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Old 01-24-2021, 12:10 PM
FlyFishn FlyFishn is offline
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Default Small (tiny) USB mixer to run a condenser mic?

All,

I figured this would be another approach to my hunt here and is a separate topic of another thread I had.

What I am ultimately after is a small (very small, tiny ideally) USB mixer that has real phantom power to run a condenser mic.

The closest contender I've found close to what I am imagining is the Behringer xenyx 302usb. However - it has 15 volt phantom power and is cheaply made (its a Behringer).

The pluses are it is compact and powered solely off USB - either through a power adapter or USB port on a computer.

I have 2 other units - a 10 channel mixer and a Scarlett 6i6 genII - that I use for sound work so what I'm looking for in the USB mixer is a compact mixer to fill a specific niche.

On another subject, I am adding a Soundcraft Ui24r to the mix also (that will serve many purposes and be a high-horsepower mixer). However, the object of the compact USB unit is portability and compact'ness. The Ui24r wouldn't move much at all, and quite frankly I'd like to use a compact mixer most of the time then I can free up my Scarlett.

Ideas?
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Old 01-24-2021, 12:23 PM
rabbuhl rabbuhl is offline
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The EVO 4 USB look pretty small.
https://www.amazon.com/Audient-EVO-U.../dp/B084BGC5LR

Check out this video which review lots of interfaces.
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Old 01-24-2021, 12:40 PM
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What's your usage case here? Portable recording, performance, being able to record a performance? Standalone use, or working in conjunction with another audio interface?

If all you need is the phantom power but have the other pieces already, you can get an in-line phantom power supply (anywhere from $25 and up), though they do need need to be plugged in to a wall. But your mixer will likely be plugged in there too, so....

If you want *everything* powered off USB (mixer, mics, etc.) that might be a tougher climb, as the power you can draw off a USB port is limited.
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Old 01-24-2021, 01:00 PM
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Right, what's the use case? My wife uses a Behringer UMC22 (2 in, 2 out, headphone out, 48v phantom) into her laptop to power a Bluebird mic to teach online Cello lessons. This little box works great.
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Old 01-24-2021, 03:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyFishn View Post
…I have 2 other units - a 10 channel mixer and a Scarlett 6i6 genII - that I use for sound work so what I'm looking for in the USB mixer is a compact mixer to fill a specific niche.
Hey FFishn

There are a lot of 2XLR input, USB interface inexpensive mixers which provide full 48V phantom power (that particular Behringer does not).

Pyle 4 ($67 USD), Alesis Multi-mix 4 ($99 USD), Depusheng U4 ($46 USD) and many other 'same-box-different-name' mixers'.

The advantage of a traditional mixer over an interface is of course, tone controls, and faders, and sometimes an effects circuit that a USB interface rarely provide.

They usually don't do as well in the noise-floor department, and sometimes lack enough oomph to drive cardioid mics like the Shure SM7B without a fethead or cloud lifter.

If you want quality and price isn't the driving force, then check out Alesis, Yamaha, Mackie etc.

Have fun exploring.




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Old 01-24-2021, 05:09 PM
FlyFishn FlyFishn is offline
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As for budget - I want to see what better quality options are out there than Behringer and Mackie (I don't consider Mackie much better quality than Behringer, but if others have better experience/use cases than what I do I would be open to their thoughts/suggestions). That doesn't give a number, I realize. Just as an example - if a Behringer is, say, $70 and a quality mixer that is in a similar category is $140 I'd rather spend the $140 and know I got a better mixer that will last. I've relied on my 10 channel mixer for decades but some channels are burned out and so is the main out (I have been using the tape out RCA's instead). I would like to get a unit that will last and not burn out - and that sounds good (quality preamps, etc).

As far as use-case goes - I want to run condenser mics in a compact package so I can record on-the-go. The use case is more specific to "podcasting", if you will, rather than music recording, but the two really go hand-in-hand. It doesn't matter what the sound is I am recording - its how I am doing it. I want to set up a laptop with the mixer and mic in portable settings = minimal "stuff" and minimal space. At times I may run the mixer output back in to the mic port on a camera so I can feed the condenser mic audio straight in to video recording also. I have yet to cross the compression bridge (and possibly noise gate). I can do that in Pro Tools with plugins, but that is too complicated for what I am trying to accomplish - I'd like to start up front with the audio fed in to what ever recording I am making being as "right" as I can get it so as to do the least (if any) post-processing.

With the Scarlett I run Pro Tools as that drives the Scarlett the way it is intended.

What I am wanting to do with a USB mixer is run Audacity to record in as it is a simple software and covers 95% of what I want to do. At the end of the day - if I can record 1 or 2 channels (mono or stereo) from the mixer's main out through the USB connection with good quality on Audacity that is the end goal.

Right now I can't record in to Audacity well because the signal path between it and the Scarlett (only USB interface I have at the moment) is not correct - Audacity can't drive the Scarlett correctly. That is where Pro Tools is required - and I don't want that complex of software. With a simplified interface (USB mixer as opposed to a higher-HP Scarlett) I should be able to get Audacity to drive it.

Edit -

Just to clarify on the Audacity recording with Scarlett - Audacity DOES record audio (2 channels = main mix L/R [stereo], not 1 stream per channel/input as does Pro Tools). However, the quality is poor and attenuated. That is where the "not correct" part of the interfacing is. Yes I do get "sound" to record in Audacity, but it is degraded.

Edit 2 - video/audio sample:

https://youtu.be/0lkEkNjBmOg



Last edited by FlyFishn; 01-24-2021 at 07:11 PM.
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Old 01-24-2021, 07:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyFishn View Post
Just to clarify on the Audacity recording with Scarlett - Audacity DOES record audio (2 channels = main mix L/R [stereo], not 1 stream per channel/input as does Pro Tools). However, the quality is poor and attenuated. That is where the "not correct" part of the interfacing is. Yes I do get "sound" to record in Audacity, but it is degraded.
That doesn't seem to make sense. I record with a Scarlett 2i2 with condensers and the gain is plenty for digital recording. Some condenser mics need the Scarlett gain at about 9 o'clock, but not maxed out. Your DAW shouldn't even be a factor in this. Once your interface is getting digital into the computer, the DAW is immaterial.

One, I wonder if it's some kind of driver issue (you have the up-to-date Focusrite ASIO drivers?). Are you able to get the gain lights on the Scarlett to flash (green, yellow or red?). The interface "drives" the DAW, not the other way around.

That said, don't confuse volume with quality. One of the beauties of digital recording is that you don't need to track nearly as hot as you did with tape. There's plenty of dynamic range to boost later.

You haven't said whether you need to be truly self-contained, or if you can generally plug into AC power somewhere. If the latter, there are plenty of small mixers that can do what you want, some already mentioned. The Behringer is the cheapest for sure; there are more in the $100+/- range. Tbh I think Behringer gets a bad rap that comes from the past--lots of their stuff today is much higher quality than it used to be. I don't know you'd gain much (haha) by spending $50+ more on Alesis or Soundcraft.
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Old 01-24-2021, 07:58 PM
FlyFishn FlyFishn is offline
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Regarding the level/quality in the recordings - the indicator ring on the gain knob for the channel I was using does change color and goes to yellow/red with loud volume in to the mic. On Focusrite Control the clip indicator does hit if I get up there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chipotle View Post
You haven't said whether you need to be truly self-contained, or if you can generally plug into AC power somewhere.
AC power is possible, yes. If possible I'd like to get a mixer that can run from USB, but as was previously mentioned - the power a USB port provides is pretty low so I am not opposed to having a separate power source (AC plug in). As far as power goes - the most important thing (by far) is to get good phantom power to a condenser mic.
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Old 01-24-2021, 07:59 PM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyFishn View Post
As for budget - I want to see what better quality options are out there than Behringer and Mackie (I don't consider Mackie much better quality than Behringer, but if others have better experience/use cases than what I do I would be open to their thoughts/suggestions). That doesn't give a number, I realize. Just as an example - if a Behringer is, say, $70 and a quality mixer that is in a similar category is $140 I'd rather spend the $140 and know I got a better mixer that will last. I've relied on my 10 channel mixer for decades but some channels are burned out and so is the main out (I have been using the tape out RCA's instead). I would like to get a unit that will last and not burn out - and that sounds good (quality preamps, etc).

As far as use-case goes - I want to run condenser mics in a compact package so I can record on-the-go. The use case is more specific to "podcasting", if you will, rather than music recording, but the two really go hand-in-hand. It doesn't matter what the sound is I am recording - its how I am doing it. I want to set up a laptop with the mixer and mic in portable settings = minimal "stuff" and minimal space. At times I may run the mixer output back in to the mic port on a camera so I can feed the condenser mic audio straight in to video recording also. I have yet to cross the compression bridge (and possibly noise gate). I can do that in Pro Tools with plugins, but that is too complicated for what I am trying to accomplish - I'd like to start up front with the audio fed in to what ever recording I am making being as "right" as I can get it so as to do the least (if any) post-processing.

With the Scarlett I run Pro Tools as that drives the Scarlett the way it is intended.

What I am wanting to do with a USB mixer is run Audacity to record in as it is a simple software and covers 95% of what I want to do. At the end of the day - if I can record 1 or 2 channels (mono or stereo) from the mixer's main out through the USB connection with good quality on Audacity that is the end goal.

Right now I can't record in to Audacity well because the signal path between it and the Scarlett (only USB interface I have at the moment) is not correct - Audacity can't drive the Scarlett correctly. That is where Pro Tools is required - and I don't want that complex of software. With a simplified interface (USB mixer as opposed to a higher-HP Scarlett) I should be able to get Audacity to drive it.

Edit -

Just to clarify on the Audacity recording with Scarlett - Audacity DOES record audio (2 channels = main mix L/R [stereo], not 1 stream per channel/input as does Pro Tools). However, the quality is poor and attenuated. That is where the "not correct" part of the interfacing is. Yes I do get "sound" to record in Audacity, but it is degraded.

Edit 2 - video/audio sample:

https://youtu.be/0lkEkNjBmOg


You might want to consider something like the Zoom Livetrak L8. You can record anything you want, leaving the computer home. You can even run it on AA batteries for hours, supplying 48 volts phantom power to your condenser mics.

Your Youtube example doesn't look right.



It looks like the gain structure isn't set correctly, like there's a 20 db attenuation pad engaged or the gain isn't set high enough in Audacity. The input meter at the top of the Audacity window shows there's plenty of signal present, it must be in your settings as it's routed through the software. It's not the interface's fault.

The second pass (using the "cheap" USB thumb drive interface) looks like you inadvertently "normalized" the track when you did the "DC adjust to level".

Hook it up to your computer later and do all the other stuff you want to do.

Last edited by Rudy4; 01-24-2021 at 08:25 PM.
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Old 01-24-2021, 09:32 PM
FlyFishn FlyFishn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudy4 View Post
The second pass (using the "cheap" USB thumb drive interface) looks like you inadvertently "normalized" the track when you did the "DC adjust to level".
The stock normaliziation is -2dB. I unchecked that box and solely did the DC offset correction.

There is no attenuation in Focusrite Control. The gain knob for the channel was max'd out and the input settings are as follows (I tried to upload a picture but it won't let me without a link to it hosted elsewhere):
Input set to Line
Pad disabled

However, we're getting off the subject of identifying a mixer.
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Old 01-24-2021, 09:57 PM
FlyFishn FlyFishn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudy4 View Post
You might want to consider something like the Zoom Livetrak L8. You can record anything you want, leaving the computer home. You can even run it on AA batteries for hours, supplying 48 volts phantom power to your condenser mics.
I went back in the thread here - I thought the L8 was mentioned in another post but I didn't find it in this thread, maybe it was somewhere else I heard that mentioned.

Those are interesting "mixers". PreSonus makes a version also that looks a bit smaller:
https://www.zzounds.com/item--PRSSLMAR8C

However, that is starting to approach the functionality of the Soundcraft Ui24 - and the size. And with a Ui24 I can run it from a smartphone or tablet, no need for a computer, with recording straight to a USB drive.

The A&H ZEDi-10 looks like another contender - still bigger than I want, though. It has a 1/4" aux output and RCA stereo out (the ZEDi-8 does not - just XLR outputs). Or for $60 more they have a version with the effects processor in it - same box otherwise.
https://www.zzounds.com/item--AAHZEDI10

The Mackie ProFX6v3 looks like another contender. Though, I am not a fan of Mackie mixers from a quality standpoint. It is a smaller format USB mixer - plus effects processor (not a big deal for me, unless it had compression - which none of them except some of the Behringers do from what I see so far).
https://www.zzounds.com/item--MACPROFX6V3

I'll keep on looking. If I could figure out what the company was I recall seeing several years back that had red mixers that would be good to add to the options but so far I've struck out - nothing I've found yet rings a bell there. I did look up some European sound dealers also to see what products/brands they carry over there. No luck that way, yet, either, although they do have some different brands than what we see here in the US.
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Old 01-24-2021, 09:59 PM
Chipotle Chipotle is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyFishn View Post
However, we're getting off the subject of identifying a mixer.
True, although what you're getting from the Scarlett still seems odd, and you're claiming Audacity won't work with it, but you don't want to deal with ProTools. A new mixer may or may not solve that problem.

But maybe there are other things you need a mixer for? If you just want to get audio in to the computer from the mic, an interface can be even more portable and smaller; mixer not necessary. If you are combining several sources, need effects, or other features of a mixer, then, well, you need a mixer. I'm still not clear on what you will be recording.

Anyway, the features you'd get by spending more might be slightly better mic preamp(s), and (just maybe) slightly better components. But not by leaps and bounds. If the Behringer name scares you off, get a Soundcraft Notepad-5 and call it good.
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Old 01-25-2021, 04:30 AM
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Yamaha AG03/06 is small, not tiny and works phenomenally for recording.
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Old 01-25-2021, 06:47 AM
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Is streaming live what is being done, or simply recording? Why not just get a good field recorder, or even a digital recorder with XLR inputs, and skip packing an interface and computer around?

From Tascams through Zoom (H6 or F8 & F8n are ones I've used), or Sound Devices at the high end, there are lots of options with tons of gain available for all manner of microphones. Record anywhere, and copy the recordings into the DAW when you get home.
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Old 01-25-2021, 08:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyFishn View Post
I went back in the thread here - I thought the L8 was mentioned in another post but I didn't find it in this thread, maybe it was somewhere else I heard that mentioned.

Those are interesting "mixers". PreSonus makes a version also that looks a bit smaller:
https://www.zzounds.com/item--PRSSLMAR8C

However, that is starting to approach the functionality of the Soundcraft Ui24 - and the size. And with a Ui24 I can run it from a smartphone or tablet, no need for a computer, with recording straight to a USB drive.

The A&H ZEDi-10 looks like another contender - still bigger than I want, though. It has a 1/4" aux output and RCA stereo out (the ZEDi-8 does not - just XLR outputs). Or for $60 more they have a version with the effects processor in it - same box otherwise.
https://www.zzounds.com/item--AAHZEDI10

The Mackie ProFX6v3 looks like another contender. Though, I am not a fan of Mackie mixers from a quality standpoint. It is a smaller format USB mixer - plus effects processor (not a big deal for me, unless it had compression - which none of them except some of the Behringers do from what I see so far).
https://www.zzounds.com/item--MACPROFX6V3

I'll keep on looking. If I could figure out what the company was I recall seeing several years back that had red mixers that would be good to add to the options but so far I've struck out - nothing I've found yet rings a bell there. I did look up some European sound dealers also to see what products/brands they carry over there. No luck that way, yet, either, although they do have some different brands than what we see here in the US.
The Zoom Livetrak (and other brands of recorders) usually record to flash drive or SD card and don't need a smartphone or tablet or anything else. That takes care of the size issue since you aren't dragging other appliances around with you and dealing with wireless or wired connections that will fail when you most need them.

You may need to compromise SOMEWHERE based on the number of inputs you need or the functionality you require. Zoom makes everything down to a field recorder that provides 48v phantom power and tucks into a shirt pocket.
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