Audio interface with 12 inputs, basic live recording questions

ecc83

Well-known member
"Yes I guess that's my idea of "sound quality" as well. Though I am now intrigued, my friend gave me the impression that the Tascam was just a lesser bit of kit than the Clarett combo. As in cheaper pre amps and such because it's doing so much, at that price point, not everything is top notch. But I could be totally wrong. Maybe I'll show him this thread and see what his actual response is..."

John, I have been battling this kind of BS ever since I joined audio forums, about 10yrs.

The FACT is, 'electronics' does not HAVE a 'sound'. With just a dual op amp, a couple of transistors, a pot and a very few Cs and Rs you can make a really excellent mic pre amp. The noise and distortion will be close to the best there is* and those components will add up to less than $5.00 (Ok we have to power it and put it in a tin but that is a 'one-off cost' whatever we do and the more pres we put in the tin, the less the tin costs in proportion)

Without even trying, such a pre amp will have a ruler flat response from 10Hz to 30kHz nay problem so it is NOT going to add or detract any 'colour' to the sound.

Modern Surface Mount Technology will bring the unit electronics cost down to less than $1 with just the pot and XLR connector being the biggest factor. So you CAN put remarkably good pre amps in a device like the Zoom or the Tascam. Yes I know, magazine reviews drone on about "warm, pro sound" or "Larger than life sound" but these comments are made in isolation, not as a double blind test with a Behringer mixer! The reviewers HAVE to say something!

*And the 'best there is' will be better in certain areas. Certain circuit techniques can squeeze a dB or two lower noise. Headroom can be a few dBs higher. But unless you need to record dulcimers at 3 mtrs with Coles ribbons you don't need absolute state of art noise levels. In the real places most of us are saddled with, ambient noise is almost always the 'noise floor'.

Dave.
 

john_dikeman

New member
"Yes I guess that's my idea of "sound quality" as well. Though I am now intrigued, my friend gave me the impression that the Tascam was just a lesser bit of kit than the Clarett combo. As in cheaper pre amps and such because it's doing so much, at that price point, not everything is top notch. But I could be totally wrong. Maybe I'll show him this thread and see what his actual response is..."

John, I have been battling this kind of BS ever since I joined audio forums, about 10yrs.

The FACT is, 'electronics' does not HAVE a 'sound'. With just a dual op amp, a couple of transistors, a pot and a very few Cs and Rs you can make a really excellent mic pre amp. The noise and distortion will be close to the best there is* and those components will add up to less than $5.00 (Ok we have to power it and put it in a tin but that is a 'one-off cost' whatever we do and the more pres we put in the tin, the less the tin costs in proportion)

Without even trying, such a pre amp will have a ruler flat response from 10Hz to 30kHz nay problem so it is NOT going to add or detract any 'colour' to the sound.

Modern Surface Mount Technology will bring the unit electronics cost down to less than $1 with just the pot and XLR connector being the biggest factor. So you CAN put remarkably good pre amps in a device like the Zoom or the Tascam. Yes I know, magazine reviews drone on about "warm, pro sound" or "Larger than life sound" but these comments are made in isolation, not as a double blind test with a Behringer mixer! The reviewers HAVE to say something!

*And the 'best there is' will be better in certain areas. Certain circuit techniques can squeeze a dB or two lower noise. Headroom can be a few dBs higher. But unless you need to record dulcimers at 3 mtrs with Coles ribbons you don't need absolute state of art noise levels. In the real places most of us are saddled with, ambient noise is almost always the 'noise floor'.

Dave.
Hey Dave

I don't doubt your assertions at all. I just don't know enough about audio gear to know what matters and what's bull shit.... Ask me about saxophones and i can call out the bull shit very quickly!
 

john_dikeman

New member
So, now I'm rethinking all of these options: Focusrite Clarett 4 pre + OtcoPre, Zoom LiveTrack and Tascam Model 24.
Let me describe the exact scenario and see if that helps.
Warning for all you audiophiles, this process may sound heretical.

This would be for either live recording or live style recording in some space. Could be a venue or someone's living room...
It would generally be for something like a quartet, piano, sax bass and drums, maybe guitar. All playing in the same room, no isolation. No headphones.
The means of recording would simply be to check everyone's level so our max volume doesn't go too high then press record and go play the gig. I wouldn't be doing any live adjustment to the recording because I'll be in the band playing.
The range of dynamics go from about 110 db to 0. Some of the music I do involves just blowing into a saxophone without producing a tone for a few minutes.
Bleed and noise from the room would go without saying. I want to get the best sound of the instruments possible, but I'm not looking to get close to a studio type of recording. It's more about getting all the info there on "tape" so it can be mixed and mastered by a professional. In the end I would want the sound of the room to do most of the eqing. No adding reverbs, very limited compression etc.
So all of the exciting features and eqs on the tascam and zoom I don't need at all, at this point. Could be interesting later on, sure. Also, playback, overdubs, I wouldn't be doing any of that except listening back to make sure nothing is distorting...

So I get the feeling all three of these options are plenty good for what I need. The Tascam and Zoom maybe offer a lot I don't need. They're also cheaper so I don't mind spending less to have too much...
 
Last edited:

john_dikeman

New member
Actually what about this guy? The Zoom LiveTrak L-20R
Maybe that's all I need. Though it is a little confusing, do I need an ipad to use it or would a new Dell XPS 13 work...?


Or maybe I'll go for the Soundcraft UI24R. This looks about perfect for me actually. Except it's a lot bigger than the smaller Zoom.
 
Last edited:

ecc83

Well-known member
To be brutally honest John I think a multi mic/multitrack recording system is just going to bugger you. I suspect you will spend most of your time setting up mics and levels.

I would see if you can beg or hire a stereo hand held recorder and mount it on a camera tripod some few mtrs back in the room. I am sure you are all good musicians and produce a well balanced, integrated sound.
This is how records were made for decades except when they started they only had one microphone!

Of course, if you have the time, the space, the GOBOS and the expertise, m'track recording CAN produce a more focused result but I doubt it is easy! Just getting a drum kit mic'ed up can eat up a morning I understand?

Or! Look for a mobile recording engineer with kit.

Dave.
 

john_dikeman

New member
To be brutally honest John I think a multi mic/multitrack recording system is just going to bugger you. I suspect you will spend most of your time setting up mics and levels.

I would see if you can beg or hire a stereo hand held recorder and mount it on a camera tripod some few mtrs back in the room. I am sure you are all good musicians and produce a well balanced, integrated sound.
This is how records were made for decades except when they started they only had one microphone!

Of course, if you have the time, the space, the GOBOS and the expertise, m'track recording CAN produce a more focused result but I doubt it is easy! Just getting a drum kit mic'ed up can eat up a morning I understand?

Or! Look for a mobile recording engineer with kit.

Dave.

Yeah the stereo mic room recording is also something I'm open to and have done before. But I do create annoying musical situations sometimes, playing with an acoustic bass in a very loud setting etc... Can definitely be nice to get the bass miced up and once you start there...
Also, while I don't know anything about recording, often people I'm playing with do. However I've done sort of DIY low budget recordings with people with portable rigs, and in the end they didn't have a set up quite as big as would have been ideal and we had to compromise on channels. If I bought the Soundcraft UI24R that wouldn't be a problem. Could still just use two channels or leave it at home and record with my Motu M4.
 

jamesperrett

Active member
I think Dave is onto something there - I know that I wouldn't want to be responsible for a multitrack recording of a gig I was playing because there is just too much setting up involved and it would be difficult to get into the right headspace for playing after doing all the setting up. A basic portable recorder is easy to set up and the results are often surprisingly good.

I've done my share of multi miked jazz gig recordings in the past and I'd want a good couple of hours setup time just for the recording gear.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
Actually what about this guy? The Zoom LiveTrak L-20R
Maybe that's all I need. Though it is a little confusing, do I need an ipad to use it or would a new Dell XPS 13 work...?

It looks as if the L=20R only works with IOS devices. The control program doesn't appear to be available in a Windows version. I don't think you absolutely need the Ipad unless you want to set up multiple headphone mixes, etc. For a straightforward recording, it looks as if you could just set up a project, set the gains and hit record. It looks to have a compressor on each channel, which might be handy for keeping things under control. If you don't need to set up headphone mixes and feed a FOH system, then that is a lot easier.

The Soundcraft looks to be a decently set up unit, but I don't know anyone who has worked with any recent Soundcraft equipment. I hesitate to comment on whether it is better or worse than the L20R. Seems very similar.

You probably need to map out what scenarios you anticipate covering. Doing a session in someone's house will be quite different from setting up at a bar on a stage. I probably wouldn't go with 8 mics on a drum kit on a stage, unless you have good clips. A pair of overheads, a snare and a kick might be sufficient. I've done drums with 3 mics. Is the piano electric or acoustic, mic'ed or direct? Do you want the sax to be able to move around, or will he be good with a set mic. Would a clip on mic be better or a LDC? Bass and guitar are reasonably straightfoward.

I have done simple stereo recordings, and IF the group sound is very balanced, AND you can set up in the proper place, AND the venue has decent acoustics, you can get a good recording. After working with my H4n in a variable jam situation (actually with 4 channels, two onboard and two externals), I sprung for the R24, just to get the 8 channels. It simply gives you more control.

RE: the sound quality, you mentioned 0-110dB, but that's simply not reality. In any live venue the basic ambient noise level will most likely be in excess of 60dB and that's being generous. If your max SPL is going to be around 110, then you are realistically looking at 50-55dB dynamic range. Any of the digital recorders will easily handle that, even at 16 bits. Going to 24 bits, and you really have around 120dB S/N ratio for the whole system which is more than enough to cover any situation. You might hear a slight improvement in S/N with a Clarett system in a quiet studio, bit in reality, the system noise will be buried deep under the ambient levels. I don't think that last 5dB of S/N is worth the complexity in connections. I've recorded at home with the R24 and the sound quality is quite good. The differences in microphones is massive compared to the differences between my R24 and my audio interface.

The nice thing about the Zoom L20 and Tascam is that you have one power plug, the mics, and I would recommend getting a 16 channel snake, A pair of headphones and you're ready to go. As I said before simplicity is a good thing, especially when you have limited time to set up. With 16 channels, you can do the multi mic thing AND set up a stereo pair if you want.

I understand that this is all a lot of info to mull over. I would think the Clarett would be similar to Motu in quality. If you can find someone who has either the Tascam or Zoom in stock for you to test, that might give you a better feel for their performance.
 

john_dikeman

New member
A little more background. The Dutch copyright organization just made some money available for composers to apply for funding to produce their music. I'm applying for this now and it seems pretty straight forward so I think there's a good chance I'll get it. That's part of the impetus for getting this gear. The Dutch government is helping me buy it... I probably wouldn't have bothered otherwise and would have continued releasing albums from whatever recordings venues were able to make. I'll probably still do that most of the time actually as I have no intention to lug this to all my gigs. But if there's the option for me to get the gear on my own, why not? Even if I need help using it, that's much cheaper than a studio. More importantly, I vastly prefer live gigs for recording from a musical perspective. I'd say about 90% of my albums are from live gigs.

If the LG20R would work without buying an Ipad I'd probably get that as it has plenty of inputs and is cheap. I wrote Zoom to ask as I've read conflicting things on the internet. I won't need separate headphone mixes generally, though I would be annoyed spending that much money and not being able to use everything it has to offer if I'd want.

Re going the simple route. I've still got the Motu M4. However recently we recorded this quartet of mine on the bass players Zoom H6 and found it didn't really have enough channels.
The bass player does sound work so he's helpful with mic placement and basic mixing by the way.

To talk about a concrete project coming up, I composed a new program for this quartet we want to record and I'd like to record a couple of gigs as well as do another studio day if needed, which would just be renting a cheap rehearsal space/venue that we know well and has a decent sounding room. These gigs would be in Amsterdam at venues I know. Places we could easily go in in the afternoon and set everything up. Also places that already have a lot of gear like cables and stands etc...

At this point I was thinking of:
2 Room mics
Drums 2 overheads, maybe one for the bass drum
Piano is acoustic, maybe 2 mics inside, I'd need to leave that up to the bassist a bit who knows more about mic placement
Pianist also has some percussion and toys that would need to be mic'd
Double Bass bassist has this covered I'd hope. Might close mic as well as DI
Sax I'm looking at mics now. I do own an SD Systems clip on mic I've used for gigs but I'd probably go for something like an AKG 414 or Gefell UMT70S
(A few people recommended the NoHype ribbon mics with Fethead preamps but I've never really gotten on with ribbon mics. I like them in theory, but every time I've been in a studio and the guy pulls out a ribbon for me that he loves, I don't like the result. Yeah, they sound warm and dark, they also sound less like my sound. I have a fairly dark, old school sound already (depending on how I'm playing). We had one recording and at some point the bandleader pointed out that I sounded too old in comparison to the band. Like one guy from the 20s playing in a modern ensemble. I'd be interested in trying the NoHype if I get a chance but I'm still leaning towards a condenser)

So that puts us at 10 or 11 inputs.
For other projects I might have something similar plus another horn or two. 20 inputs seems like a safe bet though 16 would probably be plenty....

The Soundcraft just looks like the most straight forward unit with the most convenience all around. And I haven't really found any negatives, such as the phantom power issue on the Tascam. You can do the basic controls with your phone or tablet and record directly to a USB without bringing a computer. And it's much smaller than the Tascam or Zoom. I actually really like the look and idea of the Tascam, real analogue mixing board with faders and knobs you touch, but it's huge and I actually don't need all that. If I could find a similarly priced audio interface with 20 inputs I'd definitely consider that as well, but I haven't found those at this price.

Ah yes, I know what you mean about the dynamics. Of course you're right. I just meant the music goes from "silence" to extremely loud. And I guess I wanted to point out that the same set up should be able to record my sax playing 110 db as well as barely audible noise, ideally without me having to walk closer to the mic.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
Ok, that gives us a bit more to go on. I would definitely opt for the contained unit vs the Clarett path. The more channels the better. You know that one day, you'll have two guitars, or a guitar and trumpet player join you on stage! Good to have those extra channels. The Soundcraft looks good. CHeck out some of the reviews on Youtube.

Most of what you are listing would work. For the drums, 2 overheads and a kick drum works fine. I don't know that I would go with a ribbon on the sax either, especially in a live environment, since the most are figure 8, and would be adding to the ambient noise.

The biggest issue with the sax is if you tend to move around, as any mic will vary in level depending on distance. That's just the physics of sound. Its the reason that many brass players have moved to wireless clip on mics instead of throwing a mic on a stand. Then you can move around and interact like a singer would do. If you tend to be a stationary player, then a stand mic is fine. A single mic on the piano may be sufficient, depending on what type of soundfield you want, if it's a grand or upright. Yeah, if the bass player has experience, let him guide you.
 

john_dikeman

New member
Ok, that gives us a bit more to go on. I would definitely opt for the contained unit vs the Clarett path. The more channels the better. You know that one day, you'll have two guitars, or a guitar and trumpet player join you on stage! Good to have those extra channels. The Soundcraft looks good. CHeck out some of the reviews on Youtube.

Most of what you are listing would work. For the drums, 2 overheads and a kick drum works fine. I don't know that I would go with a ribbon on the sax either, especially in a live environment, since the most are figure 8, and would be adding to the ambient noise.

The biggest issue with the sax is if you tend to move around, as any mic will vary in level depending on distance. That's just the physics of sound. Its the reason that many brass players have moved to wireless clip on mics instead of throwing a mic on a stand. Then you can move around and interact like a singer would do. If you tend to be a stationary player, then a stand mic is fine. A single mic on the piano may be sufficient, depending on what type of soundfield you want, if it's a grand or upright. Yeah, if the bass player has experience, let him guide you.
Yeah that all makes sense to me. I think I'm going to settle on the soundcraft.

I do move around a bit but i try to reign that in when recording. Of course i don't mind the live aesthetic that sometimes includes brief moments of the sax not being directly on. I also have my sd systems condenser clip on. With 20 channels i could easily use the clip on and another Mic then have the option to mix the signals or just use the one that sounds best.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Free money to buy kit always does this. The trouble really is in people's heads, it's not equipment. It's taken me a lifetime to realise that kit solves nothing, and very, very rarely do you buy something nowadays that makes you go wow. The killer is simply matching equipment to people. Nothing to do with intelligence, but watching a not yet 4 year old master a track pad on a windows PC, then a laptop with touch screen, then a macbook that allows extra fingers, and finally a mouse and track ball - just to be able to play peppa pig on youtube sort of put it into perspective. All the kit you have mentioned will do the job. You identified the Zoom H6 as great but not enough channels, so you look at more inputs and get alternative kit. The critical factor is how well you fit them. You will end up with your audio sources captured as well as your perhaps random mic placement and room allows. I've noticed that mic placement is far less critical in a less live room. In a boxy sounding space, real expertise, headphones and speaker monitoring are needed to fine tune that placement - sometimes within inches. Use the same kit in a deader space and the fine tuning of placement is more difficult to hear. Maybe we are fine tuning the rejection of the room artefacts, and not the instrument?

Your limits, as mentioned above, will be the room noises, the fans, aircon, birds, noise from outside - I doubt if it's any small difference in electronics, now electronics are so good. I've discovered old microphones are often far better than we ever gave them credit for, now modern gear let's us use them on more of a range of instrument sound sources.

I'm left wondering if many of the vintage electronics earned their 'status' because they were just better than other kit at that time in electronics. The Rupert Neve designs, as an example. He engineered out, often with great complexity, the artefacts we got in many designs - but now, the most basic designs don't have these issues to be fixed. He created a new market back then for very nice sounding, expensive equipment. However - was it just that some other kit was just nasty!
 

john_dikeman

New member
Ok, so what I think I should gather from all that is basically that any of these reputable devices will be plenty good and that the irregularities coming from different rooms, ambient noise, and probably first and foremost my lack of skill, will far outway the differences between these devices. That makes total sense to me. Again, I'm asking because I'm a newbie and still don't know exactly which parts of the equation make a big difference or not. And believe me, I'm not expecting any of these devices to magically record beautiful, audiophile albums. I get that. I just want to try and get the gear that gives me the best starting shot considering all my limitations.

From what I've seen, the Soundcraft still looks like about the best bet. I don't see any real options with 12 + inputs for much cheaper, and I don't really see any downsides to it either.

Getting into a detailed conversation about miniscule "sound quality" comparisons is probably silly. But again, I honestly didn't know if the differences between units was miniscule or obvious. A while ago I saw a video from an Audiophile guy who did a blindfold comparison $200 components vs $20,000 components matched with $200 speakers vs $20,000 speakers (or whatever the amount was exactly). The result was people heard the difference of the speakers immediately. However they couldn't tell the difference between expensive speakers with expensive components vs expensive speakers with cheap components. I can imagine for recording the mics may be a much bigger factor in terms of coloring the sound than these units, which by now, with tech as it is, will all record very well.

To bring it back to my world, saxophones... People will speak descriptively about the sonic differences between ligatures (which do nothing more than clamp the reed onto the mouthpiece and as long as they work should not effect the sound in any way) in as verbose and dramatic a fashion as they do about mouthpieces, which genuinely alter the sound drastically - a statement no one would deny. However, there's no way to know that when you're reading stuff online until... you know.
 
Last edited:

TalismanRich

Well-known member
Getting into a detailed conversation about miniscule "sound quality" comparisons is probably silly. But again, I honestly didn't know if the differences between units was miniscule or obvious. A while ago I saw a video from an Audiophile guy who did a blindfold comparison $200 components vs $20,000 components matched with $200 speakers vs $20,000 speakers (or whatever the amount was exactly). The result was people heard the difference of the speakers immediately. However they couldn't tell the difference between expensive speakers with expensive components vs expensive speakers with cheap components. I can imagine for recording the mics may be a much bigger factor in terms of coloring the sound than these units, which by now, with tech as it is, will all record very well.
You're absolutely right there! The biggest variations will occur in the transducers, those devices that change air pressure variations to electronic signals and vice-versa. If you look at frequency responses of microphones and speakers, they will often have variations of up to +/- 5dB from flat. On the other hand most electronics will be <+/- 0.5dB from 20-20K, many are better than that. Distortion on most interfaces and recorders will typically be <0.05%. On the other hand, a microphone might rate at 120dB but at that level it might be 3% distortion. That's where the lack of standardized specifications rears it's ugly head. Add to the fact that in a real room, you have lots of room effects, standing waves, etc and you can see why so much of audio goes "subjective". It's which microphone or speaker sounds best to you.

The good part for a musician is that you may have the ultimate reference point if you play that instrument. Use that reference when evaluating mics and speakers.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
The stupid thing about musical instruments, and brass especially is that no two sound the same. A friend of mine who cannot play the sax, heard they were collectors items so bought loads - all makes models and types and being a bit of a sax player, I spent an interesting afternoon, with my mouthpieces, swapping them to different saxes. He had two Selmer Mk 6's amongst them - A sax I've always wanted but never been able to afford. One sounded really lovely, and the other, visually in better condition, was horrible. Ignoring the fact it needed rep adding, it just had a much lighter, thinner tone. He had some unbranded East German ones dating to the late 80's and some nice Japanese ones - the Yanagisawa Alto and Yamaha Tenor were really nice to play - but a bit bright for me. The point I'm trying to make is that a saxophone is unique - even the bad ones, but for recording them, people do very odd things. The placement of the mic is far more important than what that mic is!

I think for me - audiophiles have no business recording. They seem to be totally running on hyperbole, inventing flowery new words to describe tone. The hi-fi fraternity hate blind testing as it usually reveals audiophiles do not want truth, they want beauty. Why do recording studios and broadcasters not use the flavour of the month loudspeakers the audiophiles use? Why don't audiophiles use our favourite monitor speakers? If we have mixed the music on them and spent time crafting that sound, surely using the same speakers at home gives you the same sound the engineer heard? Why don't audiophiles design their listening spaces to sound like recording studios? I have never understood why they need a three grand amp to replay what the studios did on a 300 pound amp.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
You mean a system like this? You won't see this in the Abbey Road studio.

51076731757_439148b045_k.jpg


I must say, one of the best stereo systems that I have ever heard used the Nautilus 800 series speakers, just like the ones in Abbey Road. Those suckers are GOOD!
 

bouldersoundguy

Well-known member
My question is, how are you going to integrate sound reinforcement with recording in venues that have their own PA and aren't set up to accommodate your recording?
 

john_dikeman

New member
My question is, how are you going to integrate sound reinforcement with recording in venues that have their own PA and aren't set up to accommodate your recording?
This would generally be for smaller venues where it would be as acoustic as possible. Only amplification would be bass through an amp and maybe some piano through the pa. Though, yeah that already could cause some problems...
I don't intend to take this all the time, but would just bring it for specific events I want to record at venues I know and know how we can set up.
 

jamesperrett

Active member
One tip when recording live - always record the room. I'm currently in the middle of a project using a few gig recordings where all the sources are direct from the PA but there are no room mics so everything sounds a bit too dry and the audience are very distant.
 

rudesingh56

New member
I've done live recordings with a Zoom R24, which has 8 inputs and an MX12/4 mixer which handled vocals. The vocals took one track leaving 7 tracks for instruments, not quite what you say you need. A 16 channel snake feeds the inputs to the setup. Here it is on a tabletop a few years ago. If I was starting from scratch, I would probably just grab a Model 24.
get-vidmateapp.com mobdro download
 
Last edited:
Top