProFX10v3Yes, but no pre-amp$$$
Samson MXP124FXYes, but no pre-amp$$
Pyle PMX464$
($$$ 250+ | $$ 249-150 | $ 149-0)
Top options give the best experience.. cost is considered.
Not all stereo inserts have pre-amps to distort drum loop..
Mic compressors are hard to find on lower priced models.
*Global Compressor means compression on ALL audio.. not individual mixer inserts

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How Mixers Were Selected:

Here’s my criteria for audio mixers to practice piano:

  • Needs 4 Mixer Inputs:
    • 1 Mic for Left of Piano
    • 1 Mic for Right of Piano
    • Stereo Input for Drum Loop (with Pre-Amp)
  • Built-In Effects for Individual Mixer Inserts
  • BONUS: Mic inputs have compressor!

Mixer Criteria Explained:

When practicing piano as a producer on a real piano, I have discovered using a mixer and a piano drum loop is essential for truly training in a real-world environment producers would be in.

With that in mind, we are not using this mixer for recording, but to hear piano through our closed-back headphones, and apply effects like reverb to enhance our piano practice.

How Practicing on a Real Piano is Better

A MIDI Keyboard is good for beatmaking, but suffers when practicing piano because of latency and poor quality keys.

A real piano gives amazing keys, with NO LATENCY when using an analog mixer’s effects (over a piano drum loop).

Let me explain my piano mixer criteria in-depth:

4 Mixer Inputs with Pre-Amps:

I like two microphones on the piano for stereo, and a stereo input with pre-amp for the drum loop to create distortion, if desired!

Here’s how that looks:

  • 1 Left Mic (Low-Frequencies)
  • 1 Right Mic (High-Frequencies)
  • Stereo Insert for MP3 Player (our Piano Drum Loop)

All 4 of these mixer inserts should have a pre-amp.

Microphone inserts always have a pre-amp, but the stereo input for our drum loop doesn’t always!

A pre-amp allows us to drive our drum loop hard to create distortion (a powerful technique to change-up the drum loop, in combination with EQ settings!)

While practicing piano, spicing things up allows for greater creativity.

By selecting the right mixer containing these features, it allows for tons of customizability.

  • Pre-amps for all 4 mixer inserts
  • Each mixer insert has its effects knob

Built-In Effects for Individual Mixer Inserts

Let’s talk about how to set up the effects on the mixer.

I apply the effects different for the two microphones.

  • Left Microphone (Low Frequencies):
    I apply less effects on the low frequencies, as it made the low-end feel much tighter and controlled while playing. I also remove some low-end EQ on the left mic, which helps it blend naturally with the right mic (high frequencies).

  • Right Microphone (High Frequencies):
    Applying more effect to the high frequencies gives the most emotion. With piano, our right-hand is what plays the catchy melodies, whereas the left-hand is more the rhythm and chord progression. I also find myself BOOSTING some low-end EQ on this mic, as it’s further away from the low-end body of the piano.

  • Drum Loop (MP3 Player):
    For the drum loop, you have so much control! You can boost high/low EQ for a tremendously different sound, and increase the pre-amp gain to cause distortion! (There is a “level knob” underneath to turn it down.. so you get distortion in a controlled way).

    You can also route this drum loop to the effects, but I find the pre-amp and EQ more powerful.

What Microphones Should you Use?

Ideally, you’d want small diaphragm condenser mics (pencil microphones), as they allow you to capture beautiful high details..

I’m just using two microphones I already owned that I’d use for recording vocals. It works good enough, and allows your money to go further, and your studio tools to be versatile.

I set up 1 microphone on the left of the piano and 1 microphone on the right of the piano.


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What’s My Exact Piano Practicing Set Up?

The first thing to say is that much of this gear I’ve acquired over the years of being a beatmaker.

I’ve always practiced on a real piano, but only a couple years ago I realized how much a mixer helps piano practice for producers, while using a piano drum loop!

Sign-up to The Melody Minute and get my free piano training for beatmakers!

The Melody Minute with GratuiTous - Real Piano Set Up (2022)
The Melody Minute with GratuiTous – Real Piano Set Up (2022)

Some gear isn’t available any more, but I’m using:


Do You Have Any Questions?

Simply leave a comment below! I’m here to help daily!

If you’re serious about learning piano as a beatmaker, and have a real piano to practice with, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND this setup.

It’s pushed my piano skills, making me want to practice every day.

Want to learn piano to make beats? Try these:

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Recognized FL Studio Trainer - GratuiTous (Riley Weller)
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GratuiTous (Riley Weller) is a Recognized FL Studio Trainer with over 30 Beatmaking Courses. He writes Beatmaking Books, hosts the Music Production Made Simple Podcast, and helps students with FL Studio Lessons. He also makes lots of his own music!

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