The Best Podcast Mixers: Pros, Cons & the Ones to Buy

The Best Podcast Mixers

Ok, I’ll get the question out of the way right now:

Do you NEED a mixer for podcasting?

No, definitely not.

Do you WANT a Podcast mixer?

Yes, almost certainly.

Confused? Well, read on.

The Desire to Upgrade

It never takes long. It can be mere months into your broadcasting journey before the thought of a mixer starts to play on your mind.

You might not even have a reliable audience yet, but you’re getting some great feedback, you’re enjoying the recording, the equipment, the whole process. As so often happens, the fever takes hold and you want to get the best kit possible to really make your Podcast shine. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, and there are a tonne of really great reasons to get a mixer.

My only caveat to the whole thing is, don’t rush in. Despite the advantages, mixers complicate the whole business. Wait until you’ve settled into a good mix of quality and reliability. Make sure you have people listening, and that they like your content. At that point, you know you’re in it for long haul. It’s worth the money to buy it and the time to learn how to use it.

Now, we can think about a mixer.

Why Should I get a Mixer for Podcasting?

Podcasting mixerI’ll start by saying that yes, a mixer will improve your audio quality. The pre-amps will be nicer and will really help your microphone shine. But, if you have a decent microphone already, then it’s not going to make as much of a difference. At that level, it’s certainly not something that’ll suddenly win you a load more listeners.

Audio Engineers buy mixers for the sheer audio quality, but Podcasters buy mixers for the options and the control that they offer, as well as the efficiency they can bring to our recording workflow. Let’s have a look at the details – here are the reasons why a Podcaster should buy a mixer:

professional recording equipment1. The Pro Kit

If you want to use professional quality microphones, or any with XLR inputs, then to get the best out of them you’re going to need a mixer. It is possible to get XLR > USB converters, but they’re not going to take as much advantage of the quality of your mic.

2. Multi-Channel Control

Having control over the individual channels of your audio is one of the simplest, but biggest enhancements that a mixer brings into your life. In your early days you’ll be recording everyone on one channel. That means loud people are loud and quiet people are quiet. With a mixer you can actually turn up those quiet folks, and turn down the shouters. Plus you can record them on different channels and have much more power in post production. Excellent!

3. Inline Enhancements

Inline enhancements work hand-in-hand with the multi channel capability and are great for improving your sound. They can also save you a whole lot of time in post production. The ability to use a lo-cut filter, equalisation and gain on each channel individually is brilliant, plus some mixers have compression and limiters too.

4. Backup and reliability

Mixers don’t crash, unlike computers, and I’ve never seen a digital recorder do so either. You can cut out the computer component altogether, reducing noise and flakiness, or you can do a backup recording sending a second output to the digital recorder.

So, that’s 4 big advantages. To me, as good as they are, they’re all nice to have, but they don’t quite justify the cost for an average podcaster. What we need are a couple of game changing features. Luckily enough, here are two just such things.

5. Live Production

audacity podcast editing softwareLive producing means that you’re adding your music, your sound FX, phone calls, recorded messages, and anything else that goes into your show on the fly – it’s all going in live. You’re treating it like a radio show, so there’s no post production at all. You simply hit record, do the show, and then stop.

Afterwards, you might do some compression or EQ in Post, but all of the audio you need is in there already.

This is achieved by plugging in a device to play your sound FX and recordings on it’s own channel. I use an iPad with the Soundbyte app for this – it just gives you a rack of buttons with the sounds and music attached making it very easy to play anything off the cuff. If you don’t have that, though, you can just use a laptop or a PC.

This is what I do for nearly all of my podcasting, and once you’ve got used to the kit it makes it all so much quicker.

And, not to forget, it’s fun! It’s great to hear your music playing at the start, get yourself hyped up, fade it down and enthuse your welcome into the mic. It’s great to play bumpers and stings and to react to them. Or to play FX when your co-host does something – for him to hear it too, and react. It makes podcasting quicker and more enjoyable, which to me, is the biggest reason for getting a mixer. Plus, I hate editing – I’m too much of a perfectionist so I end up adjusting stuff endlessly, wasting time….

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6. Mix Minus

Mix minus ties into the last thing I mentioned above: working with a co-host. Mix-minus is a technique which allows you to do live production with a co-host while that co-host is remote, such as using Skype, Hangouts or Appear.in.

If you connect your normal recording setup into Skype so that he can hear you and the FX, then he’ll also hear his own voice back. It sets up a horrible echo. So, what you want to do is send him the full mix – your voice, music, etc – MINUS his own voice.

You can do this with any mixer than has an ‘Auxiliary Out’ or an ‘FX send’ on it, and a fader or a knob to control that output. In practice, you plug that Aux/FX into Skype, and then you turn down the Aux/FX knob on the Skype channel alone. That means he can’t hear himself on that channel, but can hear everything else. Easy!

What to Look for When Buying a Podcast Mixer

the best podcasting mixersNow that you’ve made the decision to buy a mixer for podcasting, here comes the difficult part. The range of mixers on the market is bewildering, and the choice isn’t made any easier by the ridiculous features and specs that are listed for each one.

The problem is that mixers are really designed for Audio Engineers, and those guys know a LOT about the technical details. Therefore, those that sell mixers plaster the tech specs all over the website.

As a podcaster, there are 3 things you need to worry about:

1. The number of channels

How many inputs will you use? My setup uses 4 channels on a regular basis, but 5 or 6 on occasion.

This is made up of: 1. My own microphone, 2. a local co-hosts microphone, 3. Music and FX via iPad, 4. Skype input for interviews or other co-hosts. I’ll sometimes have a mobile phone plugged into another channel, and another local co-host on occasion, so I need a minimum of 6 channels, and probably 3 XLR inputs to be safe.

Many cheaper mixers will only have 1 or 2 XLR inputs, which limits the number of decent quality microphones you can use locally, especially if they’re condenser microphones that need phantom power (check out my microphone article for more details).

Buy something with enough channels to expand into.

2. Aux Out or FX Send

To achieve a mix-minus setup, you need that Aux Out or FX Send feature. Look for a stereo output socket labelled with either, and a volume control knob on each channel labelled the same.

mixer for podcasting3. Control Types – Faders or Knobs?

More often than not, cheaper mixers use knobs all over the board. Knobs are fine for those adjustments that don’t tend to change during a recording, such as Pan, EQ or gain. But, for your main volume control faders can be an advantage. A fader is a slider rather than a knob – you can see faders on the bottom of the picture opposite and knobs at the top. Faders offer more fine control than a knob.

You can get your music levels right every time with a fader, and ensure your recordings sound great. But, in saying that, knobs can do the job just fine, and tend to allow you to save a bit of cost if required.

4. Advanced Inline Processing Features

If you want to have fine control over your sound, reducing post-production, then you may be looking for extra inline features. The minimum you would generally expect are Equalisation (or EQ), a gain control and possibly a lo-cut filter. Beyond that, some podcasting mixers may have compression or limiter options, but don’t write it off it doesn’t

The Nitty Gritty: a Range of Mixers for all Budgets

I’m going to offer a range of mixers at a budget level and a high quality level, but, I have to admit, I don’t hugely recommend the low budget options. I include them because I’m asked about them all the time, and people argue that they’d like to try a mixer at a low cost. But, the quality increase isn’t amazing, and it’s not that much more to jump in with a really good mixer. That said, let’s look at the budget level:

Best Budget Mixer for Podcasting

behringer xenyx 802 mixer for podcastingThe Yamaha MG10 (£100/$150)

I used to talk about sub-£100 mixers from time to time. Sadly, over the years, I’ve learned that they’re just not worth it… The budget Behringer range in particular are a troublesome bunch. They’re budget in every sense of the word – hissy, loud noise floors and cheap components that break pretty quickly.

That’s why, now, my budget recommendation is at the £100 level, and comes in the form of the Yamaha MG10.

The Yamaha has been a constant presence in our studio for nearly a year now. It’s a brilliant little mixer with an amazingly quiet noise floor, especially at this price. It has features normally found only on expensive units, such as in-built compression, and it also has Aux Out so that you can run a mix-minus setup.

As a bonus it’s a small and hardy little unit, so it can even been taken out and about without too much worry. We’ve used this to record a number of events with great results.

I’ve had such great results with this that, to be honst, unless you need the extra channels, I’d recommend this over the mid-level Behringer unit below.

For a runner-up in this category, try the Mackie 402. This is a pro quality bit of kit, but costs about the same as the Yamaha and has fewer features. You could argue that it’s better audio quality, but there’s really not much in it.

Best Mid-Range Mixer for Podcasting

podcast mixer behringer xenyx 1204The Behringer Xenyx 1204

The Behringer Xenyx 1204 is a fully featured mixer that’ll do the job for any podcaster out there that needs a lot more channels and the full set of mixer features.

You’re not going to run out of channels on this any time soon either with 6 fader-controlled channels, plus extra if needed. 4 of those are phanton powered XLR channels so you can bring in a range of co-hosts on top quality microphones.

This comes in USB too so you can bring your audio straight into the computer for direct recording, or you can record out to a digital recorder if need be.

Best Pro-Level Podcast Mixer

podcast mixer mackie PROFX8The Mackie ProFX8

The Mackie ProFX8 is a professional level piece of kit, and something you can aspire to if you really want the best quality out there, and the utmost reliability.

The Mackie is similar to the Behringer above, but actually has one less fully controlled channel, so 5 main inputs, but still 4 of which are XLR. It has all the same inline features, except for compression – something which can easily be added in post production in very little time anyway.

What the Mackie does have that the Behringer doesn’t is better pre-amps, reportedly better reliability and a 7 band EQ to really refine your sound in live production.

If you have the budget for it, this is a pretty great bit of kit.

Conclusion: On Podcast Mixers

Whether you’re at the podcasting mixer stage or not, it’s always fun to look. Don’t jump in too early – there’s  nothing worse than complicating your recording process before you’re ready – but once you are,  a mixer can really help with your process, improving your sound and speeding up your workflow.

If you’re already using a mixer, I’d love to hear what. Tell me in the comments below: What mixer are you using, and how do you find it? Look forward to hearing from you!

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76 Comments

  1. I own a Mackie ProFX12 and it’s worked well for my needs. I’ve also owned an Alesis MultiMix as well as a Tascam Firewire mixer. The Alesis was good until the digital interface died. The Tascam was really powerful but it’s really too much for a podcasting rig. The ProFX is a good balance between the two. It has all the I/O I need along with built-in effects. I think it’ll be awhile before I ever outgrow it.

    Reply
    • Sounds great Shawn, and thanks for the confirmation on the PROFX’s quality.

      I’ve played with Firewire mixers and interfaces in the past (did a bit of ProTools at Uni quite a few years back) but you’re right, it’s way overkill for Podcasting. Just introduces too much complexity I think, and too many things that can go wrong when you don’t know it too well. Glad to hear the PROFX fits in below that!

      Reply
  2. Hi Colin I’m on a shoestring budget & use the following (all carefully sourced for the best price possible)

    Behringer Xenyx 1202FX (£60 2nd Ebay)
    Behringer C1 Mics (£35 sold as a pair)
    Zoom H2N Recorder (think I paid under £90)
    & use NCH WavePad & MixPad for editing.

    So far I’m pretty pleased with the results.

    I know you have left an iTunes review of The Garbage POD but what do you think our efforts?

    Reply
    • That’s a really good value setup Mark. I’ve used a C1 mic before and it does give great quality for the price, so nothing wrong with that! I’ve never used the 1202, but I did have a 502 from Behringer and it was perfectly good, so I’m sure the 1202 is great. Plus, as you know, I’m a Zoom fan-boy, so definitely impressed by the H2N 🙂

      On the Podcast itself, I love the format – it’s informal, friendly but informative and entertaining. Keep it up!

      Reply
  3. I’ve made several podcasts in the past using solely an H2n via USB, and it was always me and a couple friends talking into it centrally located. However, I recently wanted to make it a little more slick sounding and got the Xenyx 802 mixer, a behringer rca/usb interface to connect it to my computer, and 3 mics. Now for myself I bought a decent inexpensive condenser (phantom power) mic which works
    fine. But being severely budget conscious I bought 2 other condenser mics that only connect via 1/8″ jacks. Is there a way to connect these to the Xenyx so I can do a 3 mic set up? I’ve tried 1/4″ stereo adapters, but get nothing. I apologize for the techie question but I’ve found little support online on the subject. Do I need a different mixer for 3 mics, or would better mics going into an XLR splitter work as channel 2?

    Really grateful for this resource!

    Reply
    • Hey Davey, thanks for the question.

      Condenser microphones on a 1/8″ jack sounds a little strange to me. Condensers normally need phantom power, and so only work with an XLR connection. What model of microphones are they?

      Reply
  4. Yay a podcasting guide that isn’t dead! Hi! Ive been doing a show with one mic and some friends as others have stated but i run into the problem of quiets vs shouters. For our budget i had been fine not using condensers and so i was wondering if it was feasible to use dynamic mics with 1/4th inputs into something like a Xenyx 502. Or even the 802. We typically have 3-4 people and having a mixer with full xlr inputs and condensers for that many people was a bit out of our range especially for a starting podcast. Most of the tips i get are just go for it but this post is nice as it accommodates different goals and experience levels. To reiterate i am mainly interested in knowing if 1/4th mics would work in mixers with 1/4th inputs decently. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Thanks Nick, we try not to be dead 🙂

      Ok, sounds like you’re thinking the exact right lines in terms of a podcast mixer. For a big group like that, especially if there are shouters involved, then dynamic microphones into a mixer like the Xenyx 502 or the 802 would do the trick perfectly. Remember the 502 only allows volume control over 3 channels separately, so if you’re presenting with 4 people then 2 of them will have to share a channel when it comes to volume control. That’s fine though if you match up two folk of similar volume! Might be worth going for the 802 in that case, though, since that’ll give you more expansion options in future too.

      The reason to go for dynamic mics is that they’ll pick up less noise from the others in the room – they reject much more background than a condenser. You could run into trouble from that with a set of 4 condenser microphones.

      On the 1/4″ question, yes, you’ll be fine, although the gain might be a bit low in lower powered mixers or gain hungry mics. If that’s the case you’ll need an extra pre-amp like the Cloudlifter or the fethead, so it’s definitely solveable.

      Hope that helps!
      Colin

      Reply
  5. I’m starting an improv comedy podcast where 6 of us are going to be sitting around a table doing improv scenes. So I need a mixer that I can plug 6 microphones into, and record live via USB to my laptop.

    I will also need to be able to add a music track for the intro and outro but this can be done in post. Would the Behringer Xenyx 1204 work for this?

    Thanks 🙂

    Reply
    • Quick answer Kelsey, yes it would! The Xenyx 1204 mixer works excellently for podcasting, and it could accomodate all of those channels no problem.

      Thanks,
      Colin

      Reply
    • I like the idea of your podcast. Can you share a link so I can listen to it?

      Reply
  6. Thanks for the site and podcasts. Very helpful for a guy like me just starting out and trying to figure out all this podcasting and audio stuff. Obviously, I’m a little late to this post, but I’ve been reading this post and I’ve got your S2E3 podcast streaming in another tab, and I wanted to ask a question or two.

    Where I’m at: I will be recording podcasts in one of two ways depending on my situation. Either using the Zoom H5 with an XLR mic and Bossjock on my iPad as a cart, or using whatever mics/carts/skype, etc. going through a mixer into my H5. I prefer not to record directly into a computer, and I like to do as much live as possible, and have as little as possible to work on in post. I must have a mix/minus set-up, just like Ortega demonstrated in the video your referenced. Also, fader and not knobs. This being the case:

    1. Seven months later, have you changed any of your recommendations, or are there any mixers you have added to the list?

    2. I found a BEHRINGER EURORACK UB1222FX-PRO (http://v.gd/UB1222FXPRO) and BEHRINGER EURORACK UB1204-PRO (http://v.gd/UB1204pro) while scouring the internet. If I am understanding correctly, they do not have USB or Firewire and are not designed to be connected to a computer (without an interface of some sort). Could you speak to this difference? How do mixers like these compare to USB mixers (apart from connectivity)? Should I be looking for one over the other? Are there advantages or disadvantages to either?

    Again, I don’t plan on recording straight to a computer. I like the stability and flexibility of a DAR. But I am also new to all this and would love your thoughts on any and all of this. I think it might be helpful to readers, too.

    Thanks for everything, including your thoughts and time. Keep it up! In all of my online research, yours is one of only a few sites I have actually bookmarked.

    Cheers!

    Reply
    • Hey Dan, thanks for the detail – really interesting! To answer your core question, no, there is no difference really between a USB and a non-USB mixer apart from the connectivity. If you’re definitely not going to want to record direct to PC/Mac, then you don’t need to worry about the USB options at all.

      And no, I haven’t changed any of these recommendations so far. New devices come and go, but they tend to add more gadgets rather than improve quality, certainly at this price level, so you’re safe with those above!

      Reply
  7. Hi, I hope you’re still accepting comments. I was just wondering if you could expand a bit on the use of audio interfaces in the context of podcasts? I thought a mixer would be sufficient but now see an audio interface is what will actually connect a mixer to the computer. Thanks in advance for any input!

    Reply
    • Hi Joe,

      I’m not sure exactly what component you’re referring to, but yes, you need some kind of interface if you’re using a non-usb mixer. If a mixer doesn’t have USB output, then it’ll just output through normal XLR, 1/4″ or 3.5mm cables. These need to go into your computer via an adapter of some kind. This might just be a sound card – ie. plug the mixer into your microphone port on the computer, or it could be a separate USB device which takes XLR or 1/4″ and then transfers that into your computer. Alternatively, you could just buy a USB mixer straight away and that’ll transfer your podcast input straight into the computer. Similarly with firewire mixers, and they can even transfer in separate tracks so that you retain a lot of control over the recording.

      Hope that helps!
      Colin

      Reply
  8. I would like to start a podcast, but not sure what equipment to buy. The majority of my podcasts will be centered on Skype interviews or a podcast with me and a cohost. My budget is $500USD for equipment. I thinking of buying a Blue Yeti as my microphone. Do you suggest I buy a mixer and digital recorder?

    Reply
    • Hi Martin, with that kind of budget it would certainly be worth thinking about the mixer and recorder podcasting setup. It gives you so many more options, as I’ve discussed above. Plus, the reliability for me is key. Not relying on slightly flaky software which can crash and lose you an hour long interview. That’s just heartbreaking when it happens, and it does happen.

      Hope that helps!
      Colin

      Reply
  9. I am going to do some remote podcasts at events with the public… I want to record the podcasts directly to garageband with my Mac. I want to use USB mics and plug them directly into my laptop without a mixer. That being said I only have 2 USB outlets on my Mac. Can I get a USB splitter with more microphones so I could possibly have 3 guests or more?

    Reply
  10. Awesome article!

    I’m currently doing a gaming Podcast in Los Angeles.

    I have experience in instrument recording, but not vocal recording so I used what I had. A Presouns Firepod with 8 inputs using Cubase as my mixer and recording program.

    Problem is I can’t figure out a mix minus set up on that interface. There is no FX send our Aux out…or not that I can see.

    If I pick up a Mackie ProFX12 with USB will it work with my Cubase 5?

    Currently my Firepod interface comes up in Cubase set up automatically.

    I can’t find a clear answer and maybe someone here can help.

    Thank you!

    Elvin

    Reply
  11. Hello! I’m looking into using a Heil PR40 with my 27″ 2014 iMac for YouTube video production for a large channel, and have a large sponsored budget- but no experience in audio mixing or anything of the sort. I’ve used a Blue Microphones Yeti for the past 18 months, but I would like to improve my sound as much as possible.

    Do you have a suggestion for gear to use in conjunction with the Heil microphone please?

    Thanks so much!

    Reply
  12. I’ve done some podcasting using Audacity on a Mac, but these were just my voice, some intro music and pre-recorded spots. I recorded, then edited in Audacity and then output to a company website in Mp3 format.

    Now I’m launching a new podcast soon that will be an interview show with me hosting in the USA and interviewing guests in the UK via Skype. I plan to record into a digital recorder and then do post in Audacity and mix out to Mp3 for uploading.

    I’m going to use the Behringer Xenyx 1002FX (already have it.) In the setup you describe though, how do you bring Skype into the mixer? Are you bringing it out of the computer?

    Also, I’ve read your post on digital recorders. Both the Tascam and Zoom are hand held portables. As my show will be 99.5% in studio via skype, I don’t need portability. Is there a desktop model in same price range or would you suggest just going with the handheld?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hey Glen,

      Sounds like a good plan – and you have a decent setup there to support it.

      You bring Skype out of the computer into the podcast mixer via the standard headphone out. Plug a 3.5mm jack into the computer’s headphone out and then the other end of that cable into one of your mixer inputs. You can either get a cable with a 1/4″ jack on the other end, or use an adapter for a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable.

      Next, on the recorders, yes, there isn’t really such a thing as a desktop digital recorder – well, not in our price range anyway 🙂 You get pro kit which is a digital recorder which is designed to stay in one place, but digital recorders don’t need to be big, so they tend to be make portable anyway. The H6 is the best you’ll get and it’s designed to work well placed flat on the desk. To be honest though, any of the Tascam or Zoom recorders will do the job very well!

      Hope that helps!
      Colin

      Reply
  13. I”m in the process of starting up a podcast on real estate. So far I’ve just ordered a Heil PR-40 kit. I have a new MacPro and IPad. My initial thoughts were to buy a Focusrite 6i6 and record directly into the MacPro. Second option would be at pickup a Zoom H5 and record directly into it, edit later in Audition.

    Which setup do you prefer?

    After reading your book, the idea of recording live makes sense for a reduced workflow in post. I will want to add Skype interviews into the mix and the occasional live co-host. Adding the Zoom and the mixer should cover that. Which mixer would you recommend – I’m after quality and don’t want to upgrade in 6 months to something better.

    Those are the options. Looking for guidance.

    Thanks
    Bob

    Reply
  14. Thanks for the post, its somewhat helped my brain but not entirely. I am starting up a couple of podcasts, mainly to help out a couple of groups i am a member of to share information and be interactive with members on a monthly basis and such. I have come across a mixer I am interested in but something has been confusing me. With the Behringer X2222USB if i plug in 4 mics and a ipad for intro and outro music and hook it into the surface I intend to use, it will actually record all of the mics and such into one stereo file? I have seen some posts saying it will only record 1 or 2 mics and other such things and its got me worried as this is my money not the groups and i don’t want to waste it on something that has all these possible inputs but no way to output them all. If that is the case I am tempted to cough up and get the zoom r24 instead.

    Reply
  15. Thanks for the post, Colin. It was incredibly informative.

    My wife and I are thinking about starting a podcast together, and I have a question regarding these mixers/mixers in general. Now, my question has to do with recording with multiple tracks, see ideally I would like each of us to have our own individual track, and special effects and music on a third, and guests on Skype on a fourth.

    I might be being a bit silly, but from what I’ve read multi-channel and multi-track seems like two different things. If so, how would one go about setting it up, and what equipment would be needed? I would really appreciate some feedback if you have time.

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
  16. I am wondering what is the real positive to pro level mixer and the mid-range mixer

    Reply
  17. Hi Colin,
    Thanks heaps for your article, very informative.

    I am currently in the process of researching for for the setup of my first podcast. I would like my sound to be as professional as possible however I have limited budget as do most people.

    Currently I have a quality AKG D5 dynamic mic and have just purchased a Zoom H5 as my audio interface to record into. I know the Zoom is a really great versatile unit and offers some compression etc. I will be doing most of my podcasts with myself and one other guest either in person or via skype.

    Would the Zoom H5 be enough to produce a good sound or would u recommend I invest in a mixer in addition to the Zoom. Also apart from the zoom and a potential mixer is there any other gear I am missing? I plan on using Audacity,

    Regards

    Reply
    • Hi Steven,

      Sounds like you’re off to a great start with your gear. If you’re going to have in person guests then another D5 mic (or something similar, like a Shure SM58) would be good, you’d obviously need another XLR cable too. On the subject of XLR cables, I really like the Planet Waves ones.

      That will be more than ample for getting you started. You might consider a mixer in future if you’re thinking about adding in music and sound effects ‘as live’ rather than editing them in afterwards. A mixer would also be useful for having more than one guest on the show at a time.

      Hope that helps, and keep us posted with how you get on!

      Reply
  18. Hi Colin. This post is Great! I really love your website. Ok, so here are my questions. A bit specific but I am certain you can help with at least the basic parts of it. I am a visually impaired guy doing a Podcast called The Blind Hour Podcast. Currently we use a Zoom H6 to record our shows and depending on location we either use the included X/Y Mic or if in house the Shure SM58 mics. When we have our producer with us he does all the interface work with his personal mixer since he is able to visually look at all the set up on Logic and all that. My question is about the H6 as an audio interface. I know it can be used but I am not sure how to do this. I have tried plugging it into my HP Spectre (which I often use to edit the shows recorded without a producer) and had a family member set it up as an audio interface. However, when I do this I cannot get it to work with GoldWave or Audacity. My question is if there is something on the software side of things that I am missing? Should I change any of the settings on either GoldWave or Audacity in order to accommodate the H6 as an interface? Also, will this leave me with separate tracks for each of the SM58s I use? My last question is about Pamela for Skype. I use my H6 to record Skype interviews but I have just gotten a Blue Yeti as it makes it easier to record Skype without always having to pull out and set up the H6, XLR cables, mics, etc. Do you think Pamela is a good option as the website says it can record as WAV files? I would prefer that as it would give me better audio resolution when editing. However, I have been using MP3 Skype Recorder and it works great but is limited to 128kbps MP3 files which is what I end up saving my actual Podcast files to anyway after the editing process of the WAV files. Guess my question is if you think it is worth spending more money on Pamela or should I keep using the simple and great MP3 Skype Recorder? All this of course knowing that I can get 92kHZ/24bit WAV files with my H6 but it would help doing the Skype interviews with less setting up to do every single time I need to get on Skype. Thanks again for your help and I would love to hear your comments on our Podcast. All the best and thanks for this awesome website!

    Reply
    • Hey Maximiliano, thanks for the kind words and really looking forward to checking out your podcast.

      So your first question – when you connect any external equipment to your computer and want to use it to record in your editing software then there’s usually a setting you’ll need to change. I’ve never used Goldwave before but they all work on very similar principles so I’ll explain how to do it in Audacity.

      After connecting your equipment, open Audacity, click ‘edit’ in the menu along the top, then ‘preferences’. In here there’s a section called ‘Devices’ and a ‘Recording device’ dropdown menu where you need to select the device you wish to record with. In any editing software it’s a ‘preferences’ menu where you’ll usually find these options.

      Immediately under ‘Recording device’ is another option called ‘Channels’ that let’s you choose either stereo or mono recording. If you’re recording with two microphones and a co-host or interviewee, use stereo and this will record the both of you in two separate tracks.

      Regarding your Skype question, as you say yourself it is always better to work with WAVs, as each time you edit an MP3 file it can add unwanted artifacts to your recording. However if you’re working with an 128kbps MP3 and just mixing it once, then it’s pretty unlikely to be doing any harm. If this is convenient for you and you’re happy with the sound of your interviews then I’d just keep doing what you’re doing!

      Hope that helps

      Matthew

      Reply
  19. Great article, Colin. I am using a digital recorder and am purchasing a yamaha mixer with some nice mics. The folks at Guitar Center seem to think a USB mixer is best. I don’t record into the computer directly, but into the digital recorder (Tascam dr 05). I don’t see why I need the USB since the recorder is doing that via the 1/8″ mic port. Thanks much, Bernie

    Reply
    • Hi Bernie, you’re right – if you use a digital recorder there’s no need to involve a computer or USB connection!

      Reply
  20. Hi Matthew. I will try the interface with goldwave later today and will change the devise preferences as you explained. If I will be using more than 2 mics is the process the same? For example, I often have 3 mics being used (1 for myself, for my cohost, and one for our producer who jumps in from time to time). If I use the stereo setting will that just simply mix all 3 tracks into a single stereo file? If I want in fact an individual audio stem for each should I use the mono setting?
    Thanks also for your suggestion about MP3 Skype Recorder. As it stands I am very comfortable with the audio quality I get with it. I do wish it had better res but it does the job well enough. I downloaded a demo of Pamela and will try that as well but I don’t expect the difference to be huge. Plus, neither is really accessible with a screen reader so I always need a sighted person’s help setting these things up and MP3 Skype Recorder is already set while Pamela would take some getting used to.
    All the best and thanks again for your time and for this great website. It truly has been a great resource for my research once I decided to do the Podcast with much better gear than when we first started.

    Reply
    • Hey Maxamiliano, if you’re using more than 2 mics you’d still only be recording in a mono or stereo track where you wouldn’t end up with 3 (or more) tracks for each voice. There’s equipment (such as FireWire mixers) out there that allow you to do this but they can be pretty expensive!

      Reply
  21. This is a great article! Thanks so much for posting it. I have some questions. I am looking at getting the BEHRINGER XENYX 1202 to record a podcast with my brother and the most we will probably ever have recording at one time is 4 microphones. The trouble I am having is finding a decent set of headphone mics that will work good with this mixer. I can’t find anything headphone mics that look like they will work good with XLR outputs. We prefer headphones over traditional mics as we would like to record our talking while gaming and yet still be able to hear each other over the headphones. Do you have any suggestions for this? Also would a headset with 3.5mm output work ok with a 3.5 to 1/4″ adapter?

    Reply
  22. Hello and thank you for this great guide!

    We’ve been doing our podcast for a few years now using google hangouts; we all live in different states, and we have different guests on for each episode. Where as myself and my co-hosts can record our own tracks, when we have guests we’re pretty much forced to use the google hangouts call audio and try to clean that up in editing.

    My question is, if I were to use a mixer, could I call the guest on a separate hangout call and run it through the mixer into the hangouts with us so I could record just the guest’s audio? Or am I really over thinking this haha. It would just be cool to have their audio separate from ours but make the experience as easy for the guest as possible.

    Thanks! Oh and I’m def getting that podcast book!

    Reply
    • Hi Matt, your audio will still be recorded as a stereo track so they’d still have to be divided up onto the left or right hand side whilst recording, and that would mean someone sharing an audio track with someone else if you have anymore than 2 people on the call.

      Reply
  23. Im mostly concerned with the idea of supporting headphones for each mic. For radio style talk show broadcasting. Im old school kinda. (2002) i used to be on the radio and im trying to build something as close to my old booth as i can. Id kill for a cart machine a bulk eraser and a DAT but id settle for two CDs and a turntable. But i need two have at least three mics and a set of cans for each.

    Reply
  24. I mentioned on one of your other links (can’t remember which one), that I’m using the Zoom R16 mixer/recorder – one of the best budget priced mixers on the market and really great value. You can plug in a couple of SM 58 mics into separate channels for interviews or mulit-mic setups, and mix them later in Audacity. The R16 is truly versatile and offers all the on-board features that you require for live mixing and effects, but if you’re using a DAW like Audacity, you can just take the raw recording and do with it what you want in post-production. It also offers phantom power channels for condenser mics and hi-z input for electric guitar. If you’re into recording vocals, you can pre-record a backing track and dub the vocals whilst listening to your backing.

    Reply
  25. Question and a comment:
    We record our podcast into a Mackie ProFx12 (major overkill for our little podcast!) and record in WAV format into a Zoom H5N. Then export that to Audacity to edit. I’d love to record directly into Audacity, but my notebook makes enough noise I’m afraid the mics would pick it up.

    Here’s my question: I’ve used the Berhinger mixer and this Mackie, using two MXL 990 condenser microphones. With both mixers, we find we have to turn up the gain knob for the mic channel (not the volume slider) to 98% or so in order to get the LEDs on the Main Meters to register at all. This makes using the LEDs on the Main useless for monitoring/setting our output levels. I tried a couple of good dynamic mics, and exactly the same issue. Yet, I can hear every little background sound in my headphones.

    Why is this? Are the mixers just set up more for things like instruments? I find it hard to understand why having the gain at Unity or even 75% results in a signal that can’t light up even the lowest LED lights on the main meters!

    Reply
    • Hi Jeff. This is a common gripe in podcasting. You’ve pretty much summed it up though, mixers are built to handle loud signals from instruments so they have a lot of headroom on their meters. With purely spoken word content there’s unlikely to be drastic changes in volume so if your files are looking fine one you load them into your DAW then just keep doing what you’re doing! Cheers.

      Reply
  26. Hi Colin,

    Thanks very much for the advice here. Really interesting.

    I did a lot of podcasting a few years ago and want to get back into it as I have a few ideas for new shows.

    I purchased the Mackie mixer you mention above but I have been having problems getting the sound to come through clearly when I connect the audio output from my PC and also when I connect my mobile phone. For some reason when I do this and play a piece of music or do a Skype call from either device through any of the mixer’s channels I get quite a bit of crackling/distortion in the audio.

    The sound when speaking into my microphone through any of the channels is fine, no problems there.

    Do you know why this might be happening? It’s really troubling me and I was so excited about my new piece of kit!

    Many thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Ed, have you tried another cable to eliminate that as a potential cause?

      Reply
      • Hi,

        Thanks for the reply. A friend of mine came over the other day to help (he’s a sound engineer). Interestingly, yes, the problem was the cable. Phew!

        It’s funny, I did all this research on Amazon as to what the best cables are, and it looks like I went for the expensive duds! 🙂

        Apparently it’s often the case that cheap/rubbish cables are covered in a layer which makes them look high end when actually the opposite is true.

        You live and learn!

        Reply
        • Great to hear you got it sorted Ed! Yeah cables are a bit of a dark art. They’re always best to be your first port of call when something goes wrong with your audio quality. What was the name of the one that caused the issues?

          Reply
  27. Hey im starting a podcast for 4 people. im on a tigh budget for a mixer. im thinking of getting the xenyx1202fx but not understading if I need a powered mixer or unpowered mixer for my podcast. Please advise

    Reply
    • Hi, are you looking to record 4 people at the same time in the same location? What is your aprox budget if you don’t mind me asking?

      Reply
  28. I’m an audio engineering student with a friend who wants me to help him start a podcast. I’m looking at getting the SoundCraft Signature MTK 12 for a board. It has the live mixing capabilities for live signal routing during the recording process, but it also has a multitrack capability that captures the digital audio right off of the preamps. Thoughts?

    Reply
    • Looks like a great bit of gear without a doubt. It all depends on your friend’s podcast though really, depending on his/her show that might be quite a lot of money to fork out if a solo mic or smaller mixer is all that’s needed.

      Reply
  29. I would love some more input. I have a zoom h4n and a mackie profx8v2 and I use my surface pro 3. Just really confused on setting everything up properly. My mic is the audiotechnica atr2100

    Reply
    • What specifically were you having trouble with, Afam?

      Reply
  30. Question. I’m set up with Behringer Xenyx Q802USB without using mix minus and my Skype caller doesn’t seem to hear their own voice. I’m using the mixer’s usb as Skype microphone in and using speaker output from laptop into the mixing board (using input 2 on 802 but wondering if 3/4 or 5/6 is better option). When I tested with mix minus, and then use Audacity with the 802’s usb as microphone to record from the Behringer, it only picked up the microphone voice, not the Skype caller. This leads me to believe the 802 is not sending back the full audio over usb, just the input 1 microphone, or am I nuts? I have H4N Pro as well connected to Tape out and it works fine. Happy with how everything works, but concerned something must be wrong. Thoughts?

    Reply
    • Hi Kevin, thanks for the question.
      You should be able to send all inputs to the USB output, so there’s definitely something a little unusual about your settings there. Are you making sure that the levels and gain are a decent level on all channels? Basic question, I know, but surprising how often it’s forgetten!

      Colin

      Reply
  31. I am mostly a newbie to pro audio but I am pretty sure I’m going to end up with the Behringer 1204. All 4 XLR inputs would be used full time with mics. My question is what happens on the off chance that a 5th person would like to join us for the evening? Does the mixer have the capability to switch any of the line level inputs into a mic input? If not, which would you recommend: a mic preamp for a line input, or split one of the main channels with an auxiliary 2-1 xlr mixer?

    Reply
    • Hi Neil. You can plug a dynamic mic into one of the line inputs yes. The signal isn’t very strong though, so you’ll probably need to do a bit of work in post production to sort the levels out.

      Reply
  32. Was just wondering if you could offer some advice, I currently operate a film podcast with 2 other friends, 3 of us in total. When we started we just used a Samson Q2U USB microphone plugged straight in to the laptop and recorded using audacity.
    But now I would like to get our podcast sounding better by using a mixer. Can you recommend what mixer and 2 other mic’s would be best for us. The samson mic has an XLR connection so I was thinking that getting a usb mixer would be the best move, then I could just get 2 other mic’s to plug in to the mixer.
    Looking at the Yamaha mixer you suggested on here, it only has 2 XLR connections, so could I then plug another mic through the other line in connections? Then connect it to the laptop.
    Any help you could offer would be appreciated.

    Reply
  33. Can you point me to your cable routing? I have the same mixer and all seemed fine running in and out of PC through USB. That is until I did a test recording and played it back. My intro audio features some parts that are panned hard left then right, left sounds fine; right sounds weak and distorted (but only when I play back a recording of the mix). I did some test calls also with Skype and Zoom video conferencing, sounding great on both ends with no mix minus.

    Reply
    • Hi Cadi, were you looking for cable routing for a mix minus setup?

      Reply
  34. Great post, Colin. Not sure if you guys are still accepting comments but I have a question about my current setup and whether anything here could improve it.

    My roommate and I have a podcast called “You Heard it Here Second” on iTunes. We have two Floureon BM-800 condenser mics plugged into a Behringer Q802 USB mixer, which goes into my laptop. We also run my laptop back into the mixer for sound effects or for Skype/Google calls, for interviews. We both hear the USB mixer’s output with headphones plugged into the Behringer mixer.

    My main issue is that Audition, Audacity, Quicktime — anything I’ve recorded with doesn’t recognize the separate channels of my mixer. I would love to be able to record in with each track separate, so I don’t have to worry about nailing the audio levels precisely (which I have to do now, since I’m bringing in a single stream, radio-show style).

    Any tips for my setup – would it be worth upgrading my mics or mixer, and is there some kind of driver I need to download to be able to separate my channels coming in from the USB mixer to be edited separately on my laptop?

    Thanks! Great post!
    Derek

    Reply
    • Hi Derek, were you unable to get yourself and your co-host on independent channels in Audition, or just your Skype guests? This is a video of me setting up multiple mics in Audition using another USB device (the Scarlett 18i8) https://vimeo.com/193706176

      Reply
      • Thanks Matthew! I think this may have solved my issue… I will give this a try with my mixer!

        Reply
  35. Colin, I am trying to set up my mixer with my laptop to do sports broadcasting. I have an ASUS X551M laptop running Windows 10, a gaming headset with microphone, and a Behringer XENYX Q802USB mixer. I connected the mixer through the USB interface, and connected the headset to the mixer by way of two 1/8″ to 1/4″ adapters. If I plug the headset into my laptop, I can hear and speak normally, but when I plug the headset into the “Line In” jack and the “Phones” jack of the mixer, connect the mixer to the laptop by using the USB interface, and connect both mixer and laptop to power, nothing happens, even the mixer reports that power is on, and the lights on the mixer and the computer light up when I run the test tones through the mixer. What should I do? Do I need drivers, or is the mixer itself wrong?

    Reply
    • Hi Ilya, it’s common for headset-style mics not to work with mixers because of the level of power required. Have you tried another microphone with your mixer to rule out that the mixer isn’t the problem?

      Reply
  36. These tips are great! I’m starting up my own podcast, it’ll be a two man podcast however I’d like to have guests from time to time. I’m not good at all with equipment needs. I’m sure I’ll be able to get the hang of producing/editing the podcast once we get started. Just need an idea of what equipment I need in terms of a mixer. The Yamaha MG10 sounds right? And also what software should I be using on my mac to record? Logic pro?

    Reply
    • Hi Cesar, the MG10 USB version might be worth looking at, so you can get that running directly into your computer. You’ll be able to use Logic Pro, or you could take a look at Reaper which is increasingly popular in the podcasting world.

      Reply
  37. Hi I co-host a podcast called Jack of no Trades and we record remotely for the most part. We have been recording only our own audio and then I put it all together in post but I just bought a mixer so I don’t have to spend so much time editing. My question is that if I use the mix-minus technique through skype or hangouts is the audio quality of my co-host going to be significantly worse than if he just recorded locally? I found this post useful in finding a mixer so thanks for that and hopefully you can help me out!

    Reply
  38. Purchased the Yamaha model mentioned here to replace my old Alesis MultiMix12. The Alesis served me well for many years but was no longer recognized by the computer – Alesis stopped updating the drivers in 2011, with FireWire unfortunately a thing of the past. The Yamaha seems OK when recording, have everything set pretty much the way I did before – 2 XLR mics, for me and the co-host, and then a mix-minus set up to record a Skype guest. Using barely any gain on the mics and the main mix around half, recorded a podcast and the result is almost totally unlistenable due to so much distortion and crackling in the mix. I’m having a hard time understanding how this happened, it seems like, after playing with it for awhile, that using any gain at all will result in this mix (recording to Audacity) and w/o the gain the mics are barely audible. I bought this on the recommendation on this blog and after doing some research (and coming to grips with the fact that I can only record two separate tracks via USB instead of the 4 I had grown accustomed to with the Alesis running FireWire–>Thunderbolt. Am I doomed to this distorted sound using this thing? Do you have any recommendations? I’ve searched around online and taken most of the advice that I could find and implemented it but the quality level isn’t even close to what I was getting before. Very disappointed.

    Reply
    • Hi Boz, sounds like something has gone wrong somewhere as you say. There shouldn’t be any distortion if everything’s working properly. Were you able to try a process of elimination using different cables, mics, computer, etc?

      Reply
  39. My group is starting a podcast that will later transfer into doing youtube segments as well, we need a sound board that can handle up to 6 local microphones. I’m certain that analog would be the way to go for quality as well as adaptability, however, i can’t seem to find a soundboard with at least 6 mono inputs for under 500. Anyone deal with a group this big and know the hardware solution? And does the soundboard hook right up to a laptop with audacity?

    Reply
  40. Hi, Im trying to record a podcast using 4 Yeti mics, but cannot get a mac or pc to pick up the individual channels. Aggregate devices won’t work as the mac sees the Yetis as one device. Had better luck on PC but still cannot get the separate mics to work, any ideas? Im using Adobe Audition. Is there a USB mixer with usb inputs for the my 4 usb mics?

    Reply
    • It is possible to get 2 USB mics working into the same computer at once (see https://www.thepodcasthost.com/equipment/microphones/can-you-record-with-2-usb-microphones/) but anything more than that is a push. Them all being the same model of mic makes it even more unlikely as the computer sees them all as the same device, as you’ve pointed out. If you already have 4 Yeti mics, do your other presenters/co-hosts have access to a laptop/mac of their own? If so, I’d plug each mic into its individual machine, install Audacity for free, and record into there before syncing everything together in post-production.

      Reply

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About the author: Colin Gray

Colin has been teaching people how to podcast since 2007. He's worked with Universities, businesses and hobbyists alike. He started The Podcast Host to share his experience and to help as many people as possible get into Podcasting. He runs Podcraft, to spread the art of podcasting, and does the Mountain Bikes Apart podcast whenever he can. Who doesn't like to talk bikes, after all!