GO XLR: The Beginner’s Guide

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TC Helicon has built a reputation for manufacturing innovative, user-friendly audio equipment. One of the company’s most popular creations to date is the GoXLR, but there is a lot of confusion surrounding this device.

GoXLR explained – this device allows the user to mix, process, and edit audio without the need for a laptop or computer, making it ideal for podcasters, streamers, and other spoken-word-based content creators. Furthermore, it comes with all of the necessary software for high-quality vocal recordings.

The GoXLR is an impressive piece of equipment, and it has the potential to improve your recording rig substantially.

However, like all audio devices, it is better suited to certain purposes than it is to others. Before you decide whether this TC Helicon recording device would be a good investment, it’s important to explore the many features and capabilities that it offers.

In this guide, we’ll provide a detailed overview of the GoXLR, and provide you with key information on the device.


GoXLR Features and Capabilities

The GoXLR combines the functions of a 4-channel audio mixer, audio sampler, and a vocal effects unit into one compact device. It is designed for audio-based content creators and removes the need for a computer or laptop when recording.

There are many portable audio recorders available, but very few can match the impressive capabilities of TC Helicon’s GoXLR. Not only does it facilitate high-quality vocal recordings, but it also includes a wide range of additional features to streamline the process.

Rather than having to rely on various pieces of equipment for your streaming setup, the GoXLR acts as a central hub that carries out all of the required tasks. This means that you can easily transport your recording rig wherever you go, and it is much more practical than using a computer with an audio interface.

This device has four motorized faders, which feel responsive. The faders can be assigned to a variety of functions, including the gain levels of your studio microphone, external audio device, or headset.

Each fader also has an LCD indicator strip that surrounds it, so that you can see the gain levels while recording. The studio mic input, located furthest to the right, is equipped with a MIDAS preamp and +48v phantom power. This delivers clear, high-quality recordings with condenser or dynamic mics.

In addition to the studio microphone preamp, there’s also an additional input for a lavalier microphone, another for line-level audio, and a final input for optical audio, which is commonly used with gaming consoles. Having this variety of inputs makes the GoXLR highly versatile for content creators.

The GoXLR also has a range of vocal effects onboard, so that you can process your recordings as they are made. These effects include hard tuning, robotic sounds, and a distorted megaphone-style effect.

Check out this YouTube video for a demonstration of the GoXLR effects.

Additionally, the GoXLR includes all of the classic conventional vocal effects that are commonly used for mixing. These include smooth-sounding reverb, each-style delay, pitch modulation, and more. These effects can be used to bring your vocal recordings to life, and make your content sound more interesting.

Six buttons can be used to store any of the vocal effects presets that you create, and would like to recall again. You can therefore experiment to find your favorite effects, and use them repeatedly in your live streams, podcasts, or other content.

Three sample pads can also be used to store different media, including sound bytes, or short pieces of music.

Does the GoXLR Have an Amp?

To function properly, audio devices like the GoXLR must have certain components. Amongst these essential parts are a DAC and an amp. Without these, the GoXLR would not be capable of recording, streaming, and playing back audio. 

The GoXLR has a headphone amp which is integral to its functionality and performance. Headphone amps are fairly low-powered compared to other types of amplifiers. They are used to boost a low-level audio signal to an optimal level for playback in the headphones.

For a headphone amp to work effectively, it must also be paired with a DAC (digital-to-analog converter). The DAC, as the name suggests, takes digital audio information which is presented as a series of 0s and 1s, then converts it into an analog waveform.

This analog waveform is then sent to the headphone amplifier in the GoXLR, which boosts the level of the signal so that it can be heard by the user in their headphones.

The headphone amp in the GoXLR is capable of pushing 150ohm headphones with ease. If you use more powerful headphones, which exceed 250 ohms, it might be a good idea to use an external headphone amplifier positioned before the GoXLR in the signal path.

External headphone amps are generally more powerful than onboard amps, so high-powered headphones usually perform best with these.

The GoXLR’s onboard headphone amp is suitable for low or medium-powered headphones, but not for the most powerful varieties.

All headphones have an ohm rating, which is essentially the measure used for impedance. Impedance indicates electrical resistance, and different impedance levels demand particular levels of output for the headphone amplifier.

Do You Need a CloudLifter With GoXLR?

The CloudLifter is an activator device that can be used with both condenser and dynamic microphones. The former variety requires the +48v phantom power to be turned on, but this is not needed when using dynamic mics.

If you’re using a low-gain dynamic microphone like the popular Shure SM7B for your streaming and recordings, you might be wondering whether it is necessary to use a CloudLifter as part of your setup.

The CloudLifter is an inline microphone preamp, which essentially increases the gain of the microphone signal while keeping the sound clear with no noise issues. The device is commonly paired with the SM7B and similar dynamic microphones, providing up to +25dB of clean gain to the signal.

Commonly, a Cloudlifter is placed between the microphone and the input on an audio interface, so that it can apply the additional gain before the signal reaches the computer or laptop.

In this type of setup, there’s no denying that using a CloudLifter can be very beneficial for recording. However, when using a GoXLR, it’s not necessary to also use a CloudLifter.

The main reason that you’d need to use a CloudLifter would be because your audio interface doesn’t supply an adequate amount of gain from the mic preamp to boost the signal of a quiet microphone, like the SM7B.

The CloudLifter provides 70dB of gain, which is more than enough for even the lowest volume dynamic microphones. As a result, using a CloudLifter wouldn’t provide many benefits to the overall volume or sound of the recordings you make.

Some people may argue that the CloudLifter also makes recordings sound better, as well as boosting their overall level. While this may be true, the mic preamp on the GoXLR also causes some slight alterations to the recordings, which one could also argue improves the overall sound.

The other reason that the CloudLifter is commonly used with certain microphones, is if the audio interface’s preamp produces a lot of noise when recording. This is a common side effect of increasing the gain of a preamp, and the CloudLifter is a great tool for minimizing any noise issues.

This is the one area where using a CloudLifter with the GoXLR could be beneficial. While the mic preamp on the GoXLR produces minimal noise, when you crank the gain up on the channel there is always going to be an amplification of humming and buzzing.

Consequently, it might be worth acquiring a GoXLR if you’re using an SM7B, or any other low-gain dynamic microphone and you want to achieve the clearest recordings possible with little to no noise.

If you’re using any other type of microphone, such as a condenser, ribbon, or conventional dynamic mic, there isn’t much point in investing in a CloudLifter as the GoXLR’s onboard mic preamp will provide the ideal amount of gain you need for recordings.

Check out this YouTube video showing how to get set up with GoXLR and SM7B.

Will GoXLR Work on a Mac?

PC is the most popular platform for gaming and live streaming, but Mac users will also be wondering whether they can use the GoXLR with their computer or laptop.

TC Helicon designed the GoXLR, especially for PC users.

The brand made this decision early on, as they predicted that most of their target customers were more likely to use PC. Therefore it made sense to invest extra time in making it run as smoothly as possible with the Windows operating system.

The GoXLR does not have the availability to connect to a Mac device.

This is one of the only downsides to the product, and it is likely to leave many Mac users disappointed by the lack of cross-platform compatibility.

Some Mac users report having success running the GoXLR through Windows emulation software on their Mac devices, but this is a complicated process so you need to know exactly what you’re doing before you attempt it.

It would be better to purchase a PC rather than tamper with the settings of your Mac.

When asked about this issue, TC Helicon has not ruled out making the GoXLR compatible with Mac at some point in the future. This would be welcomed by many Mac users who are frustrated that the device cannot be used with their computer or laptop.

GoXLR vs. GoXLR Mini – What’s the Difference?

After the success of the full-sized model, TC Helicon released the GoXLR Mini. As the name suggests, this is a more compact version of the original, designed to be more portable and conveniently sized.

On the surface, the size appears to be one of the only differences between the GoXLR and the GoXLR Mini. Although there are some other key differences, overall it is fair to say that the devices are pretty similar in terms of their capabilities.

It’s impressive that TC Helicon has managed to condense the main features that made the GoXLR so popular into the GoXLR Mini. However, they’ve had to sacrifice some aspects due to the reduced size.

Firstly, the most obvious difference between the two devices is their size. The original GoXLR has a height of 3.2″, a width of 11.2″, and a depth of 6.9″. Comparatively, the GoXLR Mini has a height of 2.8″, a width of 5.2″, and a depth of 6.6″. The GoXLR Mini is also 1.5 lbs, which is just under 2 lbs. lighter than the full-sized model.

There are several aspects of these two TC Helicon devices which are identical. This includes the XLR inputs, which are both positioned on the right side of the rear panel of the devices. These inputs are both equipped with high-end MIDAS XLR preamps and offer 72dB of gain.

Additionally, both the GoXLR and the GoXLR Mini can be used with condenser microphones, as they supply the +48v phantom power that is required for this type of mic.

The additional inputs and outputs installed on the GoXLR and the GoXLR Mini are the same. The only noticeable difference is that on the GoXLR Mini, the headphone and headset mic jacks are positioned on the front panel, as opposed to being on the back like they are on the full-sized model.

One of the most useful aspects of the GoXLR is the many processing and mixing tools it houses for enhancing the sound of your recordings. These include a noise gate, an EQ, a compressor, and a DeEsser.

The GoXLR Mini includes all of these features, except it has a 6-band EQ rather than the more extensive 10-band EQ installed on the original. Also, there is no DeEsser installed on the GoXLR Mini.

The physical controls of both devices are also very similar, but the four faders on the GoXLR are motorized, whereas they do not benefit from this on the Mini model. The LED scribble strips for naming tracks are also not included on the GoXLR Mini.

Finally, the GoXLR includes a range of voice effects, such as reverb, delay, megaphone, and hard tune. None of these are included on the GoXLR Mini, which makes it more difficult to process the sound of your recordings.

In the table below, you can see a clear comparison between the key specs and features of the GoXLR and the GoXLR Mini.

Feature/CapabilityGoXLRGoXLR Mini
XLR Inputs1 x MIDAS XLR preamp1 x MIDAS XLR preamp
Preamp Gain+72dB+72dB
+48 Phantom PowerYesYes
Line OutputYesYes
Headphone OutputYesYes
Optical OutputYesYes
Headset OutputYesYes
Noise GateYesYes
Faders4 (motorized)4 (not motorized)
LED Name StripYesNo
Sample Pad & EffectsYesNo
Power12v External PowerUSB power
Comparison table showing key specs and features of the GoXLR vs GoXLR Mini.

Does GoXLR Work With Consoles?

The GoXLR can be connected to computers and gaming consoles, but the latter is a little more tricky. Currently, the GoXLR is designed only to work with computers for gaming, but there are some simple methods you can take to make it compatible with popular consoles like Xbox or Playstation.

To connect a computer or gaming console to the GoXLR, you’ll need an optical cable. This cable should be sent from the Optical Output of the computer to the Optical Input of the GoXLR.

The Xbox Series X, which is Microsoft’s latest console, does not have an optical output, which has disappointed many users. This means that you’ll need to use a converter cable to use the GoXLR with this console.

The Playstation 5 also doesn’t have an optical port, however, one way around this is plugging the GoXLR into the optical output of your TV, then changing the settings so that the PS5 outputs its audio to this port. Alternatively, you can use an HDMI/optical converter.

Previous console models, such as the PS4 or Xbox One, both have optical audio output ports. Therefore, you can connect the GoXLR directly to the consoles, in the same way, that you would with a computer. This removes the need for an HDMI/optical converter or splitter cable.

The GoXLR works best with computers, but it’s possible to achieve good results with other consoles. You’ll need to check the specifications and compatibility, and perhaps invest in some additional equipment to get it working properly.

Related Questions

Can you use Blue Yeti with GoXLR?

The Blue Yeti microphone is connected to a computer via USB, which makes it slightly more difficult to use with the GoXLR than an XLR microphone. However, this can be achieved by connecting the Blue Yeti’s 3.5mm jack output to the mic input on the GoXLR.

How many Ohms can the GoXLR handle?

The GoXLR includes a powerful headphone amplifier that is capable of driving a maximum of 150 Ohms. This is sufficient for the vast majority of headphones used for recording, streaming, or gaming.

Can you use a GoXLR and a GoXLR Mini at the same time?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to use the GoXLR and the GoXLR at the same time to get more channels, but you can use them both with separate PCs.

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