If you’re looking to improve your podcasting game, one of the best podcast mixers featured here should be firmly in your thoughts. Mixers act as the central hub of any recording operation, be that music, speech or broadcast, and they give you much more in the way of flexibility than simply plugging a mic into your laptop or PC.
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In this guide we’ll outline some of the things you should be looking out for when buying a podcast mixer. So, whether you’re a seasoned professional or enthusiastic beginner, we will help you find the best podcast mixer to suit your needs.
Which are the best podcast mixers?
The smart money, when you’re looking for a piece of equipment, is usually on finding the item which is specifically aimed at whatever it is you’re doing. In the world of podcast mixers, the Rode RodeCaster Pro is the clear and obvious choice. It has been designed and built with podcasting in mind, and has a number of neat features the other mixers on this list can’t compete with.
Special mention goes to both the Presonus StudioLive AR8c and Yamaha MG10XU which, while not dedicated podcasting mixers, do both offer a comprehensive set of tools which meet the needs of a podcast recording studio simply and efficiently.
Best podcast mixers: buying advice
All audio mixers, regardless of their size, serve one fairly simple purpose; taking audio from multiple input sources and mixing it together to form one unified output. Different mixers will offer all manner of extra functionality, like the ability to add effects or equalization, or different ways to connect to your devices, but fundamentally a mixer’s job is to… well, mix. In the context of podcasting, this likely means combining multiple microphones, along with perhaps music players or mobile devices, and giving the user control over the individual volume levels of each.
The key areas to look out for include the number of tracks, or channels, a mixer has. This will impact the number of audio sources you can connect at any one time, so it’s worth considering not only the number you’ll need in the immediate future, but also how you may look to expand in the future. Mixers run anything from two channels up to 128 or more, so there will be a solution for you however ambitious your plans are. Keep an eye on connectivity; microphones tend to have XLR inputs and, while many mixers may advertise a specific number of inputs, it may be that not all of those are equipped with XLR inputs.
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The way in which the audio is output is also important. Some mixers provide stereo outputs using jack cables, which can be sent to a computer’s audio interface, while others utilise USB for this same purpose. There is no right or wrong answer here – your own preferred workflow will dictate the right method for you. Alternatively, some specialist mixers allow you to record direct to the device, usually via an SD card, which removes the computer from the situation altogether.
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Finally, consider your budget. Top-end mixers cost the big bucks due to the microphone preamps contained within, which extract all that glorious tone from the microphone. Cheaper models, on the other hand, tend to contain slightly inferior components which, depending on your requirements, may be a factor to consider. The best advice we can give is to be realistic about your needs. If pristine, studio quality audio is a non-negotiable, then be prepared to shell out. If, on the other hand, you just need a hassle-free method to record some speech and make it sound balanced, then a simpler podcast mixer may suffice.
The best podcast mixers available today
As one of the big names in microphones, it makes sense that Rode would have a decent line-up of podcasting gear. The Rode RodeCaster Pro is, in one fell swoop, the ultimate mixer for podcasters on account of it being designed specifically for the medium. And it’s amazing; four high quality mic preamps ensure each voice is heard clearly, while we particularly liked the Bluetooth functionality which enables you to record phone interviews directly. Eight programmable pads on the unit also allow you to fire off pre-recorded sounds – perfect for adding in a spot of applause.
Unlike some of the other mixers on the list, the RodeCaster Pro is effectively an all-in-one recording solution specifically for podcasting. Everything is captured at source and stored on an SD card, so you can relax and concentrate on recording your show. Highly recommended.
Yamaha has built itself a nice reputation in the sub-$/£300 mixer world, thanks to its MG series. These compact, feature-filled mixers can be found in venues and rehearsal rooms everywhere, thanks to their reliability and transparent sound. For a podcaster, the Yamaha MG10XU would be a superb choice. It packs in 10 input channels, including four XLR inputs, and a number of effects including a neat one-knob compressor which worked well for us.
If we were being picky, we’d have liked the USB output to provide individual tracks, as opposed to one summed stereo mix, but otherwise the MG10XU is a very solid choice.
Whereas some of the other contenders in this list look exactly as you’d expect a mixer to – all metal and knobs – the ART TubeMix does at least attempt to add a bit of visual flair. It shouldn’t matter, but it does. Looking past the wood panelling and VDU meters, the TubeMix has another ace up its sleeve in the form of a 12AX7 tube preamp, which adds genuine valve colouration to the signal.
While it’s clearly aimed more towards musicians, with features like a dedicated high-z instrument input, there’s a lot for podcasters to like with the ART TubeMix, especially considering the relatively low price point.
One from the left-field here… While the TC Helicon Go XLR is clearly intended as an audio mixer for streaming or gaming purposes, we could easily see it working in some specific podcasting situations. Solo podcasters, for example, can make use of TC’s high quality mic pre-amp via the XLR input, while the added effects and sample launching mean there’s plenty of scope for creativity. It won’t suit every podcasting application, but it does what it does very well indeed.
If you’re relying on a computer for editing and enhancing your recorded audio, then you’ll likely be incorporating an audio interface into your setup at some point. By blending together an eight channel analog mixer and high-quality audio interface, the Presonus StudioLive AR8c might be just the ticket.
The mic preamps are exceptionally clear and accurate, and the StudioLive also has a host of interesting features like Bluetooth 5.0 and digital effects to sweeten your audio.
For the podcaster looking to upgrade an existing system, the Presonus StudioLive AR8c is a quality option.
Not every recording studio is based around a computer or laptop. These days, tablets and iPads are more than capable of recording, editing and producing high quality audio, which is ideal for those of us who prefer a more roaming approach to content creation. With the Yamaha AG06 you have everything you need for mobile podcasting, including enough connectivity options to incorporate microphones, computers, smartphones and anything else you can think of.
Yamaha gear tends to overperform compared to its price – look at the Pacifica electric guitars, for example – so we’ve no problems recommending the AG06 from a longevity perspective. It would have been great to see a Bluetooth connection added for recording phone interviews and the like but otherwise this is a solid little mixer that will sharpen your podcasting chops nicely.
It seems everyone and their dog has an opinion about Behringer and, while it sometimes doesn’t do itself any favours with its provocative marketing, it’s easy to forget what made Behringer the company it is today. Before it embarked on a mission to ‘mimic’ seemingly every vintage synth in history, Behringer was famous for producing cost-effective options for cash-strapped musicians to get the gear they needed. Lines like the Xenyx are a great example of this approach.
With a street price likely just north of $/£100, the Behringer Xenyx 1002B is a solid 10-channel mixer with everything you need (at a basic level) to get you started. At this price point you’re not going to get digital connectivity, or effects, or in fact much else in the way of frills, but there’s plenty of studios and venues the world over who have at least one Xenyx knocking around as a backup. If your wallet won’t stretch to one of the other options listed here, then the Xenyx 1002B will certainly get you going in the right direction.
If you’ve reached the point where you’re looking to commit to your podcasting career, and want to invest in a high quality, well specified mixer, then the Allen & Heath ZED60-10FX might be the perfect option for you. It boasts all the inputs, outputs and connectivity you’ll likely require, along with some capable digital connectivity from both USB and Bluetooth. The USB connection actually turns the unit into an audio interface with eight separate inputs, which is a godsend when it comes to mixing audio post-recording.
This is at the higher end of the price bracket, but when you add up all the features and functions you get, and ally them with the superb quality mic-preamps, you’ve got a pretty compelling package.