record vocal+guitar with 2 mics, mixer & laptop on audacity?

Hello There,

I started producing podcasts (guitar+vocal) using an iphone app (Audiocopy); now I have been given some interest in recording except that the quality has to improve. In hand I have:

  • 2 mics (SM58 SHURE)
  • 1 mixer (BEHRINGER XENYX 802)
  • lenovo laptop (IdeaPad U260)
  • Audacity 2.1.0

Do I have a chance? Am I missing a lot?
Any help is much appreciated as I am on a relatively tight deadline.

Thank you,

Just one. The mixer is lovely, and it even has 48v Phantom Power, but it doesn’t have a USB connection and the laptop doesn’t have an analog input.

I got around that with a Behringer UCA-202 adapter.

That also happens to be one of the devices I certified for overdubbing, should you want to play with yourself, so to speak.


Unless you have a USB interface that you have not told us about, the weak point is the sound card in the laptop.That can be easily and cheaply remedied by adding a Behringer UCA 202 (or similar) USB sound card (about $30).

The other glaring omission is what you listen to your recording with. It’s impossible to make a good mix using crappy computer speaker. Studio monitors are terrific but expensive. Headphones range from terrific to awful, but give the best performance on a budget. Avoid headphones that advertise “pumping bass” or similar - ideally you want headphones that give an accurate “neutral” sound.

SM58s are good “stage” microphones and last forever - extremely tough, but can be a little dull for recording. Nevertheless, they are capable of giving pretty reasonable recording. Ensure that you use proper XLR mic leads with them - no 1/4" jacks.

The really important thing that everyone misses out of their description is the “room”. Where you record is really important. It must be a quiet as possible and free of excessive echoes. Soft furnishings can help to damp down echo/reverberation. Noise and echoes will kill your recording before you start - I can’t over-emphasize the importance of the room.

What most people think of when they say “make it sound better” is eliminate the honky room echoes and traffic noises outside.

You can do really well with an ordinary microphone in a quiet room with no echoes (a studio), but it doesn’t work the other way around. It doesn’t matter how much money you blow on a microphone, mixer, etc, etc, if the room doesn’t cooperate, that’s the end of the story. No, there’s no “remove echo” button.

That’s not to say it’s impossible. Newsies have been doing interviews in noisy rooms for a long time.

That’s not a cheap microphone and it’s not particularly musical, but it does do one thing really well, only receives sound from the front.


I did a very nice recording with all the equipment you see. The laptop is shut, but work with me here.

What you don’t see is the rest of the A Building, Main Conference Room which is soundproofed. No noise and very little echo.


Is that fast enough?

Hello, I have only today ordered a uac 202 interface, based on what i read on the forum. I want to hook up the laptop to the mixer via the behringer interface, but am new at this. I see from the pic you posted Kos, it is 2 RCA from the interface into the mixer, but what is on the other end plugging into the mixer? is it 2 RCA or 1/4 inch? can u show a pic?
I am a beginner at this.

On my mixer, I’m using Tape Out and it’s another RCA Stereo.

So the interconnecting cable is RCA stereo to RCA stereo—for me.

Your mixer has 1/4" connections for Left and Right. I would use 1/4" adapters to RCA like the attached picture (get two)(it might be called a 6.35mm connection or plug). From there, it’s just a plain RCA stereo cable.

These cables are getting harder and harder to find. Not the cable type, but everybody wants to up-sell you into Custom Gold Plated, Super Insulated, 12M long, Double Braid Shielded, etc. etc. etc. None is necessary on short cable runs.

Radio Shack in the US used to offer plain, four foot RCA stereo cables.

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Hey thankyou so much for helping. I have a little mixer I hope this pic comes out.
so mine doesn’t have the outs on the back, just rca tape out. if I adapted those rca to make them stereo, I am not sure where to put the outs. one of the main outs on the unit is used to hook up an active speaker. I only have one of these. Line one is a microphone shure sm58. For the first time last week tried to record via laptop and audacity 2.05 the voices of the singing group we are in, and the music, but from the little I heard of it, (someone else’s laptop) the music was distorted, and no voices. This is our first try. I figured that without that interface, i went wrong, and I think it might be levels on units also.
Tell me if I am close. grin.

Almost all modern computers need a little help hooking up a mixer. Last time I bought a new computer, I bought an old design just so I could get the Stereo connections. The new design doesn’t have them.

You can’t use most computer Mic-In connections to connect a mixer. The connection overloads very easily and made your sound loud and crunchy, but more important, they’re mono, not stereo, so that’s probably where your voices went.

I’m fuzzy where you have your speaker system plugged in. It should be connected to the Control Room Out, Left and Right. That’s the same signal that appears on the headphone connection and they’re both adjusted by the PHONES/ CTRL ROOM knob. It’s important that you work it that way,because if you don’t, adjusting your headphones will mess up your show.

The mixer has two copies of The Show. The two RCA connections TAPE OUT, Left and Right, and CTRL ROOM OUT, Left and Right. You can connect the Tape Outs to the UCA202 when it gets here and you should be good to go. You can also use two of those 1/4" adapters to turn CTRL ROOM OUT into two more RCAs and those would work, too.

It’s a terrible idea to run microphones and speakers in the same room. Live recordings are done on headphones.


That’s a mistake!!

The show is available on Tape Out and Main Out. Control Room out is just for monitoring the show as it goes. Not the show itself.


hi Kos, re speaker. i only have one active speaker used with the little mixer. i go from one of the main out into the mic in on the back on the speaker. i didn’t get the name of the speaker, it is limited with outs. it is one of those led ones with the graphic equaliser on the back. only has a mic in, no line in, so i plug the XLR end in, and from the mixer i use a 1/4"out.
I wondered why I had such an odd thing happening in audacity with the blue ‘blur’ grin.
I have the UCA now, and am trying it tonight. will let you know.
Thanks for the help Koz.

ok, so now i have 2 rca from tape out on the mixer to 2 rca in on the UCA, did i get it right that u said to use 2 adapters for the RCA’s into the mixer, not quite sure i understand where to hook these in exactly. Is it control room Left and Right?
Where should I control it from in the mixer then?
Also do I need to adjust any settings in Audacity 2.1.0?
Sorry I really am a newbie at this.
Ps. when you say the show, I am assuming that you are talking about Audacity?

aha, bit more advanced now, I have a mic into my mixer, and the UCA hooked up to the laptop with RCA leading into my mixer. Yes there is sound, I am monitoring it on the phones, it’s a bit blurry on the sound. I don’t know what to adjust to improve it. it is an shure sm58.
The levels are hitting around 21. I was singing into it.

The levels are hitting around 21. I was singing into it

You have to be painfully detailed when you say things like that. We can’t see you or what you’re doing. Hitting 21 on what?

RCA leading into my mixer.

Where on the mixer? Your mixer has three different places to get the show. Tape Out? That’s correct. If you have a speaker system, it should be connected to Control Room out. That lets you control the speaker volume without messing with the performance. And we hope you’re listening to your singing on headphones, not speakers. Never run speakers and a live microphone in the same performance. Headphones only.

I am assuming that you are talking about Audacity?

I’m talking about the presentation or performance. It starts at your lip’s and ends as a sound file — if you do it right.

You should do whatever you need to make the Audacity recording meters peak on a regular basis at about -6dB. The yellow zone.


There are three different places to set volume on the mixer. This is the illustration from my mixer, but the three knobs are in the same place on yours.

Adjust the mixer so you can get the bottom two lights on the mixer sound meter to flash. 20 and 0. That’s really -20 and 0. I’d probably start with the upper left control (GAIN) at 3:00 o’clock, the lower left one (LEVEL) at noon and the main mix (lower right) at noon. Ignore Audacity.

Can you get the lights with your normal voice? If not, goose the lower left control to 3:00 o’clock. Then goose the upper left all the way up and then back away slightly. Never run that control all the way up.

If you get the PEAK overload light (lower left) at any time, it means you got the two left-hand adjustments too high and the channel strip is overloading. So that’s the juggling act. You should have the system’s three knobs up far enough to get the -20 and 0 mixer lights to flash when you speak or sing. Can you get it that far?

Temporarily ignore Audacity. You’ll never pull this performance out if you misadjust the mixer. That’s step one.

One note. I know you’re asking yourself why on earth would you want three different places to adjust volume on the mixer.

They’re different. The upper left GAIN control adjusts your microphone volume to it perfectly fits in the mixer. Not too low or not too high. The LEVEL control’s job is to make your microphone match all the other microphones. I know you only have one, but what if you didn’t?

MAIN MIX’s job is to adjust the overall volume of the show for whatever comes next. If you manage a perfect balance between all your microphones and instruments, you want one place to make the whole thing slightly louder or softer. This is also the place to fade the whole show to silence when you get done.

I know you’re probably asking why you should go through all that when you could just plug in a USB microphone and go with it. Have you seen all the problems USB microphone have? Once very big problem is no volume. USB microphones tend to be very quiet and there isn’t a thing you can do about it. They also tend to be noisy and the combination can be deadly if your goal is reading an AudioBook.


I remember now.

“How do I become a recording engineer. I’m in a hurry.”