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I'm creating a podcast and am wondering if I should buy a plain audio interface, or a mixer with a built-in multi-track interface -- like the MultiMix 8 USB 2.0.

I'm planning on mixing/mastering on my laptop after the tracks have been recorded, but I'm thinking it might be nice to be able to do some EQ, leveling, etc on the mixer while recording as well.

Will having the mixer really add any features or flexibility that I can't do through software alone, or is it just a waste of money?

So far the only advantages I can think of are: 1) You could monitor directly from the board, so you don't have to worry about latency; and 2) if you want more than two XLR inputs, it seems to be cheaper to get a mixer with a built-in interface than a plain interface.

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The major feature that a mixer/interface adds over a straight interface is the ability to mix audio without using a computer - just like a hardware mixer with no interface. This isn't much help when recording unless you prefer the sound of the hardware mixer/EQ to the sound of your software mixing and EQ.

Many of them (I believe the Alesis MultiMix 8 is among them) also give you nice features like EQ on input channels, which again can be nice to use if you prefer how they sound coming out. For recording, they are not strictly necessary, as the biggest mixing tool - the ability to set track levels - is available on most multi-input audio interfaces. Many interfaces offer monitoring features as well, which is very useful.

I am of the opinion that it comes down to workflow. If you prefer dialing in a basic level and EQ in hardware at recording time, use a mixer. If you prefer to do it all after recording, then only an interface is necessary.

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