Which audio mixer to use?

Hey everyone,

I am looking to record gameplay with some mates and I want to use Audacity but I don’t have a dedicated sound card or anything so I want to get an external audio mixer with 4 channels but I have been looking around and I just keep getting results for DJ mixers and stuff which I don’t want. I just want something that can record 4 channels in Audacity. Can someone please recommend some audio mixers for me?


I just want something that can record 4 channels in Audacity. Can someone please recommend some audio mixers for me?

We need to get the English right. You don’t need a mixer. You don’t care about gently mixing microphone one with microphone two in order to produce a special stereo effect for your sister’s birthday. You just want a four channel microphone digitizer that Audacity recognizes, full stop.

Two different people have posted about a box that does this. I need to go look for the postings. We keep telling people when they get a new “thing” to test and and post back if it’s any good. I don’t know that anybody did that.



Here’s the posting.



That will be useless if you have analog Gamer Headsets. You can’t plug those into this digitizer.


Sorry. I knew what I wanted, but I didn’t know what to call them exactly. If you know what I mean. I was looking for posts but couldn’t find any.

Thank you. :slight_smile:

Analog as in a 3.5mm jack? Don’t know the difference, sorry. Amateur at this. Lol. I have a USB headset.

A USB headset will not work with a mixer. USB headsets need to be plugged directly into a USB port (socket) on your computer. USB headsets are not designed to be used in multiples, just one headset connected to the computer.

Please describe exactly what you want to do and we can tell you the type of equipment you will need to do it.
Where will your mates be? How many of them? Do you want to record them and the in-game audio at the same time?
Note that what you have in mind may not be possible without significant financial investment in equipment, but if we know exactly what you want to do then we will be able to tell you if that is the case or not. If you can give us an idea of your budget, then we can try to make suggestions that are within your budget (though you may not get everything that you want within a modest budget).

Sucks about the USB thing, but oh well. Lol.

Okay. So the scenario would be I would have some mates over my house. It would probably be 4 people (including myself) at any one time so I need to be able to record 4 channels simultaneously on Audacity. We would all have headsets or microphones or whatever and be playing either a local game on a PC or console. To record the gameplay I would either be using my capture card program for console stuff or fraps for PC gameplay. Both programs record the game sounds, so that’s not a problem at all. What I want to be able to record with Audacity is all of our commentary at once using 4 microphones/headsets.

I don’t have a budget as such as I just wanted to research a little into it to see how much it would cost. I didn’t think I would need a new headset but maybe I do. Lol. So basically I am just after something that can record 4 microphone/headset voices at once. If I need a new headset or microphone, can you also recommend some? For budget, I have no idea. Maybe give me a cheapish option and a decent option for both microphone/headset and the other thing? Thanks for the help. Like I said I don’t know a whole lot about voice recording and stuff but that’s what I want to do.

I don’t have a budget as such as I just wanted to research a little into it to see how much it would cost.

Or an unexpected layer, if it can be done at all.

Our old “you can’t get there from here” job was the people who wanted to record gameplay from Schenectady, Pittsburg, Miami and Los Angeles, all in real time. This is the new scary job: “I need to mix four gamer headsets…”

There is no convenient, commercially available way to mix 2, 3, or 4 gamer headsets together into one show.

Trust me, we’ve been looking. If you have USB headsets, it’s just technically rough to smash them all into one show without timing and delay problems. “How come John’s voice seems to be out of step with the rest of us after a hour gameplay?”

If you all have analog gamer headsets you can’t plug the microphones into an analog mixer. They’re both analog connections, true, but they are so different from each other that by the time you get done building a sound adapter for them (you are good with hand tools and soldering, right?) you have blown away enough time and money and debugging to buy broadcast microphones that plug in and work straight out of the box. The Return on Investment is pretty sucky.

If you know someone who is or seems to be doing this, do pay attention who how they’re doing it. The desperation method is to record each player on their own laptop and mix the tracks together later.

We have a recent posting where even that technique had troubles… !@#$%


Yeah. I just want to record locally. It would be ideal to all have laptops to record off and sync up. I thought of an idea that might work for my situation. If I have like 4 headsets connected and have 4 instances of Audacity running, I could just record everyone’s tracks in 4 seperate files and just sync up with the gameplay. I think that would work and not require any other hardware to be purchased except for more headsets if we need them. That should work shouldn’t it? Or would that not work. Just a thought. I have no other ideas except for having different desktops running and recording seperately then syncing up. Currently I am doing something with a mate where I record gameplay with my capture card through my Xbox One and we both record through Audacity (we are at seperate houses by the way) and I sync up with the gameplay then we sync up with each other. That seems to work.

Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions? :slight_smile:
Thanks for your help and patience. Lol.

Thanks for your help and patience. Lol.

It’s a guy thing. Nobody is willing to admit that there isn’t a graceful, functional way to do this. I’m doing the design tennis match with “flynwill” who is an engineer. I suspect everybody who seriously thinks about this hits the same bad Return on Investment trigger and goes home. Ours doesn’t have to make good corporate product sense. It just has to work and solve all the design problems, not just one or two.

Audacity will only run as one program at a time on one computer. Nice try. That’s why you need so many different computers or a way to get into a mixer.

Or Personal Recorders.

Some cellphones will record from an 1/8" microphone plug. I think some iPods will do that, too. More modern ones than mine. Everybody sends you their sound file at the end of the show. You may have a drift problem from all those different recorders, but clap once very loudly at the beginning and end of each session and change the Audacity speed settings so both ends match.

In movies, that’s what that clapboard does (attached).

“Camera Mark!” [Bang]

Screen shot 2014-07-13 at 10.41.41 PM.png

Haha dang. It was a good idea. That’s a good idea. I saw somewhere on the Audacity online manual about “merging” several inputs together. I forget where because I can’t find it now, but is this somehow possible? Like merge 4 inputs into one thing. It said something about downloading some software that is capable of doing this. Virtual Audio Mixer or something along those lines.

Yes. I have it on another computer. That’s for USB microphones. You still have the individual drift problem and you have the problem of each microphone needs to be a computer home run. USB microphones won’t go through a USB hub along with anything else.




There’s some other problem with it. I didn’t take notes when it went by. Only two microphones? Something like that.


Let’s break that down into a “wish list specification”:

  • Live recording of: 4 mic channels + 2 (stereo) PC game channels.
  • 5/6 separate channels recorded (4 mono + 1 stereo).
  • Headphone monitoring x 4.

So then we can break that down into minimum hardware requirements and approximate costing:
(Note that these prices are for consumer/home studio grade equipment and NOT pro-audio)

  1. 4 x microphones (conventional microphones NOT USB)
    price each: $35 to $200.
  2. 4 x headphones (conventional headphones NOT USB)
    Price each: $1 to $200. At least one pair will need to be at least half decent, so allow $50+ for that.
  3. 4 channel headphone amplifier
    $15 to $200
  4. Some way to record 6 separate channels of audio simultaneously without crashing your computer.
  5. Bunch of audio leads
    $50 ???
  6. Suitable place to record
    $0 to $10000

Number 4 (Some way to record 6 separate channels of audio simultaneously) is the tricky one.

To do that on a computer you need an audio interface with at least 6 audio input channels, with at least 4 microphone pre-amps (may be built in, separate, or a mixing desk with “direct out” on at least 4 channels). Cost is probably from around $150 BUT: 1) No guarantee that it will work with Audacity (some require ASIO for multi-channel recording, which is not supported in the release version of Audacity). 2) No guarantee that it will work while playing a game on the same computer (You’re getting into the realms of “serious audio work” with 6 channel recording, where it is assumed that the computer is a dedicated audio workstation). 3) No guarantee that your game will run while multi-channel recording.

A much better alternative to (attempting) multi-channel recording and game play on the same computer would be to record on a separate device.

Recording on a second device:

  • This could be a second computer with a 6+ channel sound card (note that cheap 6 channel sound cards are 6 channel output but only 2 channel input. You need 6 input channels and that does not come cheap).
  • This could be a standalone hardware audio recorder. With street prices from around $400 (for example “Zoom r16”), this is probably the most attractive option as it avoids all of the problems of software/hardware compatibility and solves many other issues of computer recording that I have not yet mentioned (such as fan noise, possibly noisy or unreliable USB, many others).

Item 6 (Suitable place to record) should not be underestimated. Human hearing is remarkable in that we can automatically “focus in” on some sounds and ignore others. Microphones do not do that. Microphones will record all sound that reaches them. That includes your mic picking up the voices of your friends and their microphones picking up your voice. If there are any echoes in the room, the microphones will pick that up too (try clapping sharply in a room - does it sound sharp and then immediately stop, or can you hear the sound ring?) and the mics will pick up background sound (try sitting quietly in a room for 15 minutes. What do you hear? Do you want that in your recording?) If you can hear it then your microphones will hear it and it will be in your recording whether you like it or not - and you probably won’t be able to get rid of it.

I’d estimate that a minimum price all in (unless you already have some of the gear) to do this in the way that you would like, will work out at $600 to $700 MINIMUM.

Thank you. I’ll have a bit of a look at that.

Thank you for your very in-depth reply. That seems like a lot of work and dedication just to be able to record 4 headsets simultaneously. Lol. After reading that I am thinking that I should probably not attempt to record 4 headsets at once until a little while and just stick to recording seperately sort of thing. :stuck_out_tongue:
Thanks again for the response. Very in-depth.

You’re welcome.
People frequently underestimate how much is involved “just to be able to” record multiple input sources simultaneously.

There are several alternative approaches that can be taken that are technically very much easier to do.

One way is to record each part separately, “layering” multiple tracks. Possibly starting with a recording of the in-game sound, then adding in each voice part. The down side is that it can be difficult to capture a sense of spontaneity (because in reality it is all pre-planned and possibly scripted), but can produce very high quality results with minimal equipment. This approach is frequently used professionally.

Another approach is to record the game audio and one microphone (either a hand held or desktop mic) using Fraps, with your “guests” (mates), leaning toward the mic to speak. This approach can retain a great sense of spontaneity, but it is difficult to retain good audio quality. (Tip, with this approach, set your recording levels quite low so that you have plenty of “headroom”. People can get very loud when they get excited, but badly clipped audio is fatal for the recording). Note that Fraps is not our product so we are not able to provide technical support for that, but I believe they have their own forum.

Yeah there are a couuple of easier ways without having to get pro audio equipment haha. Guess I will just have to try something else if we actually want to do it. The more you know I guess. :stuck_out_tongue:
Thanks for all your help and everyone else’s help.