The correct cables for connecting iPod to mixer

Thanks to Pete for this question about cabling…

Hi there Kenny.

I was just wondering if you can help me.

I read in one of your articles about putting an ipod through two channels and panning left to right.

I run through an ipod but only go in to one channel, as i use the small jack plug from the ipod in to large jack plug on the mixer channel.

Please could you let me know what sort of lead i would need to do this, and what difference it would make.

Thanks

Pete

Hi Pete

Stereo is two channels of sound (left and right) and mono is one channel of sound.

If you want to hear both stereo sides of a recording, then both left and right channels need to be input in to your mixer.

Some single cable leads can carry a stereo signal but others are mono.

So it really depends whether the lead you are using to take the signal out of your iPod is a stereo lead AND whether the mixer slot where you’re plugging it in to is a single jack stereo input or a single jack mono input.

The most common type of cable and the one I’m guessing you are probably using is a stereo jack out of the iPod going to a mono jack in to the mixer…

If this is the case, then you are only hearing one side of your iPod’s stereo signal.

This is definitely a problem if your backing tracks are in stereo because there will, for sure, be some instruments on your backing tracks which are not sounding at all because that side of the stereo is not getting to your mixer.

But if your lead is a stereo out jack from the iPod to a stereo jack to the mixer AND the mixer has a stereo jack input, then it will be fine – you’ll hear both left and right sides of the stereo.

I kinda feel that your lead may be the former though, so it may be worth checking the type of cable you’re using and the type of input on your mixer.

Backing tracks with different volumes

Thanks to Wayne for asking this question about different backing tracks from different volumes and how it’s a real pain on stage to be constantly changing volumes up and down with every song!

Hi.

I currently use a mini-disc player for gigs.

I normally buy backing track, balance the sound volume using a package called MP3 Gain and then transfer song onto SONICSTAGE in order to put on my mini-disc.

The sound volume is 89.0kb & I never have to alter the volume of each song.

After reading your webpages im interested in getting an ipod for logistical reasons.

However, im concerned that I will be constantly changing each song volume because, as your aware, different backing tracks have different volumes from whoever you purchase them from.

I would be hughely grateful if you could spread some light on my concerns!

Kind Regards


Wayne

Hi Wayne,

Yes, backing tracks from different companies usually have different volumes and EQ settings so it is a good idea to level them out so that you don’t have to keep going back and forward to your mixing desk before each song to adjust the levels.

I haven’t personally used the program MP3 Gain but from what I gather, it CAN save the leveling it applies to your songs.

If that’s the case, then you will be able to safely transfer all your mp3’s to your new iPod and get good levels (as long as you have run them all through MP3 Gain and got the levels the way you want them beforehand).

As it happens, it’s not just backing tracks from different companies that have differing levels of volume and EQ.

Even tracks from the same company can have differences because each backing track is, in effect, a different song with different instrumentation and peaks and spikes in the audio.

Choosing a microphone for PC recording

A customer, Liz, downloaded the free recording studio software for her son and asked about microphones for home recording…

Hi Kenny, Jamies mum here, downloaded the software for Jamie not got a clue how to start it all up, could you recomend a good mic for his laptop to record, he’s got the built in one on his computer  i can honestly say i’ve not got a clue how to do everything, i help Jamie a lot with his music going to auditions etc, but when it comes to computers i only know how to e-mail etc. Liz

Hi Liz

There are literally thousands of different types of microphones on the market and all have their pros and cons (and quality).

For the purposes you describe, I would suggest a relatively inexpensive microphone which is available from a company called Blue (more info here).

This particular microphone has a USB connection and was designed for musicians on the go so probably ticks all the boxes for someone who wants a good quality microphone to use with their laptop…

Determining the key while using a capo on a guitar

A customer recently asked how to determine the key of a song on a guitar while using a capo…

Hi John

The key of the song your playing will be different depending on whether your capo is on or off and depending on what chord you play because using a capo alters the key.

The actual chord that you play on the guitar isn’t the chord you actually hear if you use a capo.

This is because every time you move the capo up a fret, the key changes up a semi-tone.

For example, if you have NO capo on your guitar and you play a song in the key of A (where typically the chords would probably be A, D and E), then the key is A.

But if your capo is on, say, the second fret, then when you play chords with your fingers in the shapes A, D and E, you are really playing in the key of B….