Gear overhaul, versatility needed in and out of the box

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Gear overhaul, versatility needed in and out of the box

Post by FMajor7add9 »

I had this inquiry boiled down to a brief ( :) ) discussion about practical solutions re. drift and sample rate conversion between different interfaces or recorders. As far as I understand it from other posts a reasonable solution is to keep things short, ie. stop and restart recording regularly to accommodate any possible drifting. Then pray and maybe fix it in post.

But then the mixer died yesterday and I circled back to my April post re. sort of the same when trying again to a compile a versatile combo of gear.

The following gear search pulled up some unexpected results and now I’m posting a complete overhaul review instead to gather some feedback from the SOS hivemind.

In brief, hope it makes sense:

#1
Need 2-4 additional mic pres for some out-of-the-house projects. Total track count can be kept at 8 - 10.

#2
Need off-grid (battery powered) operation for a few of those. Preferably with SD card recording.

#3
Have PC and MacBook with firewire (FW) port and decent battery time.

#4
Daisy chaining 2 M-Audio interfaces (FW) work, MacBook FW port is 6 pin which powers both. Haven't tried a 3rd yet, might run out of juice then.

Elsewhere:
#5
Trusty old (really) Behringer analogue mixer used in the 'home studio' just died. It's been connected to a nice pair of Truth (6" IIRC). Used its FX and 2 AUX busses on almost all inputs.

#6
For guitar duties (with a singer or in a band) I’m looking for a small mixer to switch smoothly between nylon and steel string acoustics and electric guitar. All of them DI’d to PA with a small Blackstar ID:core 20 as monitor.

#7
For other guitar duties the #6 setup is needed in a Ableton / Bitwig’ live loop’ chain, alongside MIDI sources (keys, drums) and/or a singer or another instrumentalist. Same chain is used solo to play around with musical ideas and loops.
FMajor7add9
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Re: Gear overhaul, versatility needed in and out of the box

Post by FMajor7add9 »

Budgetwise: how low can you go?

As of now these units are top of the heap:

Zoom LiveTrak L8, great form factor, battery/bus power option, 6 mic pres, SD card recorder

Behringer FLOW 8, strange beast, might do

Tascam SERIES 208i, USB interface with DSP Mixer, 4 mic pres, MIDI in/out, 2 (!) ADAT inputs (the 102i has 1 ADAT and 2 mic pres)

Audient ID14, 2 mic pres, 1 ADAT, JFET Hi-Z, great DAW controller multi knob
Audient Sono, as above plus a valve and DSP with 3 presets for guitar cab IRs, no knob though

Steinbergs UR series is also nice with various DSP options (software controlled only, no preset knob) and no ADAT in the 2 - 4 mic pres units.

Various used and quite cheap firewire interfaces with 2 great mic pres, DSP and ADAT, TC Konnekt Live, Saffire Pro DSP or M-Audio 610 f.ex.

#####
Pondered and initially disregarded:

Zoom H6 or Zoom H8, bang for buck as mic and interface but hard to monitor or mix on the fly.

IK Multimedia Axe I/O & AmpliTube, JFET Hi-Z sounds great, wish they had a DSP hosting AmpliTube on it.

Various USB mixers, typically only have 2 x 2 USB interface, multi tracking isn’t possible.

Tascam model 12 or Soundcraft 12MTK
to be reconsidered for sure, seems to check all boxes except off-grid power and perhaps a tad bulky. Tascam even does SD card recording, multitrack like the L8. Both adds comp and tighter EQ, better routing.

If getting external battery bank of sorts anyway there’s also the Zoom L12 mixer/recorder or Behringer XR18 and Midas MR12 with software mixer (Midas only 4 mic pres, XR's got 16).

If anyone was selling retro Zoom R16 or R24 below 150€ I'd might give it a shot or at least ask for a rental afternoon to compare mic pres.

####
some of the above plus more linked inthis Thomann comparison list
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Posts: 31 Joined: Wed Dec 20, 2017 8:19 pm

Re: Gear overhaul, versatility needed in and out of the box

Post by FMajor7add9 »

FMajor7add9 wrote: Thu Oct 28, 2021 2:27 pm #1
Need 2-4 additional mic pres for some out-of-the-house projects. Total track count can be kept at 8 - 10.

#2
Need off-grid (battery powered) operation for a few of those. Preferably with SD card recording.

#3
Have PC and MacBook with firewire (FW) port and decent battery time.

#4
Daisy chaining 2 M-Audio interfaces (FW) work, MacBook FW port is 6 pin which powers both. Haven't tried a 3rd yet, might run out of juice then.

Elsewhere:
#5
Trusty old (really) Behringer analogue mixer used in the 'home studio' just died. It's been connected to a nice pair of Truth (6" IIRC). Used its FX and 2 AUX busses on almost all inputs.

#6
For guitar duties (with a singer or in a band) I’m looking for a small mixer to switch smoothly between nylon and steel string acoustics and electric guitar. All of them DI’d to PA with a small Blackstar ID:core 20 as monitor.

#7
For other guitar duties the #6 setup is needed in a Ableton / Bitwig’ live loop’ chain, alongside MIDI sources (keys, drums) and/or a singer or another instrumentalist. Same chain is used solo to play around with musical ideas and loops.

Additional notes for the really curious:

#1.1
Live demo groups f.ex. Basic stuff, no fancy mics or booths, plenty of spill, minimal overdubs, DI guitars to be digitally re-amped during mix.

Counting mic pres for 1-2 singer(s), 2 on drum kit (fine for me), 1-2 buffer for extra singer or perc or similar = 4 - 6
Counting line ins for 1 DI bass, 1-2 DI guitars, 1-2 (x2) keys = 4 - 7

#1.2
Mixing smaller group concerts, something like 2 mics, 2-4 line in instruments, small outboard fx units, plugged into house PA, minimal roadie work

#2.1
Battery or bus powered also quite convenient for some at home moments away from main ‘studio’ rig or during a short visit somewhere. Like web meetups with instruments involved, online classes, etc.

#2.2
For musical sessions think smaller choirs and groups with mainly acoustic instruments, in surroundings where minimal visible cabling and gear is appreciated.

#3.1
MacBook battery is inside chassis. Most FW equipped laptops like Thinkpads are removable and aftermarket batteries are available. Larger general battery packs are also an option of course, probably a bit bulkier to drag along. Still 1-2 extra hours here could be critical for some recording sessions. Extra costs in either case.

#4.1
The M-Audio1814 FW has 2 (mediocre) pres, 8 line ins plus s/pdif and ADAT inputs. So it’s easily expandable to 8 more channels by ADAT and 2 by s/pdif from a third or even fourth interface. The M-Audio FW software mixer has options for transmitting wordclock either by optical or FW.

#4.2
I have had fine results running both FW interfaces and a Zoom mic (USB) at the same time via ASIO4ALL. Haven’t tried MacOS aggregate device yet, expecting it to work fine though.

#6.1
Nylon string is picked up by an iRig Acoustic Stage sound hole clip-on condenser. Same iRig can be used on steel string alongside piezo.
Electric is DI’d to the Blackstar which also runs a USB interface with decent (so far) latency. Could also be DI’d from a floor pedal unit of sorts that’s also in use.

#6.2
I don’t mind a (wireless) software mixer but would love just a few physical knobs as well. To carry a laptop instead of a smaller tablet isn’t a hassle. Some interfaces have a nice solution to this, with a few multi function knobs and deep editing in software.
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Re: Gear overhaul, versatility needed in and out of the box

Post by The Elf »

That's way too much information to wade through.

Can you summarize what you need?
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Re: Gear overhaul, versatility needed in and out of the box

Post by FMajor7add9 »

sure, will do, went a bit over the top there :)

pardon me for thinking out loud in writing, summary upcoming
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Re: Gear overhaul, versatility needed in and out of the box

Post by FMajor7add9 »

allright, boiling it down to:

Off-grid usage can be solved by L8 on batteries or bus powered USB or firewire from a laptop or powerbank. L8 seems the simplest, cheapest solution and the SD card recording option a great solution for some sessions to avoid clutter and screentime.

When needing more inputs than the first interface offers ADAT or s/pdif compatibility can solve any issues sample rate conversion or lack of clock sync might introduce.

If daring to deal with aggregate devices or ASIO4ALL (sample rate conversion) optical chaining might be avoided.

Loads of interfaces to choose from, I find something that suits my needs, preferably with onboard DSP and standalone mixer functions.

Hit me if you notice anything else worth considering.
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Posts: 31 Joined: Wed Dec 20, 2017 8:19 pm
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