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Non-pro 2 computer setup

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Non-pro 2 computer setup

Postby TristanSchaaf » Wed Jul 25, 2018 7:18 pm

I've made an account here specifically for this question as I haven't been able to get an answer (read: product recommendation) for a few months now.
I'm unsure if this is the right place, or even website to post something like this but I'm getting frustrated by my lack of progression.

The situation is this; Me and my girlfriend are both on our computers a lot. Professional or leisure. We both wear headphones most of the time as to fully focus on whatever it is on the screen. Be it work or a game. We also game together quite often, both on our own computer.

So, we need a way to communicate without compromising the sound quality offered by our headphones. Sometimes we also communicate to others via online services such as Skype, TeamSpeak and Discord. Using such services locally shows just how much latency there is for audio to be processed by the computer, send to the server, downloaded from another client and processed again. This make a normal setup not possible. (nothing is worse then hearing someone talk and 3-4 seconds later hear the exact same but clearer).

Image
(dotted line is optional, preferred to be possible but should be able to turn off without compromising other signals).
This is an overview of the audio, and direction it should go in. We both also have a laptop, located next to our screens. If possible we would want to get that audio on our headphones as well.
Now I need something that fits in those black boxes. So far I've come up with the following solution:
Both using a XLR microphone, input Microphone, and 2 computers into an analogue computer, connect the mixer via USB to the main computer. Use an AUX to connect the microphone to the mixer of person 2, and vice versa. Use the USB to output the microphone to the main computer. Connect the laptop via minijack -> RCA to a stereo input on the mixer.

So far I've found two product who can possibly achieve this, though I'm unsure if i'm correct.
Soundcraft Notepad-8fx and Behringer XENYX Q802USB. I've heard bad things about the driver for Soundcraft, and I'm unsure about the quality of Behringer.
Ditching the USB part could open up more options, but then I don't know how to connect a mixer to a PC without introducing hiss or other issues.

Also, both mixers don't have phantom power switch, I use a dynamic mic normally (Stagg MD-007) which can be replaced eventually but not in the immediate future.
Right now we don't have anything connected to each other and my M-audio Fasttrack is dying (very weird distortion on windows in random moments and on certain apps).

I get if this isn't entirely clear so if there are questions I'd gladly answer them. Any help is appreciated!
TristanSchaaf
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Re: Non-pro 2 computer setup

Postby ef37a » Wed Jul 25, 2018 8:25 pm

To get GF>BF,BF>GF communication you don't need a computer. All you need is a mixer, two mics (pan them where you will) and two headphone feeds. You might need a H/P amp for the latter. The Behringer HA400 is rather good for £20 and gives you each individual level control.

Sounds originating from the computers simply go to line inputs on the mixer. Such sounds could come from the On Board Soundcard but better of course from an external AI and since you will need two that is starting to build the cost. The Behringer* UCA 202 is again about 20 quid and is easily good enough (better than OBS) for Skype/gaming sound.

Sorry but I can't do smart diagrams, just an old valve amp service jockey.

*No! I don't work for them, in fact I don't like the company but facts is facts, they DO make some handy cheap kit!

Dave.
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Re: Non-pro 2 computer setup

Postby TristanSchaaf » Wed Jul 25, 2018 9:17 pm

Something like this?

Image

How would I split signals in the headphone amp? I require that the main computer has stereo sound (for directional ques). And am I correct in assuming that you want to split the microphone signal somewhere (either via the mixer or via the EAI) to get it back to the computer?

I'm quite confused on how to split the signals the mixer is getting, and how a headphone amp would not confuse which computer is which.

If it were just so I can hear her on the headphones via microphone I'd see how this would work, but there are more inputs involved that need to go through the headphones.
As for the required quality, I'm not that picky. The setup I have no has high enough quality for the time being (not that audiophile (yet)). Microphones should be 'podcast' level, which is to say not that much background hiss/noise.

I don't really mind the costs as I haven't even been able to figure this out on a unlimited budget without over complicating it (though realistically I would prefer if the costs of EAI's, H/P amps & mixers for the both of us would be max 500 euro's).

The black magic boxes on my original post don't have to be a single device. If possible, of course I would love to have a single mixer that handles input and output for all devices (including preamps etc), but I don't mind having a EAI, mixer and headphone amp per person, for example.
TristanSchaaf
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Re: Non-pro 2 computer setup

Postby molecular » Fri Jul 27, 2018 12:47 pm

I think the missing piece of the puzzle is something like the Millenium HP4, which allows you to take up to 4 separate mixes and distribute them to different sets of headphones (£60).
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Re: Non-pro 2 computer setup

Postby TristanSchaaf » Fri Jul 27, 2018 5:17 pm

I can see how it can help, but I don't see how it can split or combine sources. I'd guess you still need a mixer for that.

Do you have an idea on how to connect all the pieces of equipment?
TristanSchaaf
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Re: Non-pro 2 computer setup

Postby molecular » Fri Jul 27, 2018 11:27 pm

You would still need a mixer, yes. One with two mic inputs and four stereo line inputs like dave suggested. In order to send the mics back to the computers, and send different mixes to each headphones, it should have two AUX sends as well as the main outs.

The cheapest solution is if your computers have line out and line in audio on mini-jack. If this is the case, I would do this:

Connect the two mics to two mic inputs on the mixer.
Connect all four laptops to four stereo line inputs on the mixer.
Set a good input level for each mic, and put each fader at 0 and leave it there.
Keep the faders for the computer channels down.
Pan your mic hard left, and connect the main left out back to your computer's input.
Pan her mic hard right, and connect the main right out back to your computer's input.
Connect AUX out 1 to the HP amp input 1, and switch your heapdphones to input 1
Connect AUX out 2 to the HP amp input 2, and switch her heapdphones to input 2
Use the aux sends on each channel to control how much of each laptop and each mic you want in your and her headphones separately.

You can probably get a desk that does that for £200 - one of the AUX sends might be "post fader" but as I don't think you ever need to touch the mic faders, I don't think that matters.

Plus £60 for the HP amp.

You can probably find a mixer in a 19" rack format that does this for a tidier set-up.

The Zoom L-12 actually allows you drive up to 5 sets of headphones on different mixes so would do the job in a single unit, and would provide one of the computers with a USB interface, but it's £450.
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