Product idea...

The numerous postings from folks trying to do interviews or podcasts from less than “studio conditions” leads me to think there might be marketing opportunity here.

The idea is basically a small simple mixer designed for use with PC/Gamer headsets. (Of the analog sort, not USB).

There’s been numerous threads about adapting PC headsets and microphones, including this epic length one from 2008:

It was resurrected in 2012:

And then recently this one:

So one obvious idea is to perfect and market the PC microphone jack to male XLR adapater. Something that ran off 48V phantom power could probably be stuffed into an XLR backshell and sold for ~$20. But that leaves the person still purchasing a semi-pro mixer with USB (or separate mixer and USB interface) and possibly a headphone amplifier if there’s more than one person in the show.

So as I visualize the product It would 4 or 6 headset channels, each of which would have 3.5mm PC style microphone connector (with 5V on the ring), and 3.5mm PC headset connector. Each microphone channel would have gain and pan controls, and a headset gain control. The headsets would all receive a copy of the mix. The mix would also go to the input of stereo USB interface. In addition there could be a line-level (RCA jack, or 3.5mm stereo jack) input for the insertion of other sources. Both the line-in, and the USB interface output would have switches that routed them to either the main mix or to the headphones only (so in that sense it is a two buss mixer).

I figure that with a bit of care it could be manufactured and sold for under $100.


You can buy an XLR microphone for $20, so there’s probably not much of a market for a $20 adaptor for a $20 computer mic. and as you say, they still need to buy a mixer.

Perhaps easier to just stand a Zoom H1 in the middle of the table and sit round it.

Back in the days of tape recorders, almost all would have either a built-in mic, or a mic socket, or both.
When MiniDisks first came out, many would have either a built-in mic, or a mic socket, or both.
When digital MP3 devices came out, a few would have either a built-in mic, or a mic socket.

Over the years, manufacturers would appear to have identified a trend that less and less people are interested in making their own recording on consumer equipment. Home recording has become a niche, with a wide range of excellent products. However, this niche market generally want better quality than standing a microphone in a milk bottle and plugging it into a tape recorder (how I made my first recordings :wink:)

For under $300 US you can buy a brand new digital 8 track recorder, with surprisingly not bad sound quality.

Product development is largely about identifying marketing opportunities. If a manufacturer (such as Zoom) believed there was a market big enough to justify the set-up costs, then they would probably already have a device similar to what you are describing. I had an idea for a very similar product about 10 years ago, but then a new range of portable recorders came out, much more feature rich, better quality, more flexible, and not much more expensive.