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Difference between mixer and audio interface ? Mixers (Analog)
Old 13th September 2011
  #1
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Difference between mixer and audio interface ?

I have a Behringer Xenyx 1202 that I baught a while ago because I was getting into a band with a few friends, and we all went seperate ways, but now I'm looking to buy studio monitors for making quality electronic music. Should I use this mixer or get an audio interface ? (For the best quality)
Old 13th September 2011
  #2
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An audio interface is a professional quality sound card for your computer. Usually (though not always) they have multiple inputs so you can use your DAW as a multitrack recorder. They also have outputs so you can hook up monitors (otherwise known as speakers designed for critical audio work) or external audio processing equipment. Many interfaces also come with other features, like preamps so you can directly connect microphones, some include an internal mixer so that while recording a band you can let the performers hear roughly what everyone else is playing. Interfaces can also come with built in effects, and some (though not most) can act as stand alone mixers/audio routers. Granted the quality of all these features vary, so it is wise to make sure, for instance, you are not paying for fewer inputs with cheap preamps and effects you will never use when you have a stack of API preamps and an eventide that will be connected to the interface.

After the audio is in your computer you can apply software effects(VSTs, AU, whatever) mix it digitally using software down to a track that will be released, send the tracks back out to run through external effects (not always recommended) edit the tacks in various ways (stitch together two cuts, make samples for use in other compositions, etc) most of this stuff is done in a DAW, though there are other types of programs that may be used for some functions as well.

A mixer on the other hand is a piece of hardware that combines multiple audio inputs into a stereo output. This can be done though analog summing, or digitally depending on the mixer. As with audio interfaces many mixers have additional useful features. The ability to route audio out of certain inputs for processing and back in, multiple busses so that more then one stereo mix can be created at once. Mixers also usually have some form of equalizer so you can adjust the sound of the audio being mixed together, and sometimes have built in effects. Some mixes also come with a built in audio interface (these vary from simply letting you send the stereo sum from the mixer to a computer, to setups that let you take multiple individual tracks in and out of your computer allowing you to integrate the mixer with your software easily)

Now for the big question, what do you need. I am guessing you don't have a tape machine lying around so you will be recording on your computer. Unless you have a lot of hardware synths you don't need a mixer to make electronic music. In fact if you are working with virtual instruments you would need a multichannel interface in order yo use the mixer at all (to mix the different elements of your composition you would need to send them to the mixer on multiple channels) It also does not seem like the 1202FX has a built in interface so at the very least you would need a two channel interface to get the output into the computer (built in and normal consumer soundcards don't work so well, for one they operate at a different level then a lot of pro gear) You may still want to incorporate your mixer. A lot of people work in a hybrid manner, though usually they use higher end stuff to do so (though if you like the sound of your behringer use it, snobbery is for collectors, my favorite electronic composer uses a mackie as his mixer)

Before you make any decisions you should read up on how studios fit together. I have seen Tweak's Guide to the Home and Project Studio recommended a lot as a starting point. Also post clarifying what other equipment you have, how you want to use it, what your budget is, and what sort of electronic music you want to make. The advice for an electropunk type of thing with guitars and possibly real drums will be a lot different then a setup for minimal house. Also do some searches in different sections of Gearslutz, in the electronic music section we talk about synths a lot, there are longer conversations and more posts over in the low end theory section that could also be useful.
Old 13th September 2011
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxlangevin View Post
I have a Behringer Xenyx 1202 that I baught a while ago because I was getting into a band with a few friends, and we all went seperate ways, but now I'm looking to buy studio monitors for making quality electronic music. Should I use this mixer or get an audio interface ? (For the best quality)
mixers mix
interfaces interface
there may be some overlap of features in both devices

they do sell usb xenyx behringers that will interface too
you dont have that

what do you want to do ?
use a pc ? then you need an interface
record directly to some stand alone device then the mixer may be of use.

not sure how you can use a mixer for electronic music
of any quality

imho you need
pc
interface
software
Old 13th September 2011
  #4
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oldeanalogueguy, I need to disagree with you. Electronic music != in the box. Lots of electronic musicians use hardware instruments (including acoustic instruments!) and use traditional mixers for both tracking and mixing. Many producers use outboard gear during mixdown and find it easier to mix the tracks from their computers on a traditional console. Some record to tape (or other format) and their electronic compositions never see a conventional computer until after they are mixed and out of the studio. That is not to say that you need a console to make any type of music, well maybe you need one to make dub (often thought of as a form of electronic music) properly, but that is debatable. Some people prefer mixing out of the box. Even artists who work almost entirely with virtual instruments and effects sometimes use summing boxes (a primitive form of mixer in my opinion) because they like the sound.

Even musicians who do not use mixers for tracking or mixing sometimes use cheap mixers as part of feedback loops for power electronics/harsh noise setups.

In short, while the OP needs an interface, both the cheap and expensive hardware mixing device has an important place in electronic music. I have trouble believing that anyone at all familiar with electronic music production would say otherwise.
Old 19th July 2015
  #5
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Old thread that is well worth a bump IMO, in fact I think it should be "stickied."

esp for the link provided that gives a lot of basic info.
Old 19th July 2015
  #6
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Synth Buddha's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by bill5 View Post
Old thread that is well worth a bump IMO, in fact I think it should be "stickied."

esp for the link provided that gives a lot of basic info.
Agreed. The "not sure how you can use a mixer for electronic music" comment made it worth it for me, at least.
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