Mixer and recording questions

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by jckmuzak, Sep 3, 2012.

  1. jckmuzak macrumors newbie

    Sep 3, 2012
    I am currently looking into adding another hardware to my studio. I currently have a M-audio fast track ultra and am looking to buy a Mixer for tracking drums mainly.
    I have looked into either getting a regular mixer and hooking it up to the interface. My question is: how do you hook up a mixer to an interface?

    I have looked into USB mixers as well and was curious if I could use a USB mixer along with my fast track ultra interface at the same time? Also, will it work in pro tools? Will it let me create separate tracks for each channel on a USB mixer?

    Current setup: Fast track ultra interface, Mac book pro, Windows XP PC, Oxygen 25 USB, MIDI keyboard.

    If anyone could help me out here, I appreciate it!

  2. bwhli macrumors 6502a


    Jan 9, 2012
    Boston, MA
    Lots of questions here, but I'll do my best to answer them!

    In order to hook up a mixer to an interface, you take the stereo outs of the mixer and plug it into your interface. I personally think this solution would be better for live use, because it limits flexibility and sound quality into the studio. You're effectively going through two sets of circuits (the mixer and the interface). The signal is not digital, so there will be some change in the signal. Good or bad, that's your call. Another downside to using a mixer to premix drums is that it's no longer possible to manipulate individual drums in your DAW. Since the drums are all mixed with the mixer, and resulting stereo output will contain all the drums, and no individual drum tracks.

    I would suggest getting an interface with more inputs! That way you can track the whole drum set AND you'll be able to manipulate each track in your DAW.

    If you were to get a USB mixer, you could theoretically create an aggregate audio device. However, some devices do not work with each other as they utilize different drivers. I know for certain that Yamaha and Apogee devices do not work well together. I tried that a while ago. Ended up selling the Apogee, and picking up a Focusrite unit with more inputs instead.

    Again, I would suggest picking up an interface with more inputs. I highly recommend the Focusrite Saffire line of interfaces. I've owned the PRO 24 DSP and the PRO 40, and they're rock solid. They also sound great! Both these units come with ADAT capabitlies, so you can get something like an Octopre to add even more inputs and outputs. Everything on the Octopre will be sent digitally to the main audio interface through an ADAT connection, and you'll be able to use all those extra inputs and outputs in your DAW.

    Let me know if you have anymore questions!
  3. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    "I currently have a M-audio fast track ultra and am looking to buy a Mixer for tracking drums mainly.
    I have looked into either getting a regular mixer and hooking it up to the interface. My question is: how do you hook up a mixer to an interface?"

    Never tried this myself, but I'm assuming you will be mic'ing a drum set with several mics, and then want to mix all the mics down into a stereo input to your digital audio software, is this correct?

    I think what might work is a mixer with enough dedicated inputs to handle your drums, with a panner for each input that can properly place each drum within the stereo field.

    This will give you a stereo out mix of the drums, and run that through the mixer's "line outs" to the audio interface "line ins" (assuming yours has these inputs).

    This method will require a lot of fine-tuning, I'll reckon, and once recorded you would have to live with the "mixed track", but it should work.

    I looked at the specs for the Fast Track Ultra, and you have 4 mic inputs, and 6 line inputs on the rear, is that correct? How many inputs can be used simultaneously? How many inputs would you need for the drum set?

    If you picked up a standalone mic preamp (most come in 2-channel versions), you may be able to use the 4 front-panel mic inputs combined with 2 of the line inputs (via the standalone preamp), for a total of 6 on the drumset. You'd have to multi-track other stuff, however.

    Just some thoughts...
  4. jckmuzak thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 3, 2012
    Wow guys great advice and your inputs on this subject.
    I want to be able to record my 4 piece band, bass, guitar, singer and drums.
    My drummer has a 7 piece kit, I have options on how to mic those up. I could use the two stereo mics I have as over heads, then I could use the snare mic for the snare and the mic for the bass drum, I guess that could cover the 4 mic/line inputs in the front, but would not be able to record bass, singer or guitars at the same time.
    Or I could just get a mixer set up, and mic up all of his kit with the 7 piece drum mics I have. Then have the guitar, bass and singer do scratch vocals on the other inputs remaining. The only problem I have with this, is that I would not be able to have individual tracks for each drum piece that is mic'd up in my DAW (Pro Tools or Logic Pro). Which this addresses Bwhli's answer on the subject. I have looked into the Focus rite's myself and I do want one of those interfaces when I have the money. The only issue I have is the financial situation of things for equipment. Thanks for the answers guys!
  5. Anna stacy macrumors newbie

    Aug 16, 2012
    Am using Reason 5 and am satisfied with its performance.It provides the facility to build all your racks and flip them to change inputs and output cables for various effects just like real studio equipment.
  6. bwhli macrumors 6502a


    Jan 9, 2012
    Boston, MA
    What is your budget again? If you're only using four mics for drums, there should be enough analog inputs of the Pro 40 for the rest of the band.
  7. ChrisA, Sep 8, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2012

    ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    I would not do that. Get an interface with enough inputs so you can plug in all the microphones you need at once. The cost is not a lot different.

    Really, a quality mixer setup, good enough for studio recording is not cheap. You are best off getting what you really need, an interface with enough inputs.

    The trouble with a mixer is to it will use one or two of the inputs on your interface, so now where does the vocals mic go? The mixer puts you fore steps forward and two back. And likely kills the sound quality at the same time but worse - you can't change the mix after it has gone through an external mixer. You get one shot to get it right.
  8. fastlanephil macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2007

    Get your music into your computer and then mix and edit with software.

    Garbage in-garbage out so learn how to mic your instruments.
  9. Erko macrumors member

    Aug 12, 2011
    Why not record every track separately? This way you can use all the mics with the drum without the external mixer. Granted, you might lose some vibe doing it this way, but still worth a shot.

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