In recent years, podcasting has emerged as a popular way of content creation. It is an engaging and interactive format that lets you reach out to a wider audience. Moreover, the effort and resources required to host a podcast are lesser compared to those required for other types of content like videos. All you need is a good microphone, a recorder, and the right software to get started.
If you have been trying your hand at podcasting, you have likely come across various other types of podcasting equipment. One of the most disputed components of a podcasting kit is an audio mixer. Some of your peers may have argued that it is an indispensable part of your podcast kit. There might be others who have asked you to stay away from a mixer as it complicates the podcasting process.
Before we discuss more about the best podcasting mixers, let’s take a closer look at the device.
What is an Audio Mixer?
Simply put, a mixer is an electronic device that is used to manipulate the quality and levels of audio signals before recording. Also known as a mixing console, it usually comprises a number of input and output channels along with knob/fader controls. It receives inputs from various microphones, musical instruments, etc. The output channels can be connected to a recorder, earphones, computer, etc.
Image via Dawsons
Mixers are extensively used in music production, live concerts, studio recording, etc. Using a mixer lets you control various aspects of an audio signal, including gain, tone, equalization, etc. It eliminates the need for extensive audio post-processing. However, you must possess adequate technical knowledge to be able to harness the full potential of a mixer.
Lately, many podcasters realize the immense possibilities offered by an audio mixer. If you are a beginner in the world of podcasting, handling an audio mixer might seem overwhelming. As your expertise grows, you will be more confident about using a podcast mixer. However, it is important to analyze whether you need the device at all.
While it is not mandatory to use a mixer, the device offers a wide range of benefits for podcasters. Let’s take a look.
Benefits of Using a Podcast Mixer
Here’s the thing – you can host an intriguing podcast series without using a mixer. As long as you deliver insightful and valuable content, your listeners will remain hooked. However, using a podcast mixer lets you improve the audio quality and makes the overall recording process more efficient.
Here are a few advantages of using a podcast mixer:
1. Multi-Channel Recording
One of the biggest benefits of using a mixer is that it lets you connect multiple input channels. This is particularly crucial when you want to invite guest speakers or host interviews. Recording all the speakers on the same channel limits the scope of podcast editing. You can no longer tweak individual audio signals coming from each speaker.
On the other hand, using a podcast mixer, you can connect each speaker to a separate input channel. This, in turn, lets you individually control the gain, pitch, reverb, etc. of each speaker. It is especially important when one of your guests speaks loudly while another one has a softer voice. If you have a remotely-located host who communicates via Skype, you can even connect one of the input channels to your computer.
Thus, if you want to continue as a solo podcaster, you can do away with the mixer. However, the moment you want to scale your efforts and invite more speakers, a podcast mixer can be extremely useful.
2. Greater Control & Flexibility
The best part about using a podcast mixer is that it lets you control and manipulate an audio signal before it is recorded. Apart from controlling the gain and equalization, you can add various transitions such as fade in/fade out. You can even introduce sound effects on-the-go and mute individual channels as and when required. If you aren’t comfortable with audio post-processing, a mixer is your best bet.
3. Live Audio Production
A mixer lets you introduce various interesting elements, including music, phone calls, sound effects, recorded messages, etc. in real-time. You can do this by connecting your phone/computer to one of the input channels. The ability to add these elements in real-time eliminates the need for complicated podcast editing.
It also becomes easier for you to make your podcast more interactive by taking live calls from your audience during the recording. Many modern mixers let you connect your phone via Bluetooth. Thus, if you plan to host a live podcast series, a mixer can make the process simpler and quicker. Moreover, you also get the opportunity to creatively use transitions, effects, and music and make your episodes worth listening to.
4. Connecting Professional Equipment
Most podcasters start their journey with USB microphones. While these mics are easy to use and less expensive, they produce average audio output. If you want to up your podcasting game and improve audio quality, you will have to switch to professional gear, including XLR microphones. A mixer offers the best way to connect an XLR mic to your computer or recorder.
While you will find XLR to USB converters and audio interfaces in the market, their output is of inferior quality. Using a mixer to connect an XLR mic lets you leverage the high-quality audio of such mics. You can also connect with a wide range of other audio devices, including stereo, mono, RCA, etc.
Another crucial advantage of a mixer is that it lets you switch among various types of input and output devices. You can experiment with different types of professional gear while retaining the same mixer. This becomes even more essential when you want to transition for an amateur podcaster to a pro without exhausting your budget.
5. Enhanced Audio Quality
The ability to control your audio signals in real-time ensures that the output is of the best quality. It is a more efficient alternative than manipulating the signals in post-processing. Moreover, recording on separate tracks lets you control each signal independently, which further reduces distortion.
As mentioned earlier, a mixer also lets you use professional equipment for podcast recording. Moreover, most mixers have high-quality mic preamps that amplify an audio signal without introducing hiss. This, in turn, improves the sound quality and ensures that your episodes have clear and crisp audio.
6. Facilitate Remote Co-Hosts Using Mix-Minus
This is likely one of the most important advantages of using a podcast mixer. It comes into play when you have a remote co-host who is connected via Skype. Connecting your recording setup to Skype means that the co-host will hear their own voice as they speak. This will result in an echo that will disrupt your audio.
An easy solution for this problem is to use a mixer with an Auxiliary Out or FX Send. It lets you send all the audio signals to Skype except Skype audio. It is known as a mix-minus. This, in turn, ensures that the co-host can hear everything else except their voice. Thus, a mixer is useful when you are recording a live podcast with a remote co-host.
Now that you are convinced about the benefits and utility of podcasts, you must be eager to buy one for yourself. However, before you take the plunge, you should identify the type of mixer you need. You will find a plethora of options on the market, offering myriad features and controls. Picking the right mixer from this sea of options can be overwhelming, particularly when you aren’t a pro.
Here are a few tips that will help you make the right choice.
How to Identify the Right Podcast Mixer
An audio mixer can take your podcast to greater heights. You will find a plethora of lucrative options in different price ranges. However, it is crucial to select the right mixer based on your budget and objectives.
Here are a few factors you should consider before buying a podcast mixer:
1. Number of Input & Output Channels
The number of input and output channels on a mixer can range between 2 and 24. It is easy to get swayed by a mixer that has more channels as it would offer increased flexibility. However, the more the number of input/output channels, the higher the cost. Additionally, handling multiple channels requires technical expertise and skills.
You should start by determining the number of channels you need to host your podcast. As a beginner, you will connect a couple of mics and a phone/playback device. When your audience grows, you may want to connect a few more mics to make room for guest speakers. You may even feel the need to connect a Skype input for a remote co-host.
It is recommended that you select a podcast mixer that has a few more channels than what you currently need. This gives you ample scope to experiment with the device before you’re ready to take your podcast series up a notch. However, don’t jump right in and buy a 24-channel mixer. You may have a hard time trying to get the hang of the device and simultaneously scaling your podcasting efforts.
2. Auxiliary Out
Another critical aspect that demands your attention is the availability of an Auxiliary Out. It is particularly crucial if you plan to invite remote co-hosts on your podcast in the future. You should find a mixer that has a stereo output socket labeled “Aux Out” or “FX Send” and volume control knobs on either channel with the same name.
3. Type of Controls
Typically, cheaper mixers use knobs, whereas the more sophisticated ones use faders. While knobs serve the purpose of gain and EQ control, they aren’t suitable for finer adjustments. Faders, on the other, let you control the signal with more precision. This is particularly important when you want to play music or include transitions in your audio.
4. Additional Features
Most audio mixers provide you with standard features such as gain control and equalization. Some sophisticated ones may even offer a low-cut filter. The higher-end ones will have a wide range of extra features such as compression, limiter, etc. While these features can significantly enhance audio quality, they come at a price. Moreover, utilizing these features to their full potential requires a certain level of expertise.
5. Budget & Goals
Your budget influences your choice of podcast mixer. If you can’t afford a high-end mixer with faders, you will have to settle for a cheaper one with knobs. Instead of burning a hole in your pocket, you should focus on finding the best mixer within your budget. Carefully analyze if you need all the fancy features at this point.
It is equally crucial to have a clear idea of where you want to go as a podcaster. Do you want to carve your niche as a solo podcaster? Or do you want to host insightful interviews and fruitful discussions with industry thought leaders? How serious are you about making your podcasting dreams come true? Your answers to these questions will ultimately determine the best podcast mixer for you.
So far, we have discussed a few hacks to help you identify the best mixer for podcasting based on your budget and needs. It is now time for us to take a look at some of the best podcast mixers available in the market.
Best Podcast Mixers: A Closer Look
As discussed previously, you won’t find a one-size-fits-all audio mixer that suits everyone. The choice of a podcast mixer is a personal one that depends on your preferences and aspirations. To help you make an informed decision, here is a list of our favorite podcast mixer:
1. Yamaha MG10
This 10-channel analog mixer by Yamaha is one of the best devices for beginners with budget constraints. It has 4 XLR mono inputs and 3 stereo inputs. Moreover, it has an Aux Out that lets you easily create a mix-minus setup. Priced at a little over $150, Yamaha MG10 offers various features that are characteristic of a high-end mixer.
Apart from a 3-band EQ, the feature-rich mixer has a high-pass filter and one-knob compressors. Additionally, it has top-notch op-amps and D-PRE Class-A mic preamps. All these features give the mixer a brilliant noise floor and ensure that you get clean and crisp audio output.
The best part about the MG10 is its compact size and rugged build. It is as good for a home studio setup as it is for events and concerts. You can easily carry it around without worrying about any potential damage. The only catch is that the mixer doesn’t have a USB interface and can’t be directly connected to a computer. Moreover, you need additional equipment such as XLR mic and cables before you start using this mixer.
Image via Amazon
Price: $154.99 (on Amazon)
Key highlights: 10-channel mixer with XLR inputs, D-PRE Class-A mic preamps, high-pass filter, 3-band EQ, one-knob compressors, high-quality op-amps
Pros: Amazing noise floor, brilliant audio quality, portable design
Cons: No USB interface requires additional equipment
2. Behringer Xenyx Q502USB
If you want to try your hand at a podcast mixer but don’t want to blow your budget, check out this 5-channel mixer by Behringer. Advertised as a low-noise, high headroom mixer, it offers standard features such as one-knob compressors and phantom-powered mic preamps. It also has a British 2-band EQ that helps retain the warmth in your audio.
The Xenyx Q502USB also has a built-in USB interface that is compatible with a wide range of Windows and Mac devices. Its small size, combined with the wide array of features, makes it ideal for a beginner’s podcast starter kit. However, the small number of input channels limits its utility to solo podcasters. You will find yourself craving for more input options even before you know it.
Image via Amazon
Price: $78.99 (on Amazon)
Key highlights: 5-channel mixer, XENYX Mic Preamp, British 2-band EQ, one-knob compressors, built-in USB interface
Pros: Low noise, compact build, affordable
Cons: Limited number of input channels, poor scalability
3. Mackie 402VLZ4
Mackie has established itself as an industry authority with its series of low-noise, high-headroom audio mixers. The 402VLZ4 is a good starting point if you want to get a taste of what this brand offers. The 4-channel mixer features two state-of-the-art Onyx mic preamps that greatly enhance the audio quality. This ensures that you get crystal-clear audio without any noise.
Mackie 402’s design is also optimized to make it more usable and beginner-friendly. The steel-wrapped chassis makes it resistant to wear and tear. Moreover, the grime-resistant high-contrast knobs give you full control over the audio, even under low-light situations.
At $99, the 402VLZ4 is slightly pricier than its competitors. However, the superior audio quality justifies its cost.
Image via Amazon
Price: $99 (on Amazon)
Key highlights: 4-channel mixer, boutique-quality Onyx mic preamps, improved RF rejection, dust & grime-resistant knobs, rugged steel chassis
Pros: Low noise, high headroom, superior audio quality
Cons: Limited number of input channels, no rack mount
4. Behringer Xenyx 1204USB
Do you want to take your podcasting journey one step further and graduate from a beginner to a mid-level podcaster? Make your dreams come true with Xenyx 1204USB, a feature-rich 12-channel mixer by Behringer. It is an upgrade of the popular Xenyx 1202 and uses fader controls instead of knobs. It is the ideal mixer for hosting interviews and discussions with multiple speakers.
The highlight of this mixer is the four high-quality Xenyx mic preamps that guarantee crystal-clear audio. 4 out of the 12-input channels are phantom-powered and compatible with XLR mics. Additionally, 3-band British EQs and one-knob compressors that help you enhance audio quality even further. The mixer also comes with an in-built audio interface that is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems.
The versatile features of Xenyx 1204USB, along with its wide compatibility, make it the best mixer for podcasting at this budget. However, the device is slightly complicated, requiring beginners to spend some time on it before they get the hang of it.
Image via Amazon
Price: $218.99 (on Amazon)
Key highlights: 12-channel mixer, four Xenyx mic preamps, 3-band EQs, one-knob compressors, in-built audio interface with Linux compatibility
Pros: High-quality audio output, ideal for multiple speakers and remote co-hosts
Cons: Not exactly beginner-friendly
5. Mackie ProFX8v2
This 8-channel mixer is another gem by Mackie that will help you drastically improve the audio quality of your podcasts. Equipped with four low-noise Mackie Vita preamps and a 7-band graphic EQ, the ProFX8v2 is one of the best podcasting mixers under $200. Additionally, it has an Aux Out to help you set up a mix-minus in a jiffy.
Another distinguishing feature is the ReadyFX effects engine with 16 sound effects. It lets you manipulate the audio in real-time and gives you increased control over the output. This podcast mixer also provides you with a 3-band EQ, low-cut filter, and USB interface. It also has a Hi-Z input that lets you plug musical instruments directly into the mixer. The only thing missing from this device is a compressor.
Image via Amazon
Price: $169 (on Amazon)
Key highlights: 8-channel mixer, four Mackie Vita mic preamps, 7-band graphic EQ, 3-band EQ, ReadyFX effects engine, USB interface
Pros: Low-noise high-quality audio output, enhanced flexibility & versatility
Cons: No compressors
6. Behringer Xenyx X1832USB
If you are looking for a state-of-the-art mixer under $300, just pick the Xenyx X1832USB mixer by Behringer. This premium 18-channel USB mixer boasts six boutique-quality Xenyx mic preamps that ensure flawless audio output. It also has six studio-grade one-knob compressors. Moreover, each mic input has its own compressor and low-cut filter, thus giving you more control over the audio.
Apart from the standard 3-band EQ, this podcast mixer gives you additional flexibility with its 9-band equalizer. Additionally, you get access to the top-notch FX processor that has 16 editable presets and sound effects. It is, however, essential to remember that this mixer isn’t meant for beginners. If you want to make the most out of this device, you must invest time to explore all its features.
Image via Amazon
Price: $298.99 (on Amazon)
Key highlights: 18-channel mixer, six boutique-quality Xenyx mic preamps, 9-band graphic equalizer, six one-knob compressors, studio-grade FX processor
Pros: Versatile, user-friendly, low-noise audio
Cons: Not exactly beginner-friendly
7. Mackie ProFX16v2
The next product on our list of the best podcasting mixer is the 16-channel ProFX16v2 by Mackie. The most distinguishing feature of this mixer is its ten low-noise patented Mackie Vita mic preamps. It also provides you with a 3-band EQ and a 100 Hz low-cut filter. It also lets you use an Aux Out to easily run a mix-minus setup.
Additionally, the ProFX16v2 boasts a 7-band graphic equalizer for tuning mains and monitors. The biggest highlights of this USB mixer is that it gives you access to the ReadyFX effects engine with 16 effects. You can easily add sound effects such as reverb, delay, chorus, etc. If you can spare a little more than $350, this is the best mixer for podcasting you will ever find.
It is, however, worth mentioning that there is a learning curve associated with ReadyFX. While it produces impressive results, it may not be the ideal choice for beginners. Additionally, the monotonous look of the interface requires you to be extra cautious while managing multiple channels.
Image via Amazon
Price: $369.99 (on Amazon)
Key highlights: 16-channel mixer, ten low-noise Mackie Vita mic preamps, 7-band graphic equalizer, 3-band EQ, 100 Hz low-cut filter, Aux Out, ReadyFX effects engine, USB interface
Pros: Impressive audio quality, value for money
Cons: Learning curve, monotonous interface
8. Soundcraft Signature 12MTK
Soundcraft Signature 12MTK is a premium 12-channel mixer that is specifically built for professional podcasters and radio broadcasters. The reputed Soundcraft Ghost mic preamps ensure that the audio quality remains top-notch. Additionally, the mixer records each channel on a separate track, thus giving you more control and flexibility.
The eight XLR mic inputs let you easily connect your professional mics and maintain good audio quality. The reliable 3-band Sapphyre EQs further enhance the audio. Moreover, you get access to the Lexicon effects engine that boasts an impressive collection of reverbs, delays, modulations, etc. It also comes with a free downloadable podcast recording software called Ableton Live 9 Lite.
Image via Amazon
Price: $449.10 (on Amazon)
Key highlights: 12-channel USB mixer with 8 XLR inputs, Soundcraft Ghost mic preamps, 3-band Sapphyre EQs, Lexicon effects engine, Ableton Live 9 Lite
Pros: Superior-quality audio, multi-track recording, increased flexibility & versatility
Cons: Learning curve, higher price point
9. Rodecaster Pro
This versatile audio gear by Rode is more than just a podcast mixer. It is your all-in-one podcast recording package that lets you plug in up to four mics and other audio inputs. The self-proclaimed “podcast production studio” offers all the essential features that you’d expect from a standard podcast mixer.
However, it is the wide array of podcaster-friendly features that sets the Rodecaster Pro apart. For instance, it has an in-built sound card where you can store intro music, sound effects, etc. and play then throughout your podcast episode. The device is also capable of connecting to your phone using Bluetooth, thus letting your recorded live phone calls from listeners.
Another major advantage of the Rodecaster Pro is that it eliminates the need for an external recorder. The built-in memory can easily record and store your audio files. With such versatile features, this is the best audio mixer that has been designed with the needs of today’s podcasters in mind.
Image via Amazon
Price: $599 (on Amazon)
Key highlights: 4 mic inputs, 4 Class-A mic preamps, Bluetooth connectivity, in-built sound card & memory card
Pros: Podcast-friendly features, facilitates live audio production, all-in-one podcasting package, simple & intuitive interface
Cons: Higher price point, not meant for beginners
If you have started your podcasting journey, you will likely soon start aspiring for a fancy mixer. It is worth remembering that a mixer isn’t a piece of indispensable podcasting equipment. However, you can use one to improve the audio quality of your podcasts and even record multiple co-hosts.
When you decide to buy a podcast mixer, you will be spoilt for choice. From basic 8-channel mixers to versatile 18-channel ones – the options are endless. However, you should consider your budget and long-term goals before coming to a conclusion.
Have you found your favorite mixer for podcasting? Share your views in the comments section below.
Richa describes herself as an avid dreamer and a curious soul! She is a certified Content & Search Marketing Specialist from Digital Marketer, USA. With an experience of 5+ years as a content marketer and researcher, she is in love with Digital Breakthroughs, Content Marketing, Startup Strategies and so much more.