What Audio Interface/Breakout Box would one recommend for the MacMini, and in general

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by nms, Apr 18, 2005.

  1. nms macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2004
    Location:
    Godalming, Surrey, England, UK
    #1
    I have a 1.42 Mac Mini that i kinda need to buy a breakout box for, i've tried the midi-keyboard-cum-mixing-ninterface thingee from M-Audio....and the knobs are useless....any ideas for a good cheap(ish) breakout box.....and also, a very cheap, bog standard keyboard that'd be nice for performing as well?

    Regards

    nms
     
  2. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #2
    Cheap, but nice and good for performing? Not hardly hopeful, are you, mate?

    What software are you using? What other gear do you have? Are you expecting to be able to perform with the keyboard sans-computer, or is your Mini going to be part of the live act? Do you know what Latency means, and how it can affect the idea of live performance with computer as sound module?

    The Audio interface choice will depend on the number of ins and outs, the requirement for MIDI ins and outs, whether you are going to be using microphones that need phantom power, the quality of the preamplifiers in the interface, and the type of connection (USB 1.1, 2.0 or Firewire) - to name a few

    My recommendation is that you pick up some magazines: you're lucky because you can get Sound on Sound and FutureMusic locally for far less that we pay in North America. Electronic Musician, Keyboard, Recording, and ComputerMusic are all good too. Get some back issues from the library and read the reviews, articles and recording technique How-To's before spending any more money.

    >the knobs are useless

    I'm pretty certain this would be because you didn't set it up correctly with your recording software to make the knobs useful.

    Audio/Midi interfaces are available from Edirol, M-Audio, Steinberg, Mackie, Digidesign, Mark of the Unicorn, Terratec, and others.

    But: get your requirements sorted first before you shop.

    Thanks
    Trevor
    CanadaRAM.com
     
  3. 808 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2005
    Location:
    lost angeles
    #3
    check this out eh

    hey...

    like me i started to post audio and DAW related questions here.
    but was redirected to osxaudio.com

    there you will find a plethora of information designed for us knob turners and button pushers.

    surely not dissing this site at all (it is on my bookmarks after all)
    but you'll find a lot of info on this topic and more...

    myself i started with a presonus firebox, which works great, but then i went crazy, and got a mackie onyx 1220 w/ firewire i/o
    :eek:

    808
     
  4. nms thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2004
    Location:
    Godalming, Surrey, England, UK
    #4
    Sorry Trevor, i'm afraid i'm not very knowledgable on this but i'd be honoured if you'd help! Seems like you know your stuff!

    Roughly for recording, i (amongst others) will be using (though not necessarily at the same time) a drum kit, two guitars, a bass guitar, a microphone and a keyboard. My mic doesn't connect through XLR.

    I'll just be using GarageBand as i have no misconceptions of the ability of the band...it's kind of a hobby/side project rather than oodles of talent...but i may upgrade to Logic Express or something...

    For live acts i doubt the mini will be used at all, maybe possibly to play synths/various loops through a sound system (if that).

    With regards to the keyboard, i'd really rather it was just a set of keys rather than a complicated mixing desk/breakout box built in...i was thinking (offhand i can't quite recall) of the one-oh-something key one that's on the apple store, plugs in through usb, that might be good.

    The box is needed mainly for recording but i'd prefer a not-so-pricey one that connects through firewire (my 7-port USB 2 hub has no ports left).

    As you can see it's not so pro stuff, i'd probably be using a PM if it was! Latency, i'm sorry i don't know what that is [lordy, that was a poorly constructed sentence] but i'd be pleased if you could give me a rundown on that.

    Out of interest, do you record audio??
     
  5. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #5
    First order of business, get to those magazines!!

    OK, counting up the total number of inputs that will be used simultaneously is important. If you are micing a drum kit, it will take between 2 and 6 microphones, so that means that you may need an external mixer of some description plus the mics, and spending some time on setting up the room and drum kit for good sound. The mixer would be used to take the drum mics (and possibly vocal mics, bass and guitar cabinet mics) and mix them down into 2 to 4 inputs for Garageband 2.
    Most professional level microphones use XLR (3 pin) connections, and some require Phantom power (where 9 - 48 V is fed through the cable to the microphone to power it) A good mixer will have XLRs and phantom power on at least some of its inputs, some Firewire audio interraces also offer XLSr and phantom power.
    Guitars are a problem, either you crank up the amp and put a mic on the speaker, or you need another way to form the sound of the guitar: simply plugging the guitar into the recording input produces a weak, wimpy sound. You would either treat the guitar sound with an external effects box that simulates an amplifier (Line6 Pod series, Behringer V-Amp, various Boss, Korg and Digitech units) or you can use software such as Amplitube, Warp and others in the computer to give the guitar its characteristic roar. The software is not necessarily less expensive than the external device (and the external is handier for live performance).
    OK, the point about the keyboard and the Mini for live performance was that you will probably want a keyboard with its own built in sounds for performing, rather than just a USB controller keyboard. Which keyboard you choose depends on the style of playing and the sounds you will need.

    The Mini is viable for playback of loops and backing tracks (although a MiniDisc player or CD player is cheaper, more rugged and reliable generally). There are some brilliant programs such as Ableton Live which are designed for live control and mixing of computer generated loops.

    Of course either way if you use loops or backing tracks, your live rhythm section will have to play to the tempo of the loops, not vise-versa - not all players are comfortable with that.
    You can expect $400 - $1400 for a Firewire solution, the audio quality will be very good.
    -Edirol FA-66 http://www.edirol.com/products/info/fa66.html or FA-101
    -M-Audio Firewire 410 (although this one has a bit of a reputation for shakey drivers) http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/FireWire410-main.html or Firewire 1814
    -Presonus Firebox http://www.presonus.com/firebox.html or Firepod

    If you have more money, the Onyx mixer from Mackie with its Firewire module looks very, very good. It would cover off live mixing, recording mixing, and computer interface. http://www.mackie.com/products/onyx1220/

    Using the Mini as a sound generating module for live playing is a bit more problematic, because there is a delay of 5 - 20 ms between when you hit the key and the sound comes out (latency).
    I have a Mac system with ProTools and Logic, and a PC system with Cubase SX. Don't get enough time with them at the moment. My son is a urban music writer and producer, he has a full-blown Mac-ProTools studio (plus most of my old equipment and all of my LP collection...)
    Thanks
    Trevor
    CanadaRAM.com
     
  6. 4God macrumors 68020

    4God

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2005
    Location:
    My Mac
    #6
    How 'bout this?

    You could always go with a relitively inexpensive Behringer mixer such as the 2222FX-Pro for around $249.00 and a Digidesign M-box for around $449.00.
    The mixer should cover your inputs and you could send your outs to the M-box. You would have to really work on that mix though, 'cause you would be sending the two outputs of your total mix to the M-box.

    Oh, and the M-box is USB powered.

    Might be pricey for you, but I use this set-up at home until this summer when I build my complete studio.

    Edit: You also get Pro-Tools LE with your M-box. A great way to get into the Pro-app world without all the financial struggle. :)
     
  7. nms thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2004
    Location:
    Godalming, Surrey, England, UK
    #7
    And they're would all hypothetically run OKish with my CPU/RAM....
    Just to be sure y'know!

    Oh dear....i ahve no idea how i was gonna do the drums, but i certainly thought id just use the breakout box with the geematarrs...oh dear, looks like i'm going to have to buy more mics, a preamp....
     

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