Mixer or Interface or Both?

Theeoddname

New member
So this is my goal:

Generally a two person host podcast in studio with up to two guests in studio and two remote guests via Skype or other source. Total max show capacity I’d like is between 6-8 (2-4 remote) but expect on the whole 4 people is about right with 2 remote. I’m not even sure if I’d ever have more than 2 remote guests but thought in theory it would be nice to have the option. So I really should say the general plan would be 2 in studio and up to 2 remote guests requiring the mix-minus set up.

I’d also like to be able to record a full drum kit which I suspect would be easy with the same gear from above.

Current gear:
Scarlett 2i2 Gen 3 (mostly for solo and travel use)
Clarett 4PreUSB
Mics
Logic Pro X
FCPX
MacBook Pro 15in, 16GB Ram
OBS Studio

So to get the use case above working I’m looking at getting a mixer but not sure if this is the best route. I’m considering a 16 channel Macke, Yamaha, or Soundcraft mixer.

I’m new to the audio recording thing and so I’m feeling overwhelmed and already had to send my Clarett in because it was defective (at least we think so).

Really I guess what I’m hoping for here is a little guidance on what gear would be ideal for the described use case above in such a way as to utilize and enhance what I’ve got already.

Also, for the mix-minus set up do I need to get software like Loopback for it or will getting a mixer be sufficient? After looking at the costs of getting Loopback (after it was suggested for use with OBS for streaming) I thought the price warranted getting a mixer (bc I somehow got the impression I wouldn’t need Loopback if I got a mixer).

Yeah I’m feeling lost and not even sure where to start so please help and forgive. Be gentile ? most of it I suspect will be user error anyhow.

Much appreciated for the help in advance.
 
Last edited:

miroslav

Cosmic Cowboy
I have no hands-on experience with podcasts...but I'm guessing it's not much different than a radio or TV show setup where you have multiple guests.
For the sake of easy/fast control of the different sources during a live show, I would think a small mixer would be the better way to go. You would have all your sources running through the mixer and no need to look at a computer screen or use a keyboard and mouse to make adjustments...just reach for a fader, etc.

That said, if you need to mix in pre-recorded tracks into the live podcast, from a DAW, or you wanted to record those podcasts into the DAW while streaming live, or you wanted to use any plugins from the DAW as FX/processing with the live stuff...you're going to need the computer anyway, and you're going to need to have a working setup that makes all that possible. So...if you can manage the control of the live sources from the DAW, while recording and adding anything else from the DAW to the podcast...then maybe a mixer would be unnecessary, and everything would be handled with the DAW and your multi-channel interface with multi I/O capabilities.

Of course...it may turn out that having both will give you the most flexibility and options.

I think this is something that you're simply going to have to find out for yourself, by actually doing some test podcasts, seeing what's missing, what is needed...and adjusting your setup from there and building on it over time as you fine-tune your needs and how best to achieve your goal.
It might be a mistake to just dive in all the way and make final decisions about gear from the start...especially because you are new to this.

I think you would do better to have this discussion with other podcasters...either here or elsewhere. TBH, I don't think there are a lot of people hanging on this forum who are doing podcasts (as you can glean from the lack of activity and the dates of the threads), so replies to your questions may not be as plentiful and complete as you desire. I'm sure there are some full-tilt, active podcast forums out there on the internet...so post you questions there too.

All that said...for my own recording needs, I've always preferred a hybrid setup...so I've always have a mixer, and I use it with a DAW, without the DAW...or the DAW without the mixer. Lots of flexibility.
I guess it will come down to how deep you want to go with this...and your budget. :)
 

Theeoddname

New member
Thanks for the feedback. I will have to check out more podcast specific forums as it appears.

All that said though: if I were to go for a mixer what would you recommend? Budget is about 400-600 range on the max.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
I'm curious about how you would set up a podcast with a couple of Skype guests into a mixer? I've never even looked into podcasting, don't know what software is around or how its used, and haven't used Skype in about 6 or 7 years, so forgive my ignorance. If the Skype sessions are coming through the computer, do they then route to a channel in a program? If you have prerecorded guests, you could cut and paste in responses into any DAW to make it sound real-time. But if the whole session is going in real time how does it all combine?

Also, is this a audio or video podcast?

As for the drum kit, you have optical ins on the Clarett4, so getting another preamp, like maybe the Scarlett OctoPre would give you additional inputs. You'll still be limited to the 8 channels of the Clarett going into the DAW.
 

bouldersoundguy

<div><p>&nbsp;</p></div>
One of the things I find that makes podcasts unpleasant to listen to is the lack of compression on individual speakers. I'll just stop listening if the dynamics are out of control. Anything that can be done to remedy that would be a big improvement.
 

Tadpui

Well-known member
Agreed on the Rodecaster Pro. That's a pretty cool box, and is getting rave reviews from the few guys that I've watched use them. Pretty cool all-in-one setup for mixing multiple sources for a podcast.
 

Theeoddname

New member
Thank you folks. I'm not impressed with the Rodecaster Pro - seems like a decent device but just not what I'm looking for. I am specifically wanting to be able to adjust the EQ level's and such per channel without any fancy wizardry though shift commands and window swaps. I'm also hoping to be able to grow into a larger show than what a single RP would get me to.

Anyhow, that said, I do have a question: Can AUX Sends, FX, and Headphone out (monitor out) be used in the same fashion?

I.e. could I use an AUX send for a headphone? Could I use a Headphone out for an AUX send back into another input channel on the mixer? Could I use an FX send as either a headphone and aux send (assuming I turned off the FX's of course)?
 

Theeoddname

New member
I have no hands-on experience with podcasts...but I'm guessing it's not much different than a radio or TV show setup where you have multiple guests.
For the sake of easy/fast control of the different sources during a live show, I would think a small mixer would be the better way to go. You would have all your sources running through the mixer and no need to look at a computer screen or use a keyboard and mouse to make adjustments...just reach for a fader, etc.

That said, if you need to mix in pre-recorded tracks into the live podcast, from a DAW, or you wanted to record those podcasts into the DAW while streaming live, or you wanted to use any plugins from the DAW as FX/processing with the live stuff...you're going to need the computer anyway, and you're going to need to have a working setup that makes all that possible. So...if you can manage the control of the live sources from the DAW, while recording and adding anything else from the DAW to the podcast...then maybe a mixer would be unnecessary, and everything would be handled with the DAW and your multi-channel interface with multi I/O capabilities.

Of course...it may turn out that having both will give you the most flexibility and options.

I think this is something that you're simply going to have to find out for yourself, by actually doing some test podcasts, seeing what's missing, what is needed...and adjusting your setup from there and building on it over time as you fine-tune your needs and how best to achieve your goal.
It might be a mistake to just dive in all the way and make final decisions about gear from the start...especially because you are new to this.

I think you would do better to have this discussion with other podcasters...either here or elsewhere. TBH, I don't think there are a lot of people hanging on this forum who are doing podcasts (as you can glean from the lack of activity and the dates of the threads), so replies to your questions may not be as plentiful and complete as you desire. I'm sure there are some full-tilt, active podcast forums out there on the internet...so post you questions there too.

All that said...for my own recording needs, I've always preferred a hybrid setup...so I've always have a mixer, and I use it with a DAW, without the DAW...or the DAW without the mixer. Lots of flexibility.
I guess it will come down to how deep you want to go with this...and your budget. :)

So I'm down to the decision to have both a mixer and an interface: I think it'll afford me significant flexibility. I'm hoping to find a mixer that would allow for the USB send to the DAW (or other software) POST fader. Any thoughts on that? It would be amazing if it were optional PRE/POST.
 

Theeoddname

New member
I'm curious about how you would set up a podcast with a couple of Skype guests into a mixer? I've never even looked into podcasting, don't know what software is around or how its used, and haven't used Skype in about 6 or 7 years, so forgive my ignorance. If the Skype sessions are coming through the computer, do they then route to a channel in a program? If you have prerecorded guests, you could cut and paste in responses into any DAW to make it sound real-time. But if the whole session is going in real time how does it all combine?

Also, is this a audio or video podcast?

As for the drum kit, you have optical ins on the Clarett4, so getting another preamp, like maybe the Scarlett OctoPre would give you additional inputs. You'll still be limited to the 8 channels of the Clarett going into the DAW.

So there's a few ways this can be done and works with pretty much any phone like system.
1) Take the headphone out from the computer (or your phone) and send that to the mic input line on the mixer (or interface). This allows you to hear the caller.
2) Take a headphone out from the mixer (or interface) to the mic input on the computer (or phone). This allows the caller to hear you.
3) You will need to ensure the caller doesn't hear themselves (hence the Mix-Minus) so you'll need to create the output mix from (2) to not include the caller's audio.

I'm looking to do a Video podcast.
 

DaleVO

Poor Farm Productions
So there's a few ways this can be done and works with pretty much any phone like system.
1) Take the headphone out from the computer (or your phone) and send that to the mic input line on the mixer (or interface). This allows you to hear the caller.
2) Take a headphone out from the mixer (or interface) to the mic input on the computer (or phone). This allows the caller to hear you.
3) You will need to ensure the caller doesn't hear themselves (hence the Mix-Minus) so you'll need to create the output mix from (2) to not include the caller's audio.

I'm looking to do a Video podcast.
It appears you already know how to set up a mix-minus system with Skype.
Your questions were "Loopback?", need a "mixer?", "Aux/FX/headphone out?"

A fellow VO artist wrote a blog a few years back about setting up a mix-minus system for remote VO direction and recording in his DAW. He talks various mixers and Aux/FX sends. Additionally, he explains the Skype config. VoxMan>> Blog Archive >> Setting Up a Phone Patch

Another source that I found handy for his simplified explanation is HiTechRedneck, on YouTube. His setup in a little different as he uses a standalone recorder, instead of DAW-based recording PC.
YouTube

Hopefully something is useful in these resources.
Dale
 

ecc83

Well-known member
Just in case you DON'T know? You cannot run headphones from an AUX or indeed any line output other than a headphone socket.
But a Behringer 4 way cans amp will only set you back 20quid and they are PDGood. So enabled, any line source can be harkened unto.

Dave.
 

Theeoddname

New member
It appears you already know how to set up a mix-minus system with Skype.
Your questions were "Loopback?", need a "mixer?", "Aux/FX/headphone out?"

A fellow VO artist wrote a blog a few years back about setting up a mix-minus system for remote VO direction and recording in his DAW. He talks various mixers and Aux/FX sends. Additionally, he explains the Skype config. VoxMan>> Blog Archive >> Setting Up a Phone Patch

Another source that I found handy for his simplified explanation is HiTechRedneck, on YouTube. His setup in a little different as he uses a standalone recorder, instead of DAW-based recording PC.
YouTube

Hopefully something is useful in these resources.
Dale

Great stuff here. Thank you!

---------- Update ----------

Just in case you DON'T know? You cannot run headphones from an AUX or indeed any line output other than a headphone socket.
But a Behringer 4 way cans amp will only set you back 20quid and they are PDGood. So enabled, any line source can be harkened unto.

Dave.

Please explain to me why headphones cannot be used to monitor an AUX out? I just did this last night on an ol'cheap'o I snagged up and it worked fine: both on the AUX and the Group outs as well as the headphone outs. That said, it "worked fine" in the moment but I could be missing something. Please enlighten me.
 

Theeoddname

New member
Update Usecase & Motivations

A bit of an update:
I decided to get Loopback for my macOS. This is allowing me to create digital audio devices which is helpful because now I can feed OBS individual mic's as an audio source from a single audio interface as opposed to having all mics from the hardware source be mixed into a single feed. So this is cool. Also, after some research I've discovered:

a) How to do a mix-minus, and theoretically be able to duplicate or even triplicate for 2/3 callers. YAY!
b) However, I cannot find a digital recorder or USB mixer (with multitrack abilities) that sends the signal to a computer (or recorder) for each individual track POST-FADER! So far, all I've seen is they all send pre-fader/eq to the computer (and recorder if it's a recorder).

In Short
The quickest way to say all the below is: I want to do the work with external hardware, on the analogue signal, and then let the computer record the tracks, not just the output.

All the above/below said, any suggestions on a premium 2-channel, 1-AUX with amazing EQ mixers? Just in case I go this route. Or perhaps a box which I could send my mic into, make adjustments, and then pass it along to the computer?

-- short motivation -- I dislike working in software for levels, knobs, and such. I can do it but (a) i dont like it and (b) I really dislike having to go back and forth through various windows (even on a multi screen set up) to mute a line or make a quick simple adjustment.

At Length
Considering (b), this means the mute buttons, faders, EQ, etc won't work and thus most of the board's functionality would be useless for a live stream (EQ, faders, mute) IF ... yes IF ... we were interested in sending to the broadcast each channel individually rather than the mixed out. I recognize this is likely not a big deal for the broadcast other than in one simple important fact: System Resources.

I have a mic which I like the sound of my voice better after a bit of EQ: and my snark kicks in and says, "I am the ONLY one ever to have thought this ever in the entire history of recording!" -- sarcasm --

That said, I want to be able to adjust all my settings via analogue and then send to the recorder/computer to record/broadcast my voice, in this order. I specifically want to have this per input channel... i.e. every mic and audio source, not just the mixed output.

Motivations:
This would reduce the system resources I'm running while streaming because I wont need to have the signal routed into a DAW and then over to OBS to get the EQ'd signal for streaming - hence one less program to have open and running and thus one less program to worry about system resources chewing up processor power. Yes I realize that to record on the computer via multi-track will eat up my resources and thus sending from there to OBS is a moot point -- but if the mixer had an onboard (off-computer) recording ability (like the zoom L12) then i can record via hardware off my computer and broadcast using my computer.

Use Case
Since all the mixer's I have found thus far send just after the gain (+compressor if they have it), any mute button + controls are also inactive for the purposes of multi-track recording. So, if somebody on the show goes into a coughing fit or becomes rather obnoxious the mute button wont work on the Mixer. I'm forced to either use a digital method, unplug the mic and later have to re-plug it, or use the gain knob on the mixer as opposed to a simple push button solution to kill the feed.

I doubt I would need to explain my motivations to have the multitrack recording ability for editing.

Thoughts
I could output via master out to OBS on my mac for broadcast (using the master outs into the mic on my computer or audio interface) and then record to a digital recorder via USB which allows for the broadcast to have the EQ'd signal, mute buttons, etc, but in this case the recorder would still have the raw values and thus not be consistent with the broadcast values and for post editing purposes I'd have to deal with that -- not what I was wanting to do.

Ultimately, I'd love to be able to record (per individual channel) BOTH the pre and post fader signals.

Work Around
A) Aux sends + loop back into mixer.
I did test on an cheap board I picked-up the following:
1) Run the mic into channel 1 all the way down to the fader.
2) Send this signal POST-Fader to an Aux send.
3) Route the AUX send out back into channel 2 and then over to the computer via USB.
4) Use Loopback to create an audio device using only channel 2 from the mixer.
This does indeed give me what I want, however, I must have then AUX Sends which are POST fader AND this also chews up both an Aux and an additional input on the mixer. Furthermore, in my test I used TSR-to-XLR cable and the routed input sounded a little degraded in quality --- I'm guessing this is because it wasn't designed to do this and also I routed the AUX over to a XLR channel with phantom power on ... I'll need to test this when I get home on a TSR-to-TSR cable. However, this is undesirable because a single mic now requires three slots on my mixer and hence throws me into needing a massive mixer for even small shows.

B) Multiple Mixers
All this said has lead to me the following possible solution:
Get two - four premium small channel mixers each having EQ, mute, etc on them. Route my mic's into these mixers, adjust the EQ, let each in-studio guest have their own mixer, and run these over to the audio interface.
The con here is the amount of hardware to buy and of course the cabling --- soooo many cables and thus a messy desk.

Am I missing something here?

Of course I could just get the Rodecaster PRO ... (not really what I want for other reasons) ... but this is an option I may have to go with.

All the above said, any suggestions on a premium 2-channel, 1-AUX with amazing EQ mixers? Just in case I go this route.

Thanks for reading this far -- and for the help. Perhaps I'm just the outlier in this world and that certainly wouldn't be atypical for me.
 

ecc83

Well-known member
Great stuff here. Thank you!

---------- Update ----------



Please explain to me why headphones cannot be used to monitor an AUX out? I just did this last night on an ol'cheap'o I snagged up and it worked fine: both on the AUX and the Group outs as well as the headphone outs. That said, it "worked fine" in the moment but I could be missing something. Please enlighten me.

An AUX out jack will normally simply not deliver enough current to drive most headphones so the signal will be very weak and probably distorted. You will also only get one ear!

Dave.
 
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