Recording high-quality voice overs for your eLearning course from the comfort of your home can be rewarding and intimidating all at the same time.
Content creators like you have a wide range of options when it comes to the ideal recording equipment.
In this article you'll learn about using a mixer vs audio interface for recording eLearning voice overs.
While there's no doubt choosing the best voice over microphone is a stepping-stone to recording the best voice overs, your microphone is no use if you don’t have a solid audio interface to plug it into.
Let’s start with discussing what an audio interface is and go through some top picks, then we'll get into the mixers.
What is an Audio Interface?
In the simplest sense, an audio interface is a device that connects your microphone to your computer.
While most computers come with a built-in audio interface allowing you to plug in a microphone with a 3.5 mm pin, the quality of recording you'll get from that usually isn't good enough for eLearning voice overs.
A simple yet major mistake that many course creators make is to splurge on a premium-quality microphone but end up going for a sub-par audio interface (or none at all). It's a common mistake, but at least one you'll notice right away when you hear the poor quality of your first voice over recordings.
Audio interfaces come in a variety of shapes and sizes along with a variety of features. Connecting an audio interface to your computer is no big deal; you can simply use a USB or a FireWire – and enjoy producing professional-level recordings.
In addition, they also usually have a microphone preamplifier to amplify the microphone’s signal to produce even better quality sound. The preamp translates the mic’s signals into a language your computer understands.
I've been doing voice over recording for online courses starting around 2004. If you want to know what I use, keep reading …
Please note: Some of the links below are affiliate links which means I’ll receive a commission if you end up buying after clicking on one of my links. There’s no cost to you. I only review products I’ve used and believe could be useful to my readers.
5 Best Audio Interfaces for Recording eLearning Voiceovers
Here's a list of the top audio interfaces for eLearning voice overs ranging from the most affordable to more expensive products.
1. Presonus Audiobox
Price range: Approximately $99 – $129
The Presonus Audiobox comes with a copy of the middle version of Studio One, which means it features multiple plug-ins.
This bus-powered USB audio and MIDI interface is highly compatible with all kinds of recording software for both Windows and Mac. It features two combo mic inputs along with microphone preamps that ensure high performance and low noise. It also allows for zero-latency analog monitoring.
–> Shop Presonus Audiobox
Price range: Approximately $105 – $199
The Audient iD4 is a simple 2-in and 2-out audio interface that works great for recording eLearning voice overs. It features an XLR socket on the first input and on the second, a jack. Featuring a microphone preamp, multiple stereo outputs, and twin headphone outputs, this tool offers an exceptional voice over recording experience for those who are on a strict budget.
It comes with a range of software, including the Cubase L.E. This bus-powered interface is small and portable which makes it perfect if you need to move around.
–> Shop Audient iD4
3. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is the go-to audio interface for people who want something in the mid-price range. This is the one I currently use.
With 2-ins and 2-outs, this lightweight, simple-to-use interface is a reliable option. It also features two mic preamps for producing natural-sounding, high-quality recordings. The two instrument input design allows it to pick up clear, crisp sounds. Moreover, the headphone output allows you to control gain for maximum flexibility.
–> Shop Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
4. Focusrite Clarett 2 Pre
This audio interface is a better and faster tool belonging to the Focusrite family. If you can afford an audio interface that falls into the slightly expensive category, this should be your go-to choice.
The Focusrite Clarett 2 Pre features a 10-in and 4-out thunderbolt interface to offer excellent sound quality. It also boasts two mic preamps specially designed with an analog air feature to minimize noise and distortion. This audio interface also has extra headroom to handle the loudest sounds.
With the ideal A-D and D-A conversion, it delivers an impressive signal path with a dynamic range of 119 dB. Moreover, its round-trip latency promises to simplify your recording experience.
–> Shop Focusrite Clarett 2 Pre
5. RME Babyface Pro
If you’re looking for a high-end audio interface that guarantees zero compromises on the quality of your voice over recordings, you should consider buying the RME Babyface Pro.
Expertly made with an aluminum block, this interface offers advanced analog and digital circuits. This simple-looking tool is actually a very powerful unit with each of its buttons performing multiple functions.
The digital circuits allow you to save and reload different settings for different projects. This interface features four inputs; two jacks and two XLR.
–> Shop RME Babyface Pro
What Are Audio Mixers?
You've just learned a little about audio interfaces, now let's get into mixers. An audio mixer is a device that serves a more complicated and advanced purpose compared to an audio interface.
Mixers allow you to manage the signals sent to your computer. If you want more control over your recording experience, you may consider adding an audio mixer to your home recording package.
A mixer features equalizers and volume faders for each of the input channels, allowing you to gain maximum control over the sounds entering your computer system. Most mixers also enable you to benefit from unique effects, including delay, chorus, and reverb.
The majority of audio mixers available on the market today come with a USB or FireWire. That means you can connect the mixer to your computer, eliminating the need to buy an audio interface. So you just need to decide between a mixer vs audio interface; you don't need both.
A List of the 3 Best Audio Mixers
Here are a few reliable audio mixer options for you to consider:
1. Behringer XENYX 1204 USB
This is perhaps the most reasonably priced mixer audio interface for eLearning voice overs.
It features four pre-amped XLR and line-in inputs as well as various types of effects, faders, equalizers, auxiliary inputs and outputs for optimal control over your recording experience. This low-noise mixer offers a unique ‘Planet Earth’ power switch for maximum flexibility and minimum power usage.
–> Shop Behringer XENYX 1204 USB
2. Alesis Multimix 8 USB FX
If you’re looking for an audio mixer, you may consider going for the Alesis Multimix 8 USB FX. This mixer features fast, low-latency A-D and D-A conversion. It allows you to take advantage of 16-bit digital effects to enjoy an exceptional, low-noise recording experience.
It also features XLR inputs with gain trim, switchable high-pass filters, and 48V phantom power.
–> Shop Alesis Multimix 16 USB 2.0 FX
3. Mackie PROFX 12V2 12-Channel Compact Mixer
Featuring six microphone preamps, this mixer produces low-noise recordings and can add life to any tool. The effects engine includes the delay, chorus, and reverb effects for producing rich, clear sounds.
Furthermore, it comes with a 7-band graphic EQ for monitor tuning and an AUX output for monitor mixes. The built-in USB interface allows you to record voice overs hassle-freely.
Mixer vs. Audio Interface
If you’re just starting out creating eLearning courses, chances are you'll want to buy something that's basic and affordable. Voice over recording really doesn’t require many of the advanced functions that an audio mixer offers.
If your only goal is to produce high-quality voice over recordings, then you may want to go with an audio interface. I use and recommend an audio interface and not a mixer. As mentioned, the one I use is the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. It's affordable and works out well for my needs. I think it'll work out well for yours too.
To settle the mixer vs. audio interface debate, I recommend going with a mid to high-grade audio interface. It'll allow you to start recording with minimal hassle. However, if you have the budget and even more importantly, the time to experiment, you may consider a mixer.
While a good audio interface helps you produce clear, rich, professional-level voice over recordings, an audio mixer allows you to play with advanced features and discover what they can do to transform your recordings. It's not something I'm into as I prefer to plug-in my equipment and then just leave it be, but it may be for you.
Another resource you may be interested in is a complete home recording studio package for the production of eLearning courses. There are several pieces of equipment you'll need to produce high quality voice overs for your courses, but you can probably get by for less than you think. Take a look!