Best Audio Mixer for Mac Pro <$500

HUGE AL

macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 4, 2010
205
12
Have a Blue Spark SL arriving soon and need to hook it up to a fully maxed out 2012 Mac Pro 5,1. Will be using the mic for vocals on music tracks, voiceover work on YouTube, and perhaps some streaming. Was hoping to get a GoXLR (like the motorized sliders and voice changer), but then realized it STILL isn't Mac compatible. Other candidates are the Yamaha MG10XU and Zoom LiveTrak L-8. The Rodecaster has also been mentioned, but have read that the other two will accomplish the goals at a more attractive price.

Also looking for opinions on the Hosa HMIC-003 3ft XLR Cables vs. Audio-Technica vs. CG2 Pro-Audio.
 

blakedirksen

macrumors newbie
Jun 10, 2020
11
3
Iowa
Good question. I like a basic interface like this. If you want the sliders and faders to be physical and not in software, the mixers you listed above will work fine. I also like the logic remote app for my iPhone and iPad, which has the sliders and buttons. This saves valuable desk space.

This is an amazing time for buying music gear. You can build a decent studio for <$400. It is amazing.

One note of caution. The mixers you listed have USB options but feed a single unified track to the computer. That is fine for single recordings or podcasting. However, if you ever want to record multi track, for example a mic on a voice and an electric guitar at the same time on separate tracks, you would need a different solution. You may never need that so maybe not an issue.

In regard to cables, as long as you aren't buying cheap generic crap on Amazon, for the length you will need you will be fine. I like the sweetwater cable finder tool. Sweetwater is great.

Good luck and have fun!
 

groove-agent

macrumors 65816
Jan 13, 2006
1,172
876
A USB mixer will be good for live streaming, otherwise you're better to get something like the Focusrite Scarlett as @blakedirksen mentioned. Make sure that the mixer does 24 bit recording. Believe it or not, quite a few of them on the market today are still only doing 16 bit. I've never been a fan of Zoom products with respect to sound quality. The exception would be their field recorders (for that purpose).

Anything "class-compliant" should work with the Mac. This means it doesn't require drivers. The Focusrite Scarlett is an example. If you go to the product website and it has a driver or a configuration app, then you need to check.

The Rodecaster (Pro) is a great device if you have the cash. However when starting I'd spend most your money on a microphone, then a mixer/audio interface etc. working down the signal chain - as long as you don't completely cheap out in one area (like using AirPods to mix).

I agree about the cables. Don't worry so much about them when you're first starting. As before, don't get the cheapest ones that are just plain garbage. You probably won't notice much if any difference in sound quality anyway unless you have really high end gear.
 

HUGE AL

macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 4, 2010
205
12
I like a basic interface like this. ... I also like the logic remote app for my iPhone and iPad, which has the sliders and buttons. This saves valuable desk space.

One note of caution. The mixers you listed have USB options but feed a single unified track to the computer. That is fine for single recordings or podcasting. However, if you ever want to record multi track, for example a mic on a voice and an electric guitar at the same time on separate tracks, you would need a different solution. You may never need that so maybe not an issue.

In regard to cables, as long as you aren't buying cheap generic crap on Amazon, for the length you will need you will be fine. I like the sweetwater cable finder tool. Sweetwater is great.
A USB mixer will be good for live streaming, otherwise you're better to get something like the Focusrite Scarlett as @blakedirksen mentioned. Make sure that the mixer does 24 bit recording. Believe it or not, quite a few of them on the market today are still only doing 16 bit. I've never been a fan of Zoom products with respect to sound quality. The exception would be their field recorders (for that purpose).

I agree about the cables. Don't worry so much about them when you're first starting. As before, don't get the cheapest ones that are just plain garbage. You probably won't notice much if any difference in sound quality anyway unless you have really high end gear.
After talking with some sound engineers, we figured out an Audio Interface is all I need for the mic as I can take care of all the mixing (music tracks will be sent to me to produce and mix) can be done via software (Logic Pro or ProTools).

The Logic Remote app looks helpful!

The Audient EVO 4 was highly recommended. An upgrade pick was the Apogee Duet 2 -- which sucks since I had a firewire one before. Both being 24 bit. Leaning towards the Apogee, but they kinda went backwards with a USB 2.0 interface. Wondering if they will get around to 3.1 or at least 3.0 any time soon -- but with the coronavirus and all...

Not that it matters, but doesn't the Zoom have a multi-track out as opposed to unified?

I thought the cables I mentioned were "cheap generic crap on Amazon." :D

Appreciate the replies.
 

groove-agent

macrumors 65816
Jan 13, 2006
1,172
876
An upgrade pick was the Apogee Duet 2 -- which sucks since I had a firewire one before. Both being 24 bit. Leaning towards the Apogee, but they kinda went backwards with a USB 2.0 interface. Wondering if they will get around to 3.1 or at least 3.0 any time soon -- but with the coronavirus and all...

Not that it matters, but doesn't the Zoom have a multi-track out as opposed to unified?

Appreciate the replies.
I have the Apogee Duet and really like it. You really can hear a difference between an Apogee and most of the other interfaces. Apogee really are experts on ADA conversion.

For two in and two out, USB 2 works fine. However, thunderbolt would be nicer as I suspect you can get less latency. If you have thunderbolt, you could always consider the Apogee Element.

The Zoom L12 I think has a main out and a monitor out. I'm assuming you could have separate mixes to each. Plus it looks like it has 5 headphone outputs too which I suspect can be bussed.
 

HUGE AL

macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 4, 2010
205
12
I have the Apogee Duet and really like it. You really can hear a difference between an Apogee and most of the other interfaces. Apogee really are experts on ADA conversion.

For two in and two out, USB 2 works fine. However, thunderbolt would be nicer as I suspect you can get less latency.
With pricing being just shy of the Apollo Twin series, wondering if that's a better way to go. The plugin aspect, however, is confusing.
 

groove-agent

macrumors 65816
Jan 13, 2006
1,172
876
I personally prefer the sound of the ADA conversation on the Apogee interfaces and have a UA Satellite for the plugin processing. The plugins are great, but now you have to do your bounces more slowly because of the DSP-based plugins. From my experience, if you're looking for clarity and transparency go the Apogee route, if you're looking for more character and convenience of the integrated DSP/ plugins, go the Apollo route.

Also note that the Duet (which is what you're looking at I think) will operate without external power (USB bus-powered). It can also work with your iPhone or non-pro iPad. The other cool advantage is you can get one of these docks and you can quickly hook up everything in your studio to the Duet by connecting one cable. They don't officially make these any more, but you can still find them on eBay etc. These are all benefits if your recording set-up is mobile. If everything is going to permanently sit in one room, then these points don't matter as much.

1594145256262.jpeg
 

DPUser

macrumors 6502a
Jan 17, 2012
927
228
Rancho Bohemia, California
If you can hear the difference between contemporary A/D and D/A converters in a blind ABX test, you have truly golden ears. Any decent modern USB2 interface (Focusrite, MOTU, etc.) that does 24 bit conversion and sports your required compliment of inputs and outputs will do the job. Look into treating your recording space acoustically. Close mic, using a condenser mic and windscreen. Record at 24 bits and leave yourself ample headroom (6-10dB). Master (adjust to desired LUFS) when you mix. You will get solid, distortion-free recordings.
 
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groove-agent

macrumors 65816
Jan 13, 2006
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Yes, you could say I specialize in digital audio, and have spent considerable time A/Bing recording gear (microphones, preamps, interfaces etc).

In my experience, anyone I've turned on to the Apogee stuff emphatically have said they have heard a huge difference in sound quality. I think people need to listen to different interfaces, make some base-level recordings, and make their own decisions if they can. You're right though, with particularly entry level gear it's hard to hear the difference, especially if you're just starting. Once you go up to the more expensive stuff however, I think you can hear the difference. The more time you spend recording and listening, the more you can discern between different equipment.

If you can hear the difference between contemporary A/D and D/A converters in a blind ABX test, you have truly golden ears. Any decent modern USB2 interface (Focusrite, MOTU, etc.) that does 24 bit conversion and sports your required compliment of inputs and outputs will do the job. Look into treating your recording space acoustically. Close mic, using a condenser mic and windscreen. Record at 24 bits and leave yourself ample headroom (6-10dB). Master (adjust to desired LUFS) when you mix. You will get solid, distortion-free recordings.
 
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