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Article Focus: PSC's ProMix 6 has everything you need for multi-channel audio mixing, even on a DV-sized budget. Brandt Sleeper takes you through its ins and outs, and shows how it stands up to the rigors of real-world production.
Let’s face it; “reality” TV has dominated the industry. So, what do you do when you have 4+ characters in an unscripted, multiple camera shoot, where predictability goes out the window and portability is paramount? Enter: the ProMix 6.
Heritage is key as the ProMix 6 harks back to a long line of industry standard portable audio from PSC. Arguably, the granddaddy of 4-channel mixers, the ubiquitous M4 established the M-series dynasty that pioneered the way for the benchmark Alphamix. This lineage has established PSC as a household name and has spawned a host of competitors including Wendt and Sound Devices.
Yet, as industry changes … so industry changes industry.
Several years ago DV tenaciously invaded the marketplace and while it was eventually embraced as a viable visual platform, sound professionals continued to wage countless battles against the limitations of DV audio. In response to this quest, PSC strategically introduced the ProMix line of mixers that paved the way for quality audio in small format digital video.
Now, they have combined the innovations of the Alphamix with the size, weight, and impedance solutions of ProMix technology to produce the ProMix 6. With six inputs and two output pairs for multi-camera application, this handy mixer has met the needs of today’s Reality TV market.
I had an opportunity to use the ProMix 6 for several multi-camera studio shoots as well as ENG settings. The mixer performed admirably. I was delighted to find that PSC had managed to deliver a 6-channel mixer with preamps that rival the 4-input Alphamix at a seemingly impossible price.
I asked Ron Meyer of PSC how they could do this and he offered several key factors. First, the preamps on the ProMix 6 are similar to those on the Alphamix but redesigned to be lighter and draw less power while maintaining the same super low noise specs.
Next, they opted to use a non-proprietary daylight-bright LED meter bridge rather than the custom-made LDC panel unique to the Alphamix. Another measure was to go with LCR pan switches that cost less to install that pan pots. Combined, these and a few other simplified user interface decisions significantly lowered production cost.
Several other advantages to the ProMix 6 are rare in a mixer of its class. What first jumps out are the individual line outputs for each channel. Located on the input section, these direct pre-fader outs allow the option to send discrete audio from each input at line level to the appropriate camera(s).
This feature is extremely beneficial because it eliminates undesirable noise floor summing that plagues multiple input mixing. Each channel also features selectable 48-volt phantom power. Another nice feature is the two headphone outputs: ¼" and 3.5mm.
Input Section Output Section
Perfect for two-camera shoots, the ProMix 6 offers two balanced XLR output pairs (L/R) selectable between 0dBu (line level), -10dBV (consumer line level) or -50dBu (microphone level); each with tape returns for confidence monitoring.
PSC ProMix 6 inputs
There are two additional stereo AUX sends with output selectable at -10dBV and -50dBu. These AUX outs could send audio to additional cameras or perhaps allow IFB monitoring by producers and directors. Another bonus is the GANG INPUT that allows introduction of a second ProMix 6; the combined output controlled via the primary mixer. Introduction of a second unit would deliver an astounding 12 channels of mix capability, each with direct outs.
PSC ProMix 6 outputs
To top things off, the front panel of the ProMix 6 is an ergonomic delight that delivers tremendous ease-of-use. The meter section includes tone oscillator and slate mic activation buttons. To the far right are switches for monitor select (MIX) for the mixer itself or confidence monitoring of camera A/B, selectable dual output limiters and power. Here you will also find headphone volume and Stereo/L/R/Mono/Off audition selection pots.
Momentary PFL (pre-fader listen) buttons are located below each fader. This is a very beneficial tool that aids in determining signal quality prior to and after the faders in the signal path. A final plus are the High Pass filters that can be set at 80Hz, 20Hz and 140H. Selection is accessible via a switch located below and just to the right of each channel gain.
The PSC ProMix 6 is a superb choice for multi-camera production. This mixer is electronically line level impedance matched specifically for DV cameras. The "real" advantage; however, is that the ProMix 6 offers multi-camera output and returns for confidence monitoring. Add to this low cut filtering, selectable pan, reference oscillator, PFL and selectable output limiters; and you have the many of the tools requisite for quality sound. At an MSRP of $1450, a 6 channel portable mixer of this quality is simply irresistible.