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  • General mixing/monitoring questions

    Well i'm moving up in the world of digital recording... i'm looking to replace mouse actions with faders and headphones with monitors.

    In the next *insert random amount of time here* i'll be building a new machine just for the purpose of being a DAW, so I have a few questions about what the future shall bring, and what I should do in the short term.

    On it's way now are a set of Event PS6 powered monitors I grabbed off of ebay. My tempDAW right now is a laptop with a stock internal sound card. I'm wondering what I should be looking to do to use the monitors off this. Should be simple.. plug and play, but the output of sound card is powered, and so are the monitors. Wouldn't that cause distortion from a powered out and then through an amp? In the long term, though, i'm sure whatever solution as a dedicated DAW sound device will be made for proper monitoring... and that leads to the next question...

    With all the new "control surfaces" that are out... what would the benifits/drawbacks be while comparing that to a standard midsize mixer? I'm not exactly sure what the process is when connecting a true mixer to a DAW via the audio device, but i'm sure true digital cards are made for it.. such as the Q10 and the like?

    Thanks for your input on this!

    Gabe
    Gabe Kangas
    DM5, D4, PD80R, CY-15, CY-6, Visu-lite Ride, DauZ's, Random Pintech stuff, BBE 362.

    www.spasticsrecords.com/real-ity

  • #2
    You can still use the headphone output but being careful about the volume. This solution will work but you won't get the best of your recording and monitors because internal soundcards in laptops are not very good.

    If your budget allows you go out and look for USB audio interface, there is one from Digidesign (only Mac for the moment) and I'm sure other manufacturers heve similar products (Terratec, Midiman, etc.)
    If you're willing to spend a little more check the Mona and Layla from Echo (www.echo.com), they both come with PCMCI card to use with notebooks (it also exists PCI model). Then Motu has a firewire audio interface if you happen to have this type of connector in your notebook (www.motu.com)

    Regarding control surfaces they are mostly dedicated for a specific program, Huston for Cubase and Logic Control for Logic 5. I'm not sure about using them with Sonar/Cakewalk
    But you can also find some other control from Tascam and from Event Electronics (Ezbus www.eventelectronics.com).
    This latest one has audio inputs and outputs but Huston and Control doesn't, they just work as a console to control the program, effects, etc.
    I also have a friend that controls parts of his Cubase from a Yamaha V01 digital mixer.

    Just think what you need or what you want to do with your DAW and then visit as much web sites as you can to collect all information from the products. Remember that the equipment should serve you and not the other way around.

    Pierre.

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    • #3
      wanted to help a little...

      I have the Tascan US-428 and it works quite well with several of the popular digital recording software packages like Sonar/cakewalk, logic and cubase. However, the US-428 is a little biased towards cubase. If you get the US-428, you will not need a sound card as it performs this duty itself. It is probably average in this department, but better than a soundblaster and probably compatible with many of the other "average" PCI 24bit cards.

      Cjude is right about what constitutes a DAW and like he said: just a little study on your part will enable you to build one yourself for much less money. The trick is to know a little about what you are doing when "under the hood." That being said, putting together your own machine is like putting together legos (at least in my book it is).

      The thing to be mindful of with the Tascam US-428 is that it is a USB 1.1 audio device and there are some bandwidth limitations inherent in using a USB audio device. I have not encountered any serious bugaboos, and morevoer, the US-428 acts like a mixer and has a fair number of RCA, 1/4 inch and SPDIF(sp?) inputs as well as faders and such. The faders on the US-428 are not powered and the unit offers no phantom power, so you will need pre-amps. I use it with a POD for guitar and hope to use it soon with the v-club I am fixing to buy.

      Hope this helps.

      Jeff
      Last edited by JeffVA; 06-28-02, 02:25 PM.

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      • #4
        Thanks for all the great responses guys.

        I think the USB limitations is the reason why in the long run a real mixer would be the way to go, as long as I could do 2 way communication with the pc. So I guess it would work by lots of outs from the mixer to lots of ins on the card... and then the card has lots of outs on the card to lots of returns on the mixer? One per however many channels of audio your card can support? The thing I wondered then was... how does the software know what your external mixer is doing so if settings were to change on the mixer it'll use motorized faders to pop you back into place? Maybe that's not possible and you're limited to software controls once the sound is recorded and that's the true advantage to a control surface. Or maybe with a digital mixer you'd save all the song mixing automations on the mixer itself. But then when rendering the song it would actualy never touch the mixer.. hmm. I guess that's where I'm confused how people do it I guess the way to go, Like C Jude said, would be a mixer to get multichannel sounds in, and the control surface once it's in there, unless I want to be limited in channels, whereas the Event would work as both.

        I was looking at the Event control surface moreso than the tascam because of all the inputs it has, and it's ability to be a small mixer, not just sending control messages to the software, but does that too. But still limited to (I think with usb) 4 channels of audio at one time.

        I'd have no problems building a pc I feel would be appropriate to do my bidding as a dedicated audio pc (DAP, that a better term? It's just the interace to the external world, and what's the most effective way with the different mixing and card options. Oh by the way, I am currently a Sonar user. I really did try Cubase, C Jude.. I swear!

        And lastly, the only reason I think my laptop at the moment has a powered output is because it's made for headphones., but as long as I keep levels down it'll probably be ok for now.

        Again, thanks!

        Gabe
        Last edited by Real-ity; 06-27-02, 01:02 PM.
        Gabe Kangas
        DM5, D4, PD80R, CY-15, CY-6, Visu-lite Ride, DauZ's, Random Pintech stuff, BBE 362.

        www.spasticsrecords.com/real-ity

        Comment


        • #5
          I was just looking at mixers and thought i'd check out the o1v mentioned. It seems like a perfect solution in a PC based recording setup. Full MIDI implimentation with motorized faders that can be controlled by MIDI and send midi control parameters. Let all your mixing be saved via midi data, and let the mixer's faders pop back into place when returning to that project. Maybe i'm missing a drawback of this device, but i'm just surprized I havn't heard anything more of it.

          As cjude said it could take some technical work to sync the two, but it seems worth it. Cakewalk also seems to have a studioware panel for it, for cake/sonar users.
          Gabe Kangas
          DM5, D4, PD80R, CY-15, CY-6, Visu-lite Ride, DauZ's, Random Pintech stuff, BBE 362.

          www.spasticsrecords.com/real-ity

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Real-ity
            I think the USB limitations is the reason why in the long run a real mixer would be the way to go, as long as I could do 2 way communication with the pc. So I guess it would work by lots of outs from the mixer to lots of ins on the card... and then the card has lots of outs on the card to lots of returns on the mixer? One per however many channels of audio your card can support?
            You can have 10 analog inputs with the Layla from Echo, or Delta 1010, 8 analog inputs with the Terratec 8088 (I think), and four with many other cards like Delta 66, etc. You can connect more of than one card together if you need more inputs/outputs. I know more than one Layla can be synched together. You can download the manuals in PDF, usually they are quite good.

            In this case (mixer to audio card) you have to see your DAW like an multi track recorder. No FX sends/returns, monitor, etc.
            After you have the tracks recorded then you turn your DAW into a digital audio editor using internal mixer, FX, etc. Now you'll work on mixing and mastering your material.

            After you finished your mix you'll want to use a digitall out to make a master in DAT or MiniDisc. Or you can just burn it on the notebook CDR.

            Also think about a digital mixer with one or more Adat outputs and inputs. Then you'll only need a card with this type of conexion. With just a couple of fiber optics connectors you have 8 outs and 8 ins.

            The thing I wondered then was... how does the software know what your external mixer is doing so if settings were to change on the mixer it'll use motorized faders to pop you back into place?

            The external mixer will be connected to the PC/Mac using Midi communication protocol. With this language we can send and recieve orders from and to the Mixer. If you move a fader in the mixer a special message will be sent from it to the PC/Mac saying "I have increased the volume in channel 5 to xxx" and the software will apply this and reflected onto the screen mixer.
            There are a lot of possibilities using Midi, it all depends in how is your mixer and software programmed.
            Event control seems to have set ups for the three major programs (Logic, Cubase & Sonar).


            I guess the way to go, Like C Jude said, would be a mixer to get multichannel sounds in, and the control surface once it's in there, unless I want to be limited in channels, whereas the Event would work as both.

            I was looking at the Event control surface moreso than the tascam because of all the inputs it has, and it's ability to be a small mixer, not just sending control messages to the software, but does that too. But still limited to (I think with usb) 4 channels of audio at one time.
            Check the restrictions of simultaneous recording and playback channels. I think is only two with the EZbus. If you want to send, let's say, 8 outputs you can't. But you can still reproduce all the tracks you want in your Software, it's just that you'll have only two outputs.
            It all goes back to what you want to do, record demo songs with only voice and guitar (2 inputs and phantom power); or record a drum set (4 to 8 inputs posibility of dynamics on each one), or set up a more professional studio (more inputs, outs, FX, etc).
            It can be also that you need to dedicate more resources to Midi conexion than audio (if you have a drum machine, keyboards, sampler, guitar processor, Midi Keyboard controller, etc.)
            The possibilities are almost endless.

            Pierre

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            • #7
              Originally posted by c. jude
              I saw that Tascam has another smaller control surface out in addition to its original one. Not up on the differences yet, but maybe worth checking out too if someone is considering adding one.

              (I think I'm adding a Houston, although I hear tell of a rumor that Mackie is building a generic one...they built the HUI and the Logic Control.) Ahh. There is always something else, just around the corner.
              c.jude,

              The tascam US-224 is essentially half of what its bigger brother (the US-428) is.

              Jeff

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              • #8
                Funny how marketing is eh?

                Chris, I noticed in an older thread you had advised someone for their first e-drum purchase. I am on the cusp myself and wonder if I can email you privately for some peer steering?

                Cheers,

                Jeff

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