Mixers and Home Recording

Bobbsy

Boring Old Git
As per the detail in the sticky, it's not particularly suitable.

Starting at something you might not have thought about, your Asus sound card isn't suitable for recording purposes--it's marketed for gaming and surround sound video playback. You'll need to replace it with something more suitable.

At this point you have various options. The Dynacord is a pretty nice mixer for live use but not really designed for recording. You only have a choice of the main stereo output or, if you want multitrack the usual bodge of using the insert jacks wired to bypass the return part of the link. This in turn dictates what you need in terms of an interface spec--two channels or enough for each fader channel on the mixer. However, since you're buying a new interface anyway, you really, really need to think about why you want a mixer.

As you've already guessed cheaper mixers with USB outputs really aren't up to much. The tend to have the same "main stereo out only" restriction and some pretty ropey mic pre amps as well. They are also very restrictive in terms of how you can route the output from your computer--you need this for monitor purposes but quite often all you can do is put it in the main mix.

So...have a think about how you want to work then seriously consider using just a suitable interface and not a mixer. If you DO want a mixer, don't skimp and get one with direct outs (either analogue or to USB).

As for your Mackie 450s, nice PA speaker but designed for power not accuracy. Yup. Afraid you should replace them with studio monitors.
 

kitkat

New member
Thanks for the advice sort of guessed that :( just would like to keep stage equip just in case. second hand resale is very poor return. Prob have to save the pennies to purchase suitable studio recording gear. Any suggestions on which gear to buy on a tight budget?

Not a pro by any means just want to get a hobby setup, but still have nice sound output.
 

Bobbsy

Boring Old Git
What are your needs in terms channels...how many mics at one time, any instruments or line level sources at the same time as mics, that sort of thing.
 

DM60

Well-known member
One item to note, and I have not seen it. If you are on a desktop, you can also use a PCI interface. I switched from a USB to PCI M-Audio192 and have "almost" removed latency, plus the card was rather inexpensive(<US100). To date I have not seen a down side, it has SPDIF in/out (for external effects routing), 1/4 for input, monitor and aux. I naturally run this through a mixer, but it is not a bad setup.

I say this as no one has mentioned it, but this is desktop only option (Mac, Windows or Linux).
 

ecc83

Well-known member
David (DM60)
Mentioned the M-Audio 192 soundcard. An excellent choice but over here, virtually unobtainable now and very expensive. The Delta 2496 is almost as good, it will certainly be fine in terms of latency since it has only been in the last few years that external AIs could match PCI cards for speed be they usb or Fussywire.

I agree that a mixer should not be a first choice for a home recording setup but if you already have one? Tis ok.

Small mixers often have better mic pres than AIs simply because you get a gain control, a channel level pot and usually 3 band EQ. The latter should not normally be used on record except most sources benefit from some bass cut and VERY few AIs ever have a HPfilter on their mic amps.

Furthermore, it isn't "mixing"! All the box does is amp up the signals and pass them thru a couple of op amps (which are in AIs anyway) to the soundcard. Oh! AND you get pan pots!

Dave.
 

bouldersoundguy

<div><p>&nbsp;</p></div>
David (DM60)
Mentioned the M-Audio 192 soundcard. An excellent choice but over here, virtually unobtainable now and very expensive. The Delta 2496 is almost as good, it will certainly be fine in terms of latency since it has only been in the last few years that external AIs could match PCI cards for speed be they usb or Fussywire.

AIs with simple analog input monitoring can exceed any PCI card in terms of low latency. An analog mixer gives a PCI card interface the same advantage, so since you have to have a mixer with many PCI cards why not use its inherent zero latency ability? It seem odd to me to have an obvious, easy and better solution in the mixer and still use the DSP input monitoring.
 

DM60

Well-known member
AIs with simple analog input monitoring can exceed any PCI card in terms of low latency. An analog mixer gives a PCI card interface the same advantage, so since you have to have a mixer with many PCI cards why not use its inherent zero latency ability? It seem odd to me to have an obvious, easy and better solution in the mixer and still use the DSP input monitoring.

If I say something foolish, I apologize up front. But my understanding there are several types of monitoring. Playing as recorded material is playing from DAW (still comes through converter). Playing and hearing while playing with recorded music (this could be pass through monitoring, might not be saying it right). While listening to the recorded playback, playing "wet". Which to me is what I do. Reverb, delay, what ever. This is where I see the PCI card have the advantage. As my headphones are connected to the card, I listen and record at the same time (wet as I use direct in through a little mixer for connection easement). This would require the extra low latency.

Maybe I have this all wrong but for the small time recording guy, it seems like this type of setup is what the majority of us want. If on a desktop, the PCI card provides this and really, there is no USB/Firewire interface that can give you that kind of speed. The interfaces that can give you that type of speed come with its own PCI(e) card for throughput.

But if it is just a simple pass-through monitoring, yes, doesn't make sense to go through all of this. But I suspect very few really are looking for this type of setup.
 

ecc83

Well-known member
Errr?
Yes! Of course you can use a mixer to give zero latency monitoring (we did not, after all listen to the off tape signal from us Revoxes!).

But if you need to use onboard FX or play a VSTi you need low, round trip latency.

BTW. The PCI card IS beat! My 2496's only go down to 64 samples (but are left at 256). My NI KA6 can equal that and the RME AIs can do 32 without glitching.

Dave.
 

DM60

Well-known member
Errr?
Yes! Of course you can use a mixer to give zero latency monitoring (we did not, after all listen to the off tape signal from us Revoxes!).

But if you need to use onboard FX or play a VSTi you need low, round trip latency.

BTW. The PCI card IS beat! My 2496's only go down to 64 samples (but are left at 256). My NI KA6 can equal that and the RME AIs can do 32 without glitching.

Dave.

OK, I still, nothing current in an external interface is going beat the PCI I/O (it just can't happen). But, main point here is, near zero for monitoring and wet recording.
 

bouldersoundguy

<div><p>&nbsp;</p></div>
Yep, live effects/instruments from the computer wouldn't benefit. I like mixers on big sessions with real instruments but for small setups they're not much help.
 

Bobbsy

Boring Old Git
I'm in the fortunate position of never using live VSTi instruments (Audition can't even handle them) and think trying to use live effects while recording is a very bad idea even before latency is considered. Everyone's needs are different but I can't help thinking that many people make a rod for their own backs by overloading their systems then complaining about latency.

There are certain very good reasons to have a mixer but the suitable mixer is rarely a small economy one. My biggest reason for using a mixer is more to do with routing and monitoring options, not specifically tracking or mixing. Cheap mixers are almost always limiting in this area. Also, with the utmost respect to ecc83, I think it's wrong to say that the pre amps in small mixers are superior to most interfaces is just plain wrong. Yes, there are good--and more expensive--small mixers but I've yet to hear a pre amp I'd give studio space to on the entry level stuff. It only stands to reason. If you spend $150 on a box that's just a couple of pre amps and AD/DA converters, the manufacturer can put in more quality that a $79 box trying to be an 8 channel mixer plus interface.

So...at the risk of sounding condescending, if you haven't thought through why you want/need a mixer and researched whether the model you're considering can do what you need, they you likely don't need a mixer.
 

ecc83

Well-known member
I'm in the fortunate position of never using live VSTi instruments (Audition can't even handle them) and think trying to use live effects while recording is a very bad idea even before latency is considered. Everyone's needs are different but I can't help thinking that many people make a rod for their own backs by overloading their systems then complaining about latency.

There are certain very good reasons to have a mixer but the suitable mixer is rarely a small economy one. My biggest reason for using a mixer is more to do with routing and monitoring options, not specifically tracking or mixing. Cheap mixers are almost always limiting in this area. Also, with the utmost respect to ecc83, I think it's wrong to say that the pre amps in small mixers are superior to most interfaces is just plain wrong. Yes, there are good--and more expensive--small mixers but I've yet to hear a pre amp I'd give studio space to on the entry level stuff. It only stands to reason. If you spend $150 on a box that's just a couple of pre amps and AD/DA converters, the manufacturer can put in more quality that a $79 box trying to be an 8 channel mixer plus interface.

So...at the risk of sounding condescending, if you haven't thought through why you want/need a mixer and researched whether the model you're considering can do what you need, they you likely don't need a mixer.


I will agree Bobbs that folks tend to expect to throw the kitchen sink into their systems then expect microsecond latency! However, a great number of people need to use the PC to play an instrument. My son is one, we have an Evolution "dumb" keyboard controller and with that in Halion (say) in Cubase he can play his music but to do that he needs low latency. He also needs to drop in extra parts to existing compositions and to do that he needs VERY low latency. He tells me that the 2496 and Cubase are JUST fast enough for the latter (PC is AMD 2.7g 2core W7/64) . And yes B! When it glitches I often have to point out that he has other proggs still open!

I will agree that the beginner should not look at mixer+PCI card * but I think in the OP's case the mixer exists?

I do not know of an 8 mic input $79 (about a nifty here!) mixer? With the greatest respect to you Mr B, that is arguing to absurdity. I think most people would agree that Allen and Heath make good pre amps? Well I cannot (nor could son) tell the difference between those in my ZED10 and the Behringer 802 it replaced (the 10 is a far better tool in lots of respects but the bare bones electronics of the mic channels is very little better then the Berry..In other words, the 802 has pretty good pre amps! Where they would fall down I suspect is in overload capacity but then I am anal about gain staging!

It is an uncomfortable fact for many in the industry to grasp but making very good mic pre amps is quite easy these days (2 transistors, a TL071 and a sprinkling of passives, dollar? Even less if you go SMT! The most expensive bits are the pot and the XLR)

A very careful and revealing test was done in 2012 by Sound on Sound magazine but many are still in denial about it!

Routing etc? The noob does not need them.

*But! If you need the last word in latency it is still a consideration. There are AI's that equal PCI cards but you have to chose carefully.

Dave.
 

Bobbsy

Boring Old Git
Suffice to say I've found a huge difference in the quality of the mic pres between Behringer and A&H, particularly in terms of noise, when the pre amps are pushed about about 3/4 level. If we were arguing nebulous things like "warmth" or whatever I'd want proper double blind A/B testing. However, noise is a measurable (and audible issue.

I've not tried your 802 mixer but was once given a 1204 (claiming to have the same "low noise" circuitry as the 802) and was shocked to get at noise floor around -58dB when the mic pres were cranked up. My ADA8000 mic pres perform about the same--they're fairly acceptable up to between 1/2 and 3/4 level on the gain control but, above that the hiss is noticeable.

Similarly, I've not used the Zed 10 but an Allen and Heath Zed 24 gave me a noise floor in the low -70s when I pushed the gain on a channel right up.

Now, one of the issues I know with Behringer is inconsistency so it's entirely possible you got a good'un. But personal experience is that you cannot count on this.
 
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