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First Home Studio; How should I connect my gear, to get best results? Audio Interfaces
Old 31st August 2011
  #1
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First Home Studio; How should I connect my gear, to get best results?

Hello everyone, thanks for looking at my thread.

I am a Music student, and I am in the process of setting up my first home studio. The core part of my set-up consists of;

- MacBook Pro 2GHz Intel Core i7, 8GB RAM
- Logic Studio 9
- Mackie 1402 VLZ3 mixer
- KRK Rokit g2 8's (monitors)

I have literally just bought all of this gear over the last month or so, so now, I need to connect it all together, and I am wondering what the best why to do this will be.

I will be writing a lot of electronic music using Logic, but I will also be recording guitar and vocals through my mixer (obviously using a mic).

I have read so many articles regarding the different ways you can record in a small studio set-up like I have, that my mind is a bit fried at the moment, so I am looking for someone to put it in clear english the options I have.

Should I be connecting my mackie to my KRK's using XLR, or TRS, or RCA cables?

Should I connect my mackie to my macbook, via the mackies Alt outputs --- into my macbooks audio input. If so, is there an obvious cable to use in order to do this?

Then, do I connect a cable from the audio output of my Macbook ---- into my mixer?

I dont have much experience of using small mixers, so it would be great if anybody could give me a bit of guidance, and explain the signal pathway I should use

Thanks for looking!
Old 31st August 2011
  #2
Here for the gear
 

Use xlrs. RCA is unbalanced.
Old 31st August 2011
  #3
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BGRENNAN's Avatar
 

what type of interface are you using?
Old 31st August 2011
  #4
Gear Head
 

You can always use the tape out to connect into the mic line in on your mac book pro, using a RCA cable to 3.5mm TRS and either come out of the headphone output into a stereo channel of the desk, say 7-8 using a stereo 3.5mm to 2 mono 6.5mm TRS.

And you can use XLR to XLR cables to connect the mixer to monitors.

You are probably going to want some form of interface, which you could connect the channel inserts, using mono cables into an interface, this would also have a monitor output so thats where you would connect your monitors.
Old 31st August 2011
  #5
Lives for gear
 

use 3 harddrives

1 for recording audio
1 for OS and apps
1 for sample libraries
Old 1st September 2011
  #6
Gear Nut
 

The issue that has not been stated clearly enough is that you really must add a decent audio interface in order to get good results. The A/D and D/A converters built into the MacBook Pro are not up to the task. Any usb or firewire interface capable of accepting two line inputs (Apogee, M-Audio, Focusrite, etc) will do.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BGRENNAN View Post
what type of interface are you using?
I have not (as yet) bought an interface. I was kind of under the impression, that I would not need a mixer AND interface, to do the 'small scale' recording I will be doing at the moment (vocals & guitar), in my home studio.

So, what would be the main advantage of buying an interface? Would it be the fact that this would give me a better A/D converter, and would therefore improve my recordings (are we talking latency here?).

If I am only recording on 1 or 2 channels on my mixer at the same time, would my macbook not be able to deal with this?

Ultimately, I do want to record using a greater number of channels on the mixer at once (hence why I bought a 14 channel mixer). But if I am only recording vocals and guitar at this time....would you still advise I buy an interface immediately?

Oh, and I have also bought a 1TB Lacie Hardrive (usb & firewire 400/800)...if that helps?

Thanks to everyone who has replied so far!
Old 2nd September 2011
  #8
Lives for gear
 

Get a nice little Apogee One interface to start and also to understand the difference in audio quality a dedicated audio interface can make.
Old 5th September 2011
  #9
Lives for gear
 

The interface will give you better AD/DA converters and will improve your recordings. If you get something that is firewire, you should have noticeably lower latency as well. The interface becomes the central point for all audio ins and outs, and you can hook your sound board and monitors (or any gear you get in the future) to the interface. I think you will be disappointed with the built in sound card for recording purposes, IF it even works at all. You don't have to go nuts for a simple set up. A friend of mine has a couple of Pre Sonus USB interfaces that he has been pretty happy with. Pretty much anything will be a step up from the built in sound card. I completely de-activated the sound card on my studio set up as it is simply not needed.
Old 5th September 2011
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Yes, you need to get the audio from the Mackie Mixer into the computer in a good way. The "line" input on your macbook will not suffice.

I would recommend, given your needs, to sell the Mackie mixer and get an apogee duet. Whatever interface you end up with, it will have better preamps than that mackie, likely. You won't be able to mix on the mackie anyway, so it doesn't have a lot of purpose in the setup you're describing.

It's a decent mixer, but it's a a small format mixer designed for live use.
Old 12th September 2011
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darhgo View Post

You won't be able to mix on the mackie anyway, so it doesn't have a lot of purpose in the setup you're describing.

If I buy an audio interface, with 6 direct outputs, does this mean that i will be able to (in terms of mixing);

- come out of my macbook, into the interface, then use the 6 direct outputs to go into 6 channels on my mackie desk, and then mix these 6 tracks together at the same time?

by the way, I am looking at buying the Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 Firewire....this costs £220, which is within my budget....let me know what you think, or if you can suggest any alternatives.

Thanks to all who have replied so far.
Old 13th September 2011
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by UKstudent View Post
If I buy an audio interface, with 6 direct outputs, does this mean that i will be able to (in terms of mixing);

- come out of my macbook, into the interface, then use the 6 direct outputs to go into 6 channels on my mackie desk, and then mix these 6 tracks together at the same time?

by the way, I am looking at buying the Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 Firewire....this costs £220, which is within my budget....let me know what you think, or if you can suggest any alternatives.

Thanks to all who have replied so far.
Yes you'll be able to mix on the Mackie if you have multiple outputs on your interface.
Old 13th September 2011
  #13
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The Elf's Avatar
If you're new to this then I strongly suggest you get rid of the mixer. You don't need it as long as the audio interface you choose has sufficient inputs of the correct type for your needs. Your rig will be simpler as a result.
Old 13th September 2011
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Elf View Post
If you're new to this then I strongly suggest you get rid of the mixer. You don't need it as long as the audio interface you choose has sufficient inputs of the correct type for your needs. Your rig will be simpler as a result.
The main reason I wanted a mixer, is that i much prefer to mix in analogue, rather that using a mouse & doing it all 'in the box'.

But i do appreciate what you are saying, so thanks for the advise.
Old 13th September 2011
  #15
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MickeyMassacre's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by UKstudent View Post
The main reason I wanted a mixer, is that i much prefer to mix in analogue, rather that using a mouse & doing it all 'in the box'.

But i do appreciate what you are saying, so thanks for the advise.
You only have a stereo output on your macbook. You wont be able to mix a thing upon playback anyhow.

I agree. Ditch the mixer and buy a multi-channel interface.
Old 13th September 2011
  #16
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by UKstudent View Post
The main reason I wanted a mixer, is that i much prefer to mix in analogue, rather that using a mouse & doing it all 'in the box'.

But i do appreciate what you are saying, so thanks for the advise.
I completely feel the same way you do. Nothing wrong with getting an interface with 8 analog outs and using the Mackie to learn on. In the future you can always upgrade to a better mixer/console but you'll already have the workflow down and know your needs better. You can still utilize plugins etc this way so it's best of both worlds IMO. I find that fine tuning EQ much easier with actual knobs. Not to mention it's just more fun using a mixer!

I'd suggest one of the Echo interfaces: Audiofire 8, 12, etc. They sound just fine and you can add another unit in the future when you step up to a "big boy" console. I have the 8 and it's great. That rhymed. I'll be adding another 8 or 12 soon. I also use a tape machine before I go digital but that's another story all together.

If you choose to go hybrid and utilize outboard I'd suggest getting a patchbay now rather than later. It makes things WAY easier. It's a bitch to set up but in the end it's worth it.
Old 14th September 2011
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by witchfeet View Post
I completely feel the same way you do. Nothing wrong with getting an interface with 8 analog outs and using the Mackie to learn on.
I agree, using a mixer will certainly allow me to learn more, and yes....using a mixer is certainly more entertaining / engaging than doing it all with a DAW.

I think its clear that I will need an interface though!!
Old 15th September 2011
  #18
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JTwo's Avatar
 

I would highly recommend looking for a used RME Multiface and HDSP PCI card. The Multiface would give you 8 analog in/outs with great (in my opinion) converters, extremely low latency, and rock-solid drivers that I've tried to crash on my long-outdated computer (an AMD Athlon x2 system with 8 gigs of RAM).

The Multiface also has ADAT optical I/O, for an additional 8 channels (at 48 kHz), allowing you room to expand if need be.

What you find with DAW software, is that they are all based on how analog mixing consoles work. If you really want to learn, getting an interface and wiring it up to your console is great practice.
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