Mixers have a lot of little knobs and buttons and switches, which can be confusing to us laypeople. We just want good sound, without being too quiet or too distorted. We just want it to work!
The importance of gain in your mix is important. it's how you can help control that upper end distortion, empowering your volume knob to have as much of a usable range as possible. A thoughtfully set gain knob makes all the difference. Take a look at this video to learn more:
Another question from the Belly Dance Teaching Online group I belong to/admin!
"We started w the website computer (ugh), changed to casting from the phone, and currently are using a webcam. I wonder if I should just go for the DSLR...do you happen to have one you recommend at all?
Again, this is so helpful and I am grateful you are willing to share all of this info."
This question comes from a comment by V. Violett, and the subsequent discussion on the Belly Dance Teaching Facebook Group. VV is currently using iTunes as a share within Zoom, and an external mic coming in via the mini-jack plug on the side of her HP laptop. She is seeking ways to streamline her set-up before classes, and is considering a virtual mixer over a physical mixer for her use-case. Here's my thoughts:
Sound can be tricky--it really varies based on what device(s) you are using, your environment, and not the least of the factors: BUDGET!
I have tried 3-4 different sound set ups, but the best for me so far has been a small USB mixer with my music and voice going into that, then via USB going into my computer. I have tried different microphones, and learned the old adage "you get what you pay for" is largely true. There are a few exceptions, but the cheaper you go on wireless mics, you'll find battery life and consistency of connection can be an issue.
In-room sound didn't work for me (meaning set up a mic to capture in-room voice and music), not only because it makes all sound a bit muddier, but it means any ambient noise potentially goes into my feed as well. Street sounds, the massive industrial heater over my head, other people using shared spaces at my studio, etc. would all be in the mix. With a closed system (wireless mic and iPod into mixer), I get very clear sound and little to no distracting noise. Bonus, when I go to hybrid classes and we're still masked in-person, I won't have to try to yell to be heard through my mask and over music. I can choose to amplify my voice via my in-room speakers as well as transmit to the stream. But that's a topic for another time...
My gear list is pretty simple, not cheap, not high end, and works:
Shay is the owner, director, and headmistress of Deep Roots Dance, Studio Deep Roots, and Deep Roots Live! Sharing the exciting and surreal journey into teaching online during the time of COVID-19, and the joys of staying connected to community when it seems the world is literally trying to keep us apart.