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The right mixer & setup for Skype lessons?
#3041414 10/31/20 02:15 PM
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Because of COVID we switched to Skype for the piano lessons. However my lessons are in the evening and I don't want to disturb our kids.
So what I want to have a mixing setup where all audio runs through headphones & the laptop to skype, while I can also receive the audio on the headphones.

Maybe some of you have already solved this problem, I've noticed some topics on this forum & youtube trying to address it, however currently still a bit confused.

What I understood so far:
* Get a mixer with USB output
* Get a mic to get the voice into the mixer
* Hookup the piano line-out to the mixer
* Connect mixer USB to laptop, choose this as audio input for skype so the teacher hears my voice and piano
* Connect headphones to mixer so I can hear myself playing

What I don't understand yet is how to deal with the sound coming from Skype:
* How do I get the sound of my teacher on the headphones? I could connect headphones to the laptop, but I suppose I hear my own voice then?
* Or can I get the sound of my teacher in Skype on the laptop back to the mixer? I've read this could be done through a mix-minus setup to prevent the teacher hearing himself?

Mixers that I found that might be able to do this in one way or the other:
- Yamaha AG03, approx € 120
- Yamaha AG06, approx € 150
- Yamaha MG10xu, approx € 220
- Mackie ProFX6v3, approx € 140
- Mackie ProFX10v3, approx € 230

Is there anyone who got experience with mixing the audio in a similar manner and knows what I need to look for in a mixer and how to set this up? I gladly buy a mixer (up to about 200~230 euro, less if possible), but would like to understand if it's going to do what I want before I buy it.

Bonus question: How could this be done through midi & VST as opposed to using the line-out of the piano?

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Re: The right mixer & setup for Skype lessons?
rmnd #3041432 10/31/20 03:15 PM
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I use a Steinberg UR44C soundcard which has loopback (what you need to feed the piano to Skype together with your voice). The Focusrite 4i4 would also do, but the Steinberg has better sound quality. I have tried both and returned the latter.

I use a (non-usb) microphone into the UR44C and use the Steinberg software mixer that comes with the soundcard to loop the piano back. This way Skype sends over both your voice and the piano sound. A word of warning, the sound quality of Skype is too low for the piano. Zoom is better but still not great. My teacher asks me to record my pieces to a wav file and email them to him ahead of the lesson.

Re: The right mixer & setup for Skype lessons?
rmnd #3041442 10/31/20 03:47 PM
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I have an analog and a digital 32ch mixers but wanted something more portable so I bought a Yamaha MG10xu and it's been a nice little mixer but I think it's more than what you need. I'd stick with the MG-06 (it's not much more than the 03 and gives you room to grow) or the Roland GoMixer Pro at around the same price.

Re: The right mixer & setup for Skype lessons?
rmnd #3041452 10/31/20 04:08 PM
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Giu is right about using Zoom over Skype.

Re: The right mixer & setup for Skype lessons?
rmnd #3041453 10/31/20 04:08 PM
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Yamaha AG03 or AG06. I think they are also Steinberg in their core, but not as expensive.

@djvu, I think for the intended use, a mixer/interface with loopback will work better. It seems to me MG-06x does not fit (ofc I may be wrong)


Kawai ES8, Roland RD2000, Yamaha AG06 mixer, Presonus Eris E5 monitors, Sennheiser HD598SR phones.
Re: The right mixer & setup for Skype lessons?
rmnd #3041468 10/31/20 04:32 PM
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Thanks all! I personally hate zoom, but I suppose it doesn't really matter, as long as I can mix it all into the same input device for the video app.

@giu: With the Steinberg UR44C and Focusrite I need to fix the loopback in software on the laptop, right? Or can I also do this directly on the audio interface/mixer? If possible that's what I prefer, I really haven't got experience with audio software (besides huge amounts of bells & whistles and not so great results).

The Roland GoMixer Pro also looks promising.

EVC2017: Would I connect my headphones to the laptop or to the mixer with the AG03/AG06? I'm struggling to understand how the sound routes back from Skype (or Zoom) to me.

Re: The right mixer & setup for Skype lessons?
rmnd #3041493 10/31/20 05:29 PM
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The mixer for the UR44 is an independent piece of software with a small footprint. But you do need it. There is no hardware loopback solution and if there was it would introduce extra noise I think.

Re: The right mixer & setup for Skype lessons?
rmnd #3041512 10/31/20 05:57 PM
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Hi, rmnd

I have been taking lessons through google meet, but I think it applies to skype/zoom as well.

AG03/06 is a mixer AND an audio interface. It has a switch that determines operation mode (dry/input mix/loopback). The latter basically means it takes the audio output of the PC and mixes with the other sources (piano, microphone etc.) and sends the digitized result back to the PC.

Phones are connected to AG03/06. You will need a microphone as well (I have a lavalier I connect to the mike input). I suppose it will work with a regular smartphone in-the-ear headset as well, but it requires an Y cable to separate phones from microphone.

I hope this helps.


Kawai ES8, Roland RD2000, Yamaha AG06 mixer, Presonus Eris E5 monitors, Sennheiser HD598SR phones.
Re: The right mixer & setup for Skype lessons?
rmnd #3041516 10/31/20 06:01 PM
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Hi,

I had to make the exact same set up today for my very first online lesson and it worked pretty good. What I used:
- My digital piano, which has no line output but two headphone jacks
- An audio interface (Scarlett 2i2)
- Stereo-to-two-mono cable to connect the piano from one of the headphone jacks to the audio interface
- Zoom as online meeting software
- My phone
- Headphones

For the audio interface, a small controller needed to be installed on the pc but it happened as soon as I plugged it in for the first time and was pretty straightforward.
Over Zoom I selected Scarlett as my option for both microphone and speakers and I connected the headphones to the audio interface. In that way I can hear the piano (because it is connected to the audio interface) and also to my teacher (because the audio output of the laptop goes to the audio interface as well).
Since I do not have a microphone and did not want to buy one, I used my cellphone for the meeting so my teacher could her me. I called my teacher per whatsapp. Another option is to connect to the zoom meeting using your cellphone as well (as if it was an additional participant in the meeting).

It worked pretty well and my teacher praised the audio quality of the piano with this setup. For this I also activated the option "Turn on original sound", which you can do under the audio settings on Zoom. This improves in overall audio quality. Here the link to do it
Turn on original sound Zoom

I hope it helps. My teacher had a similar setup so I could hear both him and his piano very good. You just need to check that your teacher uses headphones to hear you talking over whatsapp/cellphone so you do not hear yourself playing twice.

Cheers

Last edited by AndresVel; 10/31/20 06:08 PM.

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Playing on a Kawai CA49, previously on: Casio PX-S1000
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Re: The right mixer & setup for Skype lessons?
rmnd #3041523 10/31/20 06:28 PM
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Correction: My teacher did not have a similar setup. I think he only set up a microphone for transmitting the sound of the piano and his voice. He used the headphones/headset of his phone just to hear me talking. smile This set up was ok since he was not playing much, only to point out certain measures etc.


Lisztomaniac, inspired adult beginner, Scarlatti fan
Playing on a Kawai CA49, previously on: Casio PX-S1000
My Youtube Channel
Re: The right mixer & setup for Skype lessons?
rmnd #3041544 10/31/20 07:37 PM
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I have a Mackie ProFX10v3 mixer and while I haven't used it with Skype\Zoom, I am pleased with it. It has a USB out which will connect to your computer. Though more expensive than a Scarlett, it is has much more functionality with multiple inputs, outputs, phone jack and on-board effects. I have used their support also to my satisfaction when I had an issue with interfacing to an outboard effects processor.

Re: The right mixer & setup for Skype lessons?
rmnd #3041635 11/01/20 04:36 AM
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There are two useful videos by Hugh Sung, on the Cunningham Pianos YouTube channel. One describes high-priced gear, the other describes low-to-medium priced gear (i.e. what a student might use).

They're both oriented to acoustic pianos. For digitals, you'd use a connection from the DP's "phone" or "line out" jack(s) to a line-level input on the mixer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSdiBVFGXQ8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PG91ZIrsdNU

You'll be better off using headphones, than using loudspeakers. One way to arrange things:

. . . feed the computer's headphone-out signal to the Left channel of the mixer,

. . . and mix your vocal mic, and the DP, into the Right channel of the mixer, and use that channel's output with an audio interface (or a USB interface built into the mixer) as the "Microphone" input to Skype or Zoom.

That gives you your playing in one earpiece, and your teacher's comments and playing in the other earpiece.

I think that right now, Zoom (with "Original Sound" and "high fidelity" turned on, and echo cancellation turned off) gives better sound quality than Skype. That could change in the future.


. Charles
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PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: The right mixer & setup for Skype lessons?
rmnd #3041648 11/01/20 05:11 AM
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Although a different context (teaching meditation courses) I use a Zoom U-44 Audio interface to send an XLR input and a 1/4” jack line input to zoom meetings and monitor the signal via headphones. In the zoom meeting interface, once installed, you can route the inputs and outputs to the u-44. Great device, low noise and low latency and heaps of expansion options for field recording, recording to a tablet (for example). Worth a look.


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There’s nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself. Johann Sebastian Bach
Re: The right mixer & setup for Skype lessons?
rmnd #3041660 11/01/20 06:21 AM
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Kawai ES8, Roland RD2000, Yamaha AG06 mixer, Presonus Eris E5 monitors, Sennheiser HD598SR phones.
Re: The right mixer & setup for Skype lessons?
rmnd #3041671 11/01/20 07:13 AM
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It's funny how sometimes people run into nasty problems with equipment noise ... hiss, hum, etc.
And other times there are no problems at all ... just plug it in and go.

Re: The right mixer & setup for Skype lessons?
rmnd #3041788 11/01/20 12:44 PM
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@Charles Cohen, thanks for the video's, Hugh Sung did an excellent job in explaining a remote teaching setup and highlighting what's important.

I've also went through David Lai's quest, based on the comments in this thread and his threads I see two main routes:

(a) Mixer with audio interface route (Yamaha AG03/AG06/MG10xu or Mackie ProFX10v3, etc). Hook everything up the mixer (incl headphones), connect USB computer and select the mixer both as input and as output. Mixer needs to be able to receive input from laptop and output it to headphones AND NOT mix it into the main mix as this will result in a feedback loop where the teacher will receive his own sound. For the MG10x it's explained in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tA3037HGENA. For the AG series this should be as "Input Mix" if someone can confirm that'll be great, I assume the Mackie can do this as well, not yet confirmed and also not sure if there's a difference the ProFX6v3 or ProFX10v3. It looks like the FX6 is combining USB channels into other line in which could conflict with hooking up the piano.

(b) Pure audio interface route as suggested by giu or Andres. So far what I've seen the Scarlett 2i2 3rd gen or the Scarlett 4i4 should be able to do the trick, but it does need software running. Seen some examples on youtube of people configging focusrite.

Not quite sure yet, I think the Steinberg UR44C is too expensive (approx 300 EUR) and the Mackie ProFX10v3 not offering much over the Yamaha? I'll also check out the Zoom U-44 Audio interface. The small desktop footprint of the Scarlett is also tempting.

The Yamaha MG-06x doesn't seem to cut it as it doesn't have USB.

Re: The right mixer & setup for Skype lessons?
rmnd #3041820 11/01/20 02:40 PM
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rmnd, I set AG06 to "loopback" so my teacher listen to whatever I play on my PC (e.g. youtube videos, Pianoteq etc.). From the top of memory, input mix works too, for regular mixing (i.e., piano on line in and microphone on channel 1).


Kawai ES8, Roland RD2000, Yamaha AG06 mixer, Presonus Eris E5 monitors, Sennheiser HD598SR phones.
Re: The right mixer & setup for Skype lessons?
rmnd #3041855 11/01/20 04:18 PM
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@EVC2017, if you set it to loopback, your teacher will hear himself, right?

Re: The right mixer & setup for Skype lessons?
rmnd #3041861 11/01/20 04:29 PM
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rmnd, that is a good question. I don't think so (he never complained) but I will ask him the next time we meet.

Last edited by EVC2017; 11/01/20 04:30 PM.

Kawai ES8, Roland RD2000, Yamaha AG06 mixer, Presonus Eris E5 monitors, Sennheiser HD598SR phones.
Re: The right mixer & setup for Skype lessons?
rmnd #3041876 11/01/20 05:09 PM
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I have a set up for exactly the same purpose, using Zoom.

I use a small Behringer Xenyx mixer (802), which despite its name and claims to be an 8 channel mixer, is really only six.

I use this in conjunction with a Behringer UMC202 audio interface (2 channels in, 2 out) but you can now buy a version with a built in usb interface. I'm tempted to buy one, just to tidy up the set up a bit.

The left and right output from my piano go into 2 channels of the interface and a mic into another using the phantom power. I also can connect up another stereo input ( say an mp3, drum machine or metronome if I want) as I use this set up whenever I practice, not just lessons.

The output from the mixer goes into the input on the interface and the output of the interface into the tape in on the mixer. Without this connection my teacher couldn't hear anything on my computer,
(say I wanted to play something that I'd recorded) but could hear me and my piano. I don't get feedback (but I'm not 100% sure why not ).

It all works well. The Behringer gear is all pretty low rent but good enough for this. It doesn't hum and I've found the only time it does is if I'm using a dodgy cable.


I'd be a far better pianist if I spent the time I'm on this forum playing my piano instead.
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