How to Record From a Mixer to a Laptop
Even the most low-spec laptops are equipped with the necessary hardware to record audio from a mixing board; however, correctly configuring the two devices to work together can take some doing. Additionally, the laptop alone won't be able to record just by connecting it to the mixer: you'll need to run recording software to actually capture the audio feed. The laptop's headphone jack will only record single channel audio and can't compete with professional recording hardware.
Things You'll Need
- RCA/XLR/Coaxial-to-3.5mm adapter
- Mixing board
Connect a Mixing Board to a Laptop
Connect RCA, XLR, Coaxial or 3.5mm cable to the mixing board's audio out port, which may be labeled as "Stereo Out," "Monitor," "Rec Out" or "Aux Send." The audio out port type varies between mixing boards and the board may offer multiple types. Use 3.5mm if it's available.
Install the RCA/XLR/Coaxial-to-3.5mm adapter on the free end of the mixing board's audio out cable. Skip this step if using 3.5mm audio out. The RCA/XLR/Coaxial-to-3.5mm adapter features a Y adapter for two cables in one.
Connect the 3.5mm adapter to the laptop's microphone jack, which is typically pink.
Correct the Audio Levels
Connect the microphone to the mixing board.
Close all programs on the computer that could create sound like games, media players and Web browsers.
Search from the Search charm and select the "Sound" result from the search box.
Open the "Recording" tab in the Sound window.
Set "Microphone" as the default recording device, open the device's properties and select the "Level" tab.
Start talking, singing, playing an instrument, or whatever you're trying to record into the microphone at the recording distance.
Increase and decrease the volume levels on the mixing board's channel output modules and computer's recording audio level until the level bar is in the high green or low yellow range.
How to Record in Sound Recorder
Search for "Sound Recorder" in the Charms' search bar and select the "Sound Recorder" app from the search results.
Click or tap the circular button with the microphone in the center to start recording.
Select the circular button which has replaced the microphone symbol with a square to stop the recording.
Tips & Warnings
- Sound recorder is sufficient for single track recordings without the need to master or edit the recording after the fact. and the program is included with Windows installations. However, Sound Recorder doesn't have any bells and whistles. The free Windows audio recording suite Audacity can work for people looking for a few more features and control in their recording program. Alternatively, the premium Adobe Audition is a high-end consumer or "prosumer" audio recording suite that works well with recording from mixing boards. Both Audacity and Audition can be used to record multiple tracks, further control volume levels and clean up audio after recording.
- Microsoft's Sound Recorder can only record audio files as long as three hours.
References & Resources
- Sound on Sound: Q: How Do You Connect a Mixer to a PC?
- Creative Support: No Sound or Low Volume from Microphone
- Microsoft Windows: Sound Recorder App for Windows: FAQ
- Indiana.edu: Introduction to Computer Music: Volume One: Chapter Two: Studio Gear: 3. Mixing Console Basics
- Stanford.edu: Audacity: To Record Your Voice in Audacity
- Adobe Help: Adobe Audition / Recording Audio
- Audacity: Download
- Adobe: Adobe Audition CC