I think I want a mixer... any suggestions?

Short version is I’d like to listen to Roon while listening to my headphones or speakers at my desk. The challenge is I want to be able to use two different computers at the same time to accomplish this.

Basically, I need to be able to use my work laptop for Zoom calls and calendar alerts/etcs. My 2nd computer is for Roon. I can’t use Roon on my work laptop because Roon won’t work while I’m on VPN (full tunnel blocks local connections) and there is no Roon ARC for macOS.

So basically two computers, two DAC’s and a single Amp. I’d like to keep everything fully balanced since that’s what I’ve got already.

So I think that means I need a mixer? Looking on Amazon (because I have no idea what I’m doing) it generally seems like $70-100 will get me a cheap 6 channel mixer with the necessary XLR inputs/outputs from companies I’ve never heard of. $200 or so and I can step up to a Yamaha MG10. Obviously I don’t care about any special effects, phantom power, bluetooth or anything like that. I just want to be able to blend the two (okay 4) audio signals into one, mute one DAC, etc.

Beyond that, I’d like something that eats as little space on my table as possible, is as transparent to the audio signal as possible, isn’t stupid expensive and won’t fail in 12 months.

The only thing beyond that… seems like a lot of these might have USB interfaces??? Not sure if that means I can have some basic controls via my computer? As in “mute the Roon channels while I jump on Zoom”. That would be cool, but I figure the physical buttons on the mixer should do just fine.

Can anyone provide any informed opinions? Thanks!

So if I read it right, a usb switcher, two usb inputs and one usb out. So you can switch between incoming USBs? If so, Urd might fit the bill.

You could consider a more sophisticated audio interface with audio inputs and a software mixer.

Something like an RME Babyface which includes RME’s total mix software.

The upside is no desktop space.

The downside is it would be more expensive than a simple mixer.

I have this sort of setup in my studio (with a larger RME audio interface).

No. Not a switcher. A mixer. I want to have the option of hearing both inputs at the same time. Also and Urd doesn’t take analog inputs from a DAC?

$1k is a lot more than I was hoping to spend. Also, the Babyface doesn’t seem to have enough XLR inputs for two DACs? Really was hoping to only spend a few of hundred bucks max.

It doesn’t help with the cost - but the Babyface itself will be able to act as DAC for one of the machines - so you only need an input for the other.

You probably already have the second computer - but if not you could just use Ropieee on a raspberry Pi.

Ah… now I understand your recommendation. But yeah, I have two computers (and will be using the 2nd computer for the Roon client) and two DACs so don’t need those kinds of advanced features.

Honestly, I don’t need 95% of the features of most mixers. I bet I could even get away with volume control since my headphone amp doubles as the pre-amp for my speaker amp.

Is it safe to take a Y cable to join the XLR outputs of two DACs and run them to my pre-amp input? From a functional perspective that’s probably all I really need. Not sure if they sell a Y cable with the correct male/female ends for my needs or if I’d need to make it.

This would likely do the job.

Although that’s not balanced to get a stereo out.

Two of these would also work (although radial’s stuff is good but not always inexpensive - so a used mixer may be cheaper).

Oof. $180 each. Definitely smaller footprint though and I could probably stack them.

I wish I could find a mixer that supported stereo inputs for balanced/XLR. Meaning one set of volume controls for both L/R channels, rather than having to control each channel independently. Looks like if I want that kind of functionality I would need to go with unbalanced inputs or spend a lot more $$$.

Yes, most basic mixers made for bands / venues assume you have some mics on XLRs and 1 or 2 stereo unbalanced line level inputs. DJ mixer are also usually unbalanced.

Annoyingly the digital mixer in the RME does exactly what you want!

Radial is aimed at the pro audio market. It’s good quality - but not cheap.

You might be able to do something in software with Rogue Amoeba | Loopback: Cable-Free Audio Routing or Rogue Amoeba | Audio Hijack: Record Any Audio on MacOS by using the audio input jack on one of the computers.

Far from a purist solution at that point - going through the A2D of whatever basic sound card you have in the computer!

I guess you might be able to get audio into the work computer digitally via airplay or similar - and then router via audio hijack.

Thanks for all the info Greg.

Helped me realize that trying to do this balanced/XLR was just gonna cost $$$ or be too difficult to use. So going to KISS and go unbalanced for now. A Mackie Mix5 is like $70 and should meet all my other goals.

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