10 reasons you should get a mixer for podcasting

Do you need a mixer to podcast

The simplest reason to get a mixer is to mix things and have more control. But mixers can make many tasks much easier for podcast production.

@SavageTechman asked me to cover why a podcaster should get a mixer. Here are my ten reasons and I would love to hear why you use a mixer for podcasting!

1. Skype mix-minus

Many programs can do a great job of recording Skype calls on your computer. Namely, I recommend Ecamm Call Recorder for Skype (OS X), or Pamela (Windows). But either of these put more reliance on your PC and each have their own limitations.

Running a Skype “mix-minus” sets up your mixer so that it sends everything to Skype except for the Skype audio. This prevents the Skype guest from hearing themselves.

2. Multiple in-studio cohosts

If you have more than one microphone, then a mixer will be your best way mix the mics into a single recording. Depending on your PC and software, you can sometimes get by with a few Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB mics, but you'll have to hack things together and use extra software.

A mixer simplifies the process. Just plug in more mics, turn up their volume, and you're ready!

3. Mixing sounds

Playing sounds—music, sound clips, voicemails, and such—into your recording will save you a lot of post-production time. Instead of editing your sounds into your recording, you can simply play them in with a mixer and they're recorded!

4. More control

Have a quiet cohost and need to raise their volume? No problem! Want to fade out your music while you're talking? No problem! Want to quickly mute while you or your cohost coughs or adjusts a mic? No problem!

A mixer gives you more control over the audio in your recording. You can mix, mute, solo, adjust volumes, and much more. And it's all done live, while you're recording, and can be quite seamless.

5. Connecting professional gear

USB mics and headsets are popular ways for podcasters to start, but they're usually cheap equipment that produce poor audio. If you want to step up your quality, you'll most likely get a microphone with an XLR plug. This is no problem for connecting to a mixer!

Having a mixer also allows you to connect with almost any other audio device: RCA, 1/4″, stereo, mono, XLR, balanced, unbalanced, inputs, and outputs.

Investing in a quality mixer also means you can continue to upgrade your other equipment but keep the same mixer for many years.

6. Higher-quality mic preamps

All microphones require a preamplifier. It powers the mic and amplifies the signal to a usable level. You can get XLR-to-USB adapters or use other XLR inputs. But if the preamps are cheap, you'll record a constant hiss into your recording.

Professional mixers above the $100 price floor usually have moderate-quality preamps that will raise the volume of your mic without introducing hiss. Cheap mixers are cheap because they use cheap preamps.

7. Real-time audio enhancement and effects

Most mixers give you at least basic equalization control for highs and lows. But many professional mixers offer 3 or 4 bands for equalization, and real-time special effects processing.

You may not use the special effects often, but the EQ is a great way to give a subtle enhancement to your voice or other audio. Again, this is added straight into your recording and saves time editing later.

8. Connecting a wireless phone for easy live calls


With a No products found., you can connect almost any modern wireless phone to your mixer for easy phone calls. No software and no fancy hacks! The output from the phone is usually on the red and white lines while the input is usually the yellow line.

9. Multichannel recording

Depending on your mixer and recording setup, you may have the easy option to record you and your cohosts into separate audio tracks to make editing and post-processing much easier. This could be a simple left and right split, or as elaborate as a USB 2.0 or Firewire mixer that outputs more than stereo.

I've used a Behringer X1204USB (Amazon.com | B&H) and X1832USB (Amazon.com | B&H) to record in four channels when outputting to my Zoom H4n (Amazon.com | B&H).

10. More output possibilities without relying on software

Not only do mixers have a lot of inputs, but they also offer a lot of outputs! You can use one output for Skype mix-minus, another for a wireless phone mix-minus, another for recording, another for headphones, another for live-streaming, and many more options.

The mixers I recommend

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About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.
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Ryan Rampersad
10 years ago

All of these reasons are great reasons to have a mixer. Over time I have adjusted each XLR channel to the way I’ve wanted it — it’s a setup and kinda-forget it thing. I don’t often toggle anything but the small fine-tuning gain for in studio guests, and I usually end up doing more balancing in post (normalizing, compressing, etc). The mixer also allowed us to run remote shows, and while we’re not on skype (we use google+ hangouts), the mix-minus is indispensable.

I have a previously used Mackie 1202-VLZ3 (donated to us from an older teacher/professor). It has its quirks due to its age and extended use, but overall, it works great and without it, podcast the way we want to wouldn’t work.

I would love the chance though (funds permitting) to upgrade to one of the Onyx models one day.

Đặng Mạnh Cường

Thanks so much! Daniel. By the way, I’d like to share a free software named IFree Skype Recorder – a software I use to record skype call on windows. You can get it from http://www.ifree-recorder.com
I recorded some audio with one co host through skype using this software. The software puts each person in a channel, so I can edit it easily.
Hope that useful.
Cuong

Maciek Sokulski
Maciek Sokulski
10 years ago

Thank you Daniel for a great show! I just wish you had recorded that a few months ago, when I was looking for my mixer 🙂 Right now I use the Alesis MultiMix USB 2.0 FX (http://www.alesis.com/multimix8usb20fx) and it’s a great little thing. Me and my co-host, started of with USB mics, and software called CallRecorder for Skype (http://www.ecamm.com/mac/callrecorder/), it is a Mac only software, but what’s great about it, is that it will record a conversation into 2 separate channels. This allowed me to edit our voices separately. Problems started with interviews. The interviewee would be part of my co-host channel, and if they had bad audio I was stuck. We tried a double-ender approach, but unfortunately most people we interviewed did not have technical skills to move a big file from their computer to me. Thus I had to get a mixer. Now what is really cool about the Alesis is that it will show up on the computer as a 10 channel interface via USB. Mix-Minus, effect, etc. Not the cheapest mixer as it comes to about $416 on Amazon. So that’s my story…. sorry for rambling…. and thank you again for a great show!

OtotheBeirne
10 years ago

This episode and the conversation has been SO helpful! I use ECamm/CallRecorder for my podcast right now. Sometimes I have as many as five people on Skype at once (all audio, no video). No one is ever in studio. I’m trying to find a mixer solution that will allow me to adjust each individual caller’s audio in real time, rather than having to do it in post-production.

My question for Maciek, Daniel and Dang (below) – using Skype, is there a way to record multiple people on Skype on their own separate channels, *without* being limited to only two sides of the conversation (as CallRecorder does)? Do Alesis or iFree-Recorder split up each caller’s audio, so that each individual has their own channel? Remember, I always have more than two people on. If not, do you know of any tool or Skype equivalent that does this? I have co-hosts and interviewees from around the world so Skype is the most cost-effective and best sounding tool I have found so far.

I have tried having each host record their side of the conversation. That is a solution but a giant time suck for me in post-production. Any advice would be greatly greatly appreciated! Thanks for the podcast and for all of the great comments here!

OtotheBeirne
10 years ago

Thanks for the quick response Just to make sure I understand here. You are saying, rather than having each host record with eCamm on their side (which I have done and is a giant pain to put together in post production), I should sign in to my own Skype conference call with multiple Skype accounts (enough extra accounts to match the number of callers. We’ll call these Recording Accounts). Then record the Skype audio from each Recording Account onto it’s own external recording device (iPhone, iPod, iPad etc.). Is that correct?
I have two iPods, an iPad, a Google Tablet and a Shuffle. I’d like to spend under $300.

OtotheBeirne
10 years ago

Gotcha. Thanks! Sent you an email.

Roenie
Roenie
8 years ago

Audio newbie and IT pro here. You can run different instances of Skype by executing “skype.exe /secondary” and each can use a different account. Since you can select the output in each of those Skype instances, you don’t really need a physical device for each Skype source. You are only limited by how many outputs your PC has that you can assign to each skype instance, and route into your mixer. Of course, if that PC with your 27 callers crashes, well… I tend to keep it to myself to avoid public unrest but if my PC crashed I’m pretty sure the planet would explode, so we’re kind of all in the same boat anyway in that regard.

Roenie
Roenie
8 years ago

I couldn’t imagine it being impossible on linux, so I looked up how to run multiple instances of skype on a mac. It’s possible, but it’s not as convenient as having physical devices. See:

http://community.skype.com/t5/Mac/Run-two-skype-accounts-on-Mac-OSX-10-6-8/m-p/1334952/highlight/true#M33917

Roenie
Roenie
8 years ago
Reply to  Roenie

Ah, I see what you’re getting at. You’d need an input to select in each instance in order to keep the skype callers separated going into your mixer. Gotcha.

Roenie
Roenie
8 years ago
Reply to  Roenie

Wait, what? No. I got confused for a minute there. You need an input for each instance in order to give each of them their mix minus.

Maria
Maria
7 years ago

Hi Daniel, thanks for the show! In this, you are touching on what I am searching and searching for. I want to do a show where I will be interviewing a guest over Skype. I also want to take callers, either over Skype or by phone. To set up a separate Skype device I would need to do to mix minus set ups. In your above comment you saythat you need more audio sends when you do more mix minus set ups. Is that the same as an ‘aux send’or an ‘fx send’ on some of the Behringer mixer’s? If so I believe the lowerst model that will do that us the 1204…was hoping to start with a smaller footprint mixer. So if that is the case (yes or no?) could another option be taking colors via telephone instead of a second Skype set up. Would one need a second ox send if that were the case? And if so could it be set up so that both the color and the Skype person hear each other without hearing themselves? When I go to music shops they always recommend the scarlet focus right, but I don’t know if it would be capable of these kinds of things? my mixer purchase hinges on figuring this out & I can’t seem to find the aneer anywhere! Thank you!!

Maris
Maris
7 years ago
Reply to  Maria

Woops, I meant ‘callers’ not ‘colors’ and ‘two mix minus set ups’ not ‘to’. I used voice recognition on my phone sorry for all the weird words just try to read it phonetically ; ) Thank you!

Maria
Maria
7 years ago
Reply to  Maris

PS -one thing I forgot to say as that it’s very important that the caller and the interviewee be able to hear each other.

Joshua Rivers
10 years ago

Thanks for sharing these tips, Daniel. I’m not ready to make this advancement, but definitely gives me some more to think about before I make a move.

Matthew Candler
Matthew Candler
10 years ago

Very helpful, thanks for this. This is the very question I have debated before I begin podcasting. I have seen in your podcasts that you use a Zoom H4n. I was under the impression that this device can also be used as a mixer, is this the case? Granted, not as diverse, but could be adequate possibly?

I was thinking about holding out for the upcoming release of the Zoom H6, which is up to 6 channels and using it with the ATC2100 and at times just the device mic(s) themselves. Have you ever recorded directly with your H4n and used it for a podcast or video?

Tony
Tony
10 years ago

DKJ – Just listened to this podcast. Not that I am against using a mixer since I am not a professional, but could one make the argument that if you do the mixing of sound effects, intro/outros, etc. in post production, that would allow you more flexibility? For example, what if you hit the wrong sound effect? What is your mic was set incorrectly and too bassy? Etc. That would mean these would be all “hard coded” into the recording, or am I misunderstanding this? So, in other words, if someone were to simply record their voices at a “standard” level and then adjust in post processing along with adding the music/effects, wouldn’t that give the person more flexibility?
Thanks. Tony

Tonya Mork
Tonya Mork
10 years ago

Thank you, Daniel. We are setting up our new podcast and looking at what equipment we need. We’ll have one in-studio mic, feed in from the computer or iPad with pre-recorded content (voicemails, intro music, etc.), Skype, and then the out to my computer for recording (recorder we’ll add later), will the Behringer Q802USB work to start (knowing we’ll upgrade later) or do we need more channels?

Thank you.

Tonya Mork
Tonya Mork
10 years ago

Can we still do Skype mix-minus with the Q802USB too?

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[…] also recommended that you get a mixer. Here’s a list of the of 10 reasons to do […]

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[…] also recommended that you get a mixer. Here’s a list of the of 10 reasons to do […]

Terry
Terry
10 years ago

Hey Daniel…I’m a long time broadcaster and ready to do a professional podcast. I have a Mackie 1202VLZ3, and an EV RE-20 but my question is, how is the best way to get from my mixer into my MacBook Pro with the best sound quality? Do I need an interface. I plan on using GarageBand and will do my mixing on the Mackie. Kind thanks for you help. Best, Terry

Taylor Sandefur
Taylor Sandefur
9 years ago

Thanks for much for the post, its super informative. I just had a quick question. I plan on using three mics that are supported by USB with the Behringer X1204USB as my mixer all ran by a Mac. Would this work? I’m hesitate because on the product pictures of the mixer I couldn’t locate any usb ports where I would plug my mics into? I apologize if this is a stupid question. I am really new to this and I am just looking for some solid advice.

Marafiola Pelló
Marafiola Pelló
9 years ago

You have right in every point, Daniel. To sum up, with the mixer you have more control over your production.
I own the Behringer QX1002USB (to which I hook my condense mic), an external sound card Terratec DMX6FIRE USB and a DJ control (to mixer music on the go)and an external line-in recorder (Zoom H1). Sometimes I think it’s too much, sometimes I don’t think that way.

My problem began when I wanted to assign the Skype calls internally. I can do this, that means I’m able to record Skype calls with music playing in the background both to my external line-in recorder as well as Audicity in the same PC (I have tested another laptop for Skype use only… but too much gear drives me nuts). I almost forget: I’m always looking for live recording, not postproduction.

Is there some mixer that would allow me to keep Skype call internally while the music is on for recording and then bring all signals to the main output? In other words: is there some mixer with indepent outputs that I could check in any moment?

It’s a very troublesome process to me keep an eye on all the controls and the software on the screen. It sounds easy and sure it is if you can switch channels as you wish but in my case I don’t see how.

Thank you for any hint. Remember: I do my show live so the setup it has to be the simpler possible.

Callum
Callum
9 years ago

Daniel,

Firstly, I want to say thank you for sharing so much info for those of us trying to find our podcasting way.

You mention in this article that you record from your mixer to the zoom in 4 channels. How do you actually do that in terms of connection between the mixer and the Zoom?

Thanks again,
Callum

geochatz
geochatz
9 years ago

Hi Daniel, thanks for the tip. I am also interested in recording 3 mics and a skype output into 4 different tracks. I own a Behringer 1622 USB mixer and a Zoom H6 recorder. My problem so far is that I am taking the 2-track output into H6 so I can only have (record) two channels.

How can I use the Alt 3-4? Do you know if there is any video I can watch or any resource that explains the procedure?

Mister M.
Mister M.
9 years ago

I was lead to believe from the show notes that you were able to record multiple tracks separately because your mixer is a USB mixer. But from the process you describe below, it seems like that has nothing to do with it. Instead, the key is hooking up your mixer to the zoom recorder. Am I correct?

I ask because I recently bought a non-USB mixer since the only benefit I see to USB is recording separate tracks, but none of the less expensive (sub-$200) mixers seem to be able to do any more than stereo, which a non-USB mixer can do just as well.

I don’t know if there are any benefits in quality by using USB instead of the line-in, but I bought a non-USB mixer I believe to be of better general quality instead of opting for a lessor quality USB mixer at the same price-range.

I suppose one of my upgrade down-the-line may be a zoom recorder or a USB/Firewire mixer that can output more than two tracks at a time.

Oh… And thank you for sharing!

Mister M.
Mister M.
9 years ago

Hmm. I’m reconsidering my purchase. I bought a Mackie non-USB mixer, but for a lower price I could have gotten a Behringer USB mixer. I thought the Mackie would give me better quality, but maybe the Behringer will be better thanks to the USB interface.

Your podcast advice has been really useful, and I thank you for your work and feedback!

Cory Mason
Cory Mason
9 years ago

Well I don’t know what to do. I actually just bought a Behringer X1204USB, and it’s recording a constant hiss, which I’ve isolated and found it to be produced by the connection between the mixer and the USB port. Not sure if this is the fault of the mixer or the cable, but either way it’s a little depressing after spending almost $200 on a mixer.

Cory Mason
Cory Mason
9 years ago

Well I don’t actually have headphones that are compatible with my mixer. I’m using headphones plugged directly into my PC. I assumed that wasn’t the problem though because I only heard the hissing if I listened to the device via Windows’ playback devices menu or if I recorded audio into software such as Audacity. I figured if the hiss is in the output I’m hearing from the computer, that’s what anyone else would hear as well(I’m using the board for podcasting and similar purposes. I neglected to mention that).

Also, in Audacity, the input meters in the top right can be seen moving ever so slightly, even with nothing plugged into the mixer and all volumes and gains lowered, and only unplugging the board stopped it, so that’s another reason my best guess was the cable or the mixer itself.

Everything looked okay with the drivers when I set up the device, but I wasn’t specifically looking for problems since it seemed to have installed correctly. I’ll go back now and check it.

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[…] being able to add multiple mics. Since this isn’t about mixers, I suggest you visit what the Audacity of Podcast has to say on the […]

Greg Smith
Greg Smith
9 years ago

Would a mixer help me control the output levels on outgoing Skype calls. Currently, I have an RE20 and my outgoing calls sound over-modulated. When I leave voice mails, it is hard to understand.

Jack.B
Jack.B
9 years ago

For Skype call recording, I would like to recommend a new freeware TalkHelper free Skype recorder, it works very well: http://www.talkhelper.com

Radio Vobiscum
9 years ago

Hello Daniel, Thanks for this podcast. Well, since few days I received from a sponsor, a mixer Behringer X1204USB and a ZOOM H4n. I looked around on the WEB and specially on Youtube to see how to connect them both together. That my new ZOOM H4n register all the songs who come out of my mixer. But … on the WEB, nothing about the connection of a ZOOM H4n and a mixer Behringer X1204USB. Strange ! Someone can help me ? Thanks !

Abc Def
Abc Def
8 years ago

Hi, excellent post and you have right!!!! YOU NEED A MIXER!! My question is related with the post above…. What is the difference between ALT and SUBS? I’m struggling between two mixers, they are pretty similar each other but about 50 bucks in difference… Thanks for any hint.

Abc Def
Abc Def
8 years ago
Reply to  Radio Vobiscum

That is one of the mixer I’m looking for… Is the USB signal to your computer bidirectional (that means: main mix onto your PC and some track into your mixer at the same time? I don’t think so…

Abc Def
Abc Def
8 years ago

Thanks for the input. Well, I’m doing my researches before I buy one and I think a mixer with SUBS

trackback

[…] he shares his thoughts behind why you would use a mixer as well as his mixer recommendations in Episode 124 of The Audacity to Podcast: 10 reasons you should get a mixer for podcasting. You can listen to the episode or read his very detailed show notes for a […]

Mike Randolph
8 years ago

Hi Daniel. Thanks for your podcast on this, you did a great job. I do have a couple of questions though. I’m using a Behringer Xenyx Q1002USB mixer and I can’t seem to set up the mix minus for Skype. I’m using an XLR mic on channel 1. Fiddling with the usb/2 track buttons, I can either hear myself or hear the skype caller but not both. I also have a Zoom H4N, but it doesn’t seem to record the caller very wel, using the 2 track RCA control room outl. Also, the audio from the computer, coming in via USB…how do I control that with EQ? If it comes into the main bus, there is no way to EQ it is there? Any help would be hugely appreciated!!

Mike Randolph
8 years ago

Yeah, that is a bit of a bummer I can’t use the USB function for that. Oh well. I’ll have to buy more cords. But in a way I’m glad…I guess I’m not so daft when it comes to audio after all! I knew it had to be the machine’s fault, haha. Anyway, thank you for being so generous with your time.

One last thing. Can I set up my ipad to take the skype call, route the caller’s audio into the mixer, add my own vocals with an xlr mic, then send it all to my imac via the minijack input and record it on Call Recorder as well as the H4N?

Mike Randolph
8 years ago

Thank you very much, you basically talked me off the ledge 😉 Daniel J. Lewis for President!!

GeorgLohrer
GeorgLohrer
8 years ago

Hi Daniel, thank you for providing all these details and worthful
information. I’m listening your podcast since several weeks more or less
from the very beginning (at least the version which is available in the
archives; 097 or similar).

In this episode 124 you mention a
webinar about learning audacity. If I follow the learnaudacity.com it is
301’ed to https://theaudacitytopodcast.com/learn-audacity-webinar-2/
which is 404’ed. Is there a more recent webinar? Or an old recording of
it?

Anyway, thank you so much for sessions 103 and 104 giving me,
with my niche podcast “Mastering Embedded Systems”
(embeddedsuccess.com) a good impression how to collect feedback and how
to motivate the listeners to spend it. As a non-native speaker I have to
admit that I transcript especially out of this 124-session some minutes
to get an impression how this push-for-feedback is done verbally. Thank
you for your clear pronounciation and articulation. Especially in not
using all these special american abbreviations and inside-jokes/-terms
making things for non-americans quite non understandable sometimes.

Ciao, Georg

Aaron
Aaron
7 years ago

I was wondering how I can send my computers audio into the mixer in case I wanted to play soundbites or clips during a recording session, any tips for me without having to download more software is crucial

davidbrake
davidbrake
7 years ago

You refer to a “simple $7 (or less) iPod AV cable” to record from wireless but the link isn’t there! Please fix and post in the comments.

Jerod Killick
6 years ago

Great review! Thank you!!

trackback

[…] in-person interviews with multiple people look into one, here are a variety to choose from – 10 Reasons You Should Get a Mixer. I have podcasted for two years and have yet to actually use my mixer, however most interviews are […]

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[…] Links citados no programa: – Microsoft continuará dando suporte à função call recording no Skype – 10 reasons you should get a mixer for podcasting – TAP124 […]

Brian
4 years ago

Hello I am a hypnotherapist and want to have an external device that I can use to control my voice volume and music volume while using Skype on and iPad and I would like to have a echo affect if possible. Is this possible? Thanks. Brian

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