Tech Tip:The Channel Strip Trim Control

By Dennis Kambury

This week, we begin our breakdown of the channel strip, starting with the trim control. After plugging in your mic or instrument, this is the first control you'll need to adjust. Despite its simplicity, the trim control is one of the most important stages in the audio chain.

Channel Strip Trim control Simply put, the trim control adjusts the level of the incoming mic or line-level signals to match internal operating levels of a mixer. While it's best to dig into your manual for the recommended method of trimming your particular mixer, the idea is to adjust the input level so that only the loudest sounds light up the peak LED (or alternately, hit +3 on an analog VU meter or 0dBFS on a digital mixer's meter).

Careful setup will pay off with the best possible sound. If the input level is too low, later amplification stages in the mixer will be boosting noise along with the audio signal. If the input level is set too hot, successive amp stages can easily cause distortion—a sound that is especially ugly with digital devices.

Aside from great sound, you'll also enjoy more intuitive mixing—you'll be able to see your mix balance with a quick glance at the channel faders.

Next week we'll continue our journey down the channel strip with a look at the Aux sends. See you then!