connecting a G4 to analog 16 channel board.

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by jefwhoopie, Mar 11, 2004.

  1. jefwhoopie macrumors newbie

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    Florida
    #1
    I am new to this forum. I bought a PowerBook G4 in December of last year. It is my first Apple. I have a Mackie 16 channel mixing board. What is the best and cheapest way to hook up and run pro tools? I need to do multi track recordings.

    Thanks
     
  2. logicat2001 macrumors regular

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    Minneapolis, MN
    #2
    Well, have you ever used ProTools or done any research? What are you planning on doing with your Mackie board? What do you mean by multi-track recordings?

    If you have to use ProTools, here are your options from low price to high price:

    1. MBox
    2. Digi002 rack
    3. Digi002

    That's it. Their TDM systems are for PCI hosts, not powerbooks.
     
  3. jefwhoopie thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3
    I have not used pro tools. I am in a band. we currently are recording on to a mini disc recorder. it is left and right channel only. I want to be able to multi track record. I just can not figure out how to convert the anolog signal to digital.

     
  4. logicat2001 macrumors regular

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    #4
    What's your budget?
     
  5. jefwhoopie thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    I am waiting on tax return. I was planing on about $2000.00

    Thanks for you help.
     
  6. cpjakes macrumors 6502

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    #6
    That $2K will go a pretty long way for a home studio. For multitrack work, I'd recommend a Digidesign 002r or a Mark of the Unicorn 828 or 896. Of course, keep in mind that you'll need other stuff too, cables, good speakers, microphones. It all adds up pretty quickly.
     
  7. logicat2001 macrumors regular

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    #7
    Absolutely.

    jefwhoopie, it sounds like you really have some research to do. Are there any music retailers close by? That might be a great place to go and ask lots of questions, as well as get introduced to some of the gear that exists.

    Also, start to frequent other forums that deal specifically with music and recording. Search their old posts because your question comes up repeatedly; there's always someone preparing to spend a chunk of change to pursue their music production dreams and the answers depend heavily on exactly what you're expecting/hoping to be able to accomplish.

    A couple of helpful boards might be:
    OS X Audio
    Sonikmatter's Logic forum

    Lots of knowlegeable people that are experienced with everything from bedroom multitrack recording to full-fledged recording studio professionals.

    So, a few questions for you to think about:
    - Are you interested only in multitrack audio or are you going to add software synthesizers and/or MIDI instruments?
    - Do you need to keep the rig portable?
    - How are you already using your Mackie board? Do you run the band through it now?
    - Do you own any microphones?
    - Do you ever need to overdub or are you interested solely in capturing everything in a live take?
    - Do you have any experience using digital audio software, or have you seen something that excited you? If so, what was it?
    - Do you plan on spending the entire $2,000 on your audio gear/interface or will you also be adding external analog gear (microphones, compressors, pre-amps, mic stands, etc.)?
    - Do you have any monitoring speakers?

    Keep this conversation going and keep asking questions until you have a much clearer idea of what you're interested in accomplishing and how to begin to go about it. I'm 33 and over the years have spent alot of cash on things that I really didn't need.

    Might as well try to hit your target the first time.

    Best,
    Logicat
     
  8. jefwhoopie thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #8
    All right here's the deal,

    I have a fully functioning analog studio. Mic, cables, monitors, stands baffles and all. The money I plan on spending is solely for going digital. I would like to be able record tracks live and do over dubs. We use a click track so I plan on possibly in the future doing some sampling and drum machine tracks. I have recorded in a digital studio a couple of times. I am just tired of paying an engineer to not do what I want. I have a sound engineering degree from college but it is all analog. I have done some reading on digi 002. I just can't grasp the concept of how 16 outs from my board will go into the digi. I have gone to Guitar Center to talk to the people there. It was some kid who was trying to sell me the most expensive piece of gear in the store. I guess he was trying to do his job.

    As far as the band goes here is the set up:

    Drums: 8 mics Kick,Snare,Hi-Hat, Hi toms, Mid Toms, Low Toms, Overhead left, Overhead right.
    Drum Machine (click track)
    Lead Guitar: 2 mics
    Rhythm Guitar: 1 mic
    Bass Guitar: 1 mic
    Lead Vocals: 1 Mic
    Back up Vocals: 1 mic

    15 tracks

    I have a 6-channel headphone amp
    and we use a delay on the vocals


    I would like it to be semi portable for when we play live gigs.
     
  9. logicat2001 macrumors regular

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    #9
    Awesome. That clarifies a whole bunch.

    BTW, what Mackie board are you using?

    Right off the bat, you're going to have a tough time finding 16 analog i/o on a firewire interface. The only one I'm aware of off the top of my head is the EgoSys HexaFire, which isn't shipping yet. audioMidi has it for preorder at $799. Even then, 8 of your analog channels have to be routed via DB25 connectors. Also, as I have never used EgoSys products and therefore have no opinion of the stability of their drivers or gear. YMMV and you should definitely scour the MacOS X audio forums I mentioned earlier for any feedback. Otherwise you might throw a pile of cash down only to learn that the drivers are crappy, which would leave you without functional gear.

    If it turned out that they were spot on reliable, you could pick up two of those units and have a few hundred dollars over for an audio DAW. But that's a whole other pickle.

    cpjakes metioned Motu's offerings, namely the 828 MkII and the 896. Again, you're going to have to cascade multiple units in order to manage 16 multiple analog ins, and the 828 runs approx. $750 which would fit in your budget. The other plus of going with Motu is that it includes a multitrack software package called AudioDesk. Again, I've not used it and have personally never taken to the Motu/Digital Performer interface, but it would get you started without needing to also purchase additional software. The even bigger bonus is that if you choose to explore your software options in the future, the Motu interfaces will continue to work just fine; they've got CoreAudio drivers, which means that they'll function with any audio software that supports CoreAudio.

    Unlike Digidesign's ProTools.

    If you choose ProTools, you're buying in to the entire package: both hardware and software. They do offer a CoreAudio driver, but I've used it with both an MBox and a Digi002. At the moment, it leaves a lot to be desired. However, if you've already had experience using ProTools software and find it to be preferable, you might consider daisy chaining two Digi002 Rack units, or even 1 Digi002 R and 1 'insert_brand_name_here' interface that offers an ADAT 8-ch optical out.

    So, how are we doing? Is this helpful? Are you finding yourself with greater or fewer question? Is there any particular DAW that you've heard of or seen that you were really hoping to use?

    Best,
    Logicat
     
  10. cpjakes macrumors 6502

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    Buffalo, NY
    #10
    If that's the case, then you need something with that many analog inputs. The 002 only has eight analog inputs, but it also accepts eight channels on optical ADAT format. For your other seven or eight tracks, you could try to find some analog to ADAT converter. Or another possibility is to get two MOTU 828 or 896 interfaces and use them both simultaneously. The good thing about the MOTU 896 is that it doesn't require a mixer at all, as there are preamps and phantom power on each channel. Of course, that's blown your budget by about $500.

    I would also assume that if you did continue to use your Mackie that you would use direct outs for the input to the computer, since you probably do not have sixteen groups or sixteen outs between the mains, groups, and aux sends. If you did use the 828 or 896, you can use software to create your monitor mixes to send to your headphone amp. But that's the other problem - software. Digidesign stuff is *nice enough* to include Pro Tools. MOTU includes AudioDesk, which I haven't used too much, but if it's just the audio portion of Digital Performer, it can't be all that bad. Otherwise, you'll have to pick up Digital Performer or Logic, and your preference on that is a whole different thread...

    Basically, for every simultaneous input you want to have, you need to have one on the analog->digital hardware as well.

    cpjakes
     
  11. jefwhoopie thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Florida
    #11
    You all are defiantly helping me. Thanks

    You know I am not locked into using that Mackie board. By the way it is a Mackie 1604 VLZ studio 16-channel mixer.

    Being that I have never actually worked on digital recording I still think in a linear way. I figured that I had to use a mixing board. From what I gather from what you are telling me. I do not even need to use a mixing board. It sounds like I can just use a couple of Digi002 units. If that is true, what kind of inputs does the Digi002 use? Is it 1/4 inch? RCA, LXR? How does a mic/instrument plug into the digi002?
     
  12. cpjakes macrumors 6502

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    #12
    Both the 002r and MOTU 828 have a combination of inputs. If memory serves:

    002r: 4 - Combo XLR/1/4" Mic/Line Inputs with +48V in pairs
    4 - 1/4" Balanced/Unbalanced +4/-10
    2 - RCA Unbalanced Outputs
    8 - Balanced/Unbalanced Outputs
    1-in/1-out Coaxial S/PDIF on RCA

    MOTU 828: 2 - Combo XLR/1/4" Mic/Line Inputs with +48V (don't know if it's individual or pair...)
    6 - 1/4" Balanced/Unbalanced Inputs
    8 - 1/4" Balanced Unbalanced Outputs
    1-in/1-out Coaxial S/PDIF on RCA

    I believe both have a separate monitor AND headphone output. This is why I recommend the MOTU 896 because if you are using microphones on everything, there are eight microphone preamps. It's a little pricier, but less equipment. They've also got some built-in mixing software for smaller gigs that seems cool.

    Just look at http://www.motu.com and http://www.digidesign.com for exact specifications and compare between the two or three of them. One thing I'm not sure of is if you can daisy chain multiple 002r units. I know the MOTU 828 and 896 are able to do this.

    cpjakes
     
  13. cpjakes macrumors 6502

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    #13
    Also keep in mind that you're going to need some serious storage for this multitrack work. I'd recommend a FireWire drive. What I'd do is look at http://www.granitedigital.com/ for a hot swap case. This will allow you to use stock ATA drives and swap them into the same enclosure. A little bit more expensive than a standard FireWire drive enclosure, but the reduction in clutter of multiple external hard drives is great.

    But in any case, your PowerBook internal hard drive will not be enough to do sixteen channels simultaneously.

    cpjakes
     
  14. jefwhoopie thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #14
    Very Cool. I have some homework to do. I appreciate all the help and suggestions. I will post my final decision.

    Thanks
     
  15. p0llen_p0ny macrumors newbie

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    Oct 4, 2004
    #15
    Nobody mentioned the MOTU 24i or 24io. You can pick up a used MOTU 24io for under a grand. (oops I mean 1k.. forgot we're talking recording here.) The 24i is good if you plan on keeping the tracks in digital land. But the 24io has 24 ins and 24 outs and is 96k/24bit. (The 24i is only 48k I believe.) I'd go with the 24io since mixing on an analog board sounds so much nicer. To me anyway.
     
  16. cpjakes macrumors 6502

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    #16
    The MOTU interfaces will not be of much help, except the 828 or 896HD. These are FireWire and will work with the PowerBook. The other MOTU interfaces require a PCI audio card which will not work without a PCMCIA expander made by Magma.

    But MOTU makes great hardware and it is compatible with many software packages through Core Audio.

    cpjakes
     

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