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View Full Version : Audio interface or mixer? Help.. anyone?




inkphinger
Aug 28, 2006, 09:50 PM
I know you guys get these questions all the time but it seems like the more threads I read on this topic the more confused and overwhelmed i get with all the options. I just posted not too long ago but I feel like I'm not asking the right questions .. so here goes.
I have never recorded my music at all and now that I have my iMac G5 with Garage Band I would like to start. I want to record at home.. guitar (electric and acoustic) vocals and the option for a midi keyboard. I started looking at audio interfaces and going through all the threads and thought I had made up my mind on a couple of audio interface options ... then ... I came across mixers that were around the same price but of course had more inputs and seemed to have the same stuff the audio interfaces had such as firewire, phantom power for mics .. ect. So then I was confused as why you would choose one over the other and DO i want those extra inputs as I am in a three piece band and maybe it might come in handy(?). THEN I strarted reading about stand alone mixers and recorders that I could then transfer over to my mac.
If someone could just set this poor soul straight on what KIND of equipment to get I promise I wont ask what brand. I'll try to figure that out myself ... (unless you want to volunteer). Thanks guys!



zimv20
Aug 28, 2006, 10:24 PM
you're discovering that there are not only a lot of options in terms of what you can buy, but multiple ways to set up your studio.

if you want to use your mac to record, then you're talking about a DAW (digitial audio workstation) and *not* a standalone recorder, so you can strike that off your list straightaway.

you should get some use out of reading the primer (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=179296), then answer these questions:

1. what DAW s/w do you want to run?
2. how many simultaneous recording inputs do you need?
3. what's your budget?

the answers will narrow the options.

inkphinger
Aug 29, 2006, 12:30 AM
thanks .. i'll check it out.

inkphinger
Aug 29, 2006, 01:20 AM
nice overview on that primer thread. so i guess the audio interface is the way to go for now and if i feel i need more inputs and a mixer i'll cross that bridge. my budget is around up to the 300.00 range along with an sm57 and/or a condensor mic. saw an MXL 990/991 mic package on Musicians friend for $89.00
So now I just need to figure out which interface is best for me. looks I'll be going for a firewire from either m-audio or presonus. it seems like apple and garageband are partial to m-audio products.

hey i just went to sweetwaters interface page and noticed this Alesis iO|14 (http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/io14/) ... seems like a pretty cool interface but with more inputs. do you or anyone out there know about this product?

zimv20
Aug 29, 2006, 01:37 AM
if i feel i need more inputs and a mixer i'll cross that bridge.
a mixer can do many things, but mixing input signals down at record time is not something i recommend. e.g. i mix for a band that tracks its drums to a stereo pair, because all they have is an mbox. i'm severely limited in what i can do to the drums at mix time.

my budget is around up to the 300.00 range along with an sm57 and/or a condensor mic. saw an MXL 990/991 mic package on Musicians friend for $89.00
sm57 is good, but for your condenser, opt for the $100 AT 2020.

$300 is not much, especially after the mics, mic stands, cables, etc. You've also got to figure out some kind of monitoring scheme and i always recommend some room treatment, however minimal.

right now you're looking at an interface for < $100, and that's with no treatment or monitoring. i think you need to up your budget: the 2-channel firewire boxes start around $200.

So now I just need to figure out which interface is best for me. looks I'll be going for a firewire from either m-audio or presonus. it seems like apple and garageband are partial to m-audio products.
pick your software first. e.g. if you want to run pro tools, you're going to need digi or digi-supported hardware. that would eliminate presonus. you also need to state your simultaneous channel needs. no point in buying a 2-channel device if you need 4.

inkphinger
Aug 29, 2006, 08:21 AM
I'm sorry, I meant to say that i can spend up to 300.00 for the interface alone and i'm willing to spend up to 200.00 for the mics.

as far as software, i'll be using garage band for a while, then, if i feel like i need a more advanced program down the road, maybe abelton or logic express.

as far as channels, i'm just assuming i wont need too many as i will be recording by myself recording vocals, a guitar or two and maybe a midi keyboard , and i can record each track one at a time, so unless i want to record a bunch of instruments or a whole band at once i dont need so many inputs... right?

zimv20
Aug 29, 2006, 11:35 AM
sounds like you're looking for a 2-channel interface. for $300, that's certainly doable.

i'm not well versed in interfaces in this price range. i've used an m-audio piece, and thought it was okay. in general, i hold presonus gear in higher regard than m-audio gear. so if it were me, i'd start my search with the presonus firebox, 'cuz it's firewire and does 96/24. but i can't recommend it outright, because i've never used it.

Cowinacape
Aug 29, 2006, 02:09 PM
For more in depth information for recording, http://www.tweakheadz.com/ is a great site, with a tone of information.

The Tascam FW1082, shown on the front page right now may interest you as well, may be more money that you are looking to spend, but a nice unit none the less, audio & midi I/O, and control surface for you software as well, in one unit. Not cheap, but not unreasonably expensive either (all things being relative).

zimv20
Aug 29, 2006, 02:22 PM
For more in depth information for recording, http://www.tweakheadz.com/ is a great site, with a tone of information.
gotta say that i'm not terribly impressed by this page (http://www.tweakheadz.com/laboratory/hook_up_your_audio_now.htm) on hooking up audio. no explanation of mic vs line, conversion, mic pre's, et. al.

and it's geared towards PC's, anyway.

Cowinacape
Aug 29, 2006, 02:28 PM
gotta say that i'm not terribly impressed by this page (http://www.tweakheadz.com/laboratory/hook_up_your_audio_now.htm) on hooking up audio. no explanation of mic vs line, conversion, mic pre's, et. al.

and it's geared towards PC's, anyway.

Go past the site, and wander into the forums, that is where the good information is hiding ;) , I should of mentioned that in my original post. You just have to wade through the ZZsounds links is all.

zimv20
Aug 29, 2006, 02:58 PM
i'll check it out. is that a zzsounds site, then? i got the impression it was after looking at the first few pages.

e-clipse
Aug 29, 2006, 08:29 PM
It is the home of the Studio Central Forums. It is marketed towards the selling of ZZounds products. It does have a Mac section however. It is a personal favorite of mine.

wmmk
Aug 30, 2006, 05:18 PM
if you want to save money in the long run, go for this:
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/MAudio-Ozonic-37Key-FireWire-Audio-Interface-and-MIDI-Controller?sku=703608V

It's a 24 bit 96khz firewire audio interface, MIDI keyboard, FW MIDI interface, and control surface, all in one. best of all, it supports both apple software (garageband and logic) and Pro Tools M-Powered, which is a slightly watered down version of the industry standard. best of all, it's also mobile.

To get that and stay within the $500 total budget, get this mic pack
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/MXL-MXL-990MXL-991-Recording-Microphone-Package?sku=273166
which comes with both an instrument and vocal mic, so you're basically covered for everything. i assure you that mxl is the best value out there. my studio is all mxl and i loe it. by the way, i also use a mixer, which is really annoying. just get a real interface.

zimv20
Aug 30, 2006, 05:44 PM
i assure you that mxl is the best value out there. my studio is all mxl and i loe it.
i've never used these mics. can you post some song samples that use them?