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Connect 1 Mic / Audio Interface with 2 Computers

hilow

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I have been searching the forum, but could not find a discussion about the best way to connect a single microphone with multiple PCs for home office, recording teaching videos and voice chat (work and gaming PC). To some degree this is similar to the DAC discussion going on here, but I would like to see the options on the ADC side.

Currently, I'm connection my work and gaming PC by manual plugging in my cheap UCA202 (yeah I know). To setup my (at that time temporary) home office I used what was lying around and added a Rode NT1. So the setup looks like this:

Rode NT1 > Phonic AM120 MKII > UCA202

On the listening side I have two options:

Meier Audio Corda 3Move / UCA202 (if I'm too lazy) > StageDiver SD-4 (IEM) / Beyerdynamic DT880 250 Ohm

I would like to improve this setup to avoid manual cable changes and declutter my desk to a degree. The 3Move is ok but just too tiny for desktops use (and should be free for portable use again).

Options for the ADC side I gathered so far:
  • USB Switch + Audio Interface
  • Audio Interface + SPDIF/Toslink Switch + Digital In/Out at PCs (cheap sound card?)
  • MIC Preamp + XLR/Monitor Switch + 2 ADCs (e.g. E1DA Cosmos)
The first two options would also solve the DAC side. The third option surely needs additional DACs at both computers.

Any thoughts on pros / cons and potential products? The digital switching would be cool to minimize components on the analog side, but that seems to be costly to achieve (like RME ADI-2 with digital out). I'm willing to spend up to 1000€.

BTW, great forum and reviews! As an electrical engineer I really appreciate all the detailed information :)
 

AnalogSteph

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Options for the ADC side I gathered so far:
  • USB Switch + Audio Interface
  • Audio Interface + SPDIF/Toslink Switch + Digital In/Out at PCs (cheap sound card?)
  • MIC Preamp + XLR/Mnonitor Switch + 2 ADCs (e.g. E1DA Cosmos)
I would probably scratch the second option, SPDIF inputs aren't that common these days.

I'd have suggested something along the lines of the third option, run the Phonic output via TRS --> XLR into an XLR splitter cable into one moderately expensive audio interface per PC.

The USB switch also looks like a promising option though, assuming you can find one that works well... then you could concentrate the funds and get one somewhat better interface instead, along with being able to get rid of the mixer. Since you'll want very low headphone output impedance and noise plus still good levels into higher-impedance loads, the list of candidates shrinks to little more than a single option, the MOTU M2 (or M4). (If the SD4 prefers 10 ohm outputs, I'd suggest looking at the SSL 2.)

In case the MOTU should be temporarily out of stock again, you could also resort to bodging something together using e.g. an Arturia Minifuse 1 or Focusrite Scarlett Solo on the input side plus perhaps a FiiO M3K or M3 Pro in USB DAC mode (or an upscale USB-C dongle DAC). Actually the Minifuse along with quite a number of other interfaces would also be driving the DT880 well, but ones combining the noise level and output impedance you want for IEMs are a bit thin on the ground.
 
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hilow

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Thank you for the feedback. I already had the Motu Interfaces on my list, but did not think about the different requirements of the headphones yet.

Searching a bit more I found two SPDIF Options as Input:
  • miniDAC USBStreamerB
  • Hifime UR23 SPDIF Optical to USB converter
The miniDAC sounds like overkill for my purpose and is much more expensive.

With that in mind, I could image a setup like:

Motu UltraLite mk5 > USB-C > PC 1
Motu UltraLite mk5 > SPDIF Out > Hifime UR23 > PC 2

PC1 > USB-C > Motu UltraLite mk5 > (optional AMP) > headphone
PC2 > SPDIF Out (Mobo) > Motu UltraLite mk5 > (optional AMP) > headphone

That would be like 740€ for the Motu, 25€ for the Hifime, (+e.g. 150€ Topping L30). Also, it gives me the option to cable two sets of active monitors for both setups in the future.:cool:
 
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hilow

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So to continue this, the analog option could go something like this:

MIC > Splitter > Motu M2/M4 (Phantom active) > PC1
MIC > Splitter > Motu M2/M4 > PC2

Only downside without a separate AMP is that Phantom needs to come through the direct path which requires both interfaces to be active for PC2. Other options would be a splitter plus separate phantom power source or the radial hotshot 48V (expensive). I'm not sure about the quality of switches? Some are labeld as "for microphones", some do not mention that at all. Could cost anything from 30€ to a few hundred.

@AnalogSteph
You mentioned XLR splitter cables. If I split the MIC before the Motu and then have phantom power on either or both, what happens?
 

AnalogSteph

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I would not recommend splitting a mic if you can help it, phantom power being just one issue. Which is why I suggested doing so after a mic preamp (the mixer will do fine). At this point the signal will also be high enough in level to be quite robust.

The USB switch route would really be the most ideal one, as it would reduce the clutter factor a lot. I'd suggest researching this route a bit more.
 
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hilow

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Splitter after the Mic amp seems mor reasonable, I agree. I have no idea about the quality of the Phonic mixer, at least ok for my current application, I guess.

There are some reports about usb switches for this purpose. For example here:
Not sure how robust Windows and/or a Motu M2/M4 behaves in these situations. Might introduce ground loops between the PCs, also?

Finally, Motus M2/M4 Interfaces are USB Bus powered, right? Not sure if that works through a switch. The ultralikte mk5 seems to have a separate power input and might be fine.
 

Trell

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Finally, Motus M2/M4 Interfaces are USB Bus powered, right? Not sure if that works through a switch.

Perhaps a powered USB hub between the switch and the audio interface could work, or find an USB switch that is externally powered.
 
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hilow

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Perhaps a powered USB hub between the switch and the audio interface could work, or find an USB switch that is externally powered.
That could be an option. However, for audio interfaces I would minimize the amount of USB components on the way. So a single switch directly plugged into a port on the PCs would be my personal favorite.

Still, on an emotional level I distrust all the cheap switch options available when it comes to reliability. Guess I have to bite the bullet and test it. :rolleyes:
 

Watsonian

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You may wish to consider some form of Audio over IP (AoIP) interface but they don't come cheap.

AoIP allows for multicasting traffic to multiple targets simultaneously.

The challenge would be one of budget, as I'm not sure how many (if any) AoIP interfaces cost in under 1,000 Euros.

I use a Ravenna AoIP interface and certainly ethernet means that I don't particularly care about the length of cable runs, bandwidth or how many targets I need to stream to (or at). It is, however, overkill for many home use situations, then again I kinda like overkill.
 
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hilow

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You may wish to consider some form of Audio over IP (AoIP) interface but they don't come cheap.

AoIP allows for multicasting traffic to multiple targets simultaneously.

The challenge would be one of budget, as I'm not sure how many (if any) AoIP interfaces cost in under 1,000 Euros.

I use a Ravenna AoIP interface and certainly ethernet means that I don't particularly care about the length of cable runs, bandwidth or how many targets I need to stream to (or at). It is, however, overkill for many home use situations, then again I kinda like overkill.
Very interesting idea. I took a quick look at Dante, but did not really go deep enough to understand the pros and cons. Price seems to be a major issue, but I also tend to cool technical solutions that are overkill.:cool:
 

Watsonian

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Sadly AoIP interfaces appear to cost a lot but there's quite a lot of flexibility, if you're prepared to go down that route.

Another idea that springs to mind is the Sound Devices MixPre series - read the manual and see what you make of it:

I've used SD's products a lot and they are robust, sound good and get the job done. Note that the MixPre series connects via USB but does formally support USB hubs (read the manual, it's clearly stated).

I'm not sure if the MixPre would give you what you wanted but I do know that their technical support team are responsive and should be able to answer any questions you have.

So: ethernet or USB, there's probably a work around at the affordable end of life, or you can splash the cash and buy yourself a Rolls Royce solution, the choice is yours.

Hope that the above helps your thinking along.
 

Michel Forbes

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You may wish to consider some form of Audio over IP (AoIP) interface but they don't come cheap.

AoIP allows for multicasting traffic to multiple targets simultaneously.

The challenge would be one of budget, as I'm not sure how many (if any) AoIP interfaces cost in under 1,000 Euros.

I use a Ravenna AoIP interface and certainly ethernet means that I don't particularly care about the length of cable runs, bandwidth or how many targets I need to stream to (or at). It is, however, overkill for many home use situations, then again I kinda like overkill.
I use the Merging Anubis in the context of a sound studio using different DAW as Pro-Tools/Reaper/WWise
The Anubis is utilized as
-Multi-channel volume control for 5.1 monitoring(up to 30 outputs)
-4 Pre-amp
-4 Line output
-2 Headphone output (that could be used as Line OUT)

Using a Dante/AES67-HDMI interface fr a gaming console it's easy to switch seamlessly between the DAW source and the Gaming Console

it's also possible to use talkback between different studio.

Using AoiP with computer open lots of possibility :)
 

Watsonian

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I use the Merging Anubis in the context of a sound studio using different DAW as Pro-Tools/Reaper/WWise
The Anubis is utilized as
-Multi-channel volume control for 5.1 monitoring(up to 30 outputs)
-4 Pre-amp
-4 Line output
-2 Headphone output (that could be used as Line OUT)

Using a Dante/AES67-HDMI interface fr a gaming console it's easy to switch seamlessly between the DAW source and the Gaming Console

it's also possible to use talkback between different studio.

Using AoiP with computer open lots of possibility :)
Ah yes, the Merging Anubis, it's one heck of an audio tool, I wouldn't part with it, it's just so insanely useful and small. Right now it's sat next to me on a mic stand. Enough said. Use it for everything. It was a zero regrets purchase.

Having said that, all that flexibility comes at quite an eye watering price.
 

Michel Forbes

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Ah yes, the Merging Anubis, it's one heck of an audio tool, I wouldn't part with it, it's just so insanely useful and small. Right now it's sat next to me on a mic stand. Enough said. Use it for everything. It was a zero regrets purchase.

Having said that, all that flexibility comes at quite an eye watering price.
In my job, the Anubis replace about 8000$ dollars of equipment, and the Anubis is future proof.
 
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hilow

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Take a look at VB-Software : https://vb-audio.com/

A combination of
and
may do the job
Good point, but only viable if both machines run at the same time. Not my usual use case.

I already use the VB-cable with Reaper to process my mic input for web conferences. Still might be a cool addition to reroute audio if required.
 
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hilow

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I use the Merging Anubis in the context of a sound studio using different DAW as Pro-Tools/Reaper/WWise
The Anubis is utilized as
-Multi-channel volume control for 5.1 monitoring(up to 30 outputs)
-4 Pre-amp
-4 Line output
-2 Headphone output (that could be used as Line OUT)

Using a Dante/AES67-HDMI interface fr a gaming console it's easy to switch seamlessly between the DAW source and the Gaming Console

it's also possible to use talkback between different studio.

Using AoiP with computer open lots of possibility :)
Actually sounds very good, but for my use case this is total overkill and quite pricey.

Still, with active monitors like the IP-based Genelecs and the flexibilty to route sound almost anywhere in the network it may have its uses also in a connectec home use case :)
 
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