Consolidating audio from ham radio + instruments using mixer/USB digital audio

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by robo456, May 18, 2012.

  1. robo456, May 18, 2012
    Last edited: May 21, 2012

    macrumors 6502

    Mar 3, 2008
    Hey guys... hopefully someone here has been in a similar situation and might be able to give me some guidance.

    PC SIDE:
    Right now, I have a PC that I have an amateur radio plugged into the LINE IN of my soundcard and the speakers connected to the LINE OUT of the sound card. This way, my ham radio programs can use the audio from the radio, and if I don't want to hear it directly I can turn down the speakers.

    I have a Macbook (the '09? whitebook) that the headphone jack is going to a little 3 channel mixer. I have a Roland TD4K drum set that's output is also going into the mixer. The third channel is a Roland SPD-S sampler pad. All of them are also connected via MIDI, but that shouldn't affect this scenario at all... The mixer is then hooked up to an amplifier/speaker system. I set it up this way so that I can hear the drumset by itself, or mute the drum set and hear the Addictive Drums plugin to Logic thru the Macbook, as well as mixing loops from the SPDS.

    Ok... hopefully haven't lost everyone yet... :) Here's where I'm lost:

    I want to buy a new 2012 iMac to replace my main machine, but want to be able to do a little music as well. Here's what I need to do:

    1) I still need some way to get audio (mono or stereo, doesn't matter) from my ham radio into the iMac for Windows (probably thru Parallels or VMWare Fusion)

    2) I need to be able to get audio (stereo) from my SPD-S into the iMac for either Logic or Garageband (the drum set isn't part of the new setup in my office, my macbook will remain downstairs with the drum set)

    I've been looking at different mixers, more recently USB based ones, but wasn't exactly sure how they work, especially in a virtual OS (or bootcamp if I had to) Do the speakers plug directly into the mixer, or is all of the audio routed to the computer via USB and the speakers are plugged into the computer? or both? With the PC, it's easier... LINE IN is LINE IN... Does the USB create virtual ports or something?

    I originally was looking at the Peavy PV6 ( but then saw the Lexicon Omega desktop mixer ( which would be perfect because of it's size.

    Thanks for any info, and if I can clarify anything, just let me know!

  2. macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Don't bother with a mixer. That is so "last century". The best way is to buy an audio interface that has the correct number of inputs and outputs. These will connect to the iMac with either USB or Firewire. Every studio on Earth is set up this way now and the mixing is done in software using a DAW like ProTools or Logic or even Garage Band.

    On the input side each program that needs audio input can select the input jack in needs, same to outs.

    Here is a simple one but they come with even 16 inputs and 16 outputs or more.
  3. robo456, May 19, 2012
    Last edited: May 19, 2012

    thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 3, 2008
    I guess that's my main concern; I guess I'm really looking more for a "hardware" type control with volume knobs and stuff, versus having to go into software every time I want to adjust my volume, since this setup isn't just for recording, but also normal use.

    I should have mentioned this is more of my day-to-day computer, with the sound from the iMac being priority number one (for games and iTunes). Ham radio audio from BootCamp (needs to be adjustable on the fly to correct for signal loss, etc) would be next priority, and finally SPD-S last since I won't be using it all the time.

    I saw this one on the website. That sounds like it'd work the best, one stereo input set for the iMac audio, one mono for the ham radio, and the last stereo for the SPD-S? Then I'd use one stereo output to the amplified speakers?

    I'm going to download the manual and take a read thru to see if I can use "basic" volume functions without the software and see how it goes, but any other advice would be appreciated!


    I'm just reading thru the manual, and I think it should actually do what I want. It sounds like I can use, at least for this particular product, their MixControl software to set all the levels I need. (and it looks like there can be presets for different setups as well) I guess it's really no different than using my Windows audio levels to set the appropriate input and output. Pretty much when I have it "right" I usually don't have to go back in and fiddle too much. And, 99.9% of the time, I just use the volume control on the speakers themselves, I don't mess with individual channels and stuff.

    That sound like I'm reading that correct? (sorry for the newb-ness!)

  4. macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California

    The Google term is "control surface". You will find quite a few.

    A control surface looks like a mixer but it is just the sliders and knobs and it sends MIDI messages to the computer via USB. No sound goes through the device. Some of these are huge 4 for wide and built into a desk and others are tiny, smallthena computer QWERTY keyboard. The MIDI dat is standardized so you can mostly mix and match.

    Yes, you are right about it being annoying to adjust a volume control with a mouse.

    Recently there are iPad based control surfaces. These will have a picture of sliders on the screen and you move them with your fingers and the MIDI data is sent wirelessly. These work well but some people like the "real" sliders.
  5. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 3, 2008

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