Recommendations: audio interface - radio/mixer to computer?


I like to record streaming audio for basketball & football games for my college team, and Audacity has worked great for that. But some games are not streamed, and others will cut off after 30 minutes or so unless you click a button saying you are still there. Sometimes I’m recording it because I’m NOT there, so I’ll miss the end of the game.

Having an audio interface to record directly from a radio would be nice for such situations.

I also run a mixer for my kid’s grade school “Dance Assembly” once a year. They have someone video tape it so they can memorialize the kids’ performances on a DVD, but the sound quality is rather poor in my opinion. You get echoes and crowd noises and it seems to me that recording it directly from the mixer box would greatly improve the sound quality.

In another thread someone had recommended a couple of devices & I thought I’d see if they sound like a good option for my needs, or if there are better options I should consider. Cost is certainly a factor for me, and although sound quality is important, I’m not a musician trying to put out an album or anything. The sound quality for the games only needs to be reasonably good, and I’m guessing virtually anything would be an improvement over the audio from a camcorder in the crowd.

The first recommendation was:

Behringer UCA202 Audio Interface:

Side note: Amazon popped up a very similar one, the Behringer UCA222 U-Control Ultra-Low Latency 2 In/2 Out USB Audio Interface with Digital Output And Downloadable Software Bundle - I don’t see any difference compared to the UCA202 than the color. Maybe one is a newer version than the other?

The second one recommended was:

Roland UA-1EX - which I think was touted as being a little more expensive than the Behringer but a bit better as well. It looks like it was probably discontinued, though. Maybe a used one might be available, though:

P.S. I tried to go the ultra cheap route with an adapter from Amazon that cost about $2.50 or so. It had a plug that fit into the earplug jack on a portable radio and a USB connector on the other end. It looked great, but appears to be worse than worthless. It came with no instructions or drivers, so I figured it didn’t need anything. I plugged in both ends and had the radio on, but it didn’t show anything on Audacity, but did cut out the audio on the radio, so I figured it must at least have the correct connector on that end. I did some other things before deciding to unplug it, only to discover that the wire was pretty hot. I was afraid it might have damaged the usb port on my laptop, but fortunately it appears to be ok. It looks like someone just took a piece of wire and hooked a connector on each end. Live and learn, I guess.

Thanks for any help &/or recommendations etc.

I use a Behringer UCA 202. At less than $30 it’s great value for money and the sound quality is good enough for producing high quality CDs.
The main drawbacks are:

  1. There are no input or output level controls. This does not matter if you can control the level of the thing that you are recording, but can be a deal buster if you can’t. The level control on the device is only for the headphone output. I use the Behringer UCA 202 with a mixing desk and that allows me to control the recording level so this is not a problem for me.

2)The headphone output is not that great - it’s not bad, but not as good as the main left/right outputs. Quite a minor issue really.

  1. The box is plastic. It’s reasonably robust, but don’t tread on it.

  2. On my unit the label on the top fell off - but it is about 10 years old and this is purely a cosmetic issue. The fact that I’ve used this unit continuously for so many years outweighs this minor damage.

    I’m not sure what the difference is with the UCA 222 - as far as I can tell, not much other than the colour and price.

    The main advantage of the Roland UA-1EX is that it has an input level control. This model is discontinued.

If you need a more sturdy unit you could have a look at the ART range. These are about 3 times the price of the Behringer, but they are housed in a sturdy metal case and are well featured.

From your description I’d expect the UCA 202 to be a good choice.

Thanks much, Steve.

Everything on the Behringer sounds about perfect for me, other than possibly the lack of input or output level controls. That would probably only be an issue with respect to the mixer for the kids’ school dance assembly. I don’t think I could adjust the input controls without affecting the sound levels for the auditorium. Hopefully it would be fine at the settings they use.

I’m guessing Audacity could be used to tweak it a bit if it’s a little to soft, or perhaps a little too loud, as long as it doesn’t cause clipping.

My portable radio doesn’t have RCA jacks, but I could move an old stereo into my office for the ball games. I’m not sure I’d even need headphones for my purposes. I usually look at the sound levels on the Audacity screen. I usually try to set it to nearly the highest level without clipping at the highest sound levels.

Anyway, thanks again! I think the Behringer sounds like a good fit for me as well.

“Clipping” is the show destroyer.
Depending on what sort of mixing desk you have, you may have a “Control Room Out” with an independent level control that you could use as the output to go into the UCA 202.

Thanks. I went ahead and ordered the UCA 202. Hopefully it will arrive in time for me to figure out how to set it up & use it for the Dance Assembly.

I’ll definitely see if I can see anything like a “control room out” for the output on the mixer. I don’t remember seeing anything labelled like that, but I’ve only used it a few times and don’t use most of the buttons & controls on it. The guy that used to run it for them used to work for bands and knew what he was doing. When he was transferred out of town he showed me how to use it, but it was focused on what was needed for their dance assembly.

I’ll probably try and email him to see if he knows some way of doing that. Actually, I don’t even remember any RCA jacks out. Seems like they may be behind the hardware, covered by the carpet covered box it’s all set in. If I recall, it has an amp on the bottom layer, and then perhaps something else, then a dual CD player, maybe something else again, and then the mixer board on top. We pretty much only used the CD player and a cordless mic, with a hard wired mic as a backup. They also had a pigtail thing, I believe, where one could plug in a smartphone or something similar as an input. I think it had about 8 or 10 channels each with a column of dials we never used, all set for the mid-point. I guess that’s all pretty standard for a mixer, but I’ve never really used anything beyond a base & treble dial on an integrated stereo system.

Hopefully it’ll be a moot point and the output will be fine based on the listening levels they want to use.

Thanks again for that feedback and info.