Bargain Equipment for high-quality Radio Broadcasting
Hello DJs! As the world recedes into further hibernation during 2020, a lot of us are moving swiftly to live broadcasting online. For a good live broadcast, you want to start with the basics, i.e. good hardware. Now, great hardware is not necessarily expensive hardware. You just have to pick up the right hardware for the job, that’s all. This guide will be really helpful for you if you are looking to find equipment that you need to get on with your first radio broadcast. DJ gear like controllers, and DJ mixers can handle the music mixing but usually it falls short on vocal quality.
So, how do we get a crystal clear mixed signal to the broadcast which has both the vocal and the music at good quality?
The following guide has a list of equipment that you can pick for a bargain and still achieve great sound for broadcasting. Whether you want to broadcast on the internet to a Radio Station or to anything, like YouTube or Facebook or Twitch via a software like Open Broadcaster Studio, the following list of sound gear can be used.
What do you need?
- A USB interface Mixer or a soundcard.
- Behringer Q502 USB Mixer is perfect. The Behringer Q502 USB is a superb, versatile and value for money mixer! It has a USB interface, comes with free recording software and supports low Phantom Power Microphones. Yes, there are condenser mics that will work with this mixer, and they range from cheap to expensive. You can buy it here.
- Behringer UCA 222 soundcard: One of the few simple soundcards available out there. Simple is the key word here. The Behringer UCA 222 is a USB soundcard with 2 RCA Inputs (L/R) and 2 RCA Outputs (R/L). Additionally, it has a headphone output and a volume control. You can connect a Line signal to the input like, a phone, DJ mixer, DJ controller, iPod(if you still own one), CD Player (are you joking?) etc. You connect speakers to the output. The idea is that you can record the line signal going into your computer via the USB interface while monitoring either on the speakers or headphones. You can pick one up here.
- Your DJ controller or any DJ gear you use. All you need is an output from the mixer section of your controller or the DJ mixer you use.
- A condenser Microphone or a regular live vocal microphone.
- Behringer C1 Condenser XLR: Cheap, cheerful and surprisingly great quality! It’s good, and it is especially great if you are just getting started. Also, it will work with the Behringer Q502 phantom power. You can pick on up here.
- Rode PodMic: Rode quality. In other words top-notch but meant for podcasting and online broadcasts, so don’t expect to record the next superhit song on it. The party piece this mic has is that it is a condenser quality mic that does not need phantom power! It is basically a large diaphragm dynamic mic. Yes, it means it will also work with most DJ controllers. You can pick one up here.
- Rode Podcaster: This one is the same as the mic above, but has better specs. A large diaphragm dynamic mic which will work without phantom power. You can pick one up here.
- Shure SM58: Probably the most widely owned and used vocal microphone of all time is the Shure SM58. Any musician who does live gigs will tell you the same as I’m about to say now. It doesn’t get much better or rather you don’t need much more for a live gig, especially as a DJ. Is it the best for radio? It is very good if you don’t do it often. Otherwise, prefer a condenser. I can write a whole article on why and why not, and probably conclude that the choice entirely depends on your use-case and frequency of that use you are buying it for. You can pick one up here.
- AKG D5: A newer kid on the block. It is a really good live vocal microphone for a very reasonable price. Not as good as the SM58 but better than the Shure PM series by miles. Also, the AKG is a little bit more warmer on the tone side, so if you like a more bassy response, it is probably a good pick. You can pick one up here.
- All the cables!
- Unbalanced RCA to 6.35mm JACK: You will need one of these if your controller only has RCA unbalanced outputs. You can get these here. Great quality!
- XLR to 6.35mm JACK: You will need two of these if your controller has XLR outputs and you wish to use these outputs. You can get them here. If you want to use the RCA outputs on your gear then see the first cable.
- XLR Microphone Cable: You will need one of these to connect your mic to the mixer. Some microphones come with a cable, so check if you need to buy a cable separately or not. If you do, you can pick one up here.
- A monitor speaker. Preferably a decent monitor speaker but, of course, this does not affect what people will hear, just what you will hear. You can start with something like Edifier bookshelfs and work your way up to the KRKs. This is probably a list for another guide.
- A PC or a Mac with a broadcasting software.
- Ladiocast:for Mac. Get it from the App Store.
- BUTT Recommended):for PC, Linux or Mac. Download it here from the developer’s website.
- VirtualDJ: Yes, VDJ has its own broadcasting engine for ShoutCast Radio broadcasts!
USB Mixer Interface or a Soundcard: Which is better?
Simply put, the answer is that it depends on your use-case. For online broadcasting, two things are essential. First is great vocal quality and the second is good quality sound from your music equipment.
A USB Mixer interface will allow you to power and connect a proper condenser microphone. Straight away, you are going to sound the part, especially if you are broadcasting to a Radio station. Think about it this way though, how many times are you going to broadcast? Are you thinking of doing this long term or regularly enough? If the answer is yes, then just get a Mixer with a USB Interface like the Behringer Q502. It is versatile and will also be useful for future recordings, like podcasts and YouTube videos.
On the other hand, if you are going to do online broadcasting as a one off or intermittently, then ask yourself what you already have. If your DJ controller or DJ mixer can drive a good microphone and you already have a live mic for DJ use, then it is easier and in some cases cheaper to buy a simple USB soundcard like the Behringer UCA 222. There are also cheaper, generic and non-branded options available but the Behringer doesn’t cost that much more.
Ultimately, if you are starting without much more than your DJ controller, then the best option is to buy the Behringer USB Mixer Interface and a Behringer condenser mic. Whichever way you put things together, you will be spending almost the same, so you might as well pick up the most versatile kit from the list.
As far as a good quality music signal is concerned, that should be easy if you are using some kind of DJ gear. Even an entry level controller like the Numark Mixtrak Pro is capable of outputting a good enough signal which can be patched through to a soundcard or a mixer.
Ta-da! You are all set to broadcast crystal clear audio and the kit might cost you less than a hundred in most cases! That is a true bargain for HQ audio broadcasting and will probably see you through for a long, long time. That’s not all. USB mixing interfaces are highly versatile and allow you to record your own samples, drops, mix and record vocals and instruments and lot’s more! Who knows, it may just tempt you into learning sample and song recording as a hobby. In any case, your live broadcast or radio broadcast listeners will love you for getting the sound just right.
Now that you have the gear, let’s connect it up. I’ll write a connection guide real soon, so standby.
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