Recording audio on iMac from a Peavey XR1212 soundboard

Hello fellow Audacity on iMac users, got a brand iMac with OSX Mavericks. I’m trying to set it up to record sound from a Peavey XR1212. I’m a PC guy, so I’m used to using Audacity to do the same procedure, so I downloaded it and tried to get it to work. The soundboard has an “mp3 in” line as well as an RCA out jack. The iMac does not have a mic in line, only a headphone port. I called Apple Support and the representative informed me that the headphone port on the Mac is smart enough to determine whether I would be using it for headphones of a mic in line, so I should put the mic in line there. So my set up was running an RCA jack (red and white connected to soundboard) with a headphone jack on the other end into the headphone port on the Mac. When I began recording on the through Audacity, the program did not show me the soundboard or the RCA jack as one of the available options to choose to record sound from, it defaulted to the internal mic on the Mac as the only option.

I did not try going from the “mp3 in” line from the soundboard (which btw is a headphone port as well) to the headphone port on the back of the Mac. I use an auxiliary cord to play music from the Mac through the soundboard with these headphone ports, but it just didn’t seem obvious to me that this set up could be used for recording.

While I was downloading Audacity, the Mac was updating garageband, which I have little to no familiarity with. I have done some research and found out that I could potentially use this to record from my soundboard as well. So finally here is my questions:

  1. The back of the iMac has 4 USB ports, 1 FireWire port, 1 headphone port and 1 ethernet port. Since there is no “mic-in” port, what port can I use to record audio from the soundboard in audacity or garageband?
  2. If I go from the soundboard with an RCA into the headphone port on the Mac, can I use garageband to record?

iMac, Mac OS X (10.0.x)

Close Audacity.

Apple (upper left) > System Preferences > Sound > Input.

Whatever shows up there is what Audacity is going to be able to use for recording. Audacity is a complete slave to what the computer is doing.

There is no “Mic-Line-In.” The early Macs had Stereo Headphone Out and Stereo Line-In on separate jacks. That worked famously well. I’ve done broadcast radio shows with those connections.

The smaller Macs didn’t have that much room available, so they had the ability to switch one socket between Headphone Out and Stereo Line-In. They did it in System Preferences. There was a clicky somewhere.

Later Macs sheered off the Stereo Line-In in favor of a headset connection. Not just headphones, Headset. This is the Skype configuration where you needed a Microphone connection plus Headphones at the same time.

This is how that works on a Windows laptop and using two plugs instead of one fancy one in the Mac.

Many more people needed that as opposed to plugging in a stereo mixer to record your disco session. Windows machines have been wired like that for years now. You can’t plug a mixer into most Windows laptops.

I believe the Stereo Line-In vanished somewhere in this process. I would be happy to be proven wrong. I bought older design but current Macs just so I could get those analog connections.

First level of testing is to believe them, (even if they did get the terminology wrong). Cross plug the Mixer Out or Mixer Line-Out into the Mac Mystery Connector and see if it shows up in System preferences. Don’t even bother with Audacity until you get it this far.

The preferences panel should/might switch itself to reflect the current configuration and there should be a bouncing blue ball sound meter that responds to what you’re doing on the mixer. This sound meter is gold. If you don’t get that, you’re stuck.

You also need to know that Audacity goes out and looks for new sound devices when it starts. So get System Preferences settled and working first, then launch Audacity.

You can do first level audio testing with your earbuds. If you think there should be audio on a cable and it appears to be silent. Jam your earbuds into the end of the cable and listen. This will not blow your ears off, but there should be enough sound in your ears to confirm the cable is working.

Let us know where you get stuck.