A podcast mixer can take your audio from being good to being great. 🚀
It can also reduce the time you spend editing an episode. And it just looks cool. 😎
So let’s talk podcast mixers!
In this blog post we are going to walk you through all things podcast mixer. First, we are going to review the 10 best podcast mixer. Then we will finish by explaining the advantages of a podcast mixer, key terms, and if you need one for your podcast.
10 Best Podcast Mixer in 2023
- The Rodecaster (Rode)
- The PodTrak P8 (Zoom)
- The Xenyx 1204USB (Behringer)
- The MG10XU (Yamaha)
- The ProFX10v3 (Mackie)
- ZEDi 10 (Allen & Heath)
- ZEDi 8 (Allen & Heath)
- ProFX6v3 (Mackie)
- MG06XU (Yamaha)
- The Xenyx 1202USB (Behringer)
1. The Rodecaster (Rode)
(That’s the one we use to record our podcast “Tips – how to grow your podcast“).
According to the Rode company, it is the “ultimate tool for beginners and professionals alike.” Ok, that sounds reassuring and fun!
And it is! 🥳
It has eight fun-colored sound pads that light up as well as a big bright “RECORD” button.
It also has color coded channel buttons above the faders that control them, and red and green buttons at the bottom so you can easily tell if you have left someone on mute, or instead “open” when they are doing something like blowing their nose. 🤧
The mixer also has a touchscreen interface where you can control specific aspects like the compressor, de-esser, etc..
Beyond looking fabulous, it also has important things like four XLR inputs, one USB input, four headphone ports, and stereo speaker outputs divided by left and right. 📻
The power cord has a screw-in feature so you do not accidentally pulled the power out in the middle of tapping. 🙀
Probably the coolest thing about this little machine is that it has a port for plugging in your cell phone with a TRRS cord (like a TRS cord but smaller). That way, one of your channels can be a person you are interviewing remotely via phone call. 📞
It also comes with a companion software so you can connect the mixer to your computer to do things like program your sound pads and get firmware updates.
The kit includes the power cord and a USB cord, as well as helpful paper soundpad templates and cards. 🙏
Probably the best part about this mixer is that you have the confidence that it was made for podcasters. You can learn how to use it and use it well.
2. The PodTrak P8 (Zoom)
Note: The Zoom we are talking about here is not the Zoom video call software that we all learned to love/hate during the shelter-in-place phase of the COVID pandemic.
Zoom has been the go-to company for professional recorders for years, especially portable, high-quality ones. Now they have their first podcast mixer! 🎉
If you have been searching around the internet, you may have seen some sites recommending Zoom’s PodTrak 4 as a podcast mixer… after all Pod is in the name! However, the PodTrak 4 is not a mixer. It is just a recorder. It has four great XLR inputs and you can control the volume on each, but you cannot adjust the audio with a compressor, de-esser, etc. That makes it just a recorder, not a mixer.
The PodTrak 8 is a true podcast mixer. And boy is it a good one! 👌
Probably the most helpful aspect of the PodTrack 8 is that each channel and its corresponding controls has a color. 🌈
For example, everything that has to do with the first channel is red: The XLR input, the fader, the column on the touchscreen interface, the headphone jack, and the volume knob for the headphone jack. This makes it so much easier to keep everything organized in your mind as you make adjustments.
It also has a helpful feature called On Air Noise Reduction that automatically turns down mic levels of channels not in use.
The PodTrak 8 has six XLR inputs. Like the Rodcaster, it also has a TRRS input for a phone call interview, however it also has a Bluetooth function for the same purpose. 📲
Another highlight is that the touchscreen offers simple edit options including trim, split, and fade.
And finally, the PodTrak 8 can be used as an audio interface when connected to a computer which is perfect for live-streaming. 😻
Overall, this is everything a podcast could want and more.
3. The Xenyx 1204USB (Behringer)
Behringer does have a specific podcast option on their website that they call PodcastStudioUSB. However, we do not actually recommend it. Yes, it is nice that they package a microphone and headset in the kit, but the kit’s mixer is a Xenyx 502. The Xenyx 502 does not work with higher quality microphones, plus it only has one input. 😐
What we do recommend is the Behringer Xenyx 1204USB. It has six channels, four of which provide enough phantom power for high-quality microphones. The channels have faders, though the rest of the board is ruled by knobs – no touchscreen, no sound pads.
Tragically, there is no fun or helpful color coordination going on. 😿
The machine itself does not record anything so you have to use a USB to connect to a computer and record on the computer, or connect to a stand alone recorder.
The nice thing is that it is about half the cost of the Rodecaster and the PodTrak 8. 🤑
4. The MG10XU (Yamaha)
In addition to jetskis, Yamaha makes the full gamut of audio mixers. From their cute little AG series built for live streaming, to their giant RIVAGE series for huge concerts, they cover it all. For podcasting, we suggest the MG series, specifically the MG10XU.
The MG10XU is simple and old school. There is no touchscreen. There are not even any faders. Just knobs. Lots and lots of knobs. 🎛️
It has four phantom power XLR inputs as well as a USB connection you can use to record straight to your computer (this mixer does not record on its own).
The MG10XU does have 24 different sound effects like reverb and delay, though they probably are not very useful for podcast recording. 🎙️
However, it does have great compression and produces all-star audio. Plus, it comes with its own digital audio workstation called Cubase AI.
Overall, it is a solid mixer for a low-ish price. 👍
5. The ProFX10v3 (Mackie)
Mackie has almost the same offerings as Yamaha when it comes to small and mid-sized mixers. That is why it probably does not come as a surprise for us to pick their “10” version just like we picked the “10” version for Yamaha.
Technically the MG10XU is better in terms of instrument inputs (MG10XU has four while ProFX10v3 has only two), but that does not matter because you are recording a podcast, not a jam session. 🎷
Yes, it even has exactly built-in 24 sound effects and comes with its own digital audio workstation. The digital audio workstation is called Waveform OEM.
And yes, they even cost the same. 😜
6. ZEDi 10 (Allen & Heath)
Allen & Heath have two products listened as their mixers for podcasting. We think the ZEDi 10 is the right one to go with. ✅
It has four XLR inputs and plenty of adjustment knobs to make sure each one sounds perfect.
The ZEDi 10 does record each input as its own track, which is super important. It records straight to a computer through a USB cord, though, not to a memory card.
It is compatible with video live streaming. 💃
Plus, its flexible routing feature allows you to integrate VoIP calls on separate channels, meaning that your remote interviews will sound fantastic.
7. ZEDi 8 (Allen & Heath)
This mixer only has two XLR inputs (two less than the ZEDi 10), but it does record them separately. If you know you are only going to have one guest on the show at a time, this might be a better, much cheaper choice for you. ⬅️
8. ProFX6v3 (Mackie)
The little brother of the ProFX10v3, this one should not be overlooked. It has all the features of the ProFX10v3, including the built-in sound effects and digital audio workstation. The only big difference is that it has two XLR inputs instead of four. 👯
9. MG06XU (Yamaha)
You may be sensing a theme here… 😬
This is the little brother of Yamaha’s MG10XU. It has two XLR inputs rather than four, one less band equalizer, and weighs about three pounds less that the MG10XU. 😅
10. The Xenyx 1202USB (Behringer)
The biggest difference between this one and its counterpart, the 1204, is that this mixer does not have any faders, only knobs. Knobs can be difficult to sensitively adjust, especially when the adrenaline is pumping during recording. 😵💫
However, the price drop might make it worth it to you. 💁
What is a Podcast Mixer
When we talk about podcast mixers, we are talking about audio mixers. There are a few audio mixers that call themselves podcast mixers and are specifically made for the job. Others are just referred to as audio mixers.
Ok, cool, but then what is an audio mixer? 🤔
We are going to explain it by talking about how one is used at a football game broadcast.
An Example to Help Explain: Audio Mixer for a Live Football Broadcast
Have you ever been watching a football game on TV and they cut to the production studio to say happy birthday or happy retirement to one of the staff? It is usually a couple of guys who have these cool looking knobs and faders (the slider things) all around them like they are the man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz. Or, better yet, in a spaceship. 👨🚀
At least one of those fancy looking boards with the buttons and faders are audio mixers.
The audio mixer controls the input of every podcast microphone. 👈
Think about it: There is no time to edit or sweeten the audio in post production because there is no post production… it is a live show! Everything needs to sound right in the moment.
The two announcers for the game are usually one huge dude who is retired from play and one small guy who is just good at talking. Their voices are probably a little different and need different adjustments to sound perfect. The person on the audio mixer makes those adjustments to each mic input. 🎛️
Then of course you have the sideline reporter. The person working the audio mixer needs to turn up her mic when it is time for her to speak, and then turn it all the way down when she is finished.
Ever notice how you can hear the grunts on the field, but the TV announcers never have to shout over the noise? That is because the person on the audio mixer turns up the field mics when a play is happening, but then quickly turns them back down so the TV announcers don’t have to compete with the noise. 🤯
And finally, last but not least: The music when going to commercials. Yes, that’s the person at the audio mixer. Rather than a microphone input, the input is some kind of media player. Someone hits ‘play’ on the music, and the person running the audio mixer fades in that input.
At the end of the day, the game does get recorded. That is why we are able to watch multiple highlights on ESPN afterward. 📺
That is the other common function in audio mixers: Record the audio as it is mixed. That can mean recording each microphone or media player input separately, as well as recording the whole thing together, just how the viewers heard it. Not all mixers have this, but the very best do.
By recording each input separately, there is an opportunity to edit them separately in post if you want to. ✂️
So for example, ESPN might want to show a highlight with the crowd noise turned up, but the announcer’s voice muted. Because the announcer’s voice and the crowd noise were recorded with an audio mixer through different inputs, the editors at ESPN can do this. 🏈
Why use a mixer for podcasting?
Now that we have explained what an audio mixer does in terms of a football game, it is easier to understand what a podcast mixer does for podcasters:
- It allows live podcast recordings to have excellent audio ✨
- It basically eliminates the need to edit for audio quality 💆
- If editing is needed, it allows for better editing because each input is recorded separately and therefore each one can be edited based on its unique sound and needs 🎞️
Now, you might be wondering, what if my podcast is just me sitting alone in a quiet studio, recording my episode to be heard later? Would a podcast mixer help me at all in that situation? 🤷
The answer is yes. Because there’s one more key thing that a mixer does for podcasters.
4. It allows for recording of higher-quality audio. 🥇
How? Well, if you have a nice, professional microphone, but you are recording it by plugging it into a computer through a USB port, you might lose or distort some of that high quality audio data that your microphone is capturing.
If instead you use an XLR cable to connect your professional microphone to an audio mixer, the mixer can record everything your microphone captures in full detail. Then you put the audio file on your computer by using the memory card the mixer has recorded it to.
Key Terms for a Podcast Mixer
XLR cable: An XLR cable is a cable that conducts both high-quality audio signals and electricity. They are the professional level audio cables you want to use to connect your microphone to your mixer. ⚡
TRS cable: A TRS cable is another professional audio cable. However, it does not provide phantom power like an XLR cable can. It is best to use this kind of cable for non-microphones like a media player.
USB cable: A USB cable can carry audio signals and phantom power. However, it tends to let in more “noise” as the signal is transmitted down the cable. Also, USB microphones tend to capture less detailed audio than XLR microphones.
Phantom power: Sounds like a superhero, doesn’t it? 🦸 Phantom power is the electricity that goes through XLR cables to power a microphone, especially the kind of microphones usually used to record high-quality audio (they are called condenser microphones).
Headphone Amp: A headphone amp is basically an audio booster for podcast headphones. It allows the person running the mixer to turn up the volume on his or her headphones without losing quality and without affecting the recording volume. 🎧
Soundpad: A soundpad is a button that you can program to play a certain sound effect, music clip, etc. Rather than having to click through some kind of play list, you just push a button and voila, your intro music (or whatever you programmed) starts playing. Push a different one and voile, your outro music (or whatever you programmed).
Compressor / Noise Gate / High-pass Filter / De-Esser: These are basically tools that improve the quality of your audio by decrease the audio waves that human ears do not like to hear and highlighting the ones that they do. 🛠️
SD and microSD cards: SD cards are just small memory cards. You probably have seen one in your cell phone, usually tucked away under the battery. Mixers often record to SD or microSD cards.
Do You Really Need a Mixer for a Podcast?
Now that you have all this information about podcast mixers, the natural question is: Do I really need to use one for my podcast? 🧐
The answer is probably no. Unless you are recording a super high quality panel discussion format, especially one that has a live component, you do not need a podcast mixer.
Need is different than want or would benefit from. Would your podcast benefit from using a mixer? Yes, probably.
Quality tools make for quality podcasts. Listeners do really care about the quality of audio– they can’t help it! Our brains are wired to be sensitive about what we hear. 🧠👂
Plus, a podcast mixer can save you time during the editing process.
So the final answer is: No you do not NEED a podcast mixer, but you should seriously think about getting one. 😁
Final Podcast Mixer Thoughts
Just like we recommend on all of our blog posts about buying podcast tools and equipment for your studio, make sure you do your research before you make any big purchases. It can be very easy to just follow the advice of a pro, but not truly understand what your specific needs are.
This is especially true in finding the right podcast mixer. There are multiple features involved and most of them have to do with relatively high-level audio production knowledge. 🤓
There is one most important aspect for everyone no matter what, though: You need to buy one that you are actually going to use. 👷
If you buy a super fancy one, but you are too intimidated to use it, then you get zero benefit from it. If you buy a simpler one, or maybe just one you feel more comfortable learning about and using, then you do get a benefit out of it even if it is not the top-of-the-line one.
Also, you have probably picked up by now that running an audio mixer takes a lot of practice. You need to develop muscle memory for what fader or knob goes to which mic or which feature. Even people who have been mixing for a long time would have trouble adjusting to being a podcast host while mixing at the same time. 👀
Depending on your budget, you may want to hire a pro or at least someone who can learn the basics and help you out. You might be surprised by how many people never want to speak on an episode, but would be more than happy to learn how to run the podcast mixer behind the scenes. 🥰
And finally: Do not feel rushed into buying this equipment. You can make a perfectly good podcast without a mixer… But they are really fun and make for a “wow” level of quality for your listeners! 💜
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