Solved! Mono mixer output to stereo mic input

Nov 7, 2018
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I need to send a mono microphone signal from my Behringer UM2 to my Nikon D3200 mic input which I understand is stereo. What is the appropriate connections needed to do this? The UM2 has dual mono RCA outputs as well as a mono headphone monitor output. Would it be as simple as using a dual rca to stereo jack connection? Or will this cause a) only a mono signal to be passed to the stereo input, and b) signal processing issues going from the UM2 powered mixer into the 3.5mm unbalanced stereo jack of the D3200? Confused about the best route. One alternative I have thought of is to use a mono RCA to mono jack wire from the left output of the UM2 and connect it to the jack using a mono to stereo adapter. Will this provide signal from the mono source to both stereo channels in the D3200? Much thanks!
 
Nov 7, 2018
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Well, since I received the equipment yesterday, I was able to play around with it and answer my own questions. It may just be my own ears, but everything worked fine and sounded great. I’m not an audiophile or professional so I can’t guarantee everyone will have these results, but here is what I have determined:

1) Connecting from the stereo RCA out on the interface to a 3.5 mm stereo jack sends a stereo signal to the DSLR that is recorded in both channels. Most likely it is relaying the same single channel signal from the microphone, but it is accomplishing what I needed, which was to have sound recorded direct to the DSLR in full stereo, whether it is a true Stereo source, or a duplicated Mono signal. The job gets done by the UM2 (so long as the cable is stereo to stereo)! This also works equally well pumping out sound to a sound bar or speaker with the same input type.

2) My other potential gripe was that all references to the direct monitoring feature seemed to confirm that the output will be purely in mono and isolated to the left stereo channel. So it was a pleasant surprise to hear the sound in direct monitoring coming out of both channels. Further surprising was that the headphone jack, when not in direct monitoring mode, also worked as a stereo audio out when using the UM2 as the primary audio device from the PC, so that it could act like a general sound card (other use cases may vary). I didn’t try using this yet as the audio input to my DSLR which I had thought of doing as an alternative, but didn’t test because the RCA outs sufficed. This is important knowledge though, as I have read another forum where the Behringer UMC204 was tested professionally, and yielded excellent sound quality results that pleased audiophiles. So this $30 device could potentially used as a high quality PC sound card.

3) I saw many warnings that an attenuation device or connection between the interface and other equipment like a DSLR may be needed: that if I didn’t have such an intermediary setup, that the receiving equipment could be damaged. However, without any intermediary connections, the stereo jack plugged in and transmitted the sound perfectly well and without any signs of interference or damage. I did take the precaution to turn off the auto sensitivity feature in the DSLR and manually set the input volume to a lower level (certainly not to the lowest level as suggested in many forums). I placed the mic at about 60% gain, above which clipping would occur, and increased the output level on the UM2 to about 90%. The DSLR was set to about 40% input and worked just fine.

4) The interface connection to the PC is limited to USB 1.1, but this had exactly 0 impact to the sound quality when compared with other sources like the audio card already hardwired into the PC motherboard. There was 0 lag, lack of quality, interference, or other issues. Again, concerns of people who thought that only USB 2.0 or other high bandwidth connections would be necessary are unfounded.

After my experience, I’m disappointed that there are so many disparate answers, most of which point to worst case scenarios and require much more expensive equipment. This may be another case where modern equipment and consumer grade devices have caught up with traditional gear, rendering past knowledge for the common user obsolete (such as how an iPhone has replaced a camera, MP3 player, web browser, email client, and many other functions). I don’t doubt that all of what I have read may be necessary for very high end and powerful equipment. It’s eye opening though to realize that a lot that may be out there as, fact, may be mere speculation and exaggeration.

Suffice it to say, I am pleased that my little experimentation for under $90 yielded the results that I was looking for, but I’m disappointed in the level of fear that was developed along the way, as well as the self doubting that may have lead to several hundereds of dollars more in expense, let alone several dozens of hours of wasted time. I’m happy that I could share my experience and I hope that it saves someone else valuable time and money.

While not intended to be a review, I give the UM2 a high recommendation. It provides crisp sound, great quality input, and is versatile in usage at a super low price. The main negative is that PC compatibility is a problem as it is not usable on a system without installing the right codec. Behringer has made this a messy process, and in fact without support, as it has no proprietary codecs or software for the device. Usually that is good because open source support means that the general community would provide answers to other users. However, the device only runs off of an old codec version that is no longer available on the developers site (ASIO) and is only available through miscellaneous forums which is a serious security concern. That is a massively dropped ball. But in the end I got it to work, so I’m relieved in the end. It took a couple of hours to get it to work which is the negative. I would still highly recommend this to everyone with the note that they need to get some help on the software side to install it properly.

Best regards.
 
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