Podcast Mixers 101
Podcast mixers are something that you might be thinking of now that you’ve started your podcast. While they might look a little intimidating, they aren’t all that scary once you get around to knowing all the different parts of them and what they can do to enhance your podcast. So we have talked about how to start a podcast, and now we are going to get into more of the technical side of things. We’ll be talking about the different aspects of a podcast soundboard and what makes it, and why you might need one or why you might not.
So what exactly is a mixer?
A mixer is an interface used to enhance your audio. It combines and manages sounds from different audio signals in one handy interface. Plain and simple.
Right now, your set-up might be a little different. You might have everything plugged into your computer and you do all of your editing in post-production. And now that you have your system and know how to navigate setting everything up and editing, it’s comfortable . But you have the urge to spruce your equipment up just a little bit, maybe make things a little easier for yourself. This is where getting a mixer (or soundboard) comes in handy.
A mixer is a great tool to have to make things easier for you. It can do a lot of things to help you with the live aspect of your podcast and saves you a lot of trouble in regards to post-production editing. However, they aren’t entirely necessary, especially if you are new to podcasting. Don’t go jumping ahead into the unknown–getting used to everything, especially your equipment, does take time. Podcast mixers are here to help you, not create more headaches.
Once your podcast has a good following, a good sound, and your content distribution is consistent and solid, then it would be a good time to start thinking about upgrading your equipment. Until then, an upgrade isn’t entirely necessary. But we understand that you might be thinking ahead and plan to save a few extra bucks for a new piece of podcasting equipment. It won’t be worth anything if you don’t know how to use it, and if you don’t even use it. So let’s talk about them and how they can help improve your podcast.
Why It Would Be Helpful to Get a Mixer
Getting a podcast mixer is a great step in enhancing not only the quality of your sound, but the way that the sound is handled. Podcast mixers don’t have to be too fancy, but there are some things that you should be on the lookout for when deciding on one. How many channels does it have, how many inputs/outputs, FX sends, the type of control it has, and any other processing features that you might come upon. While all of this information is either foreign or familiar to you, it isn’t that hard to process it once you have a sense of what you need. And that is the trick–to only get what you need.
Let’s Talk Specifics
Some of the specifics that you want to consider when shopping around for your podcast mixer goes back to the kind of podcast you have. Think about the kind of content you are putting out and what exactly you are doing–how many hosts do you have and how do you record it, your introduction music, if you have any guests and how do you record them, do you play music during your podcast, and how much of your work are you doing in post-production?
Mixers and soundboards are great for recording and act as the interface to send all the information to your computer. When you have a multitude of sounds that you have to manage, and you want to manage them easily, adding a mixer for your podcast is a smart decision.
Multi-channel and volume control
One of the biggest and best reasons to get a podcast mixer is having a multitude of channels. Having different channels is great because if you have more than one host, now everyone gets their own channel and microphone, and you can control the gain and volume to have everyone on an even level. You can get quality sound out of your equipment, especially if your podcast microphones use XLRs that plug right into the mixer.
One of the best features that podcast mixers offer is the ability to control some live production aspects in the moment instead of having to edit them in post. Got some intro music you want to talk after? Simply play it through and then use the controls to lower it and start talking. Have some other sounds or music you want to play on the air? Plug it into the FX channel and let it fly. Being live and mixing on air is pretty exciting and fun, and saves some people of the hassle of post-production work.
There are also knobs that let you play with the EQ for each channel while you are live and on the air, even if you want to save that for post-production. If you like doing editing in post, that’s totally up to you, but doing it live via a mixer is an option for you.
Mix minus is a really helpful features that allows two separate co-hosts in separate locations to record at the same time without getting any interruptions or feedback. Especially if you are recording over Skype, you fix it so that you are sending all the signals back to the person on Skype, except for their own voice. It’s really handy, especially if you usually have guests that you talk to in different locations.
Once you’ve made the decision to get a mixer, it’s time to lay out everything you need from one to find the best podcast mixer for you. This is ideal in helping you decide what kind of mixer you might want to purchase, so that you don’t get too much or too little of what you need. Because the more you need, the more expensive the equipment will be.
If you only use one or two microphones at a time and don’t have a lot of effects or other things to add, you could get away with having a smaller mixer. Maybe the Behringer Xenyx 802 Mixer or another small four channel mixer. Smaller mixers are sturdy and can be taken out without much hassle, and can handle themselves. You could probably find one for around or less than $150 via Amazon or Sweetwater. Both are great to find deals on the best equipment.
The more channels, outputs and FXs you need, the more the price will go up. The 10 channel Yamaha MG10 runs about $160, but also handles a lot more than the Behringer 802 does. Then, the Yamaha MG12 goes for about $280, and so on.
Mixers are great pieces of equipment to manage any and all signals that you might be dealing with. They are a great investment and can be used for your podcasts as well as other things, like live recordings or shows. But do your research and don’t reach for something that you might not need or use. You’ll get the best out of the equipment that you will make the most out of, so it is key to do your research to find the best podcast mixer for you.
Keep on listening and keep creating,
Hooke Contributing Editor