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The mixing desk in Studio 1

From above, the mixer as it was used back in 1999 (some changes since, for computer playout). Left of the script tray we have two yellow channels for vinyl, two green for CD, and red for the mic. On the right, three red mic channels (Studio 3 mics), and what used to be 4 x white/grey channels for cassette and Minidisc are now used for PC playout from Myriad. The fader on the far right brings up the programmes coming from the 'app.s rack' (time-switched between automated Myriad overnight output or relaying BBC R Jersey / BBC R2 during the daytime) and allows for seemless transitions when putting the studio on the air instead.

Each vertical line of controls is for one particular audio channel (a piece of equipment such as a CD player). If you know one, you know them all! Then you just need to know about a couple of the controls in the center.

Channel controls (above the faders themselves). Red at the top is for overall level - this should be set before fading up the channel so that the level will be the correct 5 or 6 on the meter when the fader is up. The red button just above the fader allows you to hear a channel instead of listening to the overall output from the desk. Listening to a channel without fading it up is known as Pre-Fade Listen, or simply Cueing. The white button is used to start a CD or record, thanks to special wiring between the players and the desk. The black control is for stereo balance, seldom needed, and a bit of overkill for our mono output! You can ignore the light grey controls, and the green ones are for bass, treble and mid tone adjustments. Any switches above the red level controls can usually be ignored too... the black one allows switching between two devices if there are more devices than channels; the two grey switches allow selecting just the left or just the right stereo signal from the source device, or a mono blend of the two. Simple, huh?

Controls in the center. The six controls on the left, and the line of white buttons are things I never touch as they are to do with levels for guests in the mic studio, talkback, phone-in levels etc. and I just do my own show without guests or telephone. Sometimes these switches, along with those on the right, are left in a confusing state by the previous presenter and it takes me a good few minutes to get things back to normal! All I worry about are the following... firstly I set the headphones level (middle of the three red ones) to the level shown to avoid deafening myself, before plugging in the "cans". The next red control, on the right, is for level over the speakers. To avoid feedback, the speakers are muted when any microphone is open - this is controlled by the "SELF OP" button, top right. Switching off the self-operating mode stops the muting, beware! The "ON-AIR" button used to be used to opt-in, but we have a different method now that we can choose between two studios. This button now does nothing but look good with the light on. The big red light shines when any mic is live, and the grill next on it's left is the desk mic for talkback communications to the other studio. There are a couple of buttons that switch the output and monitoring into mono so that we can hear the output as the patients do, but I prefer to enjoy my music in full stereo effect.

Click here for a large close-up picture of these controls.

How do we switch the transmission between studios, and to/from the app.s rack 'DTX' doing its thing (relaying BBC or automated pre-arranged programmes) in its secure metal cabinet? It is achieved with some clever electronics arranged by our technical guru Phil. It wouldn't be professional to be able to grab control of transmission from one studio to another, so a system was worked out to press a button to 'offer' control which makes a little light flash for a short while during which time the other studio may accept the offer with a press of the relevant button there. These buttons and lights are on a white panel to the right of the meters. Control for the DTX app.s rack is also offered/accepted by two buttons on each studio's mixer - a kind of remote control if you like. The first presenter in the evening must bring up the fader to relay what the DTX is producing, then push a button to make the remote-control 'offer' from DTX, then press another button to take control - and then that studio's mixing desk output will be transmitted. When the last presenter has finished, they will seemlessly fade to the programme coming from DTX, then press their mixing desk's OFFER button, and finally press the DTX's accept button and from then on that studio is off the air.

"Radio Lions - a friend at your bedside"

Last updated 2009-may-07


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