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Digital mixer vs audio interface
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Digital mixer vs audio interface

On my quest for a new interface for my studio, I asked an experienced music retailer what he recommended. It was an interesting discussion. He asked me what I needed. I said I needed at least 14 XLR inputs for live drums and vocals; and the ability to construct 2 separate monitor mix sends - vocals and drums - with EQ and FX and no latency. He told me that I didn't need an audio interface, I needed a digital mixer (which is what I have) Because if I got an interface, the monitoring and FX would be provided through the computer. Since then I've been looking at some new rack mounted digital mixers. The thing that concerns me is that on these, the computer interface is often USB 2. It's as though that part is just for connectivity or stereo recording. But I am recording 12 tracks at a time. So for instance, Allen & Heath sell a USB rack device but the connection looks to be USB2. So this will record 12 tracks at a time without issues? If you record drums I'd love to hear your thoughts on the best way to do this in 2020 without spending a super large amount of money. Thanks.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

I´m using a Behringer XAIr 18 more and more for location recording for Bands in rehearsal rooms and so on.
16 good sounding preamps, rack mountable, lightweight.
Unbeatable price point for the features provided.
Sometimes I bring in additional preamps (heritage audio, RND 511) if the production should be more then a fast demo.
In the studio I´m using Antelope Audio Orion Studio and the XAIR 18 even compared to the Antelope Audio holds up pretty well.

kind regards
wolfger
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
You could do what you want to do with a good interface with built in FX - the obvious choice is UAD Apollo, or the aforementioned Antelope. Digital - be it a mixer or interface - always has SOME latency, you just need a low latency path which most interfaces can provide.

The UAD option would require 2 x Apollo x8Ps for 16 preamps though. Which is likely to be quite pricey! If you have a couple of external preamps an x8 and x8P would give you 12 pres (and 4 extra line ins).

In practice - most interfaces have a low latency cue mixer that can do multiple cue mixes. you can generally run FX from the DAW, a bit of latency doesn't matter for comfort verb for vocals. Do you really need EQ on the monitor path?

You can send 32 channels of audio over USB if needed.

Your music shop guy may be right - a digital mixer might well be the cheapest way to achieve what you want to achieve. The UAD system would be IMO the BEST way (from workflow and sonic perspective), but likely to be expensive.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
Lives for gear
 
gravyface's Avatar
You could go with either at this point. Most interfaces are going to have some sort of zero latency DSP on them to do FX/routing for cue mixes, but the rub is you need a computer to manipulate that. The Allen & Heath Qu series allows you to record directly to a USB thumbdrive, so you can take the wav files and load them into your DAW later.

Most of the multi-track capable USB mixers are recording at 48Hz/24 bit, so there's a qualitative difference there too. Exception being the Allen & Health SQ series, and I believe the Midas M series. The Behringer X series is pretty comparable to the Allen & Heath Qu series.

To sum it up:

Digital Mixer:
Pros: hands-on, lots of channels in/out, lots of routing options, self-contained-do-everything, relatively inexpensive.
Cons: lower spec'ed for the most part (48 vs. 96), but might not matter to you.

Interface:
Pros: higher-spec'ed recording, smaller form factor/portable.
Cons: requires a computer, not hands-on, not a lot of in/out options or routing, more costly for equivalent I/O.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
 
tymish's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfger View Post
I´m using a Behringer XAIr 18 more and more for location recording for Bands in rehearsal rooms and so on.
16 good sounding preamps, rack mountable, lightweight.
Unbeatable price point for the features provided.
Sometimes I bring in additional preamps (heritage audio, RND 511) if the production should be more then a fast demo.
In the studio I´m using Antelope Audio Orion Studio and the XAIR 18 even compared to the Antelope Audio holds up pretty well.

kind regards
wolfger
I have the Midas version I'm using as my monitor mixer for recording along with my Firewire interface. I have yet to try it as the interface itself. What kind pf latency are you getting when trying to do overdubs using the XAir over USB?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tymish View Post
I have the Midas version I'm using as my monitor mixer for recording along with my Firewire interface. I have yet to try it as the interface itself. What kind pf latency are you getting when trying to do overdubs using the XAir over USB?
I mostly use it for audio recording and monitor via the x-air edit mixer, so no latency at all (I think its under 1ms).
I´m no keyboard player and am using software-instruments very rarely for overdubbing. Low latency modus works pretty good in Logic Pro X, so the latency is nothing that bugs me. Keyboardplayers also did not complain till now.
This is what logic says at buffer 128:
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Digital mixer vs audio interface-bildschirmfoto-2020-02-04-um-21.07.24.jpg  
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