Devon McClive

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our friend Devon McClive recently released an EP which you can find on iTunes. Devon and her drummer Michael spent some time with us talking about making music, recording, going on tour and just how simple it was to get music released into the digital domain.

devon and michael

1000 true fans is the number that you need to find success as an artist.

links to Devon McClive
blog
itunes
myspace
facebook
youtube
cdbaby

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the Phantom Power Menace

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the amount of mythology that surrounds Phantom Power is staggering. mostly the problem is that people don’t have to understand anything about electronics making lots of the information the stuff of magic. there are claims that say it’s bad to mix mics, that having Phantom Power on will hurt a mic that doesn’t need power and that you can “hear” the 48v. this subject is confusing enough and should not be glossed over with a blanket statement… don’t do that.

Phantom Power is a DC voltage used to power a capacitive plate that sits behind a diaphragm. when the mic is spoken into the plate discharges making small electrical changes which become an audio signal. this is different the passive signal generated by a diaphragm moving a magnet inside of a coil.

the spec for Phantom Power is that it’s 48v DC at 10 milliamps. this is the maximum amount of power an mic needs to work. if the power is off the mic will not work. while 48v is the defined spec less voltage can be used.

a balanced Microphone cable uses a “differential” signal to ensure that there is no “noise” introduced to the line over the distance of the cable. any noise that is picked up is automatically canceled out when the audio is recombined. pins 2 and 3 carry the audio signals. pin 1 is ground. Phantom Power put power on pins 2 and 3. if a mic is dynamic there is no connection to ground (pin 1) required to complete a circuit. if you measure voltage on pin 2 to pin 3 there will be +0v or nothing. measuring between pin 1 and pin 2 or pin 1 and pin 3 will reveal 48V DC.

what kind of mics need Phantom Power? Dynamics do not need power. they generate their own signal power. mics like the Shure SM58, the Heil PR40 and the Electro Voice RE20 are dynamic mics. condensers require Phantom Power. mics like the Perception 01, the Neuman M and the raft of cheap chinese mics all require power. there are other mics that also require power. like ribbon mics. but these have different power requirements and are beyond this discussion.

so here are the myths and questions that come up.

will phantom power hurt my dynamic mic?
No. all modern mics follow a design that simply ignores power if it is present. if you look a the schematic for a dynamic mic you can see that even though power is present on pin 2 and 3 of the mic because neither line is connected to ground there is not a complete circuit.

so a bad cable can ruin my mic if Phantom Power is turned on?
yes or maybe or no. YMMV. depends on the mic. if you are in the habit of making your own cables and don’t do a very good job of making them you could easily damage your mic. you should ALWAYS test your cables with a multimeter or a cable tester to make sure it’s good. if you are setting up and tearing down on a regular basis always test your cables before you connect your mics.

how do I know if I need Phantom Power?
if your mic isn’t working at all that’s a good sign it needs power. if the mic is big and heavy and the box that it came is says “condenser” on it somewhere then it needs power. you should always check the specs before you plug your mic.

what about a mic that has a battery?
some mics contain their own power. lav mics (Lavaliere), wireless mics, and shotgun are all types of mics that may have a different source of power. there is no need to use Phantom Power with this type of mic. in face the presence of Phantom Power might ruin this mic.

I have a vintage mic. what happens to my mic if it’s not compatible.
too bad, so sad. seriously. if you have something very old chances are you need to care and feed it. don’t just plug it into your board without knowing exactly what it needs. lots of these old mics required a pre-amplifire in order to work. and just because it has a 1/4″ jack doesn’t automatically mean you can just plug it into your modern board.

can I hear if Phantom Power is on?
no. you cannot hear DC voltage.

can I mix condenser and dynamic mics on the same board?
yes. but… as long as all your dynamic mics are made within the last 40 years you won’t have a problem. however a mic that is shorted or a cable that is bad can cause problems. but you’ll be able to hear that problem.

I have a Neuman MLM149 can I mix it with other…
if you have that mic you don’t have a budget problem. you very likely have that connected to a pre-amp or mic processor to help it along. you could think of the pre-amp as a very expensive fuse that is protecting the mic from your board. which by the way won’t need Phantom Power turned on because the pre is doing that job for the board.

is there some “best practices” that I can follow to insure I don’t blow up my stuff?

    verify, verify, verify. check your cables. cut bad cables in half. recycle the wire.
    take your head phones off before powering on your board after hooking up mics.
    the power to the board should be off when plugging in. turn on Phantom Power after turning on the board.
    mute the channel before powering on. this prevents feedback loops.
    you can mix modern mics but if you don’t know, look it up the specs.
    if you have expensive or vintage mics use a preamp. this makes it separate from the rest of the board.

check your cables
there are several very inexpensive cable testers. you can also make your own. it takes about 30 minutes and 5 bucks in parts. the big question on the DIY is what you want to test for which could be the presence of power or that the cables are wired correctly. it’s two different tests.
DIY tester – nifty 4 LED tester shows what exactly is wrong.

when Phantom Power doesn’t work no matter what! meaning it has to be OFF!
an unbalanced mic is present. which is Mic wired between ring and tip plug. power can damage this mic.
some old mics have grounded center-tap outputs. they may use an XLR connector but they they aren’t wired to carry signal on pins 2 and 3.
high impedance mics.
mics that are damaged having leaks or shorts between pin 2 or 3 and pin 1. the mic will crackle with Phantom Power turned on. and it might stop working altogether because the power short caused the coil to melt.

other tips if you want to be a freak about not mixing mics with power

  • that mic you traded the Cadillac for… that mic gets treated special no matter what.
  • there are higher end mixers that allow you to turn Phantom Power on/off per channel. the Mackie Onyx boards have this feature.
  • you can always unwire the switch on your board so it is impossible to turn on Phantom Power. it would be about a fix minute fix to open the board and clip the wire from the switch.
  • there’s no reason that you have to use just one board.
  • if you can possibly help it. don’t mix mic types. freak.
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    Audio Interfaces

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    an Audio Interface is a box that allows you to capture audio signals from professional microphones, mixer boards, and musical instruments like guitars. you don’t need need and interface to capture audio. the built-in port on your Mac or PC will do a fine job. the KnowTech show is made using output from the Tape Out going to a 3.5mm jack. it works. but if you want to take your sound to the next level you need an audio interface.

    why? the Analog-IN has some problems. the inside of a computer is a noisy place. there are very high frequencies all around the inside of computer. crystals that drive the processors a multiple gigahertz, power supplies with floating ground, and whatever else unshielded on the inside is not good for the low frequency of audio. the analog-IN port wasn’t made to be a professional input. it was really made for web cam mics and other low-fi things. you know how Mackie goes on an on about the Pre-Amplifiers on the board? not one computer vendor says anything about theirs. it can’t be awesome.

    the best advantage of an interface is that it is not in the computer. meaning that audio can be shielded from potential noise and converted into digital long before it gets sent into your computer. Digital IN has the advantage that it cannot get distorted. well, unless there’s a bad cable. but then it simple won’t work.

    we evaluated practically every single interface when we worked on the Gear Media Tech show (which seems like forever ago). here’s what we found:

    nearly every interface worked without drivers. we just plugged the interface into USB or Firewire and it showed up. this was the case for both Mac and Windows. the few interfaces that needed drivers were weird and we didn’t recommend them back in 2007. today it seems that the weird things are gone or got upgraded to be less weird. or that product just isn’t sold anymore.

    when we connected a dynamic microphone to an interface we found that it didn’t have headroom. that is, the gain had to be turned up the all the way. and there was no fader to adjust it further. this could be a problem for some mics. fortunately, you have some options: you can get a inexpensive mixer board or a Mic Preamp.

    today not much as changed. the models that we looked at back then are the exact same models that are on the market today. although there are more speciality interfaces, more 4 and 8 input interfaces and mixer boards with interfaces built-in then there were back then.

    one thing that hasn’t changed is that the Marketing Department still lies. they like big numbers and always have. so they like to count every single thing that is input or output and add them together to make a bigger number. never mind that usually the totally usable inputs is TWO. but TWO is not a big number. don’t be mislead. count carefully and don’t believe the number on the box.

    and this is the thing to really watch out for — really! count your inputs. remember that 8 is not really 8. the Alesis Mastercontrol is a good example: it has TWO mic pre’s. so if you are expecting to hook up what they are claiming as inputs you might be surprise. always look at the picture(s) and always read the specs. so the Alesis might not make your cut but it looks cool though enough to temporally fool.

    don’t over buy. there’s a saying that we call “reassuringly expensive.” it applies to wine usually but it also applies to audio gear. lots of people dismiss products because they are cheap or look cheap or don’t claim big numbers. for example the M-Audio FastTrack it has 1 mic and 1 line so it would work just fine for a blue grass band! those guys all sing around one mic moving in and out to make the solos louder on the PA. just because it’s black doesn’t make it better either. you have to consider the Mic Pre for example. so a plastic interface may actually be the better interface.

    some audio interfaces make something we call table spiders. this where cables are attached on the front and the back for not apparent reason. it makes for a clutter on your work surface. the TASCAM 144 does this. it won’t be a problem for everyone but it something to look out for when you are deciding between two different models that are nearly identical.

    this is possibly the biggest thing to consider: can you hook up headphones? because if you can’t you won’t know if you have good levels coming from your Mic or Instrument. but there’s another question and that is what are the headphone monitoring? post Mic Pre would be ideal.

    there are lots features that seem important but turn out not to be important. one of those is the “over light” indicating when the input is being overdriven by the source. but you’d have to check this on your recording to be sure it’s really happening. the other problem is that light is so small and not in front of you that you’d almost never know you were over unless the setup included “sound guy” monitoring the lights. we also questioned the level meters that are made from three or four colored LEDs (green, yellow, red or green, green, green, red). maybe the thinking was better than nothing. but if you are worried about monitoring levels then maybe you need a different solution. and then there’s that sweet black metal case. do you really care that it’s black? does the black case make the sound better? is black somehow more professional? think about that before paying a hundred bucks more for black.

    the next question is always FireWire or USB? my stupid Mac doesn’t have enough USB inputs. and one of them is weird. so I’m automatically looking at interfaces that are FireWire. FireWire has less issues with power and chaining. and it’s also always less CPU intense because of the way it’s handled at the chipset level. but it’s not cheap. USB tends to be cheaper and but don’t let cheapness throw you off. it’s every bit as capable. and there’s almost no difference in the speed of the interfaces. the major difference is that sample rates on FireWire tend to go higher.

    speaking of sample rates just what are these numbers 16 24 44 48 96 192? the first two are the sample size. there are two that we hear about today:16 or 24 bit samples.16 is great and 24 is better. you can’t tell the difference. it takes a lot of training and a lifetime of ear protection to make it into your 30’s with ears able to tell the difference. if you had “audiophile guy” telling you what to listen for exactly then maybe you might hear something.

    the next numbers 44 48 96 192 is the sample rate. the number indicates the number of 16 or 24 bit samples made in 1 second. in the case of the first one it’s sampling 44 thousand times a second. 48 would be sampleing 48 thousand times a second. once again you can’t tell the difference.

    here’s the thing. anytime you have a choice about how big to sample pick the bigger number. it can’t hurt. but also realize that 44KHz 16 bit sound is a really, really good sample for 93% of the day to day.

    so then there’s the question of when you should go with a mixer (aka board) that has FireWire or USB outputs to your computer. when considering between a board vs interface: when you need the features of a board don’t try to make an interface do the job. it usually makes things way harder then they need to be. use a board if you have more mics then are supported on an interface. in the case of a podcast you are likely mixing down to mono anyway so stereo left and right is good enough. also mixer is more the only way to got when you need to do sub mixes to support a phone patch or Skype. this is also known as “Mix Minus” but we are calling it sub mixing from here on! we decided that the old “radio term” doesn’t really describe how most documentation is written explain how to use the feature. finally mixers boards are always impressive. they have lots of knobs, lights and switches. one could argue the more knobs the better (ha!). it makes the whole works more impressive and professional looking. but if you don’t need the knobs skip them. it’s complexity you don’t need.

    who makes what

      Alesis
      Apogee
      Duet (weird thing)
      CME
      DigiDesign (now Avid)
      Echo
      Focusrite
      Lexicon
      m-audio
      MOTU
      Presonus
      Tascam
      TC Electronic

    BIG

      Digi 03
      M-Audio Project Mix
      NRV10
      Mackie Onyx
      MUTO
      Tascam 1884

    bottom line
    an interface is a good way to improve your overall sound quality
    is better then the Analog IN on your Mac or PC
    buy from a place with a 30 day return policy

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    Portable Recording

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    a few years ago it was like four maybe five portable recorders to choose from. today there are over a hundred ways to record audio to a digital format. there are devices for any level doing any job. and there are devices that are made specifically for one job. as much as some of these devices try to be there is no one-size-fits-all. there are too many tasks to cover.

    the Fatal Flaw
    there will be something about a device that makes it unusable for your project. we call this the Fatal Flaw. and it is what you have to look out for as you are evaluating new gear. every one of portable recording devices that we have looked at has has one fatal flaw and sometimes more. but the thing about the FF is that it’s defined by how you are going to use a device. meaning one person’s flaw is another person’s BEST feature. some examples of a Fatal Flaw include:

      the H4 record button
      you have to press it twice to start recording. press it too fast and it won’t record. you have to press it twice otherwise it won’t record. it will just blink it’s red button until you do.

      H4 tiny screen
      the screen on the H4 has to has to be one of the smallest screen ever put on a recording device. Zoom did do some things to fix this with firmware releases. the timecode numbers got bold for example. for older people this is especially problematic.

      M-Audio model built in battery
      there is nothing more horrible then having a battery go dead in the middle of your recording. but even worse is not being able to do something about it. that said, the MicroTrack can record for a very long time before it goes dead. just don’t accidently leave it on.

      Sony PCM-D50
      it costs 2X more compared to other recorders.

    just because one device has a flaw isn’t the end of the road. there are lots of companies making recording devices including Alesis, Edirol, Korg, M-Audio, Marantz, Olympus, Roland, Sony, Tascam, Yamaha, Zoom. they range from the cheap to the very expensive. there are other companies that specialize in high end portable recorders such as Fostex, Tascam and Sound Devices. these recorders meet or exceed the needs of the most professional recording production needs.

    every recorder we’ve used in production has done its job. if you aren’t finding the features you need with your trusted brand don’t hesitate to look at everything else. we think you’ll find what you are looking for.

    what is the mission?
    that said, the answer to the question as to what to get depends on what you are recording. a film production has totally different requirements compared to the on the street interview. just like all of these jobs are different: filmmaking, interviews, SFX (foley) recording, music, dictation. you have to define the mission before you can evaluate what is best.

    the example we gave on the show came from a person who was making a indy film. he asked which is better the Sony PCM-D50 or the Tascam DR-680. both recorders are competent devices. but the Sony doesn’t have external microphone connectors so it’s automatically out. while the Tascam is a better choice it’s also about a thousand dollars. so we asked, “what else could work given the budget?”

    the biggest differences that you will find when using portable recorders is essentially this short list:

      XLR or external Mic connectors
      number of recording tracks
      mic arrangement
      SD or CF card
      battery type
      run time
      external power
      displays
      start up time!
      ease of use / handling

    okay it’s not so short. and some of the devices that you consider won’t be available for you to try out locally. you will have to go by specs and reviews. and of course the numbers.

    lots of numbers!
    so what about all the numbers? 1, 2, 4, 16, 22, 24, 32, 44, 48, 96, 192. there sure are a lot of them aren’t there? there are only a few that we really care about which are 16, 24, 44, and 48.

    the first two, 16 and 24, are the sample size in bit. a 16 bit sample has been the recording standard from the CD point of view for the last 25 years. a 16 bit sample gives a resolution of 65,536 possible sample levels. this makes a pretty smooth wave although audiophiles will argue otherwise. for recording voices for podcasts or making indy movies it’s just fine. however, if your portable recorder can record a 24 bit sample you should always use this setting. your sample then has 16,777,216 possible samples. this is obviously better. and the good news is that the file size is just 33% larger per track.

    the other numbers are the number of samples that are made in 1 second. 44.1KHz is the CD standard. a 16-bit 44KHz voice recording will sound very good. so you can stop there right? marketing tells you have bigger numbers are better numbers. and 48KHz is a bigger number! 48KHz was introduced with the DV video codec. there isn’t an incentive to record in 48KHz from a hearing point of view. your ear cannot hear the difference of 4KHz sampling. and it could be argued that the downsample from 48 to 44 might introduce noise because the conversion is not 1:1 because of 44 is actually 44.1KHz. but that doesn’t make 48 a bad number just a different number. so 96KHz ought to be a great number right? now you’re just going for bragging rights.

    in either case of those two (err 3) number they translate into 44 or 48 thousand samples a second. that’s a lot of samples. and this is why a 16bit 22KHz recording will sound really good. it’s the bit depth not the sample rate that influences the overall quality of the recording.

    but sometimes these numbers just don’t matter because the recording it being done in a noisy bar or street. you will be recording all that background noise at the highest possible sample.

    hey so what’s this 1-bit recording?
    it’s stupid is what it is. 1-bit sound was the basis for making any sound on an old computer. a location in memory was connected to speaker and loading a 1 or a 0 to that address would cause it to click. if you wrote loops at different speeds you could make tones.

    the Korg MR-1000 and MR-1 doesn’t record and play sound like that at all. it’s far from being a 1 bit recording. but it is a very interesting way to sample sound. the problem with digital sound recording is that it doesn’t pay attention so any of the frequencies about 22KHz. people simply cannot hear sound above that frequency. it’s not to say that sound isn’t there. lots of things play above that range. this is what gets the audiophiles in a bunch. some claim that recordings sound dead because none of that was recorded. enter the “1 bit recorder”. this device records the whole spectrum sound up to 100KHz using a 5MHz sample clock. it stores each sample of that spectrum scan as a bit. which is where marketing gets the counter intuitive 1 bit from. dummies. so yeah, the 1 bit recorders are pretty cool but they may never get traction because everyone knows a 1 bit sound is crap.

    portable recorders mentioned on the show:


    Sony PCM-D50

    Zoom Q3

    Olympus LS-10

    Alesis Pro Track

    Tascam DR-680

    Tascam DR-07

    Tascam DR-100

    Alesis PalmTrack

    Edirol R-09

    Zoom H2

    Zoom H4

    Marantz PMD 620

    Zoom H4n

    M-Audio MicroTrack II

    Korg MR-1000

    Korg MR-1

    Marantz PMD 661


    Fostex FR2LE


    Sony PCM-D1
     

    Great Skype

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    Hi Know Tech,

    I know you’re busy as heck so I’ll keep this brief. I’m an audio engineer for a small internet broadcaster in the East Bay called the Brewing Network and I really want to pick your brain about remote interviews.

    We’ve been broadcasting live and podcasting shows for four years and our sound quality in-studio has gotten better and better, but phone interviews and Skype calls seem to suck no matter what gear we send the interviewee.  How do you guys get such great Skype quality on your shows?

    Any insight you have to offer is much appreciated. Even if you just have a moment to jot down a quick list of your signal path it would be great.

    Thanks, Know Tech!  All the best,
    Push Eject

    there are many factors that you have to control to get Skype to sound better for your calls. some of these things are are very simple to fix and others take a higher level geek to get working. everything in this podcast applies for Skype, SIP, Gizmo5 and other peer to peer Voice. even if you do all these things the quality of this stuff isn’t stellar. the biggest problem is the delay they have is the round tripping causes people to talk over each other. that said, I find Skype hit or miss for all things. here’s my list to get things to sound better:

    0) there cannot be ANY other traffic on the Skype connection. a caller downloading a web page on a different computer will cause farts (distortion specific to Skype) while talking.

    1) use the Windows version on a separate computer for incoming calls.
    Windows development is WAY ahead of all the other versions. it’s up to v4.2.

    2) use a direct (wired) connection instead of a wireless one. however. this means you won’t be sharing that wireless N or wireless G with other computers around you. you’ll have 100megabit all the way to the router.

    3) if you can control the QOS on your router you can tweak it to make sure Skype’s ports have priority. you can also define a specific amount of bandwidth and latency. if you have a newer Linksys just select Skype from the QOS tab.

    here’s how to control QOS if you installed DD-WRT on your router.

    with DD-WRT you can prioritize by Applications, IP address or by MAC address:
    fixed IP for the skype computer
    port forward 1023 to that IP
    set the priority to HIGH or PREMIUM

    http://protocolinfo.org/wiki/List_of_protocols

    4) get a newer router that can run something like DD-WRT (the USR one for $40 is nice) then you can packet shape to your hearts content. we like the ASUS 20WL-520GU and here’s a review.

    5) you might need a gay shirt.

    6) using the latest (Skype 4 or later) you can turn off SuperNodes explicitly.
    http://www.skype.com/security/universities/
    https://www.cs.uwaterloo.ca/twiki/view/CF/SkypeConfiguration

    7) look into getting more bandwidth or newer “business class” bandwidth.
    old, old DSL has lots of traffic shaping built-in.
    servers were not allowed. Skype is acting like a server.
    your old contract may cost more then newer better service.

    8 ) Comcast biz class for example is very cool with all kinds of overhead
    you can run servers.
    they give you real IP addresses (block of 5)
    you can get 16Mbs down and 2Mbs up (or more) for up for $80.
    http://business.comcast.com/service-availability/available-plans_possible.aspx

    9) recording the call
    skype based tools. there are lots of choices.
    wire it into your board.
    we do this.
    use WireTap, Sound Flower or
    the equivalent on Windows.

    10) echo, echo, echo…
    everyone has to wear headphones.
    AKG K-240’s SUCK
    they aren’t closed
    ear buds work better!
    Sony
    MDR-7502
    MDR-6V

    Sennheiser
    HD202
    $90 for 5. send them to people!
    Audio Technica
    AT-HM20

    YMMV

    bottom line:
    don’t do anything else but TALK. not YouTube, email or chat on both sides
    have a good microphone.
    use a Skype on Windows on your side.
    where headphones.

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    the Mackie 1202

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    we joke about how the Mackie 1202 is a standard issue garage band audio mixer. it seems like everyone we know has used one. it’s a little mixer but it’s every bit as useful as something much larger. you may eventually out grow it replacing it with something that has FireWire or has more channels. but chances are you will hang on to your 1202 long after you’ve upgraded to something else.

    the 1202 gets it’s name from the total number of it’s inputs and outputs. which is 12 inputs and 2 outputs. this breaks down to 4 mic/line inputs and 4 stereo line inputs. this adds up to 12 because you count the stereo lines as 8 not 4 even though it’s only got controls for 4. there’s marketing for you. it’s small. like 12″ by 12″ small. meaning you can put it in a backpack, briefcase, or rolling suitcase for traveling to locations. and because it’s small it won’t look like you are moving in when you get there. the small is also good because you can mount it in a rack using the ears made for the job (ears sold separately).

    the 1202 behaves like a big mixer. it uses high-quality preamps like more expensive mixers. if you look at the graph for the preamps you’ll see that they are indeed impressive. keep in mind that it’s very hard to hear the difference between these things. but some people can. every mic input has an insert. this allows you to “insert” an effect or audio processor immediately after the preamp. just about anything can go here including a compressor/limiter, EQ, echo/reverb or something weird like a guitar pedal.

    the very same things that don’t make sense on your 1202 will also not make sense on a larger board. just the same, once you understand how to hook things every mixer will work like that. you will find that the 1202 has enough features to learn the ropes that will help you around any other mixer.

    simple signal routing
    sends/returns
    channel inserts
    tape input/output
    gain and trim for Mics
    phantom power
    main and control room outputs

    as simple and small as the 1202 is you will find it works well for small live set-ups. it’s also great for a submixer for a keyboard player. you could also use it as an auxiliary mixer. for example mixing four mics on stage and sending the output to the main mix. we’ve used a 1202 to bring CD, DVD, BetaCam and other audio sources into a computer which allowed us to fix levels as it was being captured.

    shopping
    here’s the thing to remember: a bigger board isn’t necessarily a better board. sure, it looks impressive but will it really help you? usually the answer is no. other mixers in this category may have more bells and whistles. and you may actually need some of those features like faders instead of knobs, EQ with sweepable mids, more bands of EQ, more inputs, more outputs. just don’t let a need to fuel an ego cloud your decision. also remember that Mackie isn’ the only game in town. we’ve used all of these boards at some point.

    Alesis Multimix series
    Behringer XENYX series
    Tapco
    Yamaha MG82CX

    as you shop you will find all different sizes of mixers. there’s a board that has just 1 mic input which might be perfect if you monolog. for not much more money you can get two mic inputs which is potentially more useful. the 802-VLZ3 is a single AUX send making it useful for Skype/Phone patching. one thing that is consistent is the smaller the board the fewer features it has.

    buying used
    there isn’t much risk in buying used audio gear. mixers, microphones and effects pretty much work like they work their entire life. while most gear holds it’s value nobody is going to pay nearly what it’s costs for new. if you bought something used and outgrow it or need something different you can resell it for no loss compared to selling new-ish gear. your $100 purchase won’t lose that value even if you use it for a year. look for deals on eBay, craigslist or local musician hang out. please keep in mind what a brand new mixer costs.

    since the 1202 shipped in the early 90’s there have been 4 revisions of the board.

    1202 – 2 bands of EQ
    1202 – VLZ – 3 bands of EQ, balanced main outs, Mute and Solo buttons,
    has more outputs.
    1202-VLZ Pro – improved the Mic Preamps. added the word Pro.
    1202-VLZ3 – improved Pres. removes the head phone volume knob.

    podcasting
    from a podcast production point of view the 1202 is nearly perfect. it has 4 microphone inputs with Inserts, there are two AUX channels so you can patch into a phone call or include Skype, and it has lots of outputs to capture sound. here are three examples of why it’s the 1202 is cool:

    mix-minus for Skype patching. feed the Skype caller into the board so everyone can hear but mix out their voice so they can hear everyone with the echo of their voice.

    use inserts to patch in other processors or pre-amp’d mics. a processor could be an EQ, Compressor or Voice Processor.

    the MUTE button allows you to have your caller ready and listening without having them in the conversation.

    wrapping things up
    look, as much as we love our 1202’s it’s not the best mixer in the world. but then what mixer is the best? every thing we’ve considered has some fatal flaw. like no Inserts, only one AUX bus or all the knobs are the same color. it’s the little things. some people would say that the 1202’s flaw is that it uses knobs instead of faders making it harder to see where the levels are. I know I’ve wished for a MID EQ knob. you may find that you need features found on a bigger board. in talking with people about this project we’ve heard more than one person say, “I have one of those. I’m never going to give it up.” same here. we think it’s pretty awesome for what it does. our 1202 is 15 years old. it’s still in service.

    LINKS
    here’s some graphs that tell you a story about head room.
    the original 1202
    the 1202 VLZ Pro
    the 1202 VLZ3
    guide for hooking stuff up

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