What does the PAD button do on your audio mixer? Can it prevent distortion?

Quick Answer: The PAD Button will reduce the input gain on your channel by a fixed amount (usually 20-26dB) to prevent loud input sources from overloading the preamp and clipping.

The goal of every audio engineer is to avoid distortion, avoid-preamp noise, and avoid latency. The Pad button on your audio mixer can help with distortion and preamp noise if it’s used correctly.

A pad is a button or switch that is typically located near the top of each channel strip on an audio mixer. If it’s turned in, it will reduce the signal from your input before it reaches the preamp.

Pad Button Audio Mixer

When Should You Use A Pad?

If you’re setting up your audio mixer, it’s recommended that you set your level knob/fader to zero or unity before increasing the gain. At this point, if your channel is peaking (look for the blinking red light), then this is a big red flag that your signal is too hot and you need to turn on the pad.

Once you’ve engaged the pad (which reduces the input gain by 20-26dB) you may need to use the gain knob to bring it up to the level that you need in your mix or recording.

Caution:  If you turn the pad off while a loud signal is coming through the channel, it’s possible that a really loud sound will come through your PA/monitors.

When To Avoid Using A Pad?

Yamaha MG10XU Audio Mixer

If your channel isn’t clipping prior to adding gain, then you don’t need to use a pad. If you use a pad unnecessarily, you’ll find that you need to add way too much gain to your channel for the desired result.

We always recommend trying to setup your channel without the pad before deciding if you need it or not.

By using the pad when it’s not needed, you would need to supply an extra 20-26dB of gain to your channel to compensate for the pad that you didn’t need in the first place.

Pad Button Equipment & Pricing

Pad Button Topics

  • 0:00​ – Introduction
  • 0:15​ – Pricing & Specs
  • 0:34​ – PAD Button Location
  • 0:55​ – PAD Size
  • 1:06​ – What Does A Pad Do?
  • 1:19​ – When Should You Use A PAD?
  • 2:25​ – When Should You Avoid Using A PAD?
  • 2:59​ – Summary
  • 3:10​ – Final Thoughts

Learn more about Audio Mixers!

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