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Analog Mixer as Interface to DAW Audio Interfaces
Old 20th March 2010
  #1
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Analog Mixer as Interface to DAW

I am looking to buy a Tascam 424 mkiii (4-track cassette mixer/recorder):
TASCAM

I want this cassette recorder both for its "lo-fi" sound and for its low price-perfect for someone like myself who is just getting into recording and mixing.
After recording on the 424, I plan to mixdown to Pro Tools by running a RCA to 1/8" Y-jack between my recorder's output and 1-input computer soundcard, and then soloing the tracks into Pro Tools to burn to CD.

And while the tape hiss and distortion are desirable for a punk/garage rock trio I will be recording, I would like a cleaner sound for a second group who fit more into jammy/psychedelic genre, ideally a digital recording.

Is it possible to use the cassette recorder strictly as an audio interface and record DIRECTLY to Pro Tools, bypassing recording it on tape and transferring it? Since the Tascam already has XLR inputs and preamps, I would obviously rather use that than purchase a separate audio interface to digitally record vocals/guitars/drums ect.

Hopefully this makes sense. Again, I'm really new to this, and the 424 will be my first mixer, so hopefully this isnt a dumb question. Thanks.
Old 20th March 2010
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfmans Brother View Post
I am looking to buy a Tascam 424 mkiii (4-track cassette mixer/recorder):
TASCAM

I want this cassette recorder both for its "lo-fi" sound and for its low price-perfect for someone like myself who is just getting into recording and mixing.
After recording on the 424, I plan to mixdown to Pro Tools by running a RCA to 1/8" Y-jack between my recorder's output and 1-input computer soundcard, and then soloing the tracks into Pro Tools to burn to CD.

And while the tape hiss and distortion are desirable for a punk/garage rock trio I will be recording, I would like a cleaner sound for a second group who fit more into jammy/psychedelic genre, ideally a digital recording.

Is it possible to use the cassette recorder strictly as an audio interface and record DIRECTLY to Pro Tools, bypassing recording it on tape and transferring it? Since the Tascam already has XLR inputs and preamps, I would obviously rather use that than purchase a separate audio interface to digitally record vocals/guitars/drums ect.

Hopefully this makes sense. Again, I'm really new to this, and the 424 will be my first mixer, so hopefully this isnt a dumb question. Thanks.
I will guess that you are using an mbox2 or 2 channel m audio interface?
I suppose you could just use it as a mixer, but you would run the "mixing board" left and right outputs into ProTools tracks 1 and 2 without the ability to seperate the mixed tracks.
You really won't have a "clean option", the preamps are cheap, the eq is cheap.
I would just use the Tascam normally and record multi track to it's cassette.
You can later transfer 1 or 2 tracks at a time into Protools on their own individual tracks, and that would give you the most control over the final mix.

I used to record on a portastudio starting out...it has a vibe to it....low fi can be a nice change from the norm.

Good luck!
Old 20th March 2010
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yetti View Post
I will guess that you are using an mbox2 or 2 channel m audio interface?
No mbox 2...just that y-cable to connect mixer to computer. Is this something that I will need?

If i cannot record a "cleaner" sound, how much control will Pro Tools give me in somewhat cleaning up the "tape" sound? Is this done through things like noise gates?

No real experience with Pro Tools either, a friend of mine is the one who owns it, but he is pretty new to it as well.

Thanks.
Old 21st March 2010
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfmans Brother View Post
No mbox 2...just that y-cable to connect mixer to computer. Is this something that I will need?

If i cannot record a "cleaner" sound, how much control will Pro Tools give me in somewhat cleaning up the "tape" sound? Is this done through things like noise gates?

No real experience with Pro Tools either, a friend of mine is the one who owns it, but he is pretty new to it as well.

Thanks.
I'm sorry, I am not familiar with the Y-cable method...I had an Mbox2 mini, and that allowed a mic input and a direct input, and also came with the protools software.
In basic terms, noise gates operate much like an on/off switch....when the volume reaches a certain volume level, the switch turn on to allow sound to pass. If you were micing a guitar amp that had a lot of HSSSSS, you could set the gate to remain off until the volume of the guitar started playing. Or if you had a gate on a drum mic, the mic would remain silent unti the volume level was loud enough to turn the mic on. This is an over simplification, but the noise gate would not really give you a "clean sound", but it helps as an auto on off switch.
If you really want cleaner than just the multitrack casette deck, and the ability to learn editing, a ProTools 003 is a good interface. You can get them with ether 4 or 8 built in mic pres, and the intercace has 2 headphone amps and output volume control for your monitor speakers.
The only cheaper option I can think of is to get an Mbox2 mini for under 300 bucks new, and then send your Tascam track into the interface 1 or 2 at a time into Protools. Any overdubs after the initial band tracks like guitar solos, vocals, acoustics, can then be recorderd directly into the mic pre input of the Mbox mini into your session, and you can have 48 tracks per session.

I hope that helps a little....it takes alot of reading and learning, but then it starts making sense.

Good luck!
Old 22nd March 2010
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfmans Brother View Post
No mbox 2...just that y-cable to connect mixer to computer. Is this something that I will need?

If i cannot record a "cleaner" sound, how much control will Pro Tools give me in somewhat cleaning up the "tape" sound? Is this done through things like noise gates?

No real experience with Pro Tools either, a friend of mine is the one who owns it, but he is pretty new to it as well.

Thanks.
which PT interface are you using? PT needs one to run...therefore you friend must have one. Nothing goes straight into a computer, there's always some sort of audio interface, of which the mbox 2 is one option.

Personally, I'd learn to walk before you can run. Learn to use the tape machine and PT separately before you try to combine them. Learn how a noise gate works for example, and also how noise reduction works, when you'd use one, when you'd use the other - and when you'd use audio editing to get rid of noise.

You can't use a tape recorder as an audio interface. it's a tape recorder. you can't use a hoover as a sports car either.

you might be able to use the preamps of the tape recorder into your PT interface. It might sound "cooler" than the interface preamps. it won't work with phantom powered mics, and it probably won't sound any kind of hi fi. time to try it really.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #6
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noah330's Avatar
It sounds like you may be better off with something like Sony's SoundForge.

I'm dating myself for sure, but for a long time I used an Otari MX5050 8 track into Digidesign's Sound Designer II for editing and it worked fine. I would then print the mix to DAT.

Later, I gor an external SCSI CD-Burner for my Quadra 650 and burned cds that way.

I never owned the original 424, but I had the mkii model and (I think) it may have had four outs, although I may be thinking of my old Fostex X-26.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
Nothing goes straight into a computer, there's always some sort of audio interface.
In another forum, I asked some people about this, and everyone said that all i needed was an RCA to 1/8" (3.5mm) Y-cable. I was told that this will connect from my mixer's outputs directly to my computer's soundcard, and then I can mixdown to a DAW...is that not correct?

I might just use something simpler like Garage Band instead of PT...I'm going to do most of the mixing on the Tascam and maybe just some basic touches in a DAW so I probably don't need something as in-depth as PT.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #8
If you are going to use your computer's stock sound card then you won't be able to use Pro Tools anyway, as Pro Tools requires a proprietary interface to run ie: mbox mini, mbox2, digi003 etc...

You're going to have to live with a certain amount of tape hiss, but you can minimize this by recording fairly hot (but not so hot as to distort the tracks) and using noise reduction as long as whatever software you're using offers it. Just don't overdo it!
Old 22nd March 2010
  #9
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfmans Brother View Post
In another forum, I asked some people about this, and everyone said that all i needed was an RCA to 1/8" (3.5mm) Y-cable. I was told that this will connect from my mixer's outputs directly to my computer's soundcard, and then I can mixdown to a DAW...is that not correct?
You can do that, just not with Pro Tools... you need an MBox or 002/003 to run LE, or a supported M-Audio interface with PT M-Powered. It sounds like you're on a Mac, so something like Garage Band or Audacity would be perfectly fine for what you're doing.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #10
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Ok, ok, makes sense now...I didn't understand before that protools needs that mbox or some kind of interface to run, but I read up on it and get it now.

So yeah, I'll probably just use audacity or garageband to mixdown and make some minor edits.

Thanks for the help.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #11
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Eric Pederson's Avatar
 

No offense but I'm not sure everyone fully read the OP's first post.

Welcome to the world of audio geekery.

Tascam Casette recorder > Y cable > Computer Sound card > Some sort of recording program.... Yes

Tascam Casette recorder > Y cable > Computer sound card (for example the microphone input on your computer > Pro Tools... No go

The reason is Pro Tools is very picky about what devices can be used to record into it. To use Pro Tools you pretty much have to buy a Mbox, Mbox 2, Mbox2 Pro, etc. There are also M-Audio interfaces that will work with another flavor of Pro Tools called "Pro Tools M-Powered"

An interface is something that transforms audio signal into 1's and 0's for digital recording with a computer.

To be honest, your stock computer sound card or microphone input is not going to sound very good. Computer manufacturers arent thinking about us recording engineers, theyre thinking more about consumers who need the input for say, talking over the internet etc.

Maybe I'm wrong, you may have invested in an upgraded sound card. If thats the case you need to use a recording program other than Pro Tools that can accept this interface. Others here can probably recommend the best.

And to answer the other question, your Tascam casette recorder cannot be used as a digital computer interface. It can still be used to get that tape sound AND THEN plug it into your sound card or interface for recording.

Welcome to recording, you might want to look for some beginner guides or books (plenty of free stuff online) and everything will slowly but surely make more sense.

Reading these forums helps alot too =) I learn something everyday.
Old 23rd March 2010
  #12
Gear Nut
 

Doesn't sound like you read everyone's reply
I gathered that he was basically looking to transfer tracks recorded on the Porta to the computer for editing and transfer to CD/MP3. Three of us stated that you couldn't use Pro Tools without an interface (dongle), that seemed to be his only confusion. There are ways to use the Tascam strictly as a mixer, but you're still limited to two channels.

On the subject of his computer's line input, I've heard plenty of decent transfers done with the stock inputs on Apple computers. He seems new to recording; if he isn't planning on doing overdubs once the transfers are complete, IMHO he doesn't need to added hassle of an additional interface at this stage. Many people would have benefited as engineers from starting where he is.
Old 23rd March 2010
  #13
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Thanks for the help everyone

Just to clarify, these recording projects are really just for fun-nothing serious, just playing and recording some music with friends. Not looking to make a career here or get signed, just more of a hobby.

So going through the soundcard will be just fine for me, don't need the highest quality here or anything

I did find out my friend does have an mbox 2, so i guess if i really wanted to, i could connect my mixer to that and then send it to PT if I wanted to record more than 2 tracks at once and keep it analog
Old 23rd March 2010
  #14
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Eric Pederson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bentwookieesound View Post
Doesn't sound like you read everyone's reply
I gathered that he was basically looking to transfer tracks recorded on the Porta to the computer for editing and transfer to CD/MP3. Three of us stated that you couldn't use Pro Tools without an interface (dongle), that seemed to be his only confusion. There are ways to use the Tascam strictly as a mixer, but you're still limited to two channels.

On the subject of his computer's line input, I've heard plenty of decent transfers done with the stock inputs on Apple computers. He seems new to recording; if he isn't planning on doing overdubs once the transfers are complete, IMHO he doesn't need to added hassle of an additional interface at this stage. Many people would have benefited as engineers from starting where he is.
My bad. They did provide all the right info

My sound card sounds like crap, they must be making them better now.
Old 24th March 2010
  #15
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For cleaning up tracks and attenuate tape noise try WAVE plugins. The one called X-Noise, it is included in all their bundles, it works very well, you´ll probably get rid of the noise without any loss of sound if you use it right.

In the other hand recording tracks directly to your Tascam can give you very interesting results, consider that you can saturate tape and obtaint warmth and color without digital clipping. I use to have one of those portastudios, actually two of them Tascam and Fostex. I sold them many years ago, I know regret I should kept at least one of them, they are very portable and nice to work with.

You can achieve excelent results using chrome tapes such as TDK SA, I don't know if they're still available in market. Make sure you run your Tascam at high speed and you will be amazed by the results.

Last edited by Ariajazz; 24th March 2010 at 01:22 AM.. Reason: grammar
Old 22nd January 2011
  #16
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Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfmans Brother View Post
I am looking to buy a Tascam 424 mkiii (4-track cassette mixer/recorder):
TASCAM

I want this cassette recorder both for its "lo-fi" sound and for its low price-perfect for someone like myself who is just getting into recording and mixing.
After recording on the 424, I plan to mixdown to Pro Tools by running a RCA to 1/8" Y-jack between my recorder's output and 1-input computer soundcard, and then soloing the tracks into Pro Tools to burn to CD.

And while the tape hiss and distortion are desirable for a punk/garage rock trio I will be recording, I would like a cleaner sound for a second group who fit more into jammy/psychedelic genre, ideally a digital recording.

Is it possible to use the cassette recorder strictly as an audio interface and record DIRECTLY to Pro Tools, bypassing recording it on tape and transferring it? Since the Tascam already has XLR inputs and preamps, I would obviously rather use that than purchase a separate audio interface to digitally record vocals/guitars/drums ect.

Hopefully this makes sense. Again, I'm really new to this, and the 424 will be my first mixer, so hopefully this isnt a dumb question. Thanks.
I have MKIII and pretty much do the same thing you do but, I really tried the soloing idea of the seperated tracks from the recorder to the DAW. So I have a question for you when you record the drums, how do you pan? and what about EQ'ing? Do you keep them in the neutral point and then EQ them in the DAW. I use SONY Vegas for my recording software and it comes with a lot of nice plug-ins. I'm going to try using my energy XT software at some point.

I pretty much have the MKIII set-up like you running into a PC laptop. What I do is on the LINE-OUT on the back of the machine(R-L), I have it plugged into a Beringer UFO202 and I USB that into the laptop. It works fine and with the dbx turned on, it eliminates a lot of the background noise and cleans it up! But in your case if you like that hissing noise just leave it off....

~Will
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