Old 08-31-2014, 09:07 AM   #1
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Hi there,

I am in the process of getting a mixer for my humble recording demands and I was wondering if anyone could help me by giving some experience reports or so.

Basically, I need a mixer to extend my currently used Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface, so I don't have to switch plugs all the time. I want to connect 2-3 mice, on e-drumset, 1 guitar, and possibly 1-2 other line in devices. Flexible routing is important, since I need to send a different mix to the inputs of the Scarlett audio device than the mix that reaches the headphones for tracking. (That is, the headphone mix needs the mix sent to recording plus the playback that comes back from the computer).

After some research I discovered two mixers that would fit (both are around 300 Euro):


1) Mackie 1204VLZ4 (http://www.thomann.de/gb/mackie_1202_vlz4.htm)

+ Onyx Preamps
+ 4 channel inserts (to maybe add a compressors in the future; unlikely though)
+ Good build-quality
+ Clear visual appearance

- Tape in level is not adjustable (so I might sacrifice a stereo channel for the computer return)
- No integrated FX


2) Allen & Heath ZED10FX (http://www.thomann.de/gb/allenheath_zed10fx.htm)

+ Included FX (Might be nice to add some FX for tracking? Not sure how important that is, though)
+ Adjustable Playback (tape-in equivalent?) level
+ Sweepable mids (not sure how important that is for recording purposes, though)

= Integrated 16 bit audio interface (well, I would not use that obviously)

- No inserts
- Only 2 stereo channels


Both mixers have hi-pass filters on the mic channels and 2 aux sends.

For some weird reason I sort of favour the Mackie (it's really irrational), but I was wondering whether the mixing FX is a problem (I myself never missed reverb during tracking, but who knows...). Do you guys track a lot with FX?


Most importantly, however, is of course the sound quality! In particular, the mixer I will choose should have mic-preamps that are at least as good as the ones on the Scarlett! Does anyone have experiences with those preamps?

I would be very glad to get some advice from you guys!
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Old 08-31-2014, 09:43 AM   #2
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A small inexpensive analog mixer is absolutely the last thing you want! You would find the quality atrocious compared to the 64 bit mix engine you are accustom to with your Reaper mixer. The mic pres are going to be very disappointing compared to what you're used to as well.

If you need more inputs and/or outputs, just add another audio interface to your system. That's how this is done.

You make what is called an aggregate device of the multiple audio interfaces you connect and then select the aggregate device in Preferences/Audio/Device the same way you would select an individual device. The aggregate device will have all the inputs and outputs of all the individual devices combined and you can assign them to tracks as normal.

The only caveat to consider is this:
It is recommended (sometimes required) to sync multiple devices with word clock when running at high sample rates (88.2k, 96k, 192k). This is in addition to the firewire/thunderbolt/USB data connection.

If your interfaces do not have word clock I/O, you might be limited to 44.1k or 48k. You can often get away with no word clock for HD sample rates but if you get some clicks and pops, you'll know why.
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Old 08-31-2014, 10:08 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by serr View Post
A small inexpensive analog mixer is absolutely the last thing you want! You would find the quality atrocious compared to the 64 bit mix engine you are accustom to with your Reaper mixer. The mic pres are going to be very disappointing compared to what you're used to as well.

If you need more inputs and/or outputs, just add another audio interface to your system. That's how this is done.

You make what is called an aggregate device of the multiple audio interfaces you connect and then select the aggregate device in Preferences/Audio/Device the same way you would select an individual device. The aggregate device will have all the inputs and outputs of all the individual devices combined and you can assign them to tracks as normal.

The only caveat to consider is this:
It is recommended (sometimes required) to sync multiple devices with word clock when running at high sample rates (88.2k, 96k, 192k). This is in addition to the firewire/thunderbolt/USB data connection.

If your interfaces do not have word clock I/O, you might be limited to 44.1k or 48k. You can often get away with no word clock for HD sample rates but if you get some clicks and pops, you'll know why.
Thanks a lot for the answer. It seems I might have been a bit unclear, however:

I of course would not use the mixer to sum anything! It would be only used as an input selector and a monitoring device.

I am also surprised by your comment on the huge difference in quality of the preamps. The Onyx Preamps on the Mackie are supposed to be amongst the best preamps in the lower price segment (which is also the segment of the converters of my audio interface). Are you saying the Scarlett preamps so outstanding compared to the competition in the same price segment?

Stacking audio interfaces seems not like the solution I am looking for. I am not interested in recording more than two channels simultaneously, and stacking would possibly introduce more problems than it intends to solve. Especially since there will be several monitor mixes then, instead of one central one.

Again, I am really surprised about the quality statement of yours. Could you get into further detail on this? Is the sound quality of the mixers I posted really that bad? The reviews I read seemed to all praised the sound quality...
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Old 08-31-2014, 10:20 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fladd View Post
Thanks a lot for the answer. It seems I might have been a bit unclear, however:

I of course would not use the mixer to sum anything! It would be only used as an input selector and a monitoring device.

I am also surprised by your comment on the huge difference in quality of the preamps. The Onyx Preamps on the Mackie are supposed to be amongst the best preamps in the lower price segment (which is also the segment of the converters of my audio interface). Are you saying the Scarlett preamps so outstanding compared to the competition in the same price segment?

Stacking audio interfaces seems not like the solution I am looking for. I am not interested in recording more than two channels simultaneously, and stacking would possibly introduce more problems than it intends to solve. Especially since there will be several monitor mixes then, instead of one central one.

Again, I am really surprised about the quality statement of yours. Could you get into further detail on this? Is the sound quality of the mixers I posted really that bad? The reviews I read seemed to all praised the sound quality...
Mackie mixers are very inexpensive. The Focusrite is a big step up from that.

I'm not sure why you think this would add complexity or force you to use any outputs (or more outputs or submixes) than you wanted?

You said you needed more inputs.

Adding another audio interface will get you more inputs to use as you choose (just like you choose to use the inputs and outputs as you please on your current setup). You would certainly not be forced to make any extra monitor mixes!

Modularity like this is one of the foundations of DAW systems. Expand the system by adding more I/O.


And yes, the quality of small and medium mixers IS really that bad! When I started using Reaper for live sound it really opened my eyes as to just how cheap/bad many supposedly decent mixing desks were (A&H, Soundcraft, Midas, etc. - not to even mention the Mackies and Behringers).

Reaper's mix engine is much more analogous to a Neve or SSL.


Anyway, it's an option for you to consider.
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Old 08-31-2014, 10:35 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by serr View Post
Mackie mixers are very inexpensive. The Focusrite is a big step up from that.

I'm not sure why you think this would add complexity or force you to use any outputs (or more outputs or submixes) than you wanted?

You said you needed more inputs.

Adding another audio interface will get you more inputs to use as you choose (just like you choose to use the inputs and outputs as you please on your current setup). You would certainly not be forced to make any extra monitor mixes!

Modularity like this is one of the foundations of DAW systems. Expand the system by adding more I/O.


And yes, the quality of small and medium mixers IS really that bad! When I started using Reaper for live sound it really opened my eyes as to just how cheap/bad many supposedly decent mixing desks were (A&H, Soundcraft, Midas, etc. - not to even mention the Mackies and Behringers).

Reaper's mix engine is much more analogous to a Neve or SSL.


Anyway, it's an option for you to consider.
As I said, I won't be actually mixing anything that needs to be recorded in the mixer, so the mixing quality is not an issue here.
But you are saying the input to output quality of a single channel strip is worse in those two mixers compared to the Scarlett? Because according to the specs, they should be better (Mackie; Noise level -128,5 dB; THD 0.0007%) or equal (A&H; Noise level -127 dB) to the Scarlett (Noise level -127 dB).

I am still confused...
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Old 08-31-2014, 11:24 AM   #6
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here we go. normally I would call the Mackie and Behringer bashing religious bullshit. but thats not the point here, so I will only shortly have mentioned this ...

in fact serr is right. if you need more inputs, why would you go through another analoge step??? plug t into the interface and you are good to go. monitoring you can do via Reaper. a mixer regardless of its quality is a obsolet piece in the chain. makes no sense. get a focusrite.
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Old 08-31-2014, 11:46 AM   #7
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As I said, I won't be actually mixing anything that needs to be recorded in the mixer, so the mixing quality is not an issue here.
But you are saying the input to output quality of a single channel strip is worse in those two mixers compared to the Scarlett? Because according to the specs, they should be better (Mackie; Noise level -128,5 dB; THD 0.0007%) or equal (A&H; Noise level -127 dB) to the Scarlett (Noise level -127 dB).

I am still confused...
You would in fact be mixing. The signals would be running through additional amp/summing stages in the analog mixer on their way to your interface.

For the same price (or even less) you could get another interface with better quality mic preamps and it would be connected directly to it's built-in AD converter and then digital data into the computer. No additional 'less than awesome' analog connections to add noise and distortion.

No, this isn't a night and day sound quality difference. But it's the right way to do this and gives you FAR greater flexibility in the long run.

You're thinking like you have 1980's technology in front of you (daisy chaining analog devices to accomplish getting more inputs).

Already have a small mixer and don't want to spend any money at all?
Then by all means use what you have. Not trying to give you the snob treatment!

Need to buy something?
An additional interface would be more bang for the buck than a mixer patched through your interface.

Or...

That Focusrite has a spdif input right?
You could get a unit with 2 mic preamps and AD converters that has a spdif output and patch it into your spdif inputs digitally. Probably cost as much as a whole interface though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by whiteaxxxe View Post
here we go. normally I would call the Mackie and Behringer bashing religious bullshit. but thats not the point here, so I will only shortly have mentioned this ...

in fact serr is right. if you need more inputs, why would you go through another analoge step??? plug t into the interface and you are good to go. monitoring you can do via Reaper. a mixer regardless of its quality is a obsolet piece in the chain. makes no sense. get a focusrite.

All snobbishness aside, even a little Behringer interface would be better than daisy chaining a small analog mixer. These mixers are not designed to deliver pristine audio. They are designed for budget (but still more or less pro) use. As for Behringer and Mackie bashing... there are simply better choices for the money. No deities were slaughtered in the making of this decision.

And for the record, I just bashed A&H, Soundcraft, & Midas in the very same sentence.
All useful pro gear... but Reaper's digital mixer is in fact that much better. But it's also only as good as the signals fed into it! Garbage in garbage out.
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Old 08-31-2014, 01:01 PM   #8
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yes, what I said, you are completely. there is absolute no reason for putting a small or any mixer into the chain. cant make a better result in no case.
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Old 08-31-2014, 01:37 PM   #9
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Thanks a lot for the answers so far.

I have to say I am really surprised. I was under the believe that using a mixer in the studio for the purposes I mentioned is quite common.

To me it still seems awkward to spend money on a whole bunch of new converters, when I am not actually needing them. They would just sit there and use USB sockets. As I said, the two AD and the two DA converters I already have are all I need. I will never record more than 2 inputs at the same time, I just don't want to plug and unplug the inputs all the time when recording different things and I am looking for a way to have them all connected and switch between them. Also, there are no AUX sends in the scarlett, so I can not put effects (with zero latency!) on the recorded track for the monitor mix. Or maybe I am still getting it wrong. What exact product would you suggest to accomplish what I mentioned in the first post without using a mixer?

EDIT: Oh and the Scarlett has not SPDIF.
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Old 08-31-2014, 04:00 PM   #10
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I will never record more than 2 inputs at the same time, I just don't want to plug and unplug the inputs all the time when recording different things and I am looking for a way to have them all connected and switch between them.
That's a fair request, don't get me wrong.

It doesn't work out to be reasonable to degrade the signals with a small analog mixer to accomplish that and to spend money doing it though. Your end goal is a recording, not a certain look to your cable management. That's what would influence my decision.

Honestly, for this one I'd run the all the cables and label the ends. Then have them by where the interface goes and switch them as needed. You will end up needing to adjust the mic trim at the preamp from time to time anyway so it's not much work.

The professional solutions might be too hard to justify for what you actually 'need' to do.


But if you want to spend money on this anyway and were willing to buy a little mixer, I'd look at the 2nd interface instead. Then you'd have backup if something ever broke too.
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Old 08-31-2014, 04:07 PM   #11
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When I started using Reaper for live sound it really opened my eyes as to just how cheap/bad many supposedly decent mixing desks were (A&H, Soundcraft, Midas, etc. - not to even mention the Mackies and Behringers).
The quality of what you hear in reaper is largely, if not completely dependant on what outboard mic pre and AD/DA converters you use. Reaper itself has nothing to do with what you hear as far as getting audio in and out of the box.

The 2i2 is a perfectly fine interface but it's hardly a best of class device. And you should not expect that for the price.

If you need more channels I'd suggest getting another box, maybe like a saffire Pro 40 or 56 which are FireWire/Thunderbolt interfaces. They also have an ADAT lightpipe so you can patch in a second unit to get more channels through the same connection or alternatively you can daisy-chain multiple units on FW/TB.

afaik two of these can daisy chain and with each also having an ADAT you can get to 32 channels without a problem, depending on your needs.
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Old 08-31-2014, 08:17 PM   #12
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I use a Mackie VLZ-1604 for some hardware monitoring and I use the direct outs to go into a few of the line inputs on my interface. My needs are a bit different than yours. I like to track complete bands live and I prefer to have the capability to record 16 tracks simultaneously. I already had the Mackie from live sound work years ago.

I understand why you want to do what you describe. Having everything setup and ready to go would be nice for workflow. Given the budget you seem to be working with, I would explore a few options.
1. Keep plugging and unplugging. It's the most cost effective solution and ultimately not very time consuming in the grand scheme of things.
2. Purchase a USED mixer. They can be found for very cheap because they are not very desirable these days. I would NOT recommend routing through the mixer for critical recordings. Straight into your interface will give you the best sound in this scenario.
3. Sell your current interface and buy an interface that has enough inputs so that you can leave everything setup without repatching. This would really be the preferred option given your desired goal.
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Old 08-31-2014, 11:27 PM   #13
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Get whatevers cheapest and ignore FX you can do all that in Reaper, for your needs to you can also ignore subgroups and aux sends. For you I'd recommend the Yamaha MG10 or Behringer QX1202US (same price, but has FX which you could use live)

Also,
"2. Purchase a USED mixer. They can be found for very cheap because they are not very desirable these days. I would NOT recommend routing through the mixer for critical recordings. Straight into your interface will give you the best sound in this scenario."

Null-test this once you have your mixer. You may be surprised how little difference there actually is. Easy test, route the output of your daw playing a track to the input of your audio interface, record, do the same putting the mixer in the path this time, line em up, polarity flip, see what's different. My bet is a bit of high end loss perhaps but otherwise not much to report. You shouldn't get too much noise if this is a passive mixer, which for your needs, it should be.
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Old 09-02-2014, 01:18 AM   #14
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Get whatevers cheapest and ignore FX you can do all that in Reaper, for your needs to you can also ignore subgroups and aux sends. For you I'd recommend the Yamaha MG10 or Behringer QX1202US (same price, but has FX which you could use live)

Also,
"2. Purchase a USED mixer. They can be found for very cheap because they are not very desirable these days. I would NOT recommend routing through the mixer for critical recordings. Straight into your interface will give you the best sound in this scenario."

Null-test this once you have your mixer. You may be surprised how little difference there actually is. Easy test, route the output of your daw playing a track to the input of your audio interface, record, do the same putting the mixer in the path this time, line em up, polarity flip, see what's different. My bet is a bit of high end loss perhaps but otherwise not much to report. You shouldn't get too much noise if this is a passive mixer, which for your needs, it should be.
Thanks a lot for the reply. Concerning the FX in Reaper: The problem here obviously is latency.
I also looked at the Yamaha, but it seems that it has less routing possibilities (e.g. no recording/alt bus).

Aren't the two mixers I posted also passive?
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Old 09-02-2014, 06:53 AM   #15
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Quote:
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Thanks a lot for the reply. Concerning the FX in Reaper: The problem here obviously is latency.
I also looked at the Yamaha, but it seems that it has less routing possibilities (e.g. no recording/alt bus).

Aren't the two mixers I posted also passive?
I meant if you are recording you can do the FX in reaper, post-record. If you don't need FX for live you definitely don't need them for recording.

And yep those two mentioned are passive. But they are also expensive considering what you get, I'd say you can find what you need for no more than 140 euros
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Old 09-02-2014, 08:20 AM   #16
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I own and use A&H ZED Mixers for both live work and in the studio and have used Mackie gear at gigs without issue. Subjectively, I personally prefer the EQ on the A&H boards which is why I have purchased them

So long as the 2i2 allows you to bypass it's own pre via a line in, then you are not adding any analog stages and the Pres on Mackie and A&H mixers are at least comparable to an entry level audio interface (If you were talking about bypassing Neve pres and Burl converters to use a cheaper mixer I would understand the outrage). With a mixer, the Filters and EQ and ability to bring multi-mic sources to a single channel or stereo channels all ahead of the A/D conversion can be very useful in tracking too. especially if you are limited on conversion channels

Even if the 2i2 does not allow you to bypass it's pres so long as you aim for unity gain on the interface (ie nothing added to the signal from the mixer) then you should be fine

Take a look at the features and pricing you prefer and any of the choices you mention should allow you t do what you need
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:01 PM   #17
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I used to run a little Yamaha MG mixer in front of a 1010lt. It was fine. I liked using it for (real) direct monitoring, I had a mixer for other uses when I needed it (living room jams, etc), and I just left everything connected all the time - no swapping this and that. If a mixer seems attractive for your needs, get a mixer. I imagine that an onyx or a&h is miles above that mg.

Even if you decide to play with summing through it, cleanliness is not godliness in music. These days, I have an old Yamaha suitcase mixer here that is trash according to specs, but I think it sounds neat compared to the cleanliness of digital. Hell, most people who have been digital recording for any amount of time have delved into plugins for trying to add some nice dirt.
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:44 PM   #18
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Thanks a lot for the answers!

Quote:
Originally Posted by brainwreck View Post
I used to run a little Yamaha MG mixer in front of a 1010lt. It was fine. I liked using it for (real) direct monitoring, I had a mixer for other uses when I needed it (living room jams, etc), and I just left everything connected all the time - no swapping this and that. If a mixer seems attractive for your needs, get a mixer. I imagine that an onyx or a&h is miles above that mg.

Even if you decide to play with summing through it, cleanliness is not godliness in music. These days, I have an old Yamaha suitcase mixer here that is trash according to specs, but I think it sounds neat compared to the cleanliness of digital. Hell, most people who have been digital recording for any amount of time have delved into plugins for trying to add some nice dirt.
I am actually less concerned about colouring of the sound, than about noise levels. Right now, using the Scarlett with my SE X1 mic, the noise is really low. I would like to keep it that way :-)
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:57 PM   #19
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Thanks a lot for the answers!



I am actually less concerned about colouring of the sound, than about noise levels. Right now, using the Scarlett with my SE X1 mic, the noise is really low. I would like to keep it that way :-)
I would expect some amount of noise to come along for the ride. Whether that amount is significant, only you can decide.
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Old 09-04-2014, 12:15 AM   #20
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I'm with Bristol on this -- I have a Mackie 1202 VLZ-pro (earlier version, before the Onyx preamps) and I have appreciated having it over the years. Actually, i love it. Had it for ~14 years... some of the preamp gain pots need cleaning, but other than that it's essentially indistinguishable from the day I bought it.

If you believe price reflects quality, i don't think it's accurate to say that your focusrite has nicer preamps... that's a unit that sells for US$150, and a lot of that cost includes software engineering, AD/DA converters, etc. The Mackie is a US$270 unit that has no software or ADCs, but more hardware involved. Seems very comparable. I'd be surprised if anybody in the world could blind test the difference between the preamps in normal operating ranges.

I don't know the A&Hboard, but the Mackies have a lot of awesome routing flexibility for a tiny mixer, which i have taken advantage of in various ways over the years. E.g. when you "mute" a channel it actually just diverts to a separate 2-buss, so you can use the muted channels as a separate mix.

Also, there's the "unbalanced 1/4-inch inserted to first click in the insert-loop jack to unobstrusively tap a send from each input channel" thing which I use to send the signal to my interface.

I do long for sweepable mids or parametric eq in general, sometimes.

Even though the 1204 lacks a tape-in knob, it has two stereo aux returns with knobs that you could use the same way (and they are balanced, unlike RCA jacks).

I had a Presonus Firebox and the pres on the Mackie were better (noise-wise; otherwise i couldn't hear any difference.) I now have a Firestudio Mobile and the pres are equivalent to the mackie. As Bristol said, if you go out from the 1/4" tap I described above, and into the 1/4" ins on the interface, no extra analog stages are being added.

I most often use mine as a bank of extra preamps. Maybe others have had luck going the "aggregate device" route (is it only called that on Macs?... I hear rumours that asio4all might be able to do it, too, but windows itself doesn't by itself, afaik).

I also agree with the sentiment expressed by others that you could/should buy a used mixer. E.g. here's one like mine for $136 shipped (US): http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mackie-1202-...item41867eb430

Quote:
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Concerning the FX in Reaper: The problem here obviously is latency.
I really appreciate having some reverb when i'm tracking (and a lot of other musicians do as well), especially for vocals. I use reaper for that, and even when the latency is bad (if i'm tracking remotely on my ancient Dell laptop), the reverb still sounds fine to me, since reverb is naturally latent anyway. :-)
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Old 09-04-2014, 03:41 AM   #21
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That's a fair request, don't get me wrong.

It doesn't work out to be reasonable to degrade the signals with a small analog mixer to accomplish that and to spend money doing it though. Your end goal is a recording, not a certain look to your cable management. That's what would influence my decision.
I have been using a Soundcraft Spirit Folio to record our band - partly for "cable management" and partly for the extra pre-amps it provides. I take the individual track outputs from the desk into REAPER. Serr seems to suggest that this is not optimal although to me it sounds er... good?
I totally respect serr's views but it is a bit of a blow to think our cherished mixer is actually degrading the sound. I guess I should do some A/B tests to establish the degree of this but the fact that it is audible in live situations is surprising.
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Old 09-04-2014, 08:40 AM   #22
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I don't know....I have been at both ends of this. Started out with a mixer into and M-Audio Audiophile 192, then went to a Saffire Pro40 and now I am back to a mixer, A&H MixWiz 16:2 version 4 with USB card.

I like the mixer....
EQ on front end
Can use direct outs or USB
Record all 16 channels at once
Leave it all setup. This is a big plus with drums.
Can gate/compress with hardware via inserts.
Noise? What noise?

What this really comes down to is how much $$$ you have to spend and personal preference.


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Old 09-04-2014, 09:12 AM   #23
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I have been using a Soundcraft Spirit Folio to record our band - partly for "cable management" and partly for the extra pre-amps it provides. I take the individual track outputs from the desk into REAPER. Serr seems to suggest that this is not optimal although to me it sounds er... good?
I totally respect serr's views but it is a bit of a blow to think our cherished mixer is actually degrading the sound. I guess I should do some A/B tests to establish the degree of this but the fact that it is audible in live situations is surprising.
It's not that I'm suggesting using an analog mixer to mult or switch between inputs is going to be a noise riddled disaster.

I see both options (mixer vs. additional interface) as being in the same price range. The interface gives you more options in the long run and the signal connections are optimum for the equipment in question.

There are some good argument for a small mixer in the thread too. But for me anyway, the convenience and features of using a DAW with any number of inputs (interfaces) connected wins by quite a lot. It really has made all these formerly very useful small mixers obsolete. The 64 bit fp digital mix engine compares to 'money no object' analog. These small budget analog mixers just can't compete nor should they be expected to.
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Old 09-04-2014, 11:04 AM   #24
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There are some good argument for a small mixer in the thread too. But for me anyway, the convenience and features of using a DAW with any number of inputs (interfaces) connected wins by quite a lot. It really has made all these formerly very useful small mixers obsolete. The 64 bit fp digital mix engine compares to 'money no object' analog. These small budget analog mixers just can't compete nor should they be expected to.
I think that 1202 at least adds value just because you get 4 good XLR preamps, a bunch of channels you can set and forget, and some routing options. (For me it's also handy for playing in a band, etc.)

But I think serr's point is good: spend $150 on an interface and you can get 2 more XLRs and a bunch more converter channels and zero-latency routing options through the control panel(s) of the interface. My FireStudio Mobile cost me $90 on eBay and gives me 10 analog converter channels (+2 digital) coming in.

The limitation there could be the software for the device: how flexible is it? But likely it will be at least comparable to a mixer (without eq.).

And if you have a second interface, you can put that out in your room somewhere so it would be more conveniently located than the first, and use it more as the "tracking" interface and the one at the desk as the "mixing" interface.

Does the OP have a mac or PC?

Personally i'm gun-shy about the "aggregate device" thing, but I have a PC, where it's unclear how possible that even is. Past experience connecting multiple low-latency devices via USB or Firewire have gone poorly for me, but maybe that's all a thing of the past now.
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Old 09-04-2014, 03:08 PM   #25
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Thanks so much for all the new answers!

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Does the OP have a mac or PC?
Both, but my audio work is mostly done on my Windows partition on the PC.
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Old 09-04-2014, 03:20 PM   #26
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Both, but my audio work is mostly done on my Windows partition on the PC.
Looks like Windows calls it "stream routing": http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/libr...=vs.85%29.aspx

(update: on closer reading of that page, I don't believe it does device aggregation. I think it's just their obscure way of describing the architecture that allows dybamic selection by programs of which device to receive/send audio from/to. The following is probably incorrect.)

Not sure exactly how capable it is; appears that maybe as of Win 7 you can combine capture devices into single "endpoints" (~= "aggregate device" i'd guess), but i didn't get too deep into it. Not sure if you can use different sample rates on different devices, but who wants to, anyway. You may have to clock the devices together, though, and i think the Mac has some kind of fancy way to provide a clock source where windows can't, not sure.

And use of the stream routing may result in higher overall latency (ASIO4ALL may come in handy, here), but if you're not using MIDI and VSTi's or using latency-dependent plugins on signals you monitor while tracking, probably not a big deal?

Last edited by clepsydrae; 09-14-2014 at 01:13 PM.
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Old 09-05-2014, 06:12 AM   #27
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Looks like Windows calls it "stream routing": http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/libr...=vs.85%29.aspx

Not sure exactly how capable it is; appears that maybe as of Win 7 you can combine capture devices into single "endpoints" (~= "aggregate device" i'd guess), but i didn't get too deep into it. Not sure if you can use different sample rates on different devices, but who wants to, anyway. You may have to clock the devices together, though, and i think the Mac has some kind of fancy way to provide a clock source where windows can't, not sure.

And use of the stream routing may result in higher overall latency (ASIO4ALL may come in handy, here), but if you're not using MIDI and VSTi's or using latency-dependent plugins on signals you monitor while tracking, probably not a big deal?
Interesting. Thanks for the info.
I do mainly user VSTi. So latency certainly is an issue.


Also, I just realized that the 1202vlz4 has no instrument inputs and no headphone level control.
Guess I have to look at the smaller 802vlz4 which has both...but also less inputs...but then again is also cheaper, 215 Euro.
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Old 09-05-2014, 11:48 AM   #28
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Interesting. Thanks for the info.
I do mainly user VSTi. So latency certainly is an issue.
I've had great results with asio4all in the past; many report that you can get great latency, but often not quite as low as the native asio drivers would yield. I have no idea if you really need to use asio4all at all, or if you can use the native drivers in conjunction with the windows "stream routing". But yeah, seems like you might risk more latency. But if the difference is 2ms vs 8ms, it might not matter. 2ms vs 40ms is obviously another issue.

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Also, I just realized that the 1202vlz4 has no instrument inputs
True. I've connected instrument stuff to my mixer and not been able to tell a difference, but they are only ">10k-Ohm" impedance, not instrument inputs.

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and no headphone level control.
It does -- it's labeled "CR / SUBMIX" ("CR" for Control Room) -- fancy Mackie routing options allow different things to route to the headphones.
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Old 09-05-2014, 03:23 PM   #29
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It's not that I'm suggesting using an analog mixer to mult or switch between inputs is going to be a noise riddled disaster.

I see both options (mixer vs. additional interface) as being in the same price range. The interface gives you more options in the long run and the signal connections are optimum for the equipment in question.

There are some good argument for a small mixer in the thread too. But for me anyway, the convenience and features of using a DAW with any number of inputs (interfaces) connected wins by quite a lot. It really has made all these formerly very useful small mixers obsolete. The 64 bit fp digital mix engine compares to 'money no object' analog. These small budget analog mixers just can't compete nor should they be expected to.
Thanks serr for the further clarification. Sometimes I guess it's a case of using what you have the best you can but certainly when upgrading it seems old habits need re-evaluating.
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Old 09-05-2014, 03:47 PM   #30
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It does -- it's labeled "CR / SUBMIX" ("CR" for Control Room) -- fancy Mackie routing options allow different things to route to the headphones.
Yeah that's exactly the problem. It is always headphones and monitors at the same time. The 802vlz4 has a separate control for the headphones, in addition to the monitor mix.
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Old 09-05-2014, 07:51 PM   #31
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Yeah that's exactly the problem. It is always headphones and monitors at the same time. The 802vlz4 has a separate control for the headphones, in addition to the monitor mix.
Not sure I follow... the alt 3-4 isn't a monitor mix, but an optional submix using the muted channels. The CR/SUBMIX doesn't control either of the aux send or return levels (the typical soruces for the monitors)...

It is nice that the 802 has a separate phones knob, but i wonder if the matrix is smart enough to know that when you are sending alt 3-4 to the main mix it should send the main mix and alt 3-4 to the phones... ? (the 1202 has a feedback prevention mechanism where if the "MAIN MIX" button is down in the matrix and "ASSIGN TO MAIN MIX" is on, it will mute the phones/submix... the 802 would need to be smart enough to override that for the phones but not the submix and use everything but the main mix in the submix, etc. Maybe it is, dunno.)

It does look like the 802 also has some impedance switches for instrument jacks. Nice.
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Old 09-06-2014, 03:20 AM   #32
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Not sure I follow... the alt 3-4 isn't a monitor mix, but an optional submix using the muted channels. The CR/SUBMIX doesn't control either of the aux send or return levels (the typical soruces for the monitors)...

It is nice that the 802 has a separate phones knob, but i wonder if the matrix is smart enough to know that when you are sending alt 3-4 to the main mix it should send the main mix and alt 3-4 to the phones... ? (the 1202 has a feedback prevention mechanism where if the "MAIN MIX" button is down in the matrix and "ASSIGN TO MAIN MIX" is on, it will mute the phones/submix... the 802 would need to be smart enough to override that for the phones but not the submix and use everything but the main mix in the submix, etc. Maybe it is, dunno.)

It does look like the 802 also has some impedance switches for instrument jacks. Nice.
You can specify in the matrix ob both mixers to route alt 3-4 AND main mix to the CR/submix/headphones, right?
As I understand it, in both mixers you can route main mix, alt 3-4 and tape in to the CR/submix. The difference is that in the 1202 there is one big knob. When you increase this, it will increase your monitor speakers and your headphones. In the 802, there are two knobs. Increasing the CR/submix one will only increase your monitor speakers, increasing the phone one will only increase your phone. This only applies to levels! The routing is the same to both.
Why do you think would the 802 need to treat also the routing to phones and monitors differently?
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Old 09-14-2014, 01:12 PM   #33
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Oops, forgot to respond:

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You can specify in the matrix ob both mixers to route alt 3-4 AND main mix to the CR/submix/headphones, right?
As I understand it, in both mixers you can route main mix, alt 3-4 and tape in to the CR/submix. The difference is that in the 1202 there is one big knob. When you increase this, it will increase your monitor speakers and your headphones. In the 802, there are two knobs. Increasing the CR/submix one will only increase your monitor speakers, increasing the phone one will only increase your phone. This only applies to levels! The routing is the same to both.
Why do you think would the 802 need to treat also the routing to phones and monitors differently?
I'm curious why you are using the CR/SUBMIX route for the monitors? Wouldn't you typically use an aux send if you wanted a monitor out that was different than the main mix? Or maybe this is related to your hoped-for use of the tape ins as the computer return. Maybe you could just use the main outs for your monitor and send to the DAW inputs with the aux sends...

The point i was making about the 802 headphone knob needing to be smart: if you have alt 3-4 and tape-in going to the CR/SUBMIX, and you engage "send to main mix", then yeah, no smart routing needed: the headphone knob just adjusts the headphone level and the main mix is unaffected.

But if you are also sending the main mix to the CR/SUBMIX, then when you engage "send to main mix" the mixer has to be smart enough to say "ok, route alt 3-4 and tape to the main mix, but not the main mix, because that would cause feedback, but do route alt 3-4 and tape and main mix to the headphones" or something along those lines. I was just wondering how the 802 handled that, or if in fact it went a simpler route. Anyway, one can obviously check the manual if one cares. :-)

Re: windows and stream routing: on closer reading of that page, I don't believe it does device aggregation. I think it's just their obscure way of describing the architecture that allows dybamic selection by programs of which device to receive/send audio from/to.
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Old 09-14-2014, 02:39 PM   #34
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Has anyone suggested a patchbay? If the only issues are cable management and workflow then it would be an idea to consider. You can get a behringer one for about ú15 and it won't affect the quality of the signal as it's essentially just coupling the cables. If you need phantom power for mics it may be an issue, but maybe you could keep one or two channels free for that.
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Old 09-14-2014, 03:22 PM   #35
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Has anyone suggested a patchbay? If the only issues are cable management and workflow then it would be an idea to consider. You can get a behringer one for about ú15 and it won't affect the quality of the signal as it's essentially just coupling the cables. If you need phantom power for mics it may be an issue, but maybe you could keep one or two channels free for that.
I did consider that bit i could not find a patchbay that routes multiple inputs to a single output and with switches to select what is routed. Any concrete suggestions for a patchbay that does that?
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Old 09-14-2014, 03:24 PM   #36
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Oops, forgot to respond:



I'm curious why you are using the CR/SUBMIX route for the monitors? Wouldn't you typically use an aux send if you wanted a monitor out that was different than the main mix? Or maybe this is related to your hoped-for use of the tape ins as the computer return. Maybe you could just use the main outs for your monitor and send to the DAW inputs with the aux sends...

The point i was making about the 802 headphone knob needing to be smart: if you have alt 3-4 and tape-in going to the CR/SUBMIX, and you engage "send to main mix", then yeah, no smart routing needed: the headphone knob just adjusts the headphone level and the main mix is unaffected.

But if you are also sending the main mix to the CR/SUBMIX, then when you engage "send to main mix" the mixer has to be smart enough to say "ok, route alt 3-4 and tape to the main mix, but not the main mix, because that would cause feedback, but do route alt 3-4 and tape and main mix to the headphones" or something along those lines. I was just wondering how the 802 handled that, or if in fact it went a simpler route. Anyway, one can obviously check the manual if one cares. :-)

Re: windows and stream routing: on closer reading of that page, I don't believe it does device aggregation. I think it's just their obscure way of describing the architecture that allows dybamic selection by programs of which device to receive/send audio from/to.
It's just the routing that's suggested in the manual. Monitors on CR.
The mixer is also not smart enough to prevent the feedback you described.
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Old 09-14-2014, 03:46 PM   #37
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I did consider that bit i could not find a patchbay that routes multiple inputs to a single output and with switches to select what is routed. Any concrete suggestions for a patchbay that does that?
You would just plug the output you want to the input you want with a patch cable. It wouldn't mix your signals into one input at the same time but it would mean you could quickly and easily plug whichever instrument you want into whichever input you want without having to mess around at the back of units and deal with wiring every time. It reduces wear and tear on your inputs/outputs and puts them all infront of you where you need them.
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Old 09-14-2014, 04:12 PM   #38
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It's just the routing that's suggested in the manual. Monitors on CR.
The mixer is also not smart enough to prevent the feedback you described.
The 802 and the 1202 will both interrupt the "assign to main mix" function if "main mix" is selected in the control room source. The 802 manual doesn't explicitly describe the headphone out result in this case, but presumably it would also break the main mix feed to the headphones.

Anyway, it's probably not relevant to your goals.

If you wanted the mic pres of the 1202, i think you could just do:

- DAW output to tape input (or maybe better into one of the (balanced) aux return pairs, which have their own gain knobs as well)
- instruments into whatever 1202 channels you like
- 1202 main outs to your monitors
- CR/SUBMIX to headphones (engage "tape" if using that, and "main mix", but not "assign to main mix")
- use aux send 1 and 2 to send whatever instruments to the focusrite inputs
- if you ever get a 4-in interface, you could also use the ALT 3-4 bus outputs to send two more independant channels to the focusrite (just "mute" the channel and pan hard left or right)

Now the "main mix" knob is your monitor level, CR/SUBMIX is the phones, and you can send whatever proportion of whatever channels to your interface.

Only wrinkle is that aux send 2 is always post-fader, but as long as you keep that in mind, no sweat (you'll probably have the gain knobs at unity anyway). Of course the 802 looks good, too, and it has the intrument input option, so maybe that's key. It only has one aux send, though, so you'd probably have to go the alt 3-4 route there for two channels (with three max to an interface).

And of course both mixers could also be tapped at the insert jacks for the individual channels for many more individual outputs; just talking about the no-replugging-necessary options, here.
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