I was challenged recently to come up with a package of equipment that would outfit an ambitious start-up internet radio station at the lowest possible cost. They needed to have 4 live microphones, telephone callers, and the ability to connect to a remote studio over a broadband IP connection. And it had to be compact for portability.

You may not need all of these components to get started, but it’s good to have an overview of how you can expand a basic setup.

Here are the basic elements. Some of the products I list are not necessarily the lowest price, but are the best value for the functions being requested.

– Mixer
– Mics, headphones, headphone amplifier
– Telephone interface
– Computer connection
– Codec

Mixer –
Mackie 1202VLZ3 can accommodate 4 mics, up to 2 telephone interfaces, and playback from your PC or other recording device. The mixer is the central control point. All audio comes in to, and goes out from the mixer. This one doesn’t have a built-in USB interface, but its other capabilities make it the best choice.

Mics, headphones, headphone amplifier –
You can start with inexpensive mics on desk stands,  or you might consider headsets (headphones with a mic attached).

A headset won’t pick up as much room noise as a regular mic, since it’s very close to the mouth. The mic is always in the right position, even if the user moves around. Headsets are especially useful if you are broadcasting from a remote location, and may not have a desk surface for regular mics, or are in noisy surroundings.

The mixer only has a single headphone jack. To create enough separate signals for each user, a headphone amplifier is needed. RA53B gives 5 headphone outputs, with individual controls. It has 1/4″ and 1/8″ jacks, so pro headphones or “earbuds” can be used.

Telephone interface –
One caller at a time is easy: If you have a conventional analog phone line, use a single-line hybrid.  If you plan to have several callers holding on multiple phone lines, and you will go from one to the next, you should consider a 6-line talk show system along with its control surface:

This system requires up to 6 separate analog phone lines to be installed by your telephone company.

If you will have a VIP guest on one phone throughout the program, and have callers from multiple lines to talk to the guest, you will combine both of the above systems.

Telephone hybrids require a specialized signal from the mixer, called “mix-minus”. This allows the callers to hear everything properly. For the “VIP plus callers” scenario above, you will need two separate “mix-minus” signals (one for each phone system.) Not all small mixers can properly create two post-fader mix-minus feeds. This is one reason I selected the Mackie mixer.

Computer Connection –
Playing audio from your computer (music, interviews, commercials) can be done with any playlist program you wish… Windows Media Player, Winamp, etc.  The audio connection from the mixer to the computer is by a simple USB interface. The Alpha interface includes Cubase LE4 recording software, or you can use most any other popular software.

Broadcasting from a Remote Site with a Codec –
A pair of codecs permit broadcast-quality audio to be sent between two points over a broadband internet connection. Both ends of the connection will need a compatible codec unit. Talk to us about your specific needs.

A codec provides a 2-way link to the remote studio. That is, the engineer at the other end can be speaking to you at the same time you are sending your program down the line.  The Mackie mixer’s monitoring capabilities allow you to hear the engineer in your headphones, without his voice appearing on the main program. (This is another reason this mixer was selected.)

BSW offers several pre-configured podcasting packages. But, as you can see from this article, it’s easy to mix and match equipment to create most any configuration you need to achieve your goals.

Determine what capabilities you need, then contact us. We’ll help you find the right products to get your internet station going.

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3 thoughts

    1. Audio-Technica’s BPHS1 headset is great for sportscasting, or general use in an un-treated room. The mic is full and natural-sounding. The headphone is lightweight. If your application is sportscasting in extremely loud surroundings, HMD280 has somewhat better isolation from the crowd.

      1. great, thanks for the info, im currently researching headsets for amature broadcast so price is a huge factor as well…

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