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Struggling with my setup: Tracking + Mixing OTB
Old 30th December 2019
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Struggling with my setup: Tracking + Mixing OTB

Hey there! I have a problem to find a right setup for my desired workflow now for more than a year. To explain it properly, I've clustered it like this:

My desired workflow
I usually start a jam on my hardware until the idea is ready to get recorded. Now I want to track the instruments through my outboard mixer into Ableton as individual tracks (advantage: outboard EQs and "feeling" for the track). In Ableton I use VST instruments and effects, to add more tracks and for editing the individual tracks (advantage: precision+creative freedom). Finally I send all the tracks as groups/busses back into the outboard mixer and mix them live into a stereo sum (advantage: I really prefer the organic results of live mixing).

My problem
At the moment two things are bothering me.
  1. My mixer has only mono direct outs. When I want to track stereo samples from my MPC, I have to use two hard panned mono tracks. Is there a mixer which has stereo direct outs?
  2. When switching from tracking to mixing, I have to replug all the cables on my mixer's input. I have been grappling with the concept of patchbays, but I did not get it deeply enough to decide if this is the solution to my problem.

My gear
MPC 2000XL (8 Outs)
Novation Drumstation (6 Outs)
Korg X5 (2 Outs)
Behringer 101 (1 Out)
MOTU 828 MKII
MOTU 828 MKI
...and more to come

maybe some of you are working with a similar hybrid situation and might spare a tipp or two.
Old 31st December 2019
  #2
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
You didn't mention what kind of mixer you have, but I can pretty much guess that it's a x (number of inputs) by 2 (stereo out) live mixing style mixer.

Traditionally, in a studio situation we would have an in-line mixer, a split design mixer or a mixer large enough to accommodate both inputs from instruments and inputs from your DAW.

An In-line design has 2 inputs per input strip. One for mics and instruments, and one for your DAW / Tape outputs. A simple "flip of the switch" swaps mic / line from the large faders (tracking mode) to DAW / Tape outputs on the large faders (mix mode). Standard studio workflow. No re-patching necessary.

A split design is literally that. There are generally also 2 inputs per "channel" but they are not on the same module like an inline console. They are "split" across the console. Generally, Mic / Line inputs on the left side of the console, then the master section, then a "monitor" section on the right of the console. Mic / Lines on the Left for tracking, Daw outputs on the Monitor side (Right) for monitoring during tracking. A switch will generally "swap" the mic/line and the DAW/Tape outs for mixing on the main part of the console. No re-patching necessary.

Either type of console will fix your need of constant re-patching.

The third option is a LARGE console. Say 48 inputs. You can put your Mic / Line inputs on 1-24, and your DAW / Tape outputs on 25-48 and have them all up at once. You can use a live FOH style mixing console if there are enough input strips for your needs. No re-patching necessary.

As for needing 2 channel strips for a stereo source and panning L/R, this is pretty normal. Some consoles are available with stereo channels, but often they are used for stereo returns (reverbs). But the occasional console has a stereo input strip.

Hope this is somewhat coherent. Got some bad food tonight and I'm not feeling well..... Gotta go, good luck!
Old 31st December 2019
  #3
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Hi, thanks a lot that was immensely helpful! oddly enough, I never came across in-line consoles when I was searching for a console that would fit my needs. At the moment I do have a Soundcraft spirit M12 with 12 mono inputs incl. direct outs, 4 stereo inputs which also serve as aux busses (without stereo outs though) and a mix bus.

So, in summary, what I would need is an in-line console with direct outs, which allows me to record my instruments as individual tracks through the console into Ableton, then after ITB editing is done, I would send the DAW tracks into the same channels on the console, on which I have flipped a switch to monitor, then record the mix sum back into Ableton and be done with it. Is that roughly correct? And if so, is there anything important I should know before getting into buying an in-line console?

best regards
Old 31st December 2019 | Show parent
  #4
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gravyface's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by lazylogidy View Post
Hi, thanks a lot that was immensely helpful! oddly enough, I never came across in-line consoles when I was searching for a console that would fit my needs. At the moment I do have a Soundcraft spirit M12 with 12 mono inputs incl. direct outs, 4 stereo inputs which also serve as aux busses (without stereo outs though) and a mix bus.

So, in summary, what I would need is an in-line console with direct outs, which allows me to record my instruments as individual tracks through the console into Ableton, then after ITB editing is done, I would send the DAW tracks into the same channels on the console, on which I have flipped a switch to monitor, then record the mix sum back into Ableton and be done with it. Is that roughly correct? And if so, is there anything important I should know before getting into buying an in-line console?

best regards
Do you have a budget in mind?

Finding a larger Mackie 8-bus (24.8 or 32.8) in good shape will not cost you much and have a ton of features (in-line as well as a handy Mix-B routing option, as well as dedicated Aux busses for effects, etc.).

A lot of records were cut on those in the 90s/00s.
Old 31st December 2019
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
How serious do you feel you’ll get with OTB mixing? Right now your really kind of summing, not mixing. I ask because if your gonna add outboard compression, EQ, and parallel compression my suggestion is 32 channels minimum and 8 sub groups minimum. You can get away with 24 and 4 but you quickly find yourself limited. Also, auxiliary sends will likely enter your work flow which I find 4 is the minimum and 6 to 8 is a plus. If you continue to create groups ITB then sub groups are not as necessary and large number of channels are not needed either. Auxiliary sends are great for outboard reverb but you can just as easily create a send ITB and send it out and mix to taste. Analog consoles are out of style and can be had very cheap right now on the used market. Do your homework and think about your needs and possible future needs. You can really set yourself up for success. I’d rather have channels I don’t need than need channels I don’t have. But they do take up space so it’s a give and take.
Old 31st December 2019 | Show parent
  #6
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by lazylogidy View Post
So, in summary, what I would need is an in-line console with direct outs, which allows me to record my instruments as individual tracks through the console into Ableton, then after ITB editing is done, I would send the DAW tracks into the same channels on the console, on which I have flipped a switch to monitor, then record the mix sum back into Ableton and be done with it. Is that roughly correct? And if so, is there anything important I should know before getting into buying an in-line console?

best regards
Yes, This is essentially correct. Get one that fits your budget, the size of your room, and has the sonic footprint you like. I'd highly suggest getting more channels than you need today, and implementing a patch bay. Personally I suggest D&Rs for a really great and inexpensive solution, but there are a wide variety of In-Line consoles available. Cheers,
Old 3rd January 2020
  #7
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
thanks for all the input. to be honest, at the moment my budget is as much as i can get for my spirit plus roughly 100 bucks, which makes it a total of about 300,- euros.

seems little, but i've found a Tascam M2600 (MKI i believe) for 100 and a A&H GL 2200 24/32 for 300 so far. i don't know what to make of these yet, but i feel they might go in the right direction, given that producing will always remain a hobby.

@ brian : i don't know exactly what i'm aiming for in the future, but i feel OTB mixing will be a part of it. to acquire outboard equipment is planned as well, since i've gotten myself a rack lately. since my studio will remain in my bedroom, size might become a problem. i do not feel the need to abandon ableton, since i like that my hybrid setup gives me the best of both worlds. yet, 32 channels are probably a future proof investment, given that i plan to get an analog rytm and a polysynth this year...

Last edited by lazylogidy; 3rd January 2020 at 10:07 AM.. Reason: formatting
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