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How would an analog mixer fit into a computer recording setup?
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Christophocles
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#1
13th October 2010
Old 13th October 2010
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How would an analog mixer fit into a computer recording setup?

Hey guys, I would like to discuss a means of recording my instruments.

Currently in my studio, I am using a Presonus firestudio. It was a great intro to audio engineering, and a nice buy. However, I regularly experience synchronization issues where either the interface claims to be synced but projects no audio through my speakers, where the interface cuts out during recording, etc. I digress- I am not here to troubleshoot the firestudio.

As my studio has grown, I have acquired some analog gems, both new and vintage, classic and boutique, all great sounding. I have opted for top quality cabling, this, and that. All of this high end stuff running into a bottleneck just does not seem logical. My line recordings sound fine and clean, but my mic recordings are cold. I have been scoping the Focusrite Liquid Saffire for months, but I am starting to wonder if the simple instrument->interface->DAW chain is right for me.

I want some flavor up in my pres. I want to work closely with dedicated EQ to sculpt my sounds. I want to reach out and put my hand on the mix. My treasured gear should be amplified through tasty circuits. It seems that what I yearn for is a bona fide analog mixer.

And now for my question. How is an analog mixing desk integrated into the computer recording world?

Let's use, say, the Toft ATB08M for an example.



Mmm. There is an optional firewire card for this mixer. So, does that mean that one would run instrument->toft pre->toft firewire out->computer? Would some kind of additional conversion unit be needed between the toft and computer?

And finally, how would a mixing desk be integrated seamlessly with my logic window- you know, when I move a fader, the level on the corresponding channel in the DAW moves. When I tweak the low EQ, it applies to the channel's audio. Does a system of sends and returns become necessary for this conversation?

Demystify, please!

-Christophocles
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13th October 2010
Old 13th October 2010
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Take a look at the Allen & Heath GSR24 which is a 24 channel analog board like the Toft but has all the bells and whistles...it isn't out yet but there is a thread on GS that has all the info on it...give it a search.
I'm pretty sure you're not alone on this quest...I bought a A&H ZEDR16 which has 16 analog channels, great EQ, and FW with 18 channels I/O.
Each channel has MIDI control which can be selected to control your DAW channel faders on screen as well as a VST controller with customized rotary pots.
The R16 does not have a meter bridge only a master LED VU meter on the master bus....It's a cool mixer and for my small setup it has plenty of options...the GS24 took the R16 and put motorized MIDI faders plus all analog plus meter brdige, plus 32 channels of FW ADAT direct outs insert points, 2 special tube/solid state mix channels and on and on....the price is much higher than the $2k for the R16...
You need to figure out how many channels you can afford and need to record simultaneously....then decide how far away from the DAW software you want to go....this is why they have consoles....hands on control of your inputs and the flexibility to manipulate each channel at will....then the software is just there to watch the virtual tape move and record...all the real sound is done at the board...
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13th October 2010
Old 13th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christophocles View Post
Hey guys, I would like to discuss a means of recording my instruments.

Currently in my studio, I am using a Presonus firestudio. It was a great intro to audio engineering, and a nice buy. However, I regularly experience synchronization issues where either the interface claims to be synced but projects no audio through my speakers, where the interface cuts out during recording, etc. I digress- I am not here to troubleshoot the firestudio.

As my studio has grown, I have acquired some analog gems, both new and vintage, classic and boutique, all great sounding. I have opted for top quality cabling, this, and that. All of this high end stuff running into a bottleneck just does not seem logical. My line recordings sound fine and clean, but my mic recordings are cold. I have been scoping the Focusrite Liquid Saffire for months, but I am starting to wonder if the simple instrument->interface->DAW chain is right for me.

I want some flavor up in my pres. I want to work closely with dedicated EQ to sculpt my sounds. I want to reach out and put my hand on the mix. My treasured gear should be amplified through tasty circuits. It seems that what I yearn for is a bona fide analog mixer.
Yes, that is exactly what you are yearning for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christophocles View Post
And now for my question. How is an analog mixing desk integrated into the computer recording world?
There are several ways of doing this, but essentially it boils down to what features your console offers, what your workflow requires and the number of ins and outs your interface/ADDA has.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christophocles View Post
Let's use, say, the Toft ATB08M for an example.

http://toftaudio.com/images/atb%20ph...splash_v02.jpg

Mmm. There is an optional firewire card for this mixer. So, does that mean that one would run instrument->toft pre->toft firewire out->computer? Would some kind of additional conversion unit be needed between the toft and computer?
Nice choice. We haven't installed our ATB24 yet. Ask me in a month or so and I can let you know how she sounds.

w/r/t the firewire card, that is how it should work in theory. While it would be possible to add additional channels of conversion, it would not be necessary to do so simply to get audio into the computer. The firewire card will handle that for you. I haven't used the card (and we decided to use our existing apogee/RME converters with our ATB) so I couldn't say if it works as advertised.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christophocles View Post
And finally, how would a mixing desk be integrated seamlessly with my logic window- you know, when I move a fader, the level on the corresponding channel in the DAW moves. When I tweak the low EQ, it applies to the channel's audio. Does a system of sends and returns become necessary for this conversation?
BZZT. It doesn't work that way. The Logic mixer is an entirely separate entity from a purely analog console; there is no conversation between the two in the way you describe unless there is some form of MIDI automation involved, and that opens a whole new can of worms. TBH, I avoid automation like the plague, I find that automation of an analog desk is more of a headache than a benefit to workflow, YMMV.

To get back to integrating a hardware mixer with Logic (or any DAW, for that matter), I find it works best for me if I regard the DAW as simply a recording tool, essentially treating the DAW/computer rig as a glorified tape machine that will also let me do additional fine tuning on the mix.
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13th October 2010
Old 13th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christophocles View Post
And finally, how would a mixing desk be integrated seamlessly with my logic window- you know, when I move a fader, the level on the corresponding channel in the DAW moves. When I tweak the low EQ, it applies to the channel's audio. Does a system of sends and returns become necessary for this conversation?

Demystify, please!

-Christophocles
if you go for the zedr16 the faders are midi controllers and will send data to the daw channel faders . If you wait and get the R24 there is an option for motorised faders which will follow your DAW fader positions . On both of them EQ and PAN are not automated or send midi control data.
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13th October 2010
Old 13th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christophocles View Post
...
As my studio has grown, I have acquired some analog gems, both new and vintage, classic and boutique, all great sounding. I have opted for top quality cabling, this, and that. All of this high end stuff running into a bottleneck just does not seem logical. My line recordings sound fine and clean, but my mic recordings are cold. I have been scoping the Focusrite Liquid Saffire for months, but I am starting to wonder if the simple instrument->interface->DAW chain is right for me.

I want some flavor up in my pres. I want to work closely with dedicated EQ to sculpt my sounds. I want to reach out and put my hand on the mix. My treasured gear should be amplified through tasty circuits. It seems that what I yearn for is a bona fide analog mixer. ...
Indeed, even a mediocre Mackie mixer is preferable to plugging instruments directly into the audio interface in my experience. While it's true, the signal will not be as clean, a squeaky clean signal is not always what you want. In my own case, not only do I not object to the "degradation" that occurs by inserting a mixer into the chain, it can often add character. A mixer is also an indispensable tool for me in terms of workflow. I use very few virtual instruments, so I prefer to connect all of my instruments and external processors to the mixer where monitoring latency is rarely an issue. I can buss to sub-groups for simultaneous multi-track recording if needed, or simply mute tracks, etc. Sometimes, I will have everything setup as in a live performance and simply record the master outputs of the mixer as a single stereo track. Somehow it just sounds more "alive" more "organic" to my ears than if I plug everything straight into the interface. I really can't imagine not having an analog mixer in the studio. The one you've mentioned above looks like a great choice!
Christophocles
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13th October 2010
Old 13th October 2010
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Thanks for the great responses. I would like to be able to record audio then add eq from my mixer. Would this be achieved by reamping the audio out of a DAW send, into the mixer's channel strip, out of the mixer, and back into a DAW return? Is there a more streamlined way to do this?

Then I suppose I would have to record the track again and let the newly EQd audio play through.

So my mixer would act as a preamp, a convertor (with the optional FireWire card), a controller of the DAW levels, and then EQ for reamping.

Then down the road a bit I could get my paws on a nice 2 channel tape machine and take some pure analog, one take recordings using the main outputs of my mixer.

But for computer based recording, do you guys think it would make more sense to go with a liquid saffire, euphonix mc mix, and a great outboard EQ or the toft with a FireWire card?

Thanks,

-Chris
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13th October 2010
Old 13th October 2010
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where can you get the optional digital card for the ATB? I can't find it anywhere.
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3rd March 2011
Old 3rd March 2011
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you could go with the Toft for the front end analog, then run from the direct outs of the channels or send the channels to the 8 sub groups. then run either of those to a ad/da converter like a Motu 192 or apogee into your comp and your program.

then if you want to mix out of the box, send the tracks back out separately into the mixer and eq, mix, sub-mix, whatever you would like. Or just mix itb using something like a Tascam 24ch DAW control surface or your mouse

dont know if that helps a little or I just made it worse for you :p
#9
30th September 2012
Old 30th September 2012
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Connecting Motu 896HD to Toft ATB08M and patchbays

Hi everyone!
I'm not sure if this is the right place for my question but I think that this topic is the most similar to mine...
Anyway, I work with Logic and I have a Motu 896HD. I sometimes record voices, guitars or basses for my production directly from the motu's preamp and I always mix ITB.

I was looking forward to buy an analog console to add some analog characteristics to my sound and moving my mixing out of the box. I was thinking about a Toft ATB08M.

My problem is that I don't really know which is the best way to connect my Motu to the mixer to have a recording setting easily switchable to an out of the box mixing setting. I know I will need patchbays (such as Samson S-patch Plus), but I don't know how many I should get and how to connect them properly to my purpose, to have, let's say, all the inputs/outputs plugged in. I also have a stereo compressor outboard and a multi effect.

Can anybody please give me a hand?

Thank you very much!

Trich
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30th September 2012
Old 30th September 2012
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As hinted earlier I think you have two main task for your mixer/computer.

1. Tracking/recording; External synths connected to the mixer channels - getting this into the computer there are some options
a) recording the stereo master out from you mixer, this is simplest but you then have no separate tracks, there is no remixing or doing things to individual track in the computer.
b) Record subgroups/busses from the mixer to the computer, for example one group for drums, one for synths etc. for this you obviously need a mixer with subrgroups and that outputs them on individual connections.
c) Record dirctly from individual tracks, you'll need a mixer with 'direct outs' or on some mixers you can use the insert points on each channel to get an output, here you'll also want to check if the direct outs are pre- or post fader/eq etc.

2. Mixing down tracks/channels that you have recordded to the computer;
For this you need to send out the tracks from your interface to the mixer.
Here you also have to consider what you want to re-record;
a) Send out the individual tracks to separate channels on the mixer, and use the mixers eq/sends/effects and record the summed stereo main mix back to the computer.
b) Re-record the individual tracks _after_ the mixers eqs etc and still doing the summing to stereo in the computer, this way is more complex to set up - and requires a mixer with post-fader direct outs, you'd have to also set up your DAW so that it works, I imagine you could set it up as 'hardware inserts' (reaper term) or to set up a new set of empty tracks for re-recording the result.

As you can see I have been thinking of the same things, not really made my mind up what I want to do yet, many things to consider.
Also there's the thing with latency if you for example are sending MIDI out to your synths from your daw, I imagine it can get a bit messy if you're having both recorded audio and MIDI synths tracks mixed...

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30th September 2012
Old 30th September 2012
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That looks like a nice mixer, but wouldn't you want a bigger one? When getting a mixer in the first place, why not go all the way and mix OTB also?
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30th September 2012
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tbh I wouldn't go down that road. at risk of fluffing some feathers myself having come full circle from ITB OTB and back ITB i'll never use a analogue desk again.

since going itb my workflow has improved immensely, mixing otb only served to slow me down, take more space, cost more and most of all blur the sound. what's the point of spending loads to get an awesome synth to only blur it through a desk. on the other hand cheap interfaces have poor analogue stages so piping synths directly to an interface will sound not so good / full.

it's true i still don't quite have the hands on eq but with a daw controller i'm 90% there. automation and recall are obviously a bonus.

sorry to sound so negative but imho been there done that.
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30th September 2012
Old 30th September 2012
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OTB is not for everyone Maybe ITB is just better for you and your way of working
But that might not be an end-all answer for everyone!
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30th September 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Optical Lens View Post
OTB is not for everyone Maybe ITB is just better for you and your way of working
But that might not be an end-all answer for everyone!
Very true

Just I had to go to the extreme of spending thousands having a room-filling 32-input desk km of cable with racks and racks of effects to find that out.

again imho
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30th September 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lain2097 View Post
Very true

Just I had to go to the extreme of spending thousands having a room-filling 32-input desk km of cable with racks and racks of effects to find that out.

again imho
Yes it is a very expensive experiment, and I am about to do the same Especially that Toft desk. I just HAVE to try it. Music is a hobby for me, and having a hobby is all about fun and spending all your cash before it is wasted on stupid stuff like bills

But that Toft mixer looks really good, but it would be wise to get a larger one since the thread starter already has a lot of gear. I would love to see a visual representation of the gear setup!
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