Reamp DI Guitar Tracks From Your DAW with the ARTcessories Dual RDB Interface

In this post, I’ll show you how to reamp DI guitar tracks from your DAW with the ARTcessories Dual RDB interface. If you haven’t tried re-amping your DIs yet, you’ll find a great way to see how your DIs can sound running through varied analog gear. If you’re looking for a different guitar sound, or a way to augment your mix with different gear, re-amping is a great solution.

Before we continue, please realize that much of this content is generalized because each DAW, re-amp box and recording chain is different. What works for me with settings, levels and gear will be inherently different for you in your studio. In this post, I cover what re-amping is and generally how to accomplish it.

17 February 2021 – Written by Michael R. Myers #mykmyrs

Tags: #reamp #reampbox #diy #guitar #pedal #amplifier #speakercabinet #cabinet #balancedsignal #unbalancedsignal #TRS #TS #daw

Skill Level: Advanced

What’s Reamping????

If you’re new to reamping, the reamp box converts a balanced, line-level signal into an unbalanced, instrument-level (think dry guitar) signal. For home recording, you can record a dry guitar signal into your DAW of choice so that you have a clean, unaltered source for a guitar track. Using this dry track, you can play it through your DAW, have the audio signal leave your USB audio interface and flow into the reamp box. From the reamp box, the signal flows into an amplifier input, just as if you plugged a guitar directly into the amplifier. You amplifier is then hooked into a speaker cabinet which you mic and then record back into your DAW. With me so far?

A major benefit of reamping is you can do multiple auditions of a guitar track with different amps and cabinets, recording them into tracks in your DAW, allowing you to compare and choose the perfect sound for your mix.

Have a look here at the Wiki article covering the re-amp concept for a lengthier read.

What You’ll Need to Get Started

Overall Recording Strategy (Before Re-Amping)

Before we can get started with re-amping, we need to record some dry guitar tracks, also called DI tracks, into the computer’s DAW. Once recorded, the clean DIs can be re-used whenever we want to re-amp them into different amps, cabinets or other analog hardware.

To capture DIs, I use a passive DI box that is connected to my analog mixer via XLR. I pan the channel 100% Left so that on the mixer’s output, the DI is always on the left channel of the signal pair. I always record DIs with the processed signal (that one is panned 100% Right in the signal pair). In my DAW, I use two tracks – one is for the DI only and one is for the processed signal only. So for each track, I have the unaltered DI source and the output source.

So at this point, get to it and record your DI tracks in your DAW. Make sure your input levels are gain-staged correctly and they are not clipping or otherwise distorted. You need quality DI tracks to reamp DI guitar tracks from your DAW to produce quality re-amped tracks.

About Configuring the Re-Amp Signal Chain

After you have some decent guitar DI tracks recorded in your DAW, we can set up the signal chain that sends the DAW output through the USB audio interface to the re-amp box and out to the external amp/cabinet. Typically a microphone would be used to capture the amp and cabinet output back into the USB audio interface to the DAW.

A point to remember here is that the DAW’s output of the DI track will be sent to the USB audio interface for playback. In order to re-amp, the DI tracks need to be converted from the audio interface’s line-level back into instrument-level signals. The re-amp box takes those line-level signals and converts them back to instrument-level so that the signal can be fed into analog gear properly. Without using a re-amp box, the signal sounds horrible and is not able to be used to feed into amps properly.

Depending on your amplifier situation, you may use an actual amplifier or a virtual amp to reamp DI guitar tracks from your DAW. I typically send the re-amped signal to an iRig HD 2 that is connected to my iPad Air 2. My amp is a software solution running on the iPad and the audio is sent out of the iRig interface via an instrument cable that I connect to my analog mixer with another passive DI Box. Using this setup, I do not need a real amplifier, speaker cabinet or microphone to re-create the signal-it goes directly into my mixer and USB audio interface.

Steps to Reamp DI Guitar Tracks From Your DAW

  1. Record your clean guitar DI track(s) in your DAW. Make sure they are gain-staged so that they are not too low or clipping.
  2. Unplug your left side output cable on the USB audio interface and insert the TRS to TRS (balanced) cable.
  3. Connect the TRS cable to your re-amp box’s input. If you have a gain knob on the re-amp box, you may need to adjust its application to ensure the signal entering the re-amp box is not too low or clipping.
  4. Insert a mono guitar cable (TS to TS) into the output of the re-amp box and into the amplifier’s guitar input jack. If you want to use an overdrive, tube screamer or distortion pedal, run the re-amp box output to the pedals first, then connect the pedal output to the amp guitar input.
  5. In your DAW, press play to audition the DI track. If you’ve done things correctly, you will now hear the DI audio coming through your amplifier.
  6. You may need to tweak levels at this point in the playback of the DI, the gain knob on the re-amp box, and so forth. I’ve found this part of the process can take the longest to get matched up.
  7. When you’re content with the re-amped audio, record it to a new track in your DAW with a microphone or another audio interface.
  8. When finished re-amping, disconnect the TRS cable from the back of the audio interface and re-connect your normal output cable.

Summary

If things went well, you were able to feed a DI guitar track from your DAW into a re-amp box and use a different amplifier/speaker cabinet to get a new sound out of the DI. Or, if you have several amps available, you can see which one works best in the mix by recording them all and comparing or combining them. If you’re like me, you also have amp sims on IOS devices that can be leveraged on the cheap to get you close to name-brand gear for pennies on the dollar.

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.

Build a DIY Reamp Box

In this post, I’ll show you how to build a DIY reamp box from a tutorial I found on YouTube recently. If you’re reading this, you probably know what a reamp box is and why you would need one in your recording studio. You probably also know that the commercially available reamp boxes can easily cost $100 USD. Using some of your own skills and the provided materials list, you can make your own reamp box for around $25 USD. For me, it was not an option to spend so much money on a commercial product, so this post covers what I did to build a reamp box.

What’s Reamping????

If you’re new to reamping, the reamp box converts a balanced, line-level signal into an unbalanced, instrument-level (think dry guitar) signal. For home recording, you can record a dry guitar signal into your DAW of choice so that you have a clean, unaltered source for a guitar track. Using this dry track, you can play it through your DAW, have the audio signal leave your USB audio interface and flow into the reamp box. From the reamp box, the signal flows into an amplifier input, just as if you plugged a guitar directly into the amplifier. You amplifier is then hooked into a speaker cabinet which you mic and then record back into your DAW. With me so far?

A major benefit of reamping is you can do multiple auditions of a guitar track with different amps and cabinets, recording them into tracks in your DAW, allowing you to compare and choose the perfect sound for your mix.

07 December 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers #mykmyrs

Tags: #reamp #reampbox #diy #guitar #pedal #amplifier #speakercabinet #cabinet #balancedsignal #unbalancedsignal #TRS #TS #daw

Skill Level: Advanced

What You’ll Need to Get Started

  • Watch this video on YouTube entitled “How to build a REAMP box and WHY you need one” by Life Harmonic. In the video description, he lists all of the components you will need to order to build the reamp box. The complete list is shown here in Step 1. Be sure to check the video’s comments if you have any questions because several common ones are answered there.
  • An electric drill and drill bits capable of making up to one inch holes. I purchased 2 step drill bit products from Harbor Freight for my cuts. This one is for the larger hole, this one is for the smaller holes.
  • A soldering iron and solder
  • Wire
  • Mounting hardware – screws, glue
  • A workbench vice to hold your aluminum box for drilling
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • 3/8″ wrench
  • 8 mm wrench
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire clippers

Step 1 – Order your components

Here is the list of components you will need to order if you do not already have them on-hand to build a DIY reamp box. Since I didn’t have any supplies, I had to buy everything I needed for this build. I used the suggested list in the YouTube video where possible. I ordered the components in the beginning of December 2020, so the cost may be different for you when you order. I also had to use two different electronics supply companies due to inventory unavailability for some items at Newark. I am in the continental USA and had to pay $9.99 to each company for shipping, and each was received in 3 business days.

SupplierComponentCost (USD)Notes
MouserHammond 1550A case$5.91These were almost $1.00 cheaper at Mouser than newark
Neutrik NMJ4HF-S Plastic 1/4″ Jack$0.98The USA Newark website did not carry these, so I had to order from Mouser
NewarkBOURNS  LM-NP-1001-B1L  Audio Transformer$2.52
MULTICOMP PRO  MCF 0.25W 10K  Through Hole Resistor$0.08
BI TECHNOLOGIES/TT ELECTRONICS  P160KNP-0EC15A100K  Rotary Potentiometer$0.95
MULTICOMP PRO  1MS1T1B1M1QE  Toggle Switch$1.29
NEUTRIK  NC3FAV1  XLR Connector, 3 Contacts$1.61Use size 4 screws for mounting
OHMITE  1101-A  Knob, Round Shaft, 6 mm, Thermoplastic Elastomer$1.27I had to drill out with a drill bit to increase shaft diameter. I used a 15/64″ bit and gently worked the hole a SMALL amount to go just a hair bigger. A 1/4″ drill bit is too much diameter, so do not just jump up to a 1/4″ bit!
STELLAR LABS  24-16213  Audio / Video Cable Assembly, XLR Plug to 1/4″ 3P Plug$7.27Optional if you already have a TRS plug to XLR female cable
Lowes
Southwire 20-ft 14-AWG Stranded White GPT Primary Wire
$5.70
Hillman #4-40 x 1/2-in Phillips/Slotted Combination-Drive Machine Screws$1.28
Gorilla Glue Super Glue Tubes 2-Pack 3-gram Super Glue Clear Multipurpose Adhesive$3.98
Harbor FreightTitanium Coated High Speed Steel Step Bit Set, 2 Pc.$19.9912 Step Bit: (3/16 in., 1/4 in., 5/16 in., 3/8 in., 7/16 in., 1 /2 in., 9/16 in., 5/8 in., 11/16 in., 3/4 in., 13/16 in., 7/8 in.)

11 Step Bit: (1/4 in., 25/64 in., 35/64 in., 1 1/16 in., 13/16 in., 7/8 in., 1 in., 1-1/8 in., 1-7/32 in., 1-1/4 in., 1-3/8 in.)
Titanium High Speed Steel Step Bit Set, 3 Pc.$13.99Six Step Bit (3/16 in., 1/4 in., 5/16 in., 3/8 in.,7/16 in., 1/2 in.)

Nine Step Bit (1/4 in., 5/16 in., 3/8 in., 7/16 in.,1/2 in., 9/16 in.,5/8 in.,11/16 in.,3/4 in.)

Thirteen Step Bit (1/8 in., 5/32 in., 3/16 in., 7/32 in., 1/4 in., 9/32 in., 5/16 in., 11/32 in., 3/8 in., 13/32 in., 7/16 in., 15/32 in., 1/2 in.)
Supply List for Reamp Box Build

Step 2 – Measure your placement for pilot drill holes

You’ll need to mark four (4) initial spots for drilling. After those holes are drilled, you’ll drill two (2) more for the XLR jack mounts.

Starting from the top of the pedal’s face, there needs to be one hole for the XLR jack at 25mm down from the top, 17.mm from the left side. Under that hole will be two (2) holes for the potentiometer at 44.5mm from bottom and 10mm from left, 6 mm from right for the toggle switch. On the bottom of the pedal, we’ll drill the hole for the 1/4″ output jack centered at 13.5 mm from top. 17.5mm from left side.

Step 3 – Drill the holes in the box

I used a 1/16″ drill bit to make all pilot holes. Secure the box in a vice so that you are being safe while drilling the metal.

Drill the holes you marked in the previous step with the small drill bit. Now that there are starter holes, you can use larger bits or the step bits to make the holes to the proper size.

After drilling the four (4) main holes, you will need to drill two (2) pilot holes for the XLR jack. Carefully insert it into the metal box and use your pilot drill bit to find the spots for the XLR connectors and drill them from the inside out.

The XLR hole will need to be 7/8″ or 22 mm. The potentiometer hole is 5/16″ or 8 mm. The toggle switch is 1/4″ or 6 mm. The 1/4″ bottom jack (not pictured) needs to be 1/2″ or 12 mm. Finally, the two (2) XLR jack connector holes need to be 1/8″ or 3 mm.

Step 4 – Install the components

To build a DIY reamp box, start with the XLR jack. Mount it with two #4 screws.

Install the toggle switch and use a wrench to firmly tighten the nut.

Continue with the installation of the potentiometer and the 1/4″ plug and tighten with a wrench to secure them into the unit. You need to clip off the metal tab on your potentiometer if it has one, otherwise it will not mount flush against the box’s interior.

At this point, here’s what your reamp box should resemble.

If you ordered the same knobs as I have listed, you will have to drill them out a TINY amount so that they fit the potentiometer’s shaft. I used a 15/64″ bit and carefully made the button’s shaft hole a tiny bit wider. If you go too far, you can always place a small amount of duct tape on the potentiometer’s shaft to snug the button.

Here is my final build.

Step 5 – Solder the components to build a DIY reamp box

To simplify this post, I did screenshots of the original video since the original presenter filmed it cleanly and clearly.

  1. Solder two wires to the middle and right side of the potentiometer
  2. Glue the transformer to the potentiometer
  3. Connect middle potentiometer wire to Pin 1 of the TS Jack (right hand side pin at top of jack)
  4. Connect resistor to bottom of transformer and wind around the transformer pins. Clip excess resistor wire.
  5. Solder lower left side pin of TS jack to left side of resistor/transformer
  6. Solder right side pot wire to right side of resistor/transformer
  7. Solder Pin 1 of XLR to center of toggle switch
  8. Connect bottom toggle switch to the left hand side TS Jack pin (along with connection you already made in Step 3)
  9. Connect XLR Pin 2 to right of transformer
  10. Connect XLR Pin 3 to left side of transformer
  11. Solder XLR Pins 2 and 3
  12. Here is the final product after all connections have been made.

Step 6 – Test it

Plug L main out of USB audio interface into TRS to XLR cable. May be able to use the headphone jack output as well.

Plug XLR into reamp box

Plug TS into amp

Press play in DAW with dry guitar signal

Adjust level knob as needed. Flip toggle switch to eliminate any ground loops.

Did it work without any noise/interference?

Summary

If yo u’ve made it this far, and you’ve followed all of the steps, you should have yourself a very nice reamp box to use in your studio. In a few hours’ time, you’ve learned how to build a DIY reamp box and are ready to make your recordings shine with limitless amping possibilities. Thanks to the original YouTube author for presenting his creation and answering my questions along the way. Follow his channel and show your appreciation if you can.

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.

Mix Minus MagicJack Main

MagicJack Mix Minus With Audio Mixer

In this post, I’ll show you how I configured a MagicJack mix minus on a computer with my analog audio mixer, microphone and a few other components, 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. I also wrote a similar post on this topic using Google Voice.

09 July 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers #mykmyrs

Tags: #mixminus #mixer #audiomixer #cell #phone #call #magicjack #microphone #podcast #callmenow

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 MagicJack Mix Minus

  • A computer running MacOS or Windows10 connected to the internet
  • A current MagicJack device with an active calling plan
  • 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
  • Optional
    • 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.
  • I am assuming that you already have your MagicJack device set up and connected via USB directly to your computer and that you have it working properly. You must have your MagicJack activated and have a current calling plan so that you have telephone service.

Steps to Connect the MagicJack Mix Minus Cabling

  1. 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.
  2. 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 in jack.
  3. Connect the 3.5mm to dual 1/4” TRS connectors cable to the headphone jack of your computer.
  4. 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 TRS to Mixer
  5. Connect your MagicJack unit to an available USB port on your computer. When its application loads, it will show you its start screen.Mix Minus MagicJack Main
  6. Connect your studio headphones to the mixer’s headphone jack to monitor the call. Try not to use speakers/studio monitors if possible.
  7. In the MagicJack application, you’ll need to configure some settings for calling. Set the inputs and outputs as required for your computer. I have selected my line in and headphone options so that the audio is coming from and going to my audio mixer.Mix Minus MagicJack Audio
  8. In the main MagicJack screen, dial a number to make a test call. Verify that you can hear the caller 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 the MagicJack software. 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.

Summary

Using a MagicJack mix minus with an audio mixer is a great way to take live telephone calls for podcasters or to record telephone conversations. Using a MagicJack phone number 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 MagicJack.

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.

Mix Minus Google Voice

Google Voice Mix Minus on Google Hangouts

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
  • Optional
    • 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Connect the 3.5mm to dual 1/4” TRS connectors cable to the headphone jack of your computer.
  4. 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 TRS to Mixer
  5. Connect your studio headphones to the mixer’s headphone jack to monitor the call. Try not to use speakers/studio monitors if possible.
  6. 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.

Summary

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.

Mix Minus with iRig 1

Cell Phone Mix Minus on Audio Mixer

In this post, I’ll show you how I made a very affordable cell phone mix minus setup with my analog audio mixer, and a few other components, to integrate my iPhone 8+ so that I could take live calls and use my studio microphone instead of the phone’s built-in microphone. 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!).

08 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 cell 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 for cell phone mix minus.

What You’ll Need to Create Cell Phone Mix Minus

  • A older cell phone with a 3.5mm headphone jack, or a lightning port
  • 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.
  • An original iRig 1 guitar interface, or an iRig 2 guitar interface
  • For lightning phones, an official Apple 3.5mm to Lightning adapter
  • A mono 1/4″ TS guitar cable
  • 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. You may need a 3.5mm to 1/4″ TRS adapter
  • Optional
    • 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

  • Newer cell phones, such as iPhones, only have a lightning port. You must have an official Apple 3.5mm to Lightning adapter. You can get these adapters for around $9 USD at Target, or buy online. DO NOT USE a cheap adapter because the cheap adapters only send stereo audio out. They DO NOT allow the microphone to be used, and you need to be able to use the microphone input of the cell phone.
  • While the 3.5mm to Lightning adapter is connected to your phone, you cannot charge or supply power to the phone. Make sure your battery is fully charged before starting a caller session.
  • When using an old Samsung Galaxy S4 cell phone, I can directly plug the iRig1 into the phone’s headphone jack it works perfectly for hearing and speaking.
  • 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.
  • Most YouTube videos and online articles I read use the IK Multimedia iRig 2 guitar interface due to its TRRS audio cable (2 rings for stereo audio and one ring for microphone) and a built-in gain control knob. As of this writing’s date, IK Multimedia sells them for $39.99 USD. I had an original iRig guitar interface laying around and tested it and it works great for mix minus. It is missing the gain control knob that is present on the iRig 2, but you can use your mixer/USB audio interface to help with the gain. Check Amazon or eBay for the iRig 1 which is cylindrical in shape and offers a TS guitar cable input, 3.5mm aux cable out and a TRRS 3-ring cable.
  • You can find the 3.5mm to dual 1/4” TRS cable to connect to the headphone jack of the iRig to the stereo inputs of your mixer at electronics stores or online.

Steps to Connect the Cell Phone Mix Minus Cabling

  1. 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 to enable sending its output to the mixer. Set its volume level knob all the way to the left to disable any audio output at this time. I pan my microphone audio 100% to the left.
  2. Connect one end of the guitar TS cable to the FX Loop output jack of the mixer. Connect the other end to the iRig interface’s 1/4” guitar input jack.Connect FX Loop to iRig
  3. Connect the 3.5mm to dual TRS cable to the headphone out of the iRig interface.Connect 1/4" to iRig
  4. Use the dual connector 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 TRS to Mixer
  5. Connect the iRig’s 3-ring cable plug to the 3.5mm to Lightning adapter. If using a phone with a headphone jack, connect the iRig1 directly into the phone’s headphone jack.Connect lightning to iRig
  6. For phones that need a lightning adapter, connect the lightning adapter to the lightning port of the cell phone.
  7. Connect your studio headphones to the mixer’s headphone jack to monitor the call. Try not to use speakers/studio monitors if possible.
  8. Since I am sending my analog mixer’s output to two (2) input jacks on a USB audio interface for left and right audio channels, I have to enable the “2-TR TO MIX” button on my mixer so that the audio is sent from the computer back into the mixer while recording. If I do not enable this feature, I cannot record the call’s audio.
  9. I also have to pan the mixer’s audio input channel for the phone hard right so that I can boost the gain on my USB audio interface’s input 2 to get a nice, solid signal from the caller’s phone.
  10. My USB audio interface’s gain knobs are set at about 10:00 for channel 1 and 2:00 for channel 2. Understandably this is subjective information, but this produces a nice blend of my microphone and the caller’s audio.
  11. After recording, I have to disengage the “2-TR TO MIXER” and enable “2-TR TO CTRL ROOM” to hear the playback from my DAW where I recorded the call.
  12. Test the setup with a phone call to your cell phone from another person’s phone. Adjust your phone’s audio output level with the buttons on the phone. Speak into your microphone and verify your levels are strong and not clipping on the mixer’s signal meter. Use the level knob on the mixer to adjust the cell phone input channel. Usually around 12:00 will provide a strong signal to be able to hear the caller through your mixer.
  13. If you recorded the audio, it will end up being a stereo file, with your microphone on the left channel and the caller’s voice on the right channel. Using this method, you have distinct audio sources and you can separate and apply processing on the channels individually if necessary.

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 whenever you want.

Summary

Using a cell phone mix minus with an audio mixer is a great way to take live telephone calls for podcasters or to record telephone conversations. With a few more steps, you can integrate the mixer’s audio stream into a computer recording application, or an external recording device, and make permanent recordings of the phone calls.

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.