Can I Get More of Me? Setting Up Traktor Pro and a Microphone
As it turns out, you can and it's not terribly hard.
So I'm always tweaking my broadcasting rig for various reasons. First, I'm a tech dork and I have tons of fun playing with various settings. Second, and probably most importantly, I'm on a quest to provide my listeners with the best sounding show I can possibly provide. So a couple of weeks ago I decided that I was going to really work on my microphone levels and control because I've always thought it was the weakest part of my sound config.
Well, I think I finally figured out how to get it right.
What You Need
Traktor Pro 2 (although Traktor Pro will work just as well, this tutorial is written for Pro 2 'cause it's what I have now).
A Microphone - duh.
Some sort of external mixer or mic preamp. I'm using a really old Peavey RQ 200. The specs don't really matter but I bet a preamp would be even better since it has a lower foot print and less controls. But since I HAVE the RQ 200 that's what I'm using.
Assorted cables. You're going to need a handful of cables to make this work. I'm using an XLR cable and an audio system ground loop isolator. Your cabling may be different depending upon what gear you have.
The Traktor Kontrol S4 (optional) - I'm using the S4 as the sound card for my show. You don't NEED one of these but a DJ rig with a built in sound card makes setting up so much easier. Why? Well 'cause you can choose to broadcast using only a single sound interface and that's grand. If you're not doing this then you'll have to broadcast EVERY sound your 'puter makes and sometimes that can get dicey.
Traktor Pro - either version will work. I'm using Traktor Pro 2 but this works just as well with the S4 version as well as the version 1 of the software.
Setting It Up
Here's the high level list of things we need to do:
1. Connect the mixer/preamp to your computer or DJ rig so that you can send the mic signals to it.
2. Configure Traktor to use a Live input deck.
3. Do some level tests.
Connect the Gear
This bit is going to be pretty easy. You need to connect your microphone to whatever sound interface you have configured with Traktor. I use a Native Instruments Kontrol S4 so I've plugged my microphone into the Input Channel D. This is really up to you, but it's important to remember that it has to be the same audio interface that you've selected in Traktor.
If you're not using a DJ controller, may I recommend either a mixer or some sort of preamp? This will give you way more control over the sound of your mic than just connecting it to your line in or microphone jack on your 'puter. Besides, the best mics for broadcasting are condenser mics and they require some phantom power - something you probably don't have in your audio interface (which NEEDS to be the same one as you configured in Traktor).
If you have a Kontrol S4 then you actually have two options for your mic input: The mic jack (which is a 1/4 phono cable) or one of the two RCA connections. Which one works best for you is up for debate and really depends upon what sort of cabling you have. I'm using the RCA connections out of my mixer.
So the power of Traktor Pro 2 is the ability to control 4 decks. Each of these four decks can be configured as either a track deck (for playing tunes), a sample deck (for playing little sound bites, sweepers, beds, etc) or live input. The microphone is going to be routed to a live input deck. Using the live input deck allows you to put effects on your voice (if'n you're so inclined) and that's cool but the really nifty benefit is being able to use the volume slider to turn the mic on and off - way better than the pop you get when you flip the off or phantom power switch. Let's get this set up.
You're going to want to change the input routing for Input Deck D to reflect the interface where your mic is plugged in. The screen shot above reflects the Input Channel D on the S4. If you're connecting directly to your computer's soundcard then it'll probably read something like "Line-in" or something.
Next click on the "Decks" option. You'll see a screen that looks like this:
You're going to want to change Deck D to Live Input. It'll look an awful lot like what you see on the above screen shot.
And that's really all there is to setting it up.
Note: After working with a guy on a Mac I found that You may need to also enable decks C and D. That should be on the Decks options as well. Notice you don't see this on my screen. Well, that's cause I don't have that option. I'm not sure which the difference is, a variation on the version of Traktor Pro we were using on the OS. In either case, make sure you enable all four decks.
Okay. Setting up the mic wasn't too terribly hard was it? Well, the hard part is coming up. You need to get your mic levels to a point that's close to your audio files. I'd recommend them to be ever so slightly above the audio files. Likely if you've normalized the level on your audio files to 89 dB you'll want to be at around 90dB for your voice. But this is a matter of preference. The really important thing is to keep ALL of your meters from going red. This is where digital clipping goes into effect and the sound is not pretty.
Here's the places you need to look at:
1. Master gain - This is the gain control for your entire mix.
2. Mic gain - This is the gain for your microphone specifically. Depending on how you set it up and what gear you have there may be input gain, output gain, and then a third gain when it enters your computer's audio interface. Or there may only be one if you're just direct connecting to the mic in jack on your sound card.
3. The Deck D gain.
4. The Deck D volume slider. I like to test my inputs with the slider all the way up 'cause I'm lazy like that.
5. Any EQ or effects chains.
See! There's lots of places where the leveling can go wonky. Try to balance it as much as possible. Keep the gain as low as possible at all points to keep your signal clean (no red! Red is bad!).
Covering this in greater detail is a bit out of the scope of this tutorial. Experimentation is your friend and perhaps I'll write up a guide in the future to address this topic. Who knows.
Broadcast your little heart out
Now you're all set to broadcast to your favorite streaming service. How slick is that?
Here's a list of some mic preamps, mixers, and mics that'll do the job.
I don't chat a whole ton on my show at Eve Radio (http://eve-radio.com) but it is something that your audience will expect from time to time so you may as well get the mic working.
I'm a whore for comments! Did this work for you? Have another way of pulling it off? I'd love to hear from you even if you're annoyed.