In this post, I’ll show you how I configured a Google Voice mix minus on Google Hangouts with my analog audio mixer, microphone and a few other components, to integrate my Google Voice number so that I could take live calls. This configuration is useful for podcasters who would like to take live calls during their shows, and also for recording phone calls (make sure you have the other party’s consent before recording!).
If you want to try this method of Mix Minus using an iPhone, see my previous post for further instructions.
09 July 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers #mykmyrs
Skill Level: Intermediate
What is Mix Minus?
Simply put, mix minus allows an audio configuration where the sound of the phone is played to the caller through an audio mixer’s output, but their voice input is “minused” out so that they don’t hear themselves through the output’s signal. If you don’t remove their vocal input from the signal chain, a feedback loop would be generated and they’d sound like they’re in an an echo tunnel. Unless you explicitly tell someone, they probably wouldn’t even know that you are processing the call’s audio.
You can read much more in depth here if you are interested in more usages and details regarding phone mix minus.
What You’ll Need to Create Google Voice Mix Minus
- A computer running MacOS or Windows10 connected to the internet
- A Google Voice account and phone number. They are free to obtain.
- Google Hangouts installed on your computer
- An audio mixer with an FX Loop connected to your computer, either analog or USB. I use a Behringer Xenyx 1002 analog mixer in my studio.
- A microphone connected to the mixer. I use a Pyle PDMIC78 in my studio.
- A 3.5 mm auxiliary audio cable, preferably with a 1/4” jack on one side. Here’s an example I found on Amazon.com. You can also buy a 3.5mm to 1/4” adapter plug.
- A 3.5mm stereo audio cable with 2 separate 1/4” TRS plugs on the other end. I use the Pyle PCBL43FT6 in my studio.
- Studio headphones connected to the mixer’s 1/4” jack
- A boom arm with a shock mount and pop filter to hold your studio microphone so the call can be hands-free
- An external recording device to allow for saving the conversation to disk
- A USB audio interface to connect the mixer to your computer
Some Remarks Before We Continue
- Your computer has to have a headphone jack AND a line in jack for this configuration to function. I am using a 2011 iMac which has both ports available. If you don’t have those jacks, you may be able to find a USB adapter of some sort, but I do not have any experience with them to recommend one.
- Your audio mixer has to have an effects loop (FX Loop) or auxiliary send capability. Mix Minus will not work without this mixer feature.
- Use a good-quality studio microphone with your mixer. Connect it via XLR if possible, and set the gain appropriately so that you input level is not clipping. Adjust any EQ knobs you like to shape your voice’s output sound. Condenser microphones would work great for voice. If yours requires phantom power, your mixer can provide it easily.
- You can find the 3.5mm to dual 1/4” TRS cable to connect to the mixer to the stereo inputs of your mixer at electronics stores or online.
- You can find the 3.5mm to TRS cable to connect to the FX Loop jack of the mixer at electronics stores or online.
Steps to Connect the Google Voice Mix Minus Cabling
- Connect your microphone to an available channel strip on your mixer. Try to use an XLR input if possible because they usually have a small gain knob to help you set your input to a strong level. Set its FX channel knob to the 12:00 position. Set its volume level knob all the way to the left to disable any audio output at this time.
- Connect the 1/4” TRS plug of the aux cable cable to the FX Loop output jack of the mixer. Connect the 3.5mm stereo end to the computer’s line out jack.
- Connect the 3.5mm to dual 1/4” TRS connectors cable to the headphone jack of your computer.
- Use the 1/4” TRS dual connectors side of the cable and insert them into a channel on your mixer. Use the red cable as the “right” side of the stereo signal. Set its FX channel knob all the way to the left to disable it. LEAVE it disabled at all times, or the caller will receive a feedback loop. Set its level knob all the way to the left to disable any audio output at this time.
- Connect your studio headphones to the mixer’s headphone jack to monitor the call. Try not to use speakers/studio monitors if possible.
- Open Google Hangouts. Create a new conversation and enter a telephone number. Call someone on their phone and verify that you can hear them and that they can hear you. Use the level knob on the mixer to adjust the mixer input channel where your computer is plugged in. Usually around 12:00 will provide a strong signal to be able to hear the caller through your mixer.
At this point, your configuration should work for hearing and speaking through Google Hangouts. You may want to tweak your microphone channel strip’s EQs to enhance your voice, if desired.
With an optional boom arm to hold your microphone, you may be able to leave your microphone set up so that you can do hands-free calling. The beauty of a mixer is that any audio you don’t want to pick up or broadcast can be muted on the channel strip with the level knob for that channel.
Using a Google Voice mix minus with an audio mixer is a great way to take live telephone calls for podcasters or to record telephone conversations. Using a Google Voice telephone number is free and allows you to keep your personal phone number(s) private. This method only requires two audio cables, a mixer and a microphone to be able to make and receive phone calls via Google Voice.
If you would like to add to this content to help other folks, please contact me and let me know what you have in mind.