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Simple, Quality Recording Chain
Old 15th October 2013
  #1
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Simple, Quality Recording Chain

I'm a bit of a newbie when it comes to audio recording...I currently have a Presonus Firestudio Project as my main interface. It sounds ok, but I definitely feel as though my recordings sound better. I am looking to build a very simple but quality recording setup with a quality AD/DA converter and quality preamps. I can do without any hardware processing right now as I'm using mainly in-the-box UA plugins that sounds quite nice.

I guess my question is how/where does everything fall in to place in a simple studio setup chain? How do I get my preamps to go to the AD/DA converter? How does the AD/DA converter send to my computer? (I'm using a Macbook Pro, by the way). Since I'm using a laptop, do I have to rely on Firewire? Would the alternative be having a dedicated audio card that hooks up to the AD/DA converter? If I'm sending my preamps to an external AD/DA converter, are the preamp signals/tracks still separated when they reach my DAW, or is it just a L/R stereo output?

I like that each preamp on my Presonus can be mapped to a separate track in my DAW, which makes mixing much easier. However, say I'm using external preamps with the Presonus, I'm guessing I would have to have the output from the external preamps going in to the line-level inputs 1 and 2 on the Presonus to bypass the preamps on the interface...Wouldn't this only give me a left and right channel to work with then?

I apologize for all of the somewhat vague questions...But any information would be greatly appreciated. I just feel like the quality of the Presonus has ran its course with me, and I'm ready to move on to something that has better quality. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like the "all-in-one" boxes never have the same attention to detail and quality as the stand-alone devices do.

Thank you!!
Old 15th October 2013
  #2
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edva's Avatar
Get this: Metric Halo ULN2.
Old 16th October 2013
  #3
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Looks like a nice piece of gear. How exactly would I use this with my Presonus? It looks like it only has two inputs...I often use all eight on the Presonus.
Old 16th October 2013
  #4
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Toni-P's Avatar
RME might be an interesting upgrade for you.
Plenty of high end consumer gear, and I believe they also have 8 channel converters.
Old 16th October 2013
  #5
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I'll just clear something up for you - your presonus interface has more than 2 line level inputs. The 1/4 inch jacks on the front will bypass the stock preamps - so if you want you can plug external preamps into each channel and have them all show up as seperate channels in your daw.

The only thing I'm not sure about is channels 1&2 (it looks like the quarter inch jacks on the front are instrument inputs for those channels ), however - on the back of your interface, you have line level insert points for channels 1&2 - so I'm thinking you can probably plug into the return ports on the back to get line level inputs for channels 1 & 2. But you might want to confirm this with someone else who owns the same interface.

As for A/D converters - well - a dedicated (more expensive) converter does the same job as your current interface, but often has NO inbuilt preamps (just line level inputs), these converters are designed for people who are either using all stand alone preamps , or using the preamps in a console.

You can go down this path if you want... But you are looking at thousands for a good converter, and then many more thousands for standalone preamps. You've just got to think about whether this is a simple hobby, or a burning fire inside you!
Old 16th October 2013
  #6
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I started out with a Presonus interface, then moved to an RME, and now have switched to a Steinberg UR824. Normally I would say the interface is not the area you should focus on, but... The Presonus preamps and converters were extremely frustrating and I had an immediate improvement in my sound once I switched it out.

RME makes good stuff, but they are just not worth the premium price tag now that there are less expensive high quality options (if your computer is capable of recording at 88.2 sample rates and above). I would recommend looking at a Steinberg UR824 USB interface or a Steinberg mr816x FireWire interface. Nice clean preamps with a decent amount of gain and good D/A and A/D conversion. These units have some high frequency roll off at lower sample rates, so make sure that your computer can handle recording at 88.2k or 96k / 24bit for better audio. If you have an older computer that can't handle those sample rates and you are limited to 44.1k or 48k, then the RME units will maintain a bit more of the high frequencies and offer lower latencies at those settings.

Don't worry about running external preamps or other hardware through a good interface that has good clean preamps placed in the line level signal path. I sweated this for a long time as well. Good units have a neutral pre at 0db gain. Just dial back the preamp to 0 gain (this requires turning on the pad on and setting the dial about 1/4 of the way up on the steinberg units) and then plug your hardware into the interface input. You can even blend the gain of your interface with the gain on an external preamp for different sound options. Just make sure that your gain staging is good.

Avoiding preamps on an interface has become too costly to make sense these days... I run high end pres and a console through my UR824 and it sounds great.
Old 16th October 2013
  #7
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edva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by wcx08 View Post
Looks like a nice piece of gear. How exactly would I use this with my Presonus? It looks like it only has two inputs...I often use all eight on the Presonus.
The ULN2, in addition to two excellent on-board pre amps, will accept 8 more channels via optical cable, or two more (at least) via AES/EBU digital cable, from external units. However, I am not familiar with your Presonus, so I'm not sure how that might work.
Old 16th October 2013
  #8
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Thank you all for your replies...Very informative.

I have been looking at these Metric Halo interfaces...I've read amazing reviews about them and they seem to be in my price range...Especially considering I wouldn't have to purchase separate converters and preamps, since they are Firewire interfaces. I actually came across this thread from 2005 on Gearslutz:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/high-...c-halo-29.html



That set up there is almost exactly what I had in mind. But you'll see that he's using external preamps and feeding it to the Metric Halo interfaces. I'm seeing that there is a ULN2 at the top of the chain, which I'm guessing is the final stage in the chain. I guess I'm a bit naive about certain connectors for these interfaces...If you have 8 preamps from another device feeding in to a ULN2, for example, are those eight preamps still preserved on eight different tracks when it reaches your DAW, or does it get reduced down to two tracks, since the ULN2 only has two inputs/outputs? I've never used AES, optical cables, ADAT, SPDIF, or anything in the past (just XLR cables), so I'm not entirely sure what they do. AES connectors look the same as XLR...Are they different cables altogether?

Thank you again for your help guys...I love this forum!

Also...To Gonebytim...It is a burning fire inside me! Not to get gear...But to be able to record quality audio with a modest setup, whether it's in my studio or somewhere else.
Old 16th October 2013
  #9
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edva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by wcx08 View Post
Thank you all for your replies...Very informative.

I have been looking at these Metric Halo interfaces...I've read amazing reviews about them and they seem to be in my price range...Especially considering I wouldn't have to purchase separate converters and preamps, since they are Firewire interfaces. I actually came across this thread from 2005 on Gearslutz:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/high-...c-halo-29.html



That set up there is almost exactly what I had in mind. But you'll see that he's using external preamps and feeding it to the Metric Halo interfaces. I'm seeing that there is a ULN2 at the top of the chain, which I'm guessing is the final stage in the chain. I guess I'm a bit naive about certain connectors for these interfaces...If you have 8 preamps from another device feeding in to a ULN2, for example, are those eight preamps still preserved on eight different tracks when it reaches your DAW, or does it get reduced down to two tracks, since the ULN2 only has two inputs/outputs? I've never used AES, optical cables, ADAT, SPDIF, or anything in the past (just XLR cables), so I'm not entirely sure what they do. AES connectors look the same as XLR...Are they different cables altogether?

Thank you again for your help guys...I love this forum!

Also...To Gonebytim...It is a burning fire inside me! Not to get gear...But to be able to record quality audio with a modest setup, whether it's in my studio or somewhere else.
MH can definitely record quality audio with a modest setup.
ULN2 can output 18 individual channels to your DAW, I believe, at 44.1 or 48K, fewer at 88.2 or 96K.
AES is physically very similar to standard XLR cable, but has a different impedance optimized for digital signal.
The preamps on the ULN2 are very good, the ones on the 2882 sound nice but are noisy at higher gain settings, so not useable for very quiet sources without an external preamp or booster such as Cloudlifter. Sound good on any louder source though. Both units have excellent A/D/A, and wonderful software mixing and recording capabilities, backed by very responsive customer support. Not affiliated, just a very happy user.
Old 16th October 2013
  #10
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szmola's Avatar
+1 vote for ULN-2.
Old 16th October 2013
  #11
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Can someone explain how the ULN-2 can output 18 individual channels to my DAW if it only has a L/R main out? I see it also has ADAT in/out, SPDIF in/out, AES in/out. You'll have to excuse my ignorance on the subject...I'm unsure as to whether these other connectors preserve the number of channels or not. I know the Firewire connection will, but I just figured that this device only put out two channels for left and right.

This is a learning experience for me!!!
Old 16th October 2013
  #12
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edva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by wcx08 View Post
Can someone explain how the ULN-2 can output 18 individual channels to my DAW if it only has a L/R main out? I see it also has ADAT in/out, SPDIF in/out, AES in/out. You'll have to excuse my ignorance on the subject...I'm unsure as to whether these other connectors preserve the number of channels or not. I know the Firewire connection will, but I just figured that this device only put out two channels for left and right.

This is a learning experience for me!!!
over firewire.
Old 16th October 2013
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edva View Post
over firewire.
But in order to have that number of inputs in the first place, I would have to have another device hooked up to the ULN-2, with, say, eight pres on it, correct? And then I would send the XLR outputs from that device to the two XLR inputs on the ULN-2, and it would preserve the number of tracks from the first device?
Old 16th October 2013
  #14
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edva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by edva View Post
The ULN2, in addition to two excellent on-board pre amps, will accept 8 more channels via optical cable, or two more (at least) via AES/EBU digital cable, from external units. However, I am not familiar with your Presonus, so I'm not sure how that might work.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wcx08 View Post
But in order to have that number of inputs in the first place, I would have to have another device hooked up to the ULN-2, with, say, eight pres on it, correct? And then I would send the XLR outputs from that device to the two XLR inputs on the ULN-2, and it would preserve the number of tracks from the first device?
The other device must have either optical and/or AES/EBU out. That is how the individual channels show up in the ULN2 software mixer, and are sent to your DAW.
Old 16th October 2013
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edva View Post
The other device must have either optical and/or AES/EBU out. That is how the individual channels show up in the ULN2 software mixer, and are sent to your DAW.
So how would this be a simple solution... You guys know that all of those ADAT inputs would not benefit from the Metric Halo converters or preamps right? All it would do is transfer that ADAT data stream to your DAW and display it as additional channels under the same interface. The ULN2 would give you 2 channels of great in / out that would be using Metric Halo's D/A and A/D conversion, but all of the other channels would be using the converters of this second device that connects via ADAT... You wanted 8 channels right? Basically the ULN2 only gets you 1/4 of the way there, sends you shopping for solution for the other 3/4 of your problem, and comes with the added hassle of linking devices via ADAT. Would you get a cheap unit to convert the other 6 channels to ADAT, or keep the Presonus to convert to ADAT? Then you are right back where you started for 3/4 of your channels...

If you want a Metric Halo interface, then look for a unit that covers all of your requirements. That would probably be a ULN-8 (or 2882 if you go with external preamps).
Old 16th October 2013
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by archfrenemy View Post
So how would this be a simple solution... You guys know that all of those ADAT inputs would not benefit from the Metric Halo converters or preamps right? All it would do is transfer that ADAT data stream to your DAW and display it as additional channels under the same interface. The ULN2 would give you 2 channels of great in / out that would be using Metric Halo's D/A and A/D conversion, but all of the other channels would be using the converters of this second device that connects via ADAT... You wanted 8 channels right? Basically the ULN2 only gets you 1/4 of the way there, sends you shopping for solution for the other 3/4 of your problem, and comes with the added hassle of linking devices via ADAT. Would you get a cheap unit to convert the other 6 channels to ADAT, or keep the Presonus to convert to ADAT? Then you are right back where you started for 3/4 of your channels...

If you want a Metric Halo interface, then look for a unit that covers all of your requirements. That would probably be a ULN-8 (or 2882 if you go with external preamps).
I think I agree with you here...The daisy chaining going on here doesn't sound like it makes sense logically...I feel like somewhere in front of the ULN-2 things would need to be summed or converted separately from the ULN-2...And if I'm trying to avoid using my Presonus preamps and converters, why would I want to send the outputs of that device to the ULN-2, just to polish the proverbial turd?

I have been looking at the ULN-8 and 2882. Do you have that backwards? I was under the impression that the ULN-8 was for external pres and the 2882 had 8 pres built in, with XLR and TRS inputs.

This brings up another question...If you look at the ULN-8 backside, the inputs for the mic pres look like serial ports. I've never seen anything like it (again, please excuse my ignorance)...I guess I'm just used to the way the Presonus is set up, with 8 XLR inputs to the corresponding pres. What sort of inputs are those, and how do I hook up microphones to that?
Old 16th October 2013
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wcx08 View Post
I think I agree with you here...The daisy chaining going on here doesn't sound like it makes sense logically...I feel like somewhere in front of the ULN-2 things would need to be summed or converted separately from the ULN-2...And if I'm trying to avoid using my Presonus preamps and converters, why would I want to send the outputs of that device to the ULN-2, just to polish the proverbial turd?

I have been looking at the ULN-8 and 2882. Do you have that backwards? I was under the impression that the ULN-8 was for external pres and the 2882 had 8 pres built in, with XLR and TRS inputs.

This brings up another question...If you look at the ULN-8 backside, the inputs for the mic pres look like serial ports. I've never seen anything like it (again, please excuse my ignorance)...I guess I'm just used to the way the Presonus is set up, with 8 XLR inputs to the corresponding pres. What sort of inputs are those, and how do I hook up microphones to that?
Those are DB-25 connectors which you would need DB-25 to XLR patch snakes to connect...

I double checked. The 2882 has no preamps. The ULN-8 has onboard preamps.

I was interested in Metric Halo a while back as well, but they are only for Macs. I am certainly not interested in switching to a Mac...
Old 16th October 2013
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by archfrenemy View Post
Those are DB-25 connectors which you would need DB-25 to XLR patch snakes to connect...

I double checked. The 2882 has no preamps. The ULN-8 has onboard preamps.

I was interested in Metric Halo a while back as well, but they are only for Macs. I am certainly not interested in switching to a Mac...
Correct about the DB-25 connectors. But I think you're mixing up the 2882 with the LIO-8. The 2882 HAS onboard preamps, though with less gain than the ULN series. The base-model LIO-8 has only line inputs, though you can add preamps in groups of four.

And to the OP - yeah, if you want 8 mic or line inputs simultaneously, and simplicity, an 8-input unit would be the way to go. The Metric Halo stuff is a great choice, with no-apologies electronics and excellent feature sets, build quality, and support, but RME and Apogee make good stuff too.
Old 16th October 2013
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by archfrenemy View Post
Those are DB-25 connectors which you would need DB-25 to XLR patch snakes to connect...

I double checked. The 2882 has no preamps. The ULN-8 has onboard preamps.

I was interested in Metric Halo a while back as well, but they are only for Macs. I am certainly not interested in switching to a Mac...
On MH's website for their 2882, under the paragraph header "Stand-Alone Operation" it says "As a standalone converter, the 2882 provides a 24bit/96kHz stereo front-end with 8 great sounding utility mic pres for any recording system." I don't know if "Stand-Alone Operation" is different than normal.

So with those DB-25 connectors...I can get something similar to this:

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/accessories/mogami-gold-8-channel-db25-xlr-female-snake-cable/483346000002000?source=3WWRWXGP&gclid=COj36amXnLoCFUlp7AodcVwAXQ&kwid=productads-plaid^58357584387-sku^[email protected]^PLA-device^c-adid^30426360987

And plug all my microphones in to those, attach the DB-25 connector to the ULN-8, and that's that? It will map the eight mics to their proper channels, and it will show up in my DAW?

EDIT: Also, there is no signal degradation between the XLRs and the DB-25? What if daisy chain XLR cables together going in to the DB-25 snake?

This is all so fascinating, or maybe I'm just easily amused...You guys have seriously been a great help.
Old 16th October 2013
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wcx08 View Post
On MH's website for their 2882, under the paragraph header "Stand-Alone Operation" it says "As a standalone converter, the 2882 provides a 24bit/96kHz stereo front-end with 8 great sounding utility mic pres for any recording system." I don't know if "Stand-Alone Operation" is different than normal.

So with those DB-25 connectors...I can get something similar to this:

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/accessories/mogami-gold-8-channel-db25-xlr-female-snake-cable/483346000002000?source=3WWRWXGP&gclid=COj36amXnLoCFUlp7AodcVwAXQ&kwid=productads-plaid^58357584387-sku^[email protected]^PLA-device^c-adid^30426360987

And plug all my microphones in to those, attach the DB-25 connector to the ULN-8, and that's that? It will map the eight mics to their proper channels, and it will show up in my DAW?

EDIT: Also, there is no signal degradation between the XLRs and the DB-25? What if daisy chain XLR cables together going in to the DB-25 snake?

This is all so fascinating, or maybe I'm just easily amused...You guys have seriously been a great help.
You are right. The hardware comparison on their website shows the 2882 as having 8 preamps, but they only have 42db gain which will fall short on a lot of dynamic mics.

Yes, something similar to that snake should work. Or, you could get a DB-25 to XLR patchbay as long as it is capable of passing phantom power. (Just make sure you never send phantom power to a ribbon mic by accident) As long as you get a decent snake then there should not be any signal degradation.

That being said... I would still go the Steinberg route and focus my purchasing power toward room treatment, additional mics and standalone preamp options. Those things all have a much bigger impact than a premium interface.
Old 16th October 2013
  #21
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DCtoDaylight's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wcx08 View Post
On MH's website for their 2882, under the paragraph header "Stand-Alone Operation" it says "As a standalone converter, the 2882 provides a 24bit/96kHz stereo front-end with 8 great sounding utility mic pres for any recording system." I don't know if "Stand-Alone Operation" is different than normal.

So with those DB-25 connectors...I can get something similar to this:

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/accessories/mogami-gold-8-channel-db25-xlr-female-snake-cable/483346000002000?source=3WWRWXGP&gclid=COj36amXnLoCFUlp7AodcVwAXQ&kwid=productads-plaid^58357584387-sku^[email protected]^PLA-device^c-adid^30426360987

And plug all my microphones in to those, attach the DB-25 connector to the ULN-8, and that's that? It will map the eight mics to their proper channels, and it will show up in my DAW?

EDIT: Also, there is no signal degradation between the XLRs and the DB-25? What if daisy chain XLR cables together going in to the DB-25 snake?

This is all so fascinating, or maybe I'm just easily amused...You guys have seriously been a great help.
The stand-alone thing basically bypasses the interface capability of the 2882 and lets you use it as if it were just a preamp + converter. Handy if your main interface has an ADAT in, or if you're just in need of extra channels.

And yes, all the incoming channels are fully mappable; there's also a software mixer supplied by Metric Halo that includes some very nice plug-ins and effects (with lots more available for an extra payment of $549, or less during one of their sales). I've found the MH EQ and (especially) the dynamics processing to be a definite step up from the stock Logic plug-ins, and their "character" plug-ins add some good tube/amp mojo to incoming mics/guitars/basses.

No worries about quality of the DB-25 connection or about daisy-chaining mic cables on the way in - if they're wired right and in good shape you'll be fine.

For cabling, Redco is a great source (as they so often are):

Metric Halo, ULN-8 Cabling | Redco Audio

Good luck in your search!
Old 16th October 2013
  #22
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I am considering the Steinberg...I like both options. Of course, one is significantly cheaper than the other.

I rent a studio space that has very nice acoustically treated rooms with high ceilings...They sound great. I also have a fairly decent but modest mic locker. I feel like my weakest link in the chain is my preamps and converters. My recordings sound pretty good, but they're lacking something that I just can't put my finger on. I notice the low quality on the Presonus mainly on things that have low frequencies...Bass mainly. Whether it's run DI or micing an amp, bass just sounds very muddy and a little distorted in the low end.

You all have been a great help...Thanks again.
Old 16th October 2013
  #23
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I haven't had my hands on one, but my sense is that your analysis of the Steinberg is correct. Seems like a great choice in that range!
Old 16th October 2013
  #24
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edva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by archfrenemy View Post
So how would this be a simple solution...
The ULN2 suggestion was a simple solution to the OP's original post, where he never mentioned 8 tracks, only two, and simple, but high quality. That's ULN2.

The additional discussion has been to answer the OP's very basic questions about signal flow, that's all. Not a recommendation or simple solution to his original question. Sorry if that wasn't obvious.

The best 8 channel unit of those mentioned so far is, by far, the ULN8.
I am very happy with my ULN2's and 2882's, but will also upgrade to the ULN8 eventually.
Old 17th October 2013
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edva View Post
The ULN2 suggestion was a simple solution to the OP's original post, where he never mentioned 8 tracks, only two, and simple, but high quality. That's ULN2.

The additional discussion has been to answer the OP's very basic questions about signal flow, that's all. Not a recommendation or simple solution to his original question. Sorry if that wasn't obvious.

The best 8 channel unit of those mentioned so far is, by far, the ULN8.
I am very happy with my ULN2's and 2882's, but will also upgrade to the ULN8 eventually.
I must have mixed up threads thinking he asked for 8 channels... My bad. I agree that for 2 channels the ULN-2 might not be a bad way to go.

For 8 channels it makes a lot less sense to me. For the price of that ULN-8, you could buy a Steinberg interface along with a high end preamp or channel strip and an amazing microphone. Metric Halo might make a nice unit, but they can't touch a Steiny if it has the advantage of a seriously upgraded mic running through a Great River preamp.

I was able to get my UR824 and a new Toft ATB08 demo unit for the price of a new ULN-8. That smokes a ULN-8 in every category in my book. Not bashing Metric Halo here... Just saying that high end interfaces in general just don't have the quality advantage that they did 5 years ago. Front end quality gear (mics, pres, comps) make much more of a difference in the overall quality.
Old 17th October 2013
  #26
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I have a feeling that this is a good question the OP asked; I bet there are a lot of people out there that would love a small number of inputs, very high quality audio set up for their home studios.
I've been looking to upgrade my signal chain as well, something that allows me to use my outboard preamps as well as a couple/few built in that has the best conversion I can afford.
While there are a ton of pro-sumer options, there aren't really a whole lot of options that don't cost a LOT of money for the average home user.
I think Prism is almost exactly on the money with the Lyra interfaces.

I am probably going to bite the bullet and get an Orpheus, but it's spendy.
Speaking only for me, I've been finding it very difficult to have a "full pro lite" set up. Something in my rig isn't exactly correct; I/O count (too high or too low), less than awesome conversion, an inability to bypass onboard preamps, monitor control, headphone amp power, on and on..

It's tough (I'm guessing impossible) to nail a truly "sounds like a record" caliber setup for not a lot of money.
Be interesting to read how people work it in their home studios..
If money was no object and I was single (have to consider my partner's opinions for very large purchases, ya know..) I'd just throw down for a Burl Mothership or something..an API 1608 and a Studer deck??

No but seriously I'm interested too to read how people get a great small system dialed.
Old 17th October 2013
  #27
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How do the Steinberg's preamp/converters compare to the Presonus Firestudio Project? The Steinberg UR824 seems to be about twice as much in cost as the Presonus, so is it safe to assume the quality of the hardware is "twice as good?"

Also, say I hook up my microphones directly in that DB-25 cable I linked to in my post above, and then plugged that DB-25 cable in to the Metric Halo ULN-8...How does the mapping work for the microphones? How does the interface know which cable maps to which input when it reaches your DAW?
Old 17th October 2013
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wcx08 View Post

Also, say I hook up my microphones directly in that DB-25 cable I linked to in my post above, and then plugged that DB-25 cable in to the Metric Halo ULN-8...How does the mapping work for the microphones? How does the interface know which cable maps to which input when it reaches your DAW?
There's a software mixer, MIOConsole, where you route signals, add effects, etc. You just assign signals to Firewire channels, which causes them to show up as inputs on your DAW. There's also a basic record function, which is very handy for remote projects like concert recording - it's simple and pretty bulletproof, and you don't have to boot up and run a hairball DAW.

Note that quality of software and drivers can be a huge factor with interfaces - definitely research the exact computer-operating system-interface combo you'll be using to avoid unpleasant surprises. This is a strong point for RME and Metric Halo - they both do a very good job on the software side of things.
Old 17th October 2013
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wcx08 View Post
How do the Steinberg's preamp/converters compare to the Presonus Firestudio Project? The Steinberg UR824 seems to be about twice as much in cost as the Presonus, so is it safe to assume the quality of the hardware is "twice as good?"

Also, say I hook up my microphones directly in that DB-25 cable I linked to in my post above, and then plugged that DB-25 cable in to the Metric Halo ULN-8...How does the mapping work for the microphones? How does the interface know which cable maps to which input when it reaches your DAW?
What instruments are you recording? What mics are you using? Maybe I can do a comparable dry sample of just the interface alone. I actually prefer my UR824 to the RME Multiface at higher sample rates. Either one absolutely smokes a Presonus firestation. Once you get to RME or the newer Stieny units, you are capable of a quality level that competes with any mega high end transparent converter. The differences are minute and almost completely personal preference based these days.

That being said. Most beginners simply track, mix and monitor too loud. The negative impact of that on an entry level interface like a Presonus is much worse on your sound. Make sure you treat -20db in your DAW like it is equivalent to 0db in the analog world. (Because it is!) Target a negative -20db recording and mixing level in your DAW. That alone will make the single most massive difference in overall recording quality. Entry level interfaces have less headroom to start with... It becomes even more important to protect recording and mixing headroom with best practices.

Here is my question to you... Why would you want a high end interface that has built in identical preamps? Even high end interfaces have a limited life cycle due to software and operating system changes and support. For the same price you could have a range of premium standalone preamps that last a lifetime, offer much higher quality sound, react differently with each mic and provide an infinitely more varied palate of tones and coloring.
Old 17th October 2013
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Originally Posted by archfrenemy View Post
Here is my question to you... Why would you want a high end interface that has built in identical preamps? Even high end interfaces have a limited life cycle due to software and operating system changes and support. For the same price you could have a range of premium standalone preamps that last a lifetime, offer much higher quality sound, react differently with each mic and provide an infinitely more varied palate of tones and coloring.

I certainly have nothing against high end mics and pres, own a bunch myself, but, the preamps on the ULN2 and ULN8 are also fully professional, high end quality pre's, and if a person wanted a simple, yet fully professional sounding setup, either of those would fit the bill entirely, without the need for any additional pres or converters etc. This is after all what the OP originally posted: "I am looking to build a very simple but quality recording setup with a quality AD/DA converter and quality preamps."
Now, on the other hand if you are like most of us on GS, you will eventually begin to collect more gear........... And of course, ultimately budget is a determining factor. But especially for the OP, who from his questions is just beginning to learn about very basic things such as signal flow, patching, and DAW assignments, an "all in one" solution of fully professional quality would seem to be the way to go. Obviously, it's not the only way........
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