advice on upgrading my recording setup
hello I'm David, I'm seeking advice on what new equipment I could get to improve my recording set up. I'm not an expert when it comes to audio so when looking for new equipment I'm not sure what to look for to fix certain problems. I'll list what I currently have and a wire diagram below. I think getting a better mixer would fix most of the problems.
I do podcasting and let's plays with my friends. The wire diagram shows when were set up for recording our own computer, which is our most complex set up. The two outputs from the mixer go to the audio recorder and the headphone extender. from the headphone extender it splits up to our own mini silver mixer and mixes with our own computers audio. That way we can hear each other and our own game audio but not each other game audio. the audio recorder just records our voice audio, we have a program that records the game audio.
The problems I have right now is some times I get a buzzing noise in our head phones but it doesn't show up on the recording. I also find the buzzing noise when I plug into my computer. The from what I gathered the buzzing is from the power running through the wires and to fix I think I need to ground it some how. Another problem I have is I'm trying to add sound board with effects or a laptop so people can skype in. when I plug into the other inputs that are not the 4 main inputs, its very soft and lots of buzzing. We are also looking to expand from 4 mics to 6 mics. Also the audio file is of all channels mixed together, I know there's some mixers that record the tracks separately.
when I first bought my equipment I was just starting out so I got very cheap but now I willing to spend a bit more to get higher quality.
Main improvements for mixer
6 or more xlr inputs with phantom power
separate tracks recording
inputs for effects
more than 2 outputs
fixes buzzing noise
mixer: Behringer Xenyx 1202fx Mixing Console http://www.amazon.com/Behringer-Xenyx-1202fx-Mixing-Console/dp/B000J5Y214
audio recorder: Zoom H4N Digital Multitrack Recorder, http://www.amazon.com/Zoom-H4N-Digital-Multitrack-Recorder/dp/B00UK7G3UO/re...
silver micro audio mixer: BEHRINGER MICROMIX MX400, http://www.amazon.com/Behringer-MX400-BEHRINGER-MICROMIX/dp/B000KGYAYQ
headphone extender: Live Wire HA04 Headphone Amplifier, 4-Channel ,http://www.google.com/shopping/product/13662052024396723827?lsf=seller:1327...
ill do my best to respond to questions and thanks for any advice you have.
Just looking at your pictures, the audio old timer in me says: "That's going to be noisy."
It's not that anythings "wrong" necessarily (tho there may be.)
It's more the level of haphazard thinking the photo represents. It looks like it was put together by thinking only about getting signal A to point B - damn anything else.
The "anything else" can be really, really important in signal flow.
Some simple examples. Did you consider the issues of balanced verses unbalanced signal paths when wiring things? If ANY of those 1/4" phone plugs have just two connectors (tip and sleeve) you're whole system is likely UNBALANCED. Which doesn't suppress common mode "ground loop" hum. Which sounds like what you're experiencing.
Also, did you consider signal lines crossing AC lines? It's another common place where noise infects signals.
All those internet posted "pretty" wiring photos, where signal lines are run super carefully and planned out in great detail, bundled, color coded, affixed with cable ties and brackets so that they are all scrupulously neat and tidy — aren't just about making things LOOK nice. They are "best practices" developed over years because they are technically CORRECT in moving various signals to various places. AC line power, low voltage power, line level signal cables, microphone cables, computer cables - AND the connectors you use with them - ALL matter.
"Just plug it in and drop it where it sits" actually CAN work. But when you work that way - you LOWER your chances of initial success - and if something goes wrong, it's a royal pain to figure out what's wrong and fix it.
So start there. Clean things up.
That will make it easier to do what you need to do - which is to ISOLATE each system and sub-system and bypass them, in order, until disconnecting ONE of them makes the problem disappear. Then fixing or replacing that.
Hope that helps. Good luck with your project.
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I agree with everything that Bill says. The statement that your headphones are experiencing noise while the recordings don't point to some possible issues that Bill didn't state. On many low end consumer or prosumer devices (some that would surprise you!) the headphone jacks appear to be the cheapest quality. It's a problem of the headphone pre's. No answer but to buy better quality gear, I fear! It should be a feature that you check before buying, or if online, return the unit immediately for a better piece of gear. I've not found too many pieces of gear these days that give me that problem, from companies like Zoom, Tascam, Sony, and never expect it from Sony or higher end units like Sound Devices for example.
I would certainly start and find out where the buzz in the headphones is coming from. Are you grounding your entire plug in chain from the wall out? Are the headphones defective? you did try swapping them out and the problem continues?
Back out each product until you isolate it. Then you can proceed.