What is a Podcast Mixer? (Everything You Need to Know)

Podcast mixer for podcasting

A podcast mixer, just as the name suggests, takes multiple studio elements, and blends them into one single audio that can be easily recorded on your device.

You as a podcaster get to determine the different inputs/elements, depending on your needs and the capabilities of your mixer. Subsequently, all the different elements are controlled through faders.

You can hook in microphones – one for each fader, plug your phone in to record guests from different locations or you could connect your computer and play the track from YouTube.

Although many podcasters feel they don’t need a mixer, the possibilities are limitless. A mixer gives you the versatility and options to add fun elements to your show while recording instead of adding them in post-recording sessions.

Do You Need a Mixer for Podcasting?

To put it simply, you don’t need a mixer for podcasting, especially when you are starting. However, getting one can incredibly improve your audio quality, boost your flexibility, and save you tons of time. So the simplest reason to buy a mixer is basically to mix things and have total control, but mixers can do more than just that.

But sometimes the circumstances may force you to get an audio mixer. For instance, you bought an XLR microphone and want to record directly into editing software.

In this case, you will need to convert the analog signal to a digital signal. To do this, you need a mixer because an audio interface may not have all the requirements to turn analog to digital like a mixer.

That aside, you will definitely need a mixer if you want to assume more control over your audio production. Podcast mixers have plenty of features compared to standard recorder or microphone and you can experiment with things such as low pass filters and EQ.

If you have some decent background in audio production or are eager to experiment, a podcast mixer can offer you total control over the recording of the audio.

With a decent mixer, you can add some interesting audio to your podcast with stings, callers, or any other sounds.

What is a Mixer Used For?

A mixer has a primary function of accepting, combining, processing, and monitoring audio tracks and can come in either digital or analog form. Podcasters use an audio mixer to control the volumes across different inputs and shape the quality of the audio.

In order to understand what a mixer is used for, you need to understand the different kinds of inputs there are on mixers. A single mixer can have up to 10 inputs, which means you can plug in a laptop, an iPod, microphones, and a mobile device at a go; and then mix the volume to make it sound balanced and great to your guests. The mixer can also allow you to fine-tune certain frequencies to ensure that the audience can clearly hear the audio.

An audio mixer will come in handy when you want to record multiple guests or cohorts in the studio. With several inputs, a mixer provides the best way to mix the microphones into a single recording.

In some cases, you will interview guests who don’t have a mic, which means they will be speaking into some sort of a computer that sounds tinny and has no bass or midrange.

In this case, a mixer can turn the tininess down by turning down the treble, turning up the midrange and bass. The bass in this case is the presence of your guests’ voices.

There are two types of sounds that go into the mixer – one is your voice and the second, your guest’s voice. Your voice will go to channel one and guests’ voice to channel two. But you need your sound going from the mixer and back to your guest, without their voice going back to them.

How do you Set Up a Podcast Mixer?

It can be daunting when you put the mixer on the table preparing to assemble it. For starters, it has lots of knobs that need cables to go in.

First, depending on the mixer that you have, you will have huge, round ports for XLR connection. The cables for this are larger with three prongs on the inside and three prongs on the other end where you plug into a non USB microphone. This means that if you have a USB microphone, you will find it difficult to set up the mixer.

After XLR cables, we have line cables for plugging in instruments such as a guitar or microphone preprocessor in order to have that radio-like sound. So in this case, you plug your XLR microphone into the processor, which then connects to the mixer.

The channels of a mixer are arranged vertically. If you want to adjust the volume on your mixer you use gain knobs. These knobs are located on the opposite sides of the channel columns and can be different in color for differentiation.

The knobs on one side can be black while the knobs on the other side can be white or any other color. Most importantly, since these knobs perform distinct functions, one set of knobs is usually designed larger in size.

When you are dealing with sound mixing, small movements tend to produce big adjustments. So this means the set of small knobs is for making big adjustments while large knobs are for making small adjustments.

The next knobs on the channel are EQ (equalization) knobs which are used to adjust the high notes, the midrange notes, and the base notes. So when you hook up your microphone to the mixer, the first thing I would recommend you to do is turn these EQ knobs to see what your voice sounds like.

Next, we have the FX send or auxiliary send and pan knobs, which change the voice from left to right or side to the middle.

Each of the first four channels contains gain knobs, EQ knobs, FX send knobs and the level for micro-adjustments.

Ideally, you want to put your voice in channel one and your guest’s voice in channel two. Don’t worry about the rest of the channels for now.

This means you can get away with a two-channel mixer provided it has FX send or auxiliary send. This is usually the red knob in the middle of the mixer.

In a mixer setup, you need two voices to go into the mixer – your voice and your guest’s voice. But you need only your voice back to the computer or whatever device you are using in order to prevent an echo loop. And to eliminate that loop, you need a mixer with the FX knob.

This way, you can leave your voice on and partially or completely turn the guest’s voice down on channel two (remember channel one- your voice; channel two- your guest’s voice).

To make your mixer set up to be effective, you need a dynamic microphone (check out Shure SM58), which will not pick up noises from the surroundings and send them into the mixer.

A condenser microphone is not like a dynamic microphone and will pick up all the noises and thus needs an extremely quiet room or environment to be effective. I would also recommend the Heil PR 40 microphone if you can get your hands in a Shure SM58 or any other dynamic microphone.

How do you Connect all These to your Computer?

The first thing to connect to the mixer is the microphone. Pick your XLR cable and connect to your microphone and plug the male end of the cable into channel one of the mixer (or whichever channel you have chosen for your voice).

Most mixers have LED lights that will come on once you start speaking into your microphone, which signals that you are getting sound into your computer.

Now that you have a means of sending your voice into the computer, you need to send the voice (guest’s voice) from the computer to channel 2 (or whichever channel you have assigned your guest).

To do this you will need a TRS to dual ¼ inch stereo cable.

Next, you want to get the audio from the mixer to the computer. For this, you want a ¼ inch cable plugged into the FX send or auxiliary send and the other end to the computer.

At this point, you are ready to start recording. Hook up your recorder using a stereo pair of cables to the main out of your mixer.

The last piece of gear to plugin is the headphone, which is connected to the recorder rather than to the headphone port on the mixer. This way you get to hear your SD card (storing device) is hearing – the final sound.

Do you Need a Mixer for Two Person Podcast?

If you can remember, I mentioned that you definitely need a mixer if you have an XLR microphone. These types of mics are usually needed if you want to record two or more people in the show. A mixer will allow you to plug in more than one microphone for your guests or record a guest in a different location.

Is a Mixer Better Than an Audio Interface?

For starters, a mixer will normally have more controls compared to an audio interface, which means you have much more versatility with a mixer.

Moreover, some mixers come with integrated audio mixers so if you get one of those you have two tools in one.

An audio interface generally gives a podcaster high-quality sound inputs to allow them to record their analog sound sources on their computer. It has integrated preamps on microphone inputs to offer some levels of controls.

But it is not the question of which is better. Instead, it all comes down to what you want to accomplish. Are you recording a one-person podcast or two or more people podcast?

Try to answer these and other questions in order to understand which mixer and audio interface do you need.  

Although an audio interface also allows you to record with multiple guests, mixers are a sort of souped-up interface.

But both mixer and audio interface don’t record your sound, instead, they allow you to hook up different audio inputs and adjust the levels of each channel before sending the output to a recording device.

What is a Good Podcast Mixer?

Podcast mixers come in different varieties and prices. While you can get a mixer for $100 or less, most cheap ones are not the best, they can be a great option for beginner podcasters.

All the mixers featured in our list come with a USB connection for easy and quick plugging into your computer.

Without any further delays, here are the best podcast mixers for your audio productions.

Best Mixers for Solo Or 2-Person Podcasts

If you are just starting, I would recommend these two mixers for solo or 2-person podcasting. But if cost is not an issue for you and wants to record with more than 2 microphones, I would recommend checking out Rode Rodecaster Pro and Behringer Xenyx Q1202USB.

Behringer Xenyx Q802USB

The Behringer Q802USB is among the best mixers for one- or 2-person podcasts thanks to its premium quality capabilities.

Being a USB interface mixer, it seamlessly plugs using a USB cable into your computer. This also means the mixer will accept several microphones or audio sources such as musical instruments and let you blend those sounds into one track.

It offers a wide range of mixing features such as reverb effects and frequency equalization as well as the possibility to route the main signal out in multiple ways.

With this mixer, you can send the mix to a set of speakers, headphones, speaker monitors, or simply all of the above.

What I like about the Behringer Xenyx Q802USB is the power it has despite its seemingly small frame and lower price. It features a power supply and power switch as well as four channels, up to eight inputs, and loads of useful options.

The first two channels offer XLR microphone inputs, which in turn feature Xenyx mic preamps that can pack 130dB range and between 10Hz and 200kHz.

On the other hand, the last two channels provide quarter-inch inputs that can be panned left to right, although the channels share a volume fader.

All these channels have dedicated equalizers with low, mid, and high bands while channels one and two come with onboard compression. Of course, this is a nice feature if you are using a condenser microphone and one guest that speaks louder than you.

You will also appreciate the fact that this is a plug-and-play mixer that accommodates most computes through a basic USB connection. The mixer features free audio recording software from Behringer called Tracktion as well as downloadable sound editing software at the brand’s official website to help you instantly integrate the unit into your podcasting setup.

Pros

  • Sturdy and compact design
  • 2-track inputs
  • Low noise
  • Good quality microphone preamps

Cons

  • Only four channels despite having eight inputs
  • Wobbles on flat surfaces
  • Annoying post fader

Yamaha AG03 & Yamaha AG06

Yamaha AG03

The Yamaha AG03 features a mixer-like interface instead of traditional front-mounted knobs. As a result, the knobs are located on top of the unit with faders.

The first channel comes with a D-Pre microphone preamp from Yamaha while the second channel allows users to switch between line-level audio sources or Hi-Z instruments.

It also features incredible control options as well as a dedicated fader for channel one. But users can enjoy a wide range of other features such as integrated DPS effects (compression, reverb, and filtering) and Loopback that allows you to broadcast through real-time internet-based streaming platforms.

Because the iPad cannot offer sufficient power for the AG03, you are going to need a USB 5V power adapter to get the unit started. Or you can simply plug the extra USB port into a power source for mobile usage.

Pros

  • Ease of use
  • Improve productivity
  • High sound quality
  • Simplified recording

Cons

  • No MIDI input and output

Yamaha AG06

Although the Yamaha AG06 may seem like a compact audio interface, it sports a pair of XLR/Combi microphone inputs on its surface alongside two additional stereo inputs. But it doesn’t come with features such as pan pots, EQ controls, and power supply. The reason behind this is that this unit is not essentially a mixer and instead it is more like a bus-powered interface with some extra mixing and monitoring options.

The audio spec features 24-bit, 192 kHz recording while playback features a loopback facility.

It features some simple DSP effects, with channel one consisting of a switchable EQ/Comp option, which adds compression and EQ so that you can produce a fine-tuned vocal sound as well as effect.

Channel two comes with switchable Amp Simp that provides a warm tube amp audio and effect (reverb) based on Yamaha’s SPX algorithms. Ideally, these effects are typically preset, which limits your control. To overcome this, you can download the AG DSP Controller software for free, which gives you deeper control.

The software offers users an easy mode that provides a stomp-box option for adjusting things such as amp gain and tonality but also changes to an expert mode, which offers a deeper control compared to what you can expect from plugins. For instance, you can easily access the ratio, gain, and threshold, as well as attack and release times.

However switchable phantom power comes only with channel one.

Pros

  • High resolution
  • D-pre studio-like microphone preamps
  • Hi-Z input for instruments
  • USB bus-powered for computes

Cons

  • Some diver issues

Best Mixers For Multi-Person Podcasts

Rode Rodecaster Pro

If you want to record with more than 2 people, the Rode Rodecaster Pro is one of the best options possible. It is a unique podcasting rig due to its ergonomic design and the fact that Rode is an already well-known brand in the music industry as well as voiceovers.

The unit is labeled “the world’s first fully-integrated podcast production studio” because Rode made it incredibly simple ad less complicated and then fused it with a digital recorder.

Generally, the Rodecaster Pro is one of the most popular podcasting mixers for multiple hosts, and thus there is a good chance you may not find it on the market.

It is an all-in-one mixer that will record to SD card and computer, allow you to record mobile calls, enhance sound quality, and add one-touch audio effects.

You can transfer audio from your PC/Mac to any pad or simply record it into the pads from screen settings.

The best part about this mixer is that you can plug in four XLR microphones at once, meaning you can have up to four persons in the studio together while recording the podcast.

Each microphone can be set up through a control panel where you will find different presets and options.

Pros

  • Separately controlled phantom power
  • Record to SD card
  • Soundboard (up to 8 pads)
  • USB I/O

Cons

  • A little bit pricier

Behringer Xenyx Q1202USB

The Behringer Xenyx Q1202USB mixer provides value for the money. It is one of the best mixers for recording more than 2 people thanks to its 12-input, two-bus option with microphone preamps as well as compressors, USB audio interface, and British-style three-band EQ.

But the best feature of all is the dedicated Klark Teknik FX processor that comes with 100 presets. Additionally, there is also an FX send for each channel as well as an FX-to-control-room feature that allows users to monitor the effects through control room outs and headphones.

The unit also provides users with mains, headphones, a separate control room, and two-track outs for the output section.

The USB port allows users to connect the mixer to the computer and start recording instantly.

Pros

  • Low noise
  • Integrated stereo Audio/USB interface
  • FX send control
  • Main mix outputs

Cons

  • It can be complicated for newbies

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