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Thread: FocusRite vs Mixer Sound Quality Difference

  1. #11
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    did some testing

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    Quote Originally Posted by arcaxis View Post
    - The 'Mixer' knob on the Saffire, is that set to 'Input' or 'Playback' when recording the synth and listening with headphones? Set full CCW to 'Input' will give you just the Saffire and nothing coming back from the computer. Setting the knob towards or fully to 'Playback' will send back audio from the software/computer if the DAW software is set to do so. Try the knob fully in each direction and listen for a difference. This may lend an idea if the DAW software is doing something funky.
    - Presuming the 'Mono I/P' switch is not enabled (LED not lit) so you do hear stereo in the headphones and not the two channels mixed together. Try running just one of the synth cables into a Saffire input channel to assure only one side, left or right has signal and audio in just one earphone side.
    - Focusrite drivers are installed and up to date and Sonar is showing the Saffire as the recording and playback device in options(?)
    well i did a bunch of your tests. I am using the Evolver to Mackie sound quality as my reference point.

    The Sonar recorded files (as it turns out) are 16-bit as noted above. So i tested using Reaper which was a 2 minute setup and seems to play better with the Saffire and Windows 10.

    No real noticeable diff between Input and Playback with the Evolver plugged straight into Saffire. Mono is not enabled. I confirmed Saffire is receiving stereo and the resulting Reaper files are stereo. Then I compared Reaper playback via Saffire to Mackie against Evolver direct to Mackie. They are much closer than the Sonar files but still lack a degree of presence.

    Evolver to Mackie to Saffire gave same results, I used the Alt 3/4 stereo outs for that.

    My Saffire 6 USB is very old and time to upgrade. I'm not sure how the pre's compare to new models. Reaper looks ok and it's nice that it just overrides the Windows audio settings. I would attach another file but the sound that really matters is what I'm hearing via Mackie which I haven't captured digitally. Can I attach a 1/4 tape?
    Last edited by arcticranger; 03-25-2019 at 10:54.

  2. #12
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    Focusrite support just told me the Saffire 6 USB pre amps are designed to be very flat and that the difference I am hearing is due to the Mackie pre amps coloring the sound.

    So hopefully that's it. But I learned a lot from you guys on this, thx.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arcticranger View Post
    Focusrite support just told me the Saffire 6 USB pre amps are designed to be very flat and that the difference I am hearing is due to the Mackie pre amps coloring the sound.

    So hopefully that's it. But I learned a lot from you guys on this, thx.
    Didn't you 'pre-color' the sound by connecting the Mackie into the Saffire, so you should have heard/recorded the colored sound of the Mackie?

    - i did previously send the synth into the Mackie and the Mackie main outs into the FR, no change.
    You should have heard the coloration of the Mackie I think, otherwise why do we buy expensive 'colored' preamps for our interfaces.........
    Mark.......

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    yes, but i sent the signal via the Alt 3/4 rear outs, i''m going to repeat that test using the main outs now. Hopefully I will capture "Mackie color" as you suggest. Not sure how the Alt outs differ from Main outs.

    I build effects into my synth voices, once I get one right I'm not going to be adding FX to it in the DAW.

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    So yes the wav recorded using the Mackie main outs has more color. It's not as perfect as the direct to Mackie sound but close.

    Can you recommend any "expensive 'colored' preamps for our interfaces"? I'm somewhat new to audio recording but can't see using the mixer for that reason.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arcticranger View Post
    So yes the wav recorded using the Mackie main outs has more color. It's not as perfect as the direct to Mackie sound but close.

    Can you recommend any "expensive 'colored' preamps for our interfaces"? I'm somewhat new to audio recording but can't see using the mixer for that reason.
    Oh there is a plethora to choose from! Keep in mind that preamp "color" is going to be subtle. They're preamps and not FX boxes

    Honestly though, I think there are 100 other things to spend money on before getting "color" preamps in a home studio. But if it floats your boat and you can afford it, go grab something nice. Spend a while online learning about the famous circuits from Neve, API, Focusrite, Avalon, etc. There's a flavor out there for every application.

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    Do bear in mind that any "colour" you might get with a pre amp* is level sensitive. Running most pre amps 20dB or so below their headroom limit is going to deliver a pristine, transparent sound. Think of guitar amps? Most are pretty clean at low level but get increasingly grungy as you drive them harder. Yes, there are a few amps from which it is next to impossible to get a clean sound but they are rare.

    There is perhaps THE most in depth "shootout" of pre amps in an issue of Sound on Sound. Very carefully done with a MIDI robot piano playing the same piece each time. The results came back a month or two later and the guesses of which pre was which (cost ratio of some 10:1) were no better than chance. That is, none of the readers could spot the high end pre against a budget mixer. So, caveat emptor!

    *I am still not sure. Are you going into LINE inputs? If so do bear in mind that many of the more expensive pre amps use a line stage that completely bypasses the mic amplifier? You might like to investigate passive DI boxes, especially the very cheap ones that use a tiny, pretty crap transformer? NOT! That transformers ALWAYS cause distortion! (for that is what "colour" is, distortion) There are several very clean pre amps with front end traffs and if you overdrive them I am reliably informed they sound shit!

    Personally I would much rather get THE cleanest take I could then, if the humour was on me, frigg it a bit ITB? Once distorted there is no going back.

    Dave.

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    I'm a hobbyist and have always been MIDI based. I record MIDI and listen to playback on 5 hardware synths plugged into Mackie stereo line inputs. And I bed wet (just kidding ha).

    So I have always heard the music via Mackie headphone jack or Mackie outputs to an amp driving speakers. I've done some audio recording both synth to interface and synth to mixer to interface, always LINE input. Either way the resulting wavs have always sounded flat on playback.

    Anyway my recording setup is now all synths into Mackie and Mackie Alt 3/4 to send a synth channel to the interface.

    I guess it's either get familiar with some basic compression and EQ coloring of wav files in the DAW or get a new audio interface that provides some coloring options on the way in. I do have an "ideal sound" which you can hear on this recording and other done at Trident recording studio in the 70s.


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