Recording via Zoom OR Google Voice-- Levels too high from source, too low from mixer

Hi all-
While I thought I had this sorted out, i’m back at square one.
The objective: record in Audacity; my own audio coming via mic from Mackie ProFX mixer…the other(guest) audio coming via either Zoom or Google Voice.
I received some feedback via text from an audio guy; he works on Mac, so couldn’t help me directly but gave some good guidance. He wrote:

“Basically the PC is fighting with Zoom for levels. There can be only one winner! I suggest you play around. Honestly Michael it’s trial and error because Zoom and Google Voice are consumer products and you’re trying to connect to pro audio. So there’s a mismatch Start with everything turned off. And firstly open audacity and get your mic levels set there. In advance of this make sure Zoom prefs are set to Manual Audio levels or it will default back to auto and fuck you right up again.”

So I tried all this. Not sure that it’s possible to set levels in Audacity without first having the mixer plugged in, which I did; there aren’t any ‘Manual’ settings in Zoom, or in Google Voice.
there are ‘Advanced’ setting in the Sound setting on the PC, but I cannot figure out how to make the setting from Zoom, or Google Voice (which would come from whatever browser, Chrome/Firefox/Edge) be separate from that of Audacity. When I adjust the levels in these sound settings for Zoom, for example, they are subsequently lowered in Audacity.
And meanwhile, my own levels are low, even though I have the Gain to U, the USB input to U, and the faders all the way up.

Any suggestions of what i’m missing in my steps/troubleshooting?


You got 2/3 of it. It takes a communications computer (Zoom/Skype) a slightly talented sound mixer and a second computer or sound recorder. You can’t do all the sound management on one computer.

Before I go swashing through this, the Official Party Line is to contact Zoom and get them to record it and send you the sound files. Skype will do that, too.

The Desperation Method recommended by several communications concerns, is to go hands-free in a quiet room and set your phone on the table between you in sound recorder mode.


I’m astounded I could find this.

Ignore the music player. This was a programming experiment.

Plug your microphone into channel 1. Turn everything up until your voice appears on the mixer output sound meters and the mixer output to the sound recorder or the second computer. So far pretty vanilla. ALSO, turn up the Effects Send on channel 1.

Up-Right on the mixer there is an Effects Send connection. Plug that into the Zoom computer in place of the regular microphone.

Turn up the Effects Send on everything you want the guest to hear. This is NOT the mixer main output.

Plug the Zoom computer speaker or headphone feed (guest voice) into the mixer in place of, say the guitar or drums. I used inputs 5/6. Turn up all the mixer adjustments so the guest voice appears on the mixer main output and goes on to the sound recorder.
My goal was to mix everything together in one pass, so it sounded a little slap-dash, but it did work. You can send your voice to left and the guest to the right and mix it later if you want.

DO NOT TURN UP EFFECTS SEND on that channel!!

We are creating what the grownups call Mix Minus. Zoom Guest can hear everything going on in the mixer except their own voice. No feedback __eeeeeeEEEEEEE or echo management distortion.

The Mixer output has your voice and the Zoom voice mixed as you see fit.

That’s how the broadcasters do it.

Denise and I are four time zones apart.

This is what the setup looked like.

Those were both older Macs and they both had stereo analog in and out. So they would both plug directly into the mixer. You can get the same effect on newer computers with two Behringer UCA-202s.

The computer on the left is the recorder (Audacity) and it doesn’t have to be a full computer. I just had two, one old and one new.

Also technically you don’t need the Mix-Minus, either. You can use the Zoom computer’s built-in microphone and send the room. That can get messy if you have more than one person at your location, and they won’t hear the music in my case.

The thing about going through all this is that it works exactly the same way every time. There is no “luck” which is why the broadcasters use it, and it works with any communications app that will run on the right-hand machine.

Everybody should be on headphones. You should be listening to the mixer and the guest should be listening to their computer.

That’s what he was doing from an MSNBC broadcast last night.

Screen Shot 2021-01-27 at 1.10.19 PM.png

The brief description of this technique: You have to give Zoom or Skype 100% control and dominion of a computer. No option. They demand it. That means you have to record the show somewhere else.

There are sneaky ways to do this, too. Put a third computer into the connection that has no microphone. Record the speaker feed (both voices, right?). We used to do that at work when we couldn’t figure out how to record production meetings and we had an extra computer.

In all of these techniques you have to add a computer or a recorder and you can’t mess with the Zoom machine.

Fair warning you might be able to fudge and mess around and get it to work on one machine, but it may only work until the next Zoom update.

“I don’t know. Shucks! It worked last week.”


Thank you so much, @Koz!
I have my work cut out for me! :wink:

Really appreciate all the info!

I have my work cut out for me!

I know this reads like the three-volume set “How to ride a bicycle.” I’ve been struggling on and off with the best way to explain this. I don’t know there is one.

If someone posted a developer job to you and then described Zoom or Skype, you’d laugh at them and tell them to run along. You should not be able to do this with the success they have achieved. One of the requirements of this communications technique is complete and total control of each computer’s sound services.

There is no “just add a recorder.” The instant the program loses control of any of the services or pathways, the system collapses.

Pretty early on in Skype development they figured this was going to be a problem, so they offered show recording. We couldn’t use it because our clients sometimes demanded that the meetings not go out of house.

By the way, there is another oddity. Sometimes Zoom doesn’t give up control when you close it. That can give you some very strange sound damage. The last thing you want is to leave Zoom napping in the background when you try to make a simple voice recording.

It is strongly recommended that you restart the machine after a Zoom session and before starting to read your audiobook.

Video is a piffle compared to getting the sound right. It is said, “Sound without the picture is a radio show. Picture without the sound is a rehearsal.”

Post back when you figure out how you’re going to do it.


A note about the sample performance. Denise and I are both broadcast professionals. Even though neither of us is in a studio, we’re both wearing headphones.

Denise was working in Washington DC when they put Howard Stern on the air the first time.


Two more.

Your mixer has to offer Effects Send or some other way to get a custom mix for the Mix Minus to work. The Mackie’s all have special effects built-in and don’t have that.

There is a way to do this all in a Windows machine with Pamela for Skype, but as I understand it, it’s only Windows, it’s only Skype, and you have to write a check.

The flag-waving advantage of that hardware solution is it will work with any program on any computer that will plug into the mixer. Hard to beat that.


Thanks Koz.

I used Pamela once or twice several years ago; it was unsettling that I had to retrieve an mp3 file (or whatever file it was) at the end of the recording, vs. being able to watch the levels move thru in Audacity.

Maybe it’s a bit different now and I can record thru?

Also, re: Mackie- I’ve spoken to several of their tech support people; they’re helpful and knowledgeable, but as you probably suspect not knowledgeable enough to figure out the recording thru G-Voice/Zoom problem.

thanks again and i’ll keep you posted-

not knowledgeable enough to figure out the recording thru G-Voice/Zoom problem

I bet if you showed up with a guitar problem, they’d be right on it.

This problem isn’t black magic, but it’s seriously dark gray.