Hi there! Welcome to Streamer’s Haven, your home for all things Streaming! In this article, we intend to cover what exactly an audio mixer is, and then explain which are considered to be the three audio mixers that are “the best” for streamers.
In this case, each one of these mixers are all excellent choices, and fill the need in three separate price points. That said, any audio mixer you choose to go with will be more or less, great. This is because Audio equipment like Audio interfaces or mixers is considered “Production-grade quality”, which is a step above “Consumer-grade.”
We will briefly cover each of these devices, as well as why we recommend them. Without further ado, let’s begin!
Table of Contents
What the heck are Audio Mixers, and why would you want one for streaming?
An Audio Mixer is a multi-function device designed to be used with Professional grade audio equipment within a production environment. At the most basic level, it accomplishes this by serving as a singular control for various inputs and outputs. However, it does more than simply serve as an I/O routing hub.
What it does is incorporate the features commonly associated with Audio Interfaces with other features, particularly the use of Faders and/or knobs. Each of these knobs or faders are tied to a single channel, which is then “mixed” together into a master track sent out. Hence, Audio “Mixer”.
It is actually several pieces of hardware in one:
- DAC (Digital to Analog Converter)
- ADC (Analog to Digital Converter)
- High end PC Sound card (As strange as that sounds)
- Hardware media volume control
- In some cases: an audio Pre-processor to add effects like hardware reverb or EQ
In some rare cases, like the most expensive option on our list, it can also serve as a media switch. Now, there are cheaper devices that do all of these things separately, but combining those tools into a more compact solution is extremely beneficial to reducing complexity. For a novice in professional audio, this aspect is by far the most important.
The cheapest of the Audio Mixers, the “GoXLR Mini”
With crisp MIDAS pre-amps for your microphone and a no-nonsense I/O, this mixer is the king of the basics. Don’t let the price or small size fool you into discrediting this marvel of streamer-first engineering! It even includes Optical-In! That’s handy for capturing console audio or if you run a dual PC setup, you can send the gaming PC audio into the streaming PC VIA optical (If your gaming PC has a mobo with Optical out, anyway.)
The primary features of this mixer are the four RGB-enabled (Obviously, the most important) Non-motorized “Faders”, along with the four individual channel mute buttons. If it doesn’t have faders, is it really a mixer? 🙂
Situated below those mute buttons are a “Bleep” button, which will output a profanity tone popular in media censorship, and finally, the mic mute button. At its most basic level, this is the only audio mixer you’ll need to buy. It’s cheap, it’s functional, and it’s effective. And according to EposVox, the Stream Professor, It’s the best for streamers. We happen to agree on this point.
The I/O of this neat little Audio Mixer designed for Streamers
The inputs/Outputs include:
- In the Rear:
- 1x XLR Mic Input utilizing the “MIDAS” Pre-amps
- 1x Optical Input
- Meant to capture Optical out from a Console or your Gaming PC
- 1x Line-in(put) 3.5mm Port
- Designed to Capture sound from say, your smartphone, if you do mobile gaming streaming
- 1x Line-out(put) 3.5mm Port
- To send out audio to another device, like PS4 in-game chat
- In the Front
- 1x Pink Mic In 3.5mm cable (In case you use a 3.5mm headset. This is located in the front
- And a Green Stereo Out 3.5mm cable ( Again, intended for your 3.5mm Headset, or speakers. Though, you really should use a headset or a pair of earbuds…)
The Big Brother of the Mini, the OG “GoXLR” by TC-Helicon – Editors Pick
Welcome to the Granddaddy Streamer-First Mixer, the one that started it all! If you are looking to add a bit of spice to your streams and play pre-recorded tracks or SFX, have access to motorized faders with hot-swap profiles for a relatively unbeatable price, then the original GoXLR is for you.
The GoXLR took the streaming community by storm when TC-Helicon announced it back in December 2019. Before then, we’d have recommended you buy something like a Yamaha MG10XU. While that mixer is totally a viable option, even today, it lacks some fundamental features that streamers would be able to utilize.
Those features being RGB!
Hah, we jest. But that does matter, just a little bit. AmIRight?
No, what we are talking about is a simplified layout so you aren’t needing to think very hard to get the effect you are looking for; Large buttons, intuitive layout, and a lack of features you’d likely never use. In a live streaming environment, getting the effect you want the first time is very important for stream continuity.
It also includes voice effects attached to those knobs, so you can control the exact level that the effect is at. Handy!
Oh, and it uses those MIDAS pre-amps, you know, the ones the Behringer UMC204HD uses. (By the way, if the GoXLR Mini is out of your price range, that is an excellent audio interface if you are looking for a simpler level of control.)
A bit on the Overkill side – The Roland Professional A/V VR-1HD
This one has whistles for its bells, and bells for its whistles. We’ll be honest, it’s a bit overkill. However, there are several features in this mixer that aren’t present in the TC-Helicon offerings that set it apart.
For one, It’s got an internal Capture card! That saves you from having to buy one of those if you should choose to go with this option. Not only that, but this capture card is also an HDMI Switch for up to three sources! Like, What?!
Let’s not forget it’s ability to automatically switch between those three sources!
Three Camera Bullet time setup anybody?
Additionally, you can switch to each of the HDMI sources using three large dedicated buttons, so you can have your PS4 (Or 5), your Xbox Whatever they decide to call it, and your Switch all set up and never have to change those wires out. That’s handy if you’re a console streamer.
It also has all the basics we’ve come to expect out of a Streamer-first Mixer.
But honestly speaking, you probably shouldn’t buy this for live streaming if you’re new. It’s just so darned expensive, even more so if you actually want to utilize all of them. (You need all the HDMI cables, the USB 3.0 type B to A cable and the clean HDMI out DSLR Cameras. Not to mention all of the audio equipment)
Features you would be unable to utilize well, if at all
To top it all off, one of the features on the VR-1HD, the dedicated scene layout keys, can actually cause confusion to a streamer.
This confusion stems from the fact that scene manipulation within OBS and this mixer is split into two separate locations; Perhaps you have an AFK scene, or a Starting Soon Screen. Well, you won’t be able to access those scenes on this mixer via OBS (That we know of. Feel free to correct us in the comments) and so your scene manipulation will be split into two separate places.
If you do choose to go with this mixer, know that a second monitor utilized to view the stream preview will be important to verify your layout is the way you want it to be.
Redeeming features of the VR-1HD
That said, the internal HDMI Switcher, as well as passthrough, is an excellent addition to an all-in-one solution that this one offers that most audio mixers don’t. We feel this mixer is almost ideal in this aspect if the target audience is streamers. Having every tool you need embedded into one place has merit for ease-of-use.
Take notes, TC-Helicon & Elgato Gaming! (We’d love to see a pairing of the Elgato 4k60 Mkii and the GoXLR in one device!)