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What's a mixer and what is it used for?
#3011640 08/08/20 05:00 PM
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Like this one?
https://www.amazon.ca/Behringer-Q502USB-Premium-5-Input-2-Bus/dp/B008O516JW

It was recommended to me by a poster when I asked how to make my teacher on zoom (virtual piano class) hear my piano in great details. The original idea was to use a mic. But another poster recommended using a Line Out from my digital piano and use this mixer. What's a mixer used for? Do I have to connect it to my laptop or piano? How do you connect it to a laptop when there's "L" and "R" parts and the laptop does not?

Laptop is Acer Aspire 5.
https://www.acer.com/ac/en/CA/content/series/aspire5

Last edited by onaiplatigid; 08/08/20 05:02 PM.

Yamaha P-515
In the market for an acoustic grand.
Re: What's a mixer and what is it used for?
onaiplatigid #3011643 08/08/20 05:05 PM
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Keep it simple. Get a USB microphone like a Blue for your laptop. Getting a mixer is going to take a bit more figuring out. There are a lot of snags you might have to figure out.


Marcus Valdes
Fayetteville, GA
Kawai RX-5
Re: What's a mixer and what is it used for?
onaiplatigid #3011645 08/08/20 05:10 PM
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A mixer mixes...

...two or more signals.

Re: What's a mixer and what is it used for?
onaiplatigid #3011670 08/08/20 06:01 PM
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I guess I should have answered the question a little better. A mixer takes one or more audio signals and "mixes" them into an output signal. Each input is a "channel". Most mixers can mute a channel, add effects, compress the signal, adjust the gain, adjust the volume. The output can go into a headphone, audio interface (for a computer), or speakers/monitors. There are a ton of variables and it is fun to learn about, but if you just need better audio for a zoom lesson, I'd go with the USB microphone route (my opinion).


Marcus Valdes
Fayetteville, GA
Kawai RX-5
Re: What's a mixer and what is it used for?
onaiplatigid #3011682 08/08/20 06:23 PM
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Mixers are made to be versatile and useful for many different audio setups. The only limit is your imagination, with the appropriate connecting cables. It can provide the best audio quality as was suggested, but there is a learning curve and you might need to find someone who can help you set it up.

Do you need to talk to your teacher during the lesson? In that case, it might be easier to just add an inexpensive mic to your laptop.


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Re: What's a mixer and what is it used for?
onaiplatigid #3011686 08/08/20 06:37 PM
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A mixer mixes foods of all sorts ...


[Linked Image]

Re: What's a mixer and what is it used for?
onaiplatigid #3011712 08/08/20 07:45 PM
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Another alternative, sort of in between a mic (agreeably the simplest solution) and a mixer (maybe overkill for what you are describing) would be an audio interface. A 2 input audio interface like Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, Komplete Audio 2, or Presonus AudioBox 2 (or others) would also give you high quality sound input into your computer.


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Re: What's a mixer and what is it used for?
onaiplatigid #3011721 08/08/20 08:15 PM
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A mixer also can be used to avoid re-wiring one's setup when different configurations are used, such as when routing the signal to a video conferencing application. Different mixers support different configurations. Your best bet is to start without a mixer, and then if needed select one that addresses the inconveniences you experience. If you start by buying a mixer, it may not support your preferred configuration optimally.


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Re: What's a mixer and what is it used for?
onaiplatigid #3011732 08/08/20 08:51 PM
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I use Zoom to teach online classes, have meetings and see my family regularly and have never had any issues with the audio for speaking but one time I played and sang a song to my son, who's a musician, and he said the audio was "choppy". I know that happens when you have slow internet but both of us have very high-speed internet. That may be a much bigger issue than "to mixer or not to mixer". Please comment if you've played live or recorded music on Zoom.

Re: What's a mixer and what is it used for?
onaiplatigid #3011741 08/08/20 09:23 PM
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To the OP, one picture is worth a thousand words (maybe not that many):
[Linked Image]

In addition to the headphone I have a microphone connected to the mixer/audio interface. However I do not know if it is possible to use a headphone/mic connected to the PC/laptop input at the same time as the USB interface/mixer connected to the piano.

From the specs, the Behringer Q502 you linked in your message would work too.


Kawai ES8, Roland RD2000, Yamaha AG06 mixer, Presonus Eris E5 monitors, Sennheiser HD598SR phones.
Re: What's a mixer and what is it used for?
onaiplatigid #3011773 08/09/20 01:26 AM
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As the person who suggested using a mixer, but didn't supply any justification for it, let me explain my reasoning (and perhaps revise it) :


The OP is currently using a P-515, and has plans to get an acoustic piano eventually. Let's stick with the current situation, for now. My ears (and other people's ears) tell me that the "Line Out" from the P-515, fed straight into electronics, gives better sound than the P-515 loudspeakers, picked up by a microphone, and then fed into electronics. (If he wants to use the P-515 loudspeakers: see later.)

He has two audio sources that he needs to combine, and send over Zoom:

. . . his DP output, and

. . . his voice.

There's no choice for "his voice" -- he needs a microphone, and some way (depends on the microphone) to connect it to the PC. He could use a computer headset ("gaming headset", etc) which has a microphone (with analog output) which is compatible with his computer's built-in soundcard. The soundcard provides "bias voltage" for the mic, and does an analog-to-digital conversion that gives the computer the _digitized audio_ data that it needs. That's the simplest, cheapest way to get good voice-over-Zoom --

. . . but how will he combine that microphone signal,
. . . . with the output from the P-515 ?

There is probably not a "stereo Line In" jack on the Acer computer.

There is a "USB sound card" (not called that) built into the P-515. That chip takes the digital audio that the P-515 produces, and sends it to an attaced computer's USB jack. If you connect a USB cable from the "USB-to-Host" jack on the P-515, to a USB jack on the Acer PC:

. . . The P-515 should show up, on the PC, as a _stereo_ audio source for Zoom.

I assume that Zoom is smart enough to change a stereo sound source to a monophonic source, but I haven't tested that.

So all is smooth for the P-515, but:

. . . how will he combine the microphone source,
. . . . with the P-515 source,
. . . . . for Zoom ?

And that's where I hit a wall. Both signals are digitized audio, but:

. . . I don't think there's an inexpensive, or free, "digital mixer"
. . . program that runs under Windows 10.

_If there were one_, he would:

. . . set the headset mic as one mixer input,

. . . set the P-515 USB source as a second mixer input,

and use the the mixed output as the input to Zoom.

No physical mixer needed, that way. (If anyone finds a Windows 10 mixer, free or cheap, he/she gets my thanks.)

_Without_ a Windows 10 digital mixer, my proposal is that he use a conventional audio mixer (essentially, an analog device):

. . . Use a "dynamic vocal mic" (e.g. Shure SM58) for
. . . his voice,
. . . and connect it to a "Mic" input on the mixer
. . . (which has a preamp that is required for that microphone);

. . . Connect the "L" and "R" Line Out (analog) of the P-515 to
. . . the "line level" Input 2 of the mixer (on the Behringer,
. . . . that's a stereo input).

. . . The Q502USB (and Q802USB) mixers have a built-in
. . . USB sound card.
. . . So he must run a USB cable from the mixer to the Acer PC,
. . . . . and it will show up as a sound source for Zoom.

The alternative several people have suggested:

. . . Use one microphone for voice and piano.

has some problems:

. . . The ideal placement of a vocal mic (a few inches off the lips)
. . . is not the ideal placement for recording an acoustic or digital
. . . piano. Two mics will give better results.

. . . The P-515 will sound better, using the "Line Out" jacks,
. . . than it will sound using a mic, placed close to its loudspeakers.


Using an "audio interface" (= expensive USB sound card) isn't necessary. The Q502USB mixer's sound card is adequate. If the OP wanted to do serious recording and post-editing, that's a different problem.


On the question of "Why does Zoom sound so bad with music?":

The default "codec" (the software that converts analog signals to digital signals) in Zoom is _optimized for speech_. So (for example), if you sing a note at constant pitch and loudness, it thinks:

. . . "Uh-oh -- sounds like feedback -- I better cut the gain!"

and the audio gets "choppy". It's a different sound than the "missing packet" choppiness you get with a slow Internet / WiFi connections.

The cure is to set the Zoom option "Original Sound" to "On", and to turn "Automatically adjust mic gain" _off_. (There are some other settings in the "Advanced" audio settings window, and there are several YouTube videos that talk about this problem.)

There is sometimes confusion:

. . . When "Original Sound" is "On",
. . . the onscreen pushbutton reads "Turn off Original Sound",
. . . and vice versa.

Google:

zoom "original sound" settings

and you should get plenty of hits.

There are quite a few videos on setting up Zoom for acoustic piano lessons. Not so many for a DP. Hugh Sung has two good ones for acoustic piano, check "Cunningham Pianos" on YouTube. The "budget option" discussion is more realistic, for many of us.

I'm all wrote out -- 'night all --


. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: What's a mixer and what is it used for?
mivaldes #3011776 08/09/20 01:41 AM
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Originally Posted by onaiplatigid
Like this one?
https://www.amazon.ca/Behringer-Q502USB-Premium-5-Input-2-Bus/dp/B008O516JW

It was recommended to me by a poster when I asked how to make my teacher on zoom (virtual piano class) hear my piano in great details. The original idea was to use a mic. But another poster recommended using a Line Out from my digital piano and use this mixer. What's a mixer used for? Do I have to connect it to my laptop or piano? How do you connect it to a laptop when there's "L" and "R" parts and the laptop does not?

Laptop is Acer Aspire 5.
https://www.acer.com/ac/en/CA/content/series/aspire5

What is your budget? You don't need a mixer. You can get 2in/2out USB interfaces as cheap as $30. Behringer UCA222 and 202 are two examples. They do exactly what you need: convert the output of your DP to digital.

Last edited by Abdol; 08/09/20 01:43 AM.

Kawai MP7SE, Yamaha MOTF XF6, Yamaha WX5, Yamaha Pacifica 112v
Re: What's a mixer and what is it used for?
MacMacMac #3011778 08/09/20 01:49 AM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac

A mixer mixes foods of all sorts ...


[Linked Image]

Don't trust MacMacMac. This is a real mixer:

[Linked Image]


Kawai MP7SE, Yamaha MOTF XF6, Yamaha WX5, Yamaha Pacifica 112v
Re: What's a mixer and what is it used for?
onaiplatigid #3011789 08/09/20 03:23 AM
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The P-515 has a stereo AUX IN that uses a mini headphone plug, and a built-in 2-stereo-channel mixer to mix that input with the keyboard sound. Here are microphones that by description would plug directly into the AUX IN on the keyboard:

https://m.bestreviews.com/best-3-5-mm-microphones

Then you just need to feed the Line out or headphone out of the P-515 to the computer. Which output to use depends on the sensitivity of the input on the computer.


Login name is a tribute to Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck.
Re: What's a mixer and what is it used for?
onaiplatigid #3011822 08/09/20 07:29 AM
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I bought a four channel Mackie mixer to use as a headphone amplifier for my AvantGrand piano.

I send the output of my tablet to the mixer and send the output of the mixer to the AUX input of the piano. I watch videos while I practice. smile It works great and if I ever need it for other reasons, it's easy to use and carry.

It's a Swiss Army knife.


website | mp3 files | Yamaha AvantGrand N3 | Roland RD 2000 | Sennheiser HD 598 headphones
Re: What's a mixer and what is it used for?
onaiplatigid #3011897 08/09/20 12:28 PM
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"If anyone finds a Windows 10 mixer, free or cheap, he/she gets my thanks."

Audacity works with Windows 10. It's free.

Check your Acer model and check the manual. The Aspire 5 is listed as having a 3.5mm jack microphone input*. Or you could also buy a USB mic. There's also a microphone on the front, next to the webcam.

Options.

1: Connect line output from DP to microphone input. Record piano part to Audacity. Then record vocal part in Audacity using a mic or laptops inbuilt one as separate track. Mix levels/effects - play with inbuilt Audacity recording toys to your heart's content.

2: Record piano and vocal to Audacity at the same time using either bought mic or the inbuilt one.

3: You may even be able to connect the output of the DP to the laptop via USB and then record that part into Audacity. I'm not very familiar with Audacity. Maybe someone who is could chip in.

Edit: *this is often doubles as the headphone connector. You switch between them ether internally or via software.

Last edited by Boylan; 08/09/20 12:34 PM. Reason: Added more information for clarity.
Re: What's a mixer and what is it used for?
onaiplatigid #3011900 08/09/20 12:39 PM
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Any DAW can act as a mixer using the software monitoring. Bandlab Cakewalk is free, Reaper is cheap.

However, most DAW only support a single ASIO driver (or a single WASAPI source). You can use ASIO4ALL which can present all the audio interfaces as a single one.


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Re: What's a mixer and what is it used for?
onaiplatigid #3011908 08/09/20 01:11 PM
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I'd like to put a "hold" on this thread for a while.

I was prompted, by MusicalDudeist, to search for free audio mixer software, that runs under Windows 10.

There _are_ two candidates, and I'm going to test them on my own PC. If either one works as I expect, the "way simple" solution will work:

. . . Use the "sound-over-USB" capability of the P-515, to get its sound into the PC;

. . . Use a standard "headset mic" plugged into the PC, to capture voice;

. . . Combine those two signals, with the software mixer, and feed them into Zoom.

There's nothing simpler, or cheaper (he already has a headset), than that. He'll have to buy a USB cable.


I'll be back when I have more information . . .

Last edited by Charles Cohen; 08/09/20 01:12 PM.

. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: What's a mixer and what is it used for?
onaiplatigid #3012072 08/09/20 08:02 PM
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The less you try to accomplish on the computer, the more reliable and easy to use will be the configuration. If Zoom, software mixers, and a mic input all have to play nice together on the computer, the environment is going to be more complex and more brittle.

Mixing mic and piano on the piano and feeding a single audio output to zoom is the simplest solution whether you use the Line Out, headphone out, or USB on the piano to feed the computer with audio.


Login name is a tribute to Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck.
Re: What's a mixer and what is it used for?
Sweelinck #3012082 08/09/20 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
The less you try to accomplish on the computer, the more reliable and easy to use will be the configuration. If Zoom, software mixers, and a mic input all have to play nice together on the computer, the environment is going to be more complex and more brittle.

Mixing mic and piano on the piano and feeding a single audio output to zoom is the simplest solution whether you use the Line Out, headphone out, or USB on the piano to feed the computer with audio.

I agree on the the first point:

. . . Getting a bunch of software to cooperate can be tricky, and fragile.

I disagree on the second point, because of something specific in the OP's configuration:

. . . The "Aux In" on the P-515 is a _line-level_ Aux In, not a _mic level_ Aux In.

At least, that's the way I read the manual.

Progress:

Using "VoiceMeeter" (a "by-donation" software mixer),

. . . I can mix my dynamic mic (running through a mic-to-USB interface)

. . . . and my DP "Line Out" (running into an inexpensive soundcard's "Line In")

. . . . . into a single output,

. . . . . . and Zoom can use that combined output as its "Microphone" input.


So I was wrong, many posts ago --

. . . You _don't_ need an external analog mixer.

A headset-with-mic, and a USB cable from the P-515 to the PC, is enough.


Setting up "VoiceMeeter" is covered in several YouTube videos, but (for this application) it's not complicated. (I also knew what I was doing, which helps a lot.<g>)

I'm going to try the same thing with the second candidate mixer -- Microsoft's "EarTrumpet".


. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / EV ZXA1 speaker
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