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I need to have two people on a phone call and record all the three voices -- mine and the voices of each of the other two guests -- on separate tracks. I could use the plain old telephone or Skype to make the call, whatever you say works better. But my end goal is to have each voice on a separate track. Or at the very least, all voices on (n - 1) tracks where n is the number of people on the call. In other words, in the worst case (n - 1) scenario, I could have my own voice be interlaced with another guests voice in one track.

What setup would give me the result I need? What all equipment and software would I need? Also, what is the best sound mixer for a home studio use?

How will the sound output from a given PC that the call is on, go to the sound mixer? What interface -- USB/Firewire do sound mixers use?

Sorry, I am a total newbie as far as sound mixing is concerned.

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"But my end goal is to have each voice on a separate track." -- this is not possible. You need to have access to each microphone (each phone in this case) in the conversation to be able to record each voice to its own track. At best you could put your voice on one track (because you have access to your microphone) and every one else's voice on another track (because they'll all be coming in on one inbound audio stream). –  Ian C. May 31 '11 at 1:08
    
One alternative method is to do a Skype conference call, but have each participant record their own microphone input. Then someone else can sync up all of the tracks later. –  NReilingh May 31 '11 at 8:05
    
Oh, thank you so very much, NReilingh and Ian. Both of you have answered my question satisfactorily. I will use both options where I can, i.e. a sound mixer at my end to separate my track with the rest of the group, and second, request (where I can) the guests to record at their end and then interlace (whatever the right term is, super-impose, mix) the individual tracks together. Thank you very much. –  Sathyaish May 31 '11 at 19:03
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I'm assuming you have:

  • you in the "studio"
  • guest one over skype
  • guest two also over skype

And you want to record three tracks. Very reasonable. The trouble is that if you use a single instance of skype both guests will come in on the same channel. Worse, skype will cut out guest one while guest two is talking and vice versa.

The solution is to have two separate instances of skype, each calling just one of the guests. Because Skype won't run two instances on the same computer, you'll either want to use two computers or, if you're cheap, two virtual machines using VMWare or the like.

So now you've got Skype 1 talking to Guest 1 and Skype 2 talking to Guest 2. The next trick is to route:

  • the audio from you and guest 1 to guest 2
  • the audio from guest 1 and guest 2 to you
  • the audio from you and guest 2 to guest 1

The common denominator here is that everybody wants to hear everybody but themselves. This is called Mix Minus. You'll need a mixer (either a software mixer or a physical mixer) that can produce three separate output streams with a different mix on each of them. Software mixers can do this easily. For a physical mixer, you need one that has two "AUX" mixes plus the main mix.

That's the basic setup. The details could go on for many pages, but this should be enough to get you started.

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Wow, sounds like a lot of work. Do you do all that for the SO podcasts? I'm guessing you have to use headphones too, or surely that would end up confusing Skype's echo cancellation algorithm. (i.e. how does skype instance 1 know that guest 2 isn't you and retransmit it?). I also suspect that the Skype4Com API ought to be able to record each incoming stream to a separate file, but I haven't tried it (don't have enough friends on Skype to hold a conference call!). –  Mark Heath Jun 17 '11 at 6:25
    
Hello, Joel. Thank you so much for you reply. You explain very nicely and make very difficult things easy to understand. contd... –  Sathyaish Jun 23 '11 at 17:47
    
Before I read your answer, actually, I thought I had it all figured out in my head and was waiting to act on it by going shopping for an audio mixer. I was putting off the decision to go shopping for the audio mixer because of two reasons: * I wanted to know which one was the best within my means and * I was waiting to make some money to finance it. But after reading your answer, I think this issue isn't as simple as I thought and there's more I need to think and I need to come back with more questions. I am going to think more and ask some more questions. Thanks a bunch. –  Sathyaish Jun 23 '11 at 17:50
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Nothing is impossible. If it were absolutely necessary, depending on your available resources, you could use two computers with skype, both running into an audio interface, recording into your DAW. Then it's just a matter of sending back a submix of yourself + guest A to guest B and yourself + guest B to guest A.

Cheers

Blake

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Thanks much, Sean. I like your answer. It sums up the thing briefly. –  Sathyaish Jun 23 '11 at 17:51
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