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  1. Registered User

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    Thanks again. So, it seems like a mixer interface does the job and more of a dual channel interface. What would be a situation that would call for a dual channel interface to be used?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Son of Shub-Niggurath View Post
    Thanks again. So, it seems like a mixer interface does the job and more of a dual channel interface. What would be a situation that would call for a dual channel interface to be used?
    Well, in some cases yes. In general the cheaper USB and FW mixers will only record a stereo sum, and if you shell out more they can send individual channels.

    Dual channel interfaces are fine for getting an overall mix quickly onto your computer for upload or whatever. Sometimes you don't have time to mix, or the mix doesn't have to be amazing (not to say you can't get a good sound this way). Or maybe you're recording at home and you don't have the space or enough mics/cables etc... to track more than one instrument at a time, so you can record using that approach. It's also useful for overdubbing parts, you don't need to use a huge rig, or pay lots to use one, for simple quick purposes. Sometimes if you're just mixing a project, you just need a simple little interface to hook up your computer to your monitors with, and a small 2-channel interface is a lot more portable than a big one.

    That being said, many recordings are done as stereo recordings. Sometimes that's the way you want to record something. You'd be amazed at the sound you can capture with just two mics. You can record a choir, orchestra, a band, drums... anything really with just a stereo pair of mics, and get a full and balanced sound. Recording is an art, like music. Sometimes a kick, snare and some hats is all you need to get the job done, or sometimes you get a 10-piece kit with 20 cymbals you know...

    If you want to record a live show, it's easy to throw up a stereo mic or a pair of condenser mics in a 'sweet spot' and record everything that way, and you're really just capturing what it's like to be there, instead of worrying about lots of mics and levels like you would in a studio. Think about it.. mics are like ears. We only have two ears, and everything we hear is like listening to a stereo recording through a 9"/17cm spaced pair of omni mics with a head inbetween them. That is actually called binaural recording, and you can read more about it in the mic questions thread in my signature. Anyway, recording with just two carefully selected and positioned mics will give you the most realistic sound, and you can really put the listener in the room, and it's a wonderful way to record, and it's just as valid, valuable and in no way inferiour to multi-track recording with complex mixing.

  3. Is this Illidan?

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    Don't forget also that when only needing a stereo input sometimes you have a board/set of preamps that blow away anything that can come in an interface. If you get the mix right via the board, there is no need to send individual channels, just a stereo pair.

    This isn't a really realistic thing in home recordings, as I've seen better preamps in interfaces than cheap boards... but you can sometimes luck out on the used market and pick up a really nice sounding board with top notch EQ's and Preamps (that are quiet), then you run your stereo bus into your 2 channel interface and you are good to go. A lot of it comes down to what options you have available, and the skill of the person recording it.

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    So how do I compress a cowbell to get more out of it?

  5. Is this Illidan?

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    First, run it through a compressor with a 1:1 ratio and an output gain of +10dB.....

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    OKay, so what exactly would be the difference between, say, an 8-track interface and an 8-track mixer?

  7. Is this Illidan?

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    An interface is just that, an interface. It is primarily an A/D converter to send the audio from the preamps to the DAW via USB/Firewire. You don't get '8-track' interfaces, usually you can get up to 8 pre-amps in an interface, with the capability of sending anywhere from 1 to 24 tracks into the computer (of course depending on the interface model).

    A mixer does not necessarily send anything to a computer, it may also have 8 preamps, but it outputs to a stereo bus which is then usually fed to a power amp primarily and then through speakers at a venue. If the mixer has a built in interface, that is a different story... but unless specifically stated, a mixer does not interface with a computer via firewire/usb.

  8. Registered User

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    Okay, hereís what Iím getting at. I want to record my drums by close micing each drum as well as using two overheads. I have a 5-piece drum set, so that means 7 inputs. Iíd like each mic to be represented by its own channel in my recording program.

    In shopping around for mixers and interfaces, Iíve found interfaces with 8 channels (such as the Presonus Firestudio Project) and Iíve found 8 track mixers (that also function as D/A interfaces). Iím wondering if thereís an advantage to using an 8-track interface over an 8-track mixer interface, or vice versa, or if it really matters.

  9. Is this Illidan?

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    I've found interfaces will have more bang-for-buck than mixers at the same price-point. It isn't until you start getting into very expensive mixers that they have the same quality pre-amps, low-noise electronics, etc. as an equivalent interface.

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    99.99% of the time the Interface will have far nicer preamps (with cleaner gain and more of it) and converters than a similarly priced mixer. This simply results in a higher recorded sound quality. If you go with a mixer, you'll need to get one that has a firewire interface that sends individual channels for multi-tracking. Such mixers will cost a lot more than an 8-channel firewire interface, because you're paying for all the extra features of a mixer, which you wouldn't really use for recording anyway. Reasons to go with a mixer would be if you needed something for rehearsals with a PA and/or live shows, or if you get a smoking deal on one.

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    DAWs



    DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation. This thread has talked a lot about hardware, this entry will deal more with software. First off what does a DAW do? Some refer to them as DAE's (Digital Audio Editors). You could call it a virtual mixing board, but it's more. They allow you to record, control, mix and manipulate independant audio signals. You can change their volume, add effects, splice and dice tracks, combine recorded audio with MIDI-generated audio, record MIDI tracks and much much more. In the old days, when studios were based around large consoles, the actual audio needed to be recorded onto some kind of medium - analog tape. The audio signals passed through the boards, and were printed onto the tape, and the tape decks were used to play back the audio, and any cutting, overdubbing etc.. had to be done physically on the tape. With a DAW, your audio is converted into 1's and 0's through the converters on your interface when you record, and so computers and their harddiscs have largely taken the place of reel-to-reel machines and analog tape.

    Here is a list of commonly used DAWs in alphabetical order:

    ACID Pro
    Apple Logic
    Cakewalk SONAR
    Digital Performer
    FL (Fruity Loops) Studio
    (only versions 8 and higher can actually record Audio I believe)
    GarageBand
    PreSonus Studio One
    Pro Tools
    REAPER
    Propellerhead Reason
    (version 6 has combined Reason and Record into one software, so it now is a full audio DAW. Earlier versions of Reason are MIDI based and don't record audio)
    Propellerhead Record (see above)
    Steinberg Cubase
    Steinberg Nuendo


    There are of course many more, but these are the main contenders. [Note that not all DAWs actually have audio recording capabilities {All the ones I listed do, because this thread is about audio recording}, because many of them are designed for applications like MIDI composing, looping, DJ etc..] Some are relatively new, others have been around for a while, and have undergone many updates and transformations. Most have different versions, that cater to different types of recording communities, such as home recording/consumer or professional.

    That's a whole lot of choices. You have to do a lot of research to understand what each one offers, what limitations they may have etc... Logic, Garageband and Digital Performer for instance are Mac-only. ACID Pro, FL Studio and SONAR will only run on Windows machines. Garageband is free and is even pre-installed on every Mac computer. Most other DAWs cost something. Reaper is fairly popular for home recording on a PC - a non-commercial license only costs $60. Other DAWs often come bundled with interfaces, such as ProTools MP with M-Audio interfaces, Steinberg Cubase LE with Lexicon Interfaces, Studio One with Presonus Interfaces etc...

    You of course don't have to purchase a bundle. Your research might yield that a particular interface will suit your needs well, but the software that the same company offers or even bundles isn't that hot. As a consumer you have a plethora of software and hardware manufacturers competing for your business and there is no shortage of choice. One thing to think about though is compatability and customer support. With some exceptions, technically you can run most DAWs with most interfaces. But again, don't just assume this, do your research! Also, some DAWs will run smoother on certain interfaces, and might experience problems on others. It's not a bad thing to assume that if you purchase the software and hardware from the same company, they're at least somewhat optimized for eachother. In fact, ProTools, until recently would only run on Digidesign (now AVID) and M-Audio interfaces. While many folks didn't like being limited to their hardware choices to run ProTools, a lot of users didn't mind, because I think that at least in part it made ProTools run smoother for everyone, and if you did have a problem, you only had to call up one company. There are many documented cases where consumers with software and hardware from different companies get the runaround:

    Software Company X: "It's a hardware issue, call Hardware Company Z".
    Hardware Company Z: "It's a software issue, call Software Company X".

    With ProTools, you'd call Avid up and they'd simply take care of you. More on ProTools later on.

    Another thing to research is the different versions of softwares. Many of them have different versions at different pricepoints, such as entry-level or student versions all the way up to versions catering to the pros. Cheaper versions come with limitations, whether it be a maximum number of audio tracks you can run simultaneously, plug-ins available or supported Plug-In formats and lack of other features that the upper versions have. Some Pro versions might require you to run certain kinds of hardware. I don't have time nor the will to do research on individual DAW's, so if any of you want to make a comparison of different versions of a specific DAW, be my guest! In the end, like I keep stressing - we each have to do our own research.
    Last edited by thismercifulfate; 11-18-2011 at 02:04 PM.

  12. Formerly 'BRX rad'

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    Great thread, can't wait for more to be added. I'm looking into upgrading from Garageband, which I have been using for about 6 years now, to Logic 9. I understand that Logic uses some of the same commands and features as Garageband, since basically it is a much upgraded version of Garageband with many more features, so it shouldn't be too hard to pick up, especially for how long I've been using Garageband and how comfortable I am with it. Is this a good move considering my experience with Garageband and the fact that I only do home recordings?

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