December 2020 update – Zoom have just released the PodTrak P4. It's a little podcast recorder that does everything a mixer can do, though in a much simpler and more accessible way. If you're intrigued to find out more, check out our full review of the Zoom PodTrak P4.
The Yamaha MG10 is a very affordable ($149/£112), compact, ten channel analogue mixer. We've been using one at The Podcast Host for the best part of a year now, and it's a pretty integral part of our kit. In this review I'm going to talk through some of its features and specs, and why it might be worth adding to your own podcast recording setup.
Who Would Use The Yamaha MG10?
Most mixers are predominately designed for music and musician use, and the MG10 is no different. However, bringing a mixer into your podcast recording setup can have a lot of benefits. We've talked about this extensively in our best podcast mixers article, but let's look quickly at two of the big benefits.
First, you can drastically cut down your editing time by doing your show “as live”. This is where you bring in your intro/outro music along with all other music beds, bumpers etc during the recording, rather than edit them in later.
On top of this, you can also use your mixer to record Skype/Hangouts interviews in a ‘Mix Minus' setup, where your co-host or interviewee will hear all the music and effects as they play throughout the episode. It's almost like turning your podcast into a live radio programme, and this can have a positive effect on the flow and tempo of the discussion.
Where Would You Use The Yamaha MG10?
The MG10 is a small and portable mixer, on top of this it looks and feels pretty durable. They're built to survive a life on the road with a musician or band, so you can transport it in your bag to any events or conventions to do a bit of location recording without much worry.
That said, the MG10 is also every bit as useful as part of a more permanent recording setup at home or in your studio. It won't take up a lot of room, and can be easily tidied away and stored if need be.
Features & Setup
There's 4 XLR mono inputs and 3 stereo inputs on the mixer. Channels 1 and 2 (both XLR) have their own compression dials to allow you to level out the signal on one or both of these inputs during recording.
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You can apply a high pass filter to each of your 4 mono channels at the touch of a button, which will cut out all frequencies under 80Hz. This might come in handy if you're recording with a co-host who keeps talking too close to the mic and popping frequently.
The MG10 has a phantom power button to operate condenser microphones, as well as auxiliary options to connect to external effects units.
You can connect the MG10 to your computer to record straight into your DAW, but it isn't a USB mixer. We often record with the mixer straight into a Zoom H5, which creates a great stand-alone system. Or, if you want to record into a laptop, you can output from stereo 1/4″ jacks to one 3.5mm microphone input with the right cable.
What Does It Cost?
A brand new Yamaha MG10 costs $149 on Amazon and £112 on Amazon.co.uk. Just bear in mind that you will need some additional equipment to get the best from it.
I think the Yamaha MG10 has the best noise floor I've found for this price. There's very little of the background hiss you often find in the cheaper Behringer units, and every recording I've done has been crisp and clear. This unit, for me, is now the best mixer you can get around the £100 mark.
If you're running a solo show with few additional segments or transitions, and recording with a USB mic directly into your computer, then there's really no need to get a mixer like the Yamaha MG10.
But if you're bringing different elements into your show, including a guest or co-host (either online or on location) then a mixer can come in really handy. And if you need a mixer at this price level – around £100 or $150, then the Yamaha is the best I've tested. On top of that, the MG10 is small and won't take up much space, wherever you want to record with it, or store it.
At $149/£112 it's an affordable bit of gear, but if you don't have any XLR microphones yet, that's going to add to your costs. All things considered though, the Yamaha MG10 is a great addition to any home studio or recording setup.
For more reviews on mixers, mics, and recorders, check our full podcast equipment guide. To learn more about the nitty-gritty of podcasting technology, you'll find all kinds of courses and resources in The Podcast Host Academy.