The greatest thing about getting into podcasting is that barrier to entry is pretty low and you don’t need to invest too much into recording equipment right away. But as your podcast starts getting some traction, it would be a very good idea to start the process of upgrading your gear. You want to both make your own life easier and provide the highest sound quality you can afford for your listeners.
One of the things you might want to get early is a podcast mixer. It’s something that you know is going to be useful and the feeling of getting some new gear is always fulfilling. Just don’t rush it and make an informed decision. Also keep in mind that while having a more advanced setup will surely improve the quality of your podcast in the long run, it might also require some getting used to and it might complicate your recording process in the beginning.
Still, getting a mixer will sooner or later become a must for you if you want to keep podcasting professionally.
The Benefits of Getting a Mixer for Podcasting
It goes without saying that getting a professional grade mixer will improve the sound quality of your podcast right away. The preamps and the whole circuitry on mixers were designed with sound quality in mind, so you will be able to get even better results from the microphone you already have with very little additional tinkering. But since podcasts don’t require the same attention to detail as recording a musical instrument, the subtle boost in audio quality alone would not be enough to warrant the investment. The thing is, you want to have a mixer for your podcast for the flexibility, control and utility.
So let’s look at the benefits. Keep in mind that in order to take advantage of them, you need to select a mixer that supports that functionality.
1. Having Multiple Channels
Control over individual channels is something quite simple, yet extremely convenient. This means you could get everyone their own recorded track with individual corrections suited to the way they talk. This will allow you to do a much more thorough job in post and will make your life easier and your podcast much easier to listen to when multiple people are talking.
Keep in mind you will usually require at least 4 channels and if you have multiple guests and cohosts, you might be better off with more. Select a mixer that has enough channels for you to grow painlessly.
2. Onboard Effects, Enhancements and Controls
Having multiple channels is great and most mixers will allow you to control and enhance each channel separately. Being able to use equalization, low-cut filters and gain control on each channel individually will save you a lot of time and headaches in post.
Here is a video showing how to use your mixer’s EQ section.
3. Use XLR Microphones to Their Fullest Potential
If you already have an XLR microphone without owning a mixer, you are most probably using a USB converter or something similar. Unfortunately, those solutions are a compromise at best and having a mixer that can provide your awesome condenser mike the juice it needs will allow it to perform to its full potential.
Hopefully you haven’t experienced that yet yourself, but computers are prone to bugs and crashes. This means that if you are recording on your computer, you might lose all or most of your recording due to glitches. On the other hand, mixers don’t crash and if you pair them with a digital recorder, you will always have a backup copy of everything you record.
5. Physical Controls
Sometimes the simplest things in life are what counts. It’s one thing trying to adjust some tiny fidgety controls on a computer screen and a whole other story to have the literal faders or knobs at your fingertips. Try to select a mixer that offers faders for volume control.
6. Mix Minus for Remote Guests
Having remote guests will open up your podcast to a lot of new possibilities but it also comes with a lot of challenges. One of the biggest problems is having everybody hear what they need to. While you can connect your guest to your mixer from Skype, you need to send an audio mix to him that doesn’t include their own voice but includes everything from your side of the conversation. If your mixer has an Auxiliary Output or and FX Send, you can use that to create a mix minus the voice of your remote guest and sending that to them, so they hear exactly what they need.
7. Live Production Options
On top of it all, having a good mixer that you are skilled at operating could actually save you the bulk of the work you are now doing in post-production. Having a versatile mixer means you could be playing intros and outros, music and prerecorded voice clips live while recording just like people would do on a radio show. This means you could be doing the bulk of your editing work on the fly and then requiring significantly less time and effort in post.
Our Recommended Models For Best Podasting Mixer
So if you are seeing a podcasting-friendly mixer in your future, here are a few models to consider depending on your budget.
The Yamaha MG10 – that’s an entry level mixer that will get you what you the basics at an affordable price without any bell and whistles.
The Behringer Xenyx 1204 – this is a solid midrange option with a bit more channels and functionality. It is very likely to be absolutely enough for your podcasting needs and would be a pleasure to work with. As a bonus, it can connect to a computer over USB to bring your straight in for direct recording.
The Mackie ProFX8 – if you are looking for a professional grade piece of equipment and can afford to spend more on quality, this is the mixer for you. It’s reliable, functional and has amazing preamps and 7-band EQs.