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similar questions have been asked, but the answers don't fully suit me because they are centered on issues other than the audio interface itself, which is my main incognita

Equipment setup for recording a podcast

What production tools should we look at for a weekly podcast

Podcast recording tips

I want to get some cheap box with three or four inputs to do a live radio show. Amazing quality is not an issue, but I do want to have the voices as separate tracks (to apply cheesy effects to them), and I want to be able to plug cheap mikes with jack/minijack connections. And it should be under the 100 bucks mark. If there's nothing under that, i'll just go for this http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/1204USB.aspx which is 150 in amazon i guess (edit: the behringer doesnt give me separate tracks, thought it was too good to be true!)

I'm looking at a m-audio Quattro on ebay going on for cheap, will something like that do?Can i plug cheap mikes to that and have everything as separate tracks?

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Just to clarify, which other questions are you talking about, and what about them didn't suit you? –  Warrior Bob Apr 2 '12 at 14:40
    
edited it, thank you –  takosuke Apr 2 '12 at 16:10

1 Answer 1

I wouldn't recommend either. The Behringer only sends 2 channels to the computer, and the Quattro doesn't have drivers for anything past Windows XP (with no mention of 64 bit). From my past experience with trying to do things "on the cheap" I've found that you need to very careful what you buy. Make sure you are not going to have to buy another one in six months because it is no longer supported or no longer suits your needs.

Now to answer your real question: Which audio interface to buy.

First you need to find a device that has at least 4 inputs. The better ones will have XLR and TRS connectors. Since you are looking to use microphones with TRS connectors you should be able to find a cheaper interface. Just make sure that you can plug all your microphones in using minimal adapters. Be careful of mixers with a USB interface. Usually they only send 2 channels to the computer. There are however a few exceptions.

Once you find a likely interface you need to read the specs, features, and sometimes even the user manual to find out if the device will send more than 2 channels to the computer. If it doesn't specify and it is USB 1.0 it probably only sends out a stereo mix to the computer. I wouldn't recommend buying anything that doesn't actually tell you it will allow you to record at least 4 channels.

M-Audio has some nice interfaces, but the new ones which would have 4+ inputs and drivers for the latest OS's start at $250 usd.

Alesis also has several options that would fit your needs, the cheapest being the iO4. Any of the Multimix USB 2.0 mixers will send all inputs plus the stereo mix to the computer.

Tascam has a few to choose from. The US-600 seems like the most likely candidate.

I also found a few DJ type interfaces on Google which have 4 RCA inputs. One of these might meet your needs.

Before you buy anything read the reviews and check for things like driver incompatibility issues, excessive noise, etc. If you find that many people are having the same problem, you will likely have it also.

Just about any interface that supports 4 inputs will sound pretty good. If you find you need better quality you may need to find one with some good quality Pre-amps.

To answer your second question: Just about any microphone will work for your current needs.

Mic placement and setting the proper levels will go a long way to making a decent sounding mix with even the cheapest microphones. With a poor quality microphone you will get more noise, and the voices will not sound as good as with a better mic, but it still should be good enough for your current needs. You may be able to fix some of the noise and EQ the voices on the computer to make them sound better.

If you don't already have the microphones, you can ask a new question about what to look for in a low priced microphone.

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